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How to take your business online

Many businesses start with a simple presence on a Facebook business page or an Site-Builder. And there’s nothing wrong with that. It’s just important to realize that you don’t have total control over those platforms and you’ll likely be limited in terms of what you can do there. Plus, most ecommerce marketplace sites take a cut of your sales.

Here, we want to share some elements which you should pay attention when building your new online presence.

1. Get a domain name

Your domain is the part of your website address that comes after the www. Something like this: www.example.com

For a business, a domain name can (and preferably should) also anchor a professional email address. For example something like: office@example.com

How to choose a domain name

Your domain is your business’s nameplate on the web, so take care to choose a domain name that represents your business and is easy to remember. Here are some tips for picking a domain that sticks:

  • Keep it short: Make sure people can remember you domain even if they just saw it for 5 seconds on an ad.
  • Make it easy to type and spell: Avoid unusual spellings and complicated words.
  • Include keywords: Use words that people might enter when searching for your type of business in the internet. You want to be one of the top-hits on Google when someone is looking for your expertise.
  • Pick the right extension: Using and industry or geo-specific domain name ending (the part that comes after the “dot”) might be a strong fit for your business.

When you’re looking through domains, do a little research also. Make sure the name you would love to have isn’t trademarked, copyrighted or in use by another company.

How to register your domain name

When you’ve settled on a domain name that’s available, go ahead and register it for a specific amount of time, sort of like leasing it. As long as it’s registered to you, no one else can claim it.

For example, when you register a domain name for one year, you need to renew your registration when that year is up or else someone might get your domain.

2. Plan your website

With that domain name in hand, you’re ready to start thinking about your website. A bit of planning goes a long way toward ensuring that your site will do all the things you want it to do for your business.

Do you want your website to inform? To inspire? To generate sales leads? To actually sell products or services?

Is it enough for your website to showcase your products and services, or do you want visitors to be able to buy them directly from the site? If so, you’ll want an ecommerce website (more on that later).

When you figure out what you want your site to do for your business, you can begin building the type of site that will achieve those objectives.

How to prepare to sell online

If you plan to sell products or services on your website, you’ll need an ecommerce website, also known as an online store. This type of website requires a few more specialized parts than a standard website. Here’s what you’ll need to plan for:

A shopping cart: This tool will let you display product images and descriptions. Look for a cart option that includes important features like shipping options and inventory tracking.

Payment processing: While you can use a third-party service like PayPal to collect payments, establishing your own merchant account to accept credit card payments will give your business more credibility. Merchant accounts let you accept payments from major credit, debit and gift cards on your site, so your customers don’t have to leave your online store to pay for their goods.

SSL: The first thing most savvy customers look for when they make a purchase online is an SSL (Secure Sockets Layer) certificate. SSL certificates are digital certificates that encrypt the information your customers send when they purchase products or complete forms on your website. Visual indicators of an SSL can include a padlock icon in the browser, https:// before the website address.

3. Pick your designer

You might not be well-versed in the art of website building — and you don’t have to be. You’ve got options.

Easy DIY website builder: Site builders are great if you want an attractive, easy-to-create website — fast. Simply choose a pre-designed template and then replace the text and images to meet your needs. Swipe-to-style. Mobile friendly. Simple to create and update.

WordPress website: Like the idea of building and updating your own website without learning HTML, but want more functionality and customization options than most easy DIY site builders offer? If you’ve got a little skill and some extra time, a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress might be for you.

You can choose from free or paid WordPress themes (designs for the overall style of your website). Some plugins also can boost your site’s functionality.

We at dotbite also built many WordPress pages for our customers and the customers are happy about the possibility to update the website-content by themself.

Professional website designer: Hiring a professional designer or website design service is a great option if you have an idea for your website, but don’t want to build it yourself. A pro can collaborate with you to turn your vision into a fully functional, customized website that meets your online goals.

Whatever path you take, you’ll want to consider these primary factors: cost, customization, complexity, time, and ongoing maintenance.

A good method for making your final decision is to prioritize your most important considerations, then weigh the options against your needs.

4. Create valuable content

So, what’s your story? Every business has one. And a compelling story drives an effective business website.

  • How did you get started and who are you?
  • What do you tell customers about your business?
  • How do you explain to friends how you make a living?
  • What problem can you solve for your customers, as only you can?

Think about your mission, your passion, and what makes you stand apart from the competition. Then start writing.

These pages should be included on your business website

You’re going to tell that story throughout a handful of pages on your website. We recommend following five core pages: Home, About Us, Products/Services, Testimonials, and Contact Us.

But if you’re in a crunch, just get a great homepage up as soon as you can and then build out your website with additional pages.

Developing the content for web pages requires telling your story with words (text), images (photos, your logo, etc.), and perhaps video, presented in an appealing way (that’s the design factor).

It’s important to make this space -your website- easy for visitors to travel through, or navigate. A click here, a link there, and they’ll get a clear idea of who you are and what you can offer to them.

Website design

Even if you hire a pro to build your site for you, you’ll need to make (or at least approve) decisions about the look of the site, its design. Here are a few design fundamentals you’ll want to consider.

Logo: Think about how you want to incorporate your company logo into your website’s design. Maybe you want to echo the colors of your logo on your site, or make the logo “pop” against a contrasting background.

Colors: For brand harmony, it’s important to choose the right color palette for your website. Think about the feelings colors evoke for you and match them with how you want your customers to feel when they visit your website.

Fonts: Think about the fonts that might best represent your particular business, from bold, linear styles to more delicate fonts.

Layouts: Consider the amount of “whitespace” (space between elements) in your design. A lot of whitespace can denote clarity or simplicity, while having very little of it can make your site look active or intense. Other elements, like background colors, gradients, and the “texture” of your overall design, can contribute to your online impression.

By putting a little thought into these basic design elements, you’ll make big strides in telling your story, building your brand, and framing your products and services in the best possible light on the web.

Be mobile-ready

The vast majority of smartphone users do shopping research on their phones. As we told in the blog post about 6 simple steps to a better website, 57% of the HILFMA-users visit the website via smartphone.

People tap and swipe their way through search results, websites and reviews to figure out what they’re going to buy, and from which seller.

A mobile website is optimized for use on a smartphone and other mobile devices. It’s designed for a positive user experience on mobile. Whether you design your own website or hire a designer to do it for you, make sure your business website looks and performs as well on smartphones and tablets as it does on desktop computers.

5. Get your website found

Congratulations! You’ve already accomplished the first rule of thumb for getting your website found when you take your small business online - creating relevant content. The type of content that will resonate with your target customer.

Now it’s time to take the extra steps needed to boost your business’s visibility online.

What is SEO?

Search engine optimization (SEO): the process of refining a website to get higher search engine rankings and organic visitors to your site, without paying for search engine placement.

Imagine you’re a chef who’s spent a week perfecting a new recipe. If you don’t get it on the menu, it’s going to collect dust back in the kitchen because most of your customers aren’t going to know about it. It’s the same way with your website, you’ve cooked up all this amazing content, and you want search engines like Google and Bing to serve it up to potential customers in their search results pages.

Unlike paid listings -advertisements that display in sponsored areas- organic search results are “free” and based on, among other things, the site’s content and how closely it matches the keywords being searched.

There are many things you should pay attention to regarding SEO, we will write an extra post about that.

So these were some steps to consider when taking your business online. Think about the message and image you want to deliver to your customers and visitors. If you’re not sure about how to start your online presence, you can search the internet or contact a professionell.

We hope you found some interesting points and can start with taking your business online now. Before we come to an end, let us introduce ourselves.

Who are we? We are a Vienna-based team of seven people, passionate about developing and designing websites, apps, logos, print and a lot more. Have a look on our work here: www.dotbite.at

In case you have any further questions, don’t hesitate to text us or visit our website. We would love to hear from you and your experiences.

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