Your presence on the Internet is a direct reflection of your business and everything it has to offer – and your business website is a critical building block of your online strategy.
Just like every business has a street address, now a days, every business should have a web address. Business websites can serve many purposes, such as providing information about your business. They can also be used to interact with customers, or sell goods and services. But ultimately, a business website should inspire and reward its customers.
So you’re wondering how to get started with a website for your small business?
You have a few options. In fact, there are probably as many ways to tackle this project as there are web sites. OK… I’m exaggerating, but only slightly.
Option 1: Outsource
One option is to hire an agency or freelancer to take on the design and development of your site. This option works best for companies that need to design a highly interactive site using specialized design tools and server-side technologies that will meet the dynamic requirements of your site. You will also need to decide where to host the site and pick a hosting plan that meets your bandwidth needs. This can be a fairly involved and expensive proposition.
Option 2: Do It Yourself
A second option is to do-it-yourself (DIY).
The second DIY approach is to find a web-based service that offers what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) tools for creating and hosting web sites. There are a many companies that offer this type of service, including:
Our favorite DIY WYSIWYG tool is Google Sites.
Here are the top eight reasons why we like Google Sites:
- Ease of Use. The tools for creating your web pages are powerful, easy to use, and free.
- Free Hosting. Your site will be hosted – for free – in the Google Cloud, which is designed to be highly available and deliver web pages very fast.
- App Integration. Google Sites is part of the Google Apps productivity suite, which means that it works well with other Google messaging and collaboration apps such as Gmail, Google Talk, Google Calendar, and Google Docs.
- Media Integration. Google Sites makes it easy for you to incorporate Picassa photos, Google Maps and YouTube videos on your site.
- Site Analytics. Google Sites integrates nicely with Google Analytics, which generates detailed statistics about the visitors of your site.
- Search Engine Optimization. Google Sites integrates nicely with Google Webmaster Tools, which helps manage the indexing of your site on Google Search so that people will find your site when searching for it on Google.
- Online Advertising. Google Sites integrates nicely with Google AdSense, in case you’re interested in displaying ads on your site and generating some revenue for these ads.
- Mobile Support. Google Sites are designed to work on smart phones such as the iPhone and Android devices.
Option 3: The Best of Both Worlds
A third (and final) option is to find a service, like Happy Planet Central, that can cost effectively design, develop, host, and maintain your small business website. Using tools like Google Sites, these companies focus on the delicate balance between website form (i.e., site design) and function (i.e. site usability) and will work diligently with you to produce the most appropriate and cost effective website for your business.