With the technology available to us today, it is imperative that every business has a website. Whether you’ve been in business for years or are just starting out, a piece of online real estate is necessary. Your website can look professional without spending thousands of hours (or dollars). We’ve put together the top tips for even the smallest of businesses set up a website – easily and inexpensively.
Buy a Personalized Domain and Get Some Hosting
Visit a site like GoDaddy and check the availability of a domain with your business name (www.yourbusinessname.com) and set up hosting (this is what makes your website available to others online). These two steps are pretty simple to do and you can have your website up and running in a matter of hours. Hosting doesn’t have to be expensive; it can cost from $6 per month and up. If you’re not projecting millions of hits per month, go with the least expensive option and begin your online presence. You can always upgrade your plan as your traffic and business grow.
Go Open Source
Your website is actually a visual representation of coded files that “live” on the hosting server (see definition above). Writing those files used to be a time-consuming and expensive experience because it was necessary to hire a programmer to write specific HTML code for each page. As technology has advanced, the introduction of open source options has opened up the web to millions of people. Open Source is coded platforms that are given to the public to collectively build upon and make better. With options like WordPress, Joomla, Typepad, MovableType and more, the availability of back end software is endless. As long as you know how to write an e-mail, you will be able to configure and update any of these open source programs. Yes, they are that easy and no hard coding knowledge is necessary.
What Theme Do You Want To Be?
If you go open source and install, for example, WordPress on your server, you will need to implement a theme, which is basically what your site will look like. Themes are highly customizable and if you look at two sites that have used the same theme, you oftentimes can’t tell. Whether you’re a photographer looking for a portfolio website, a brick and mortar business showing off your unique attributes or an online shop with a shopping cart, you’ll want something that is both visually appealing and easy to use for your target audience. Check out Theme Forest for some low-cost, highly customizable themes that you can purchase for a few dollars and install immediately onto your website.
Keep It Up To Date
I’m sure we’ve all surfed websites for a business that we were interested in and saw a “Copyright – 2005” in the footer. You will want to make sure to keep your information, pictures, and the look and feel of the website up to date. A stale website doesn’t always mean a stale company, but your first impression should not be an outdated one.
Implementing a new website is a fun experience. Having your hands in the creative process and learning a new way of doing things can be enriching and exciting. Plus, when you realize that you saved $10,000+ by not having a company design them for you, you’ll be able to place that money where it matters – in your pocket.
On the web, Mark Levine is the Publisher of www.EastofNYC.com, an online guide for Long Island and is also the owner of Mark Brandon Photography (www.markbrandonphotography.