As a Virtual Assistant it was necessary that I have a website. After all how would it be if there were no Virtual in the Virtual Assistant. Many small companies do not realize the importance of a website, no matter how small or local they may be. Think about this, when you want information what is the first thing you do when trying to find information.
Now is where the planning comes in. First there is your domain and hosting, next content and design and finally getting it out there for the world to see. Now let me explain that I am by no means a web design guru but I have made a few sites and know a little more than the basics.
First things first,
Domain Name: if you have not already done so you need to find a domain name. There are many sites that allow you to check for a name and most hosting services provide this as well. It should be something relevant to your business or brand and easy to remember and type. Then it off to hosting, or in other words who is the keeper of your information.
Hosting Service: I use a paid hosting service, Arvixe.com and it is an inexpensive service with great customer service but there are many out there so research your options. Ask around to other business owners to find which is the best option for you. Besides paid services there are others that are free, but keep in mind that they often time run ads on your site or you don’t have the option to choose your domain name. For your money a paid service is the best since it is a business expense and should be part of your marketing plan.
Content and Design: Lets touch on content first. You should at the very least have pages containing the pertinent information about your business. Three must haves are your home page which should tell about your business or product and keep in mind that this is where you get customers or lose them. You should also have an “about me” or company profile. This is your opportunity to tell potential customers why you do what you do and why they should choose you. And finally, a contact page. If customer don’t know how to find you they will not use you. At the very least a phone number and email address are must haves on this page.
As for design, this gets a little trickier. Most plans now have site design software that is basic if you have no experience whatsoever and are in WYSISYG (what you see is what you get) format so it is only a matter of filling in the gaps or content. There are also many programs out there specifically for those with little if not more HTML experience. This offers more flexibility in the design of your site but knowing basic coding is the key.
Another consideration is having your site designed for you by a pro but keep in mind this can become expensive if you are on a limited budget.
When choosing your website and content it basically comes down to what you know and what your budget allows. With that said, your website may be the first impression for many potential clients and customers and should be designed with this in mind. A bad site is not better than no site at all. Do your research, explore what others have out there and get feedback from other colleagues or trusted friends.
This is just the tip of the iceberg on this subject and you really should have a detailed and researched plan when exploring your options. Search the internet for web design tips, hosting information and general how to since the information I provided is just to get you started and on your way to having a web presence for your small business.