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Building a Web Site for Your Home-Based Business

August 6th, 2018

Yes, your home-based business needs an Internet presence. A home-based business can benefit greatly from having a website. It is a good idea to plan your website strategy in advance and launch it at the same time you start your business. You should include your domain name, your Web address, and your email address on all of your sales material, business cards, advertising material, brochures, and letterheads. Your website will be available to provide information to your clients 24 hours a day. If it is set up properly, it can expand your sales and attract more customers.

You should consider the following issues when you set up your Web site:

Be sure your domain name conveys the image you want for your company and protect your domain name.

Shop around for a good Web hosting package.

If you are going to sell online, you should apply for a merchant account and you can shop for the best deal.

Your site must have a professional appearance and be easy to access and use.

Include a disclaimer, a privacy policy and a terms of use agreement.

Include coupons, special offers, or news articles to attract people to your website.

Your website must be updated frequently, and it needs to be promoted heavily in all emails, letterheads, business cards, etc.

Choosing a good web design company

You need to decide who will build your website. If you have the technical know-how or the money to hire a full-time Web staff, you can develop the site yourself. For most small businesses, however, it is better to outsource the work. You will not get much attention with a static, simplistic website.

A well-designed website can raise money, attract customers, and develop your reputation. Consider the following basic steps to increase your odds of hiring a creative, technology-wise, and cost-effective design firm:

Decide whether you need your website created, implemented, and maintained. If your site will serve only as an online brochure, you can outsource the creation and implementation and handle the future maintenance yourself

Research a Web developer’s work to evaluate their potential. You may find the best developer’s through recommendations. Evaluate their online portfolios, their fees, and their design sense. If possible, hire a firm that is familiar with your particular industry.

Evaluate the developer’s full package of services. Can they help you advertise and sell your products online? Does the developer have the skills necessary to create all the web services you need including extras such as trademarking, copywriting, marketing and other services.

Find a developer that works collaboratively with you. Be sure they listen to your needs and explain issues in ways that you can understand. Be sure they understand your business and your industry and that they can project your vision on the site.

Be sure the developer will complete your site when they say they will. Be sure the design firm can adhere to deadlines, meet your requests, responds to your suggestions and questions, fixed problems promptly, and worked within your budget.

Content is still the key to an effective and successful website. However, the presentation of that content and the look of your site are important, because they convey your company image. Most good designers know that Web surfers want to go straight to the content, but be sure your site does not have too much animation, splash, or flashing graphics. These will drive traffic away from the site.

Be sure your site is easy to use and navigate. Your users should be able to get where they want to go in two clicks without having too many choices. A site map and a “back” button are very important.

Be sure your Web site has a place for “contact us,” feedback, comments, and questions. It is always a good idea to get feedback so that you gain insight into how your customers think and get ideas for improving your site, your product, or your service.

Look at your site very carefully and delete any unclear graphics and boring information. Bad graphics look unprofessional, and boring information turns people away. Have other people look at the colors and text you use on your site and get their feedback.

Present your products or services in several ways. Not every visitor to your site will shop by the same set of criteria, and it is easy to allow people to sort through your presentation by several methods. Visitors should be able to shop by product type, alphabetically, by size, by manufacturer, or by any other criteria that you think visitors will use.

It must be easy for customers to order. All ordering information such as order forms, toll-free number, and mailing address must be readily available to customers. There should be a clear link for ordering on every page. You may want to purchase the services of a Shopping Cart service to help you handle the processing and shipping of your orders. One example is, but there are others.

Be sure your website designer knows how to incorporate codes and use key words so that your site has a favorable position in search engines. Search engine optimization is important, and your website designer should include this in the package of services that are sold to you.

For your first website, it is better to hire a website developer who is local. You will want to be able to drive to your developer’s office and have frequent meetings while your website is under development.

Remember that your website provides less expensive advertising than other media. You have the potential to reach everyone in the world who has a computer and an internet service provider.

Jo Ann Joy, CEO, Phone (602) 663-7007
The future of your business starts here.

For more information about these and other important business topics and for legal consultation, please visit our website at IndigoBusinessSolutions. Copyright 2006. Indigo Business Solutions is a registered trade name.

A Review of Yahoo! Small Business Web Hosting

August 6th, 2018

Yahoo! is the undisputed number one destination on the Internet with more than 379 million monthly users worldwide. If you are looking for web hosting services for your business you might be well advised to consider the fact that Yahoo! is home to more than 30 million web sites and that they manage over 50 terabytes of data. It is easier than you may think to get all the advantages of reliability, performance, and search engine popularity that comes from being at the top of the Internet.

Yahoo! Small Business offers three virtual web hosting plans for small business. They are: (1) starter (2) standard and (3) professional. Each plan provides a free domain name with no renewal fees for as long as you host with Yahoo! The starter plan is offered beginning at $8.96 per month and that includes 5 gigabytes of disk space, 200 gigabytes of monthly transfer, and 200 email addresses. The standard plan is offered starting at $14.96 per month and it provides 10 gigabytes of disk space, 400 gigabytes of monthly data transfer, and 500 email accounts. The professional plan is offered starting at $26.96 per month and it provides 20 gigabytes of disk space, 500 gigabytes of monthly data transfer, and 1,000 email addresses. Yahoo! Small Business is especially competitive if you are developing a new business web site because they do not require a long-term contract but allow you to rent their service on a month to month basis.

If you are new to building websites Yahoo! Small Business provides a free software package called Yahoo! SiteBuilder that was designed to make web site creation easy. This is software that you download to your Windows operating system. For this review we downloaded version 2.3.1 along with 380+ templates and more than 3,400 images that can be used to develop a multi-page web site without the need to know the web programming language HyperText Markup Language (HTML). The software comes with handy tutorials to help guide you through every development activity. Yahoo! Small Business shows off several business quality web sites that have been developed using these templates. However, if you prefer to use a professional web development system such as Adobe Dreamweaver you will find Yahoo! Small Business web hosting fully accommodating of cool technologies like Flash and Fireworks.

Virtually unlimited MySQL database support is another reason that sets Yahoo! Small Business services above the others. With virtually unlimited databases you can add lots of advanced features to your web site including: customer databases for use with electronic commerce, blogging, interactive message boards, and other database driven content management applications like phpNuke. Yahoo! Small Business provides scripting tools like PHP and Perl that make advanced database programming a snap.

Yahoo! Small Business web hosting accounts come with a $100 Yahoo! Search Marketing credit and a $50 Google AdWords credit. Your business web site will need these advertising services and this provides a great opportunity to learn valuable skills that you will use over and over again.

Yahoo! performance is monitored by Netcraft and free reports are updated every 15 minutes so you can always check to make sure you are getting outstanding service. The reports provide data on four performance parameters: (1) first byte (2) connect (3) DNS and (4) total. Our review did uncover a small number of user complaints that the speed of web pages transferred from Yahoo! was slow. Further investigation did reveal performance numbers that were somewhat less than expected. However, properly designed and optimized pages should operate well within the performance range expected by the majority of users.

Management of your web site at Yahoo! is a breeze because of their web hosting control panel. Everything from setting up email accounts, obtaining monthly web site statistics, to web site development and maintenance can be easily controlled using one standardized interface. Yahoo! allows you to have control over your own DNS so you can modify MX, A, and CNAME records. Yahoo! has the best email service on the Internet providing each mailbox with 2 GB of storage space. Yahoo! spam controls can’t stop all junk mail but they do a great job that significantly reduces the volume that users have to deal with. Yahoo! allows the transfer of email messages with enormous 20 MB file attachments.

Yahoo! Small Business is an outstanding value and is highly recommended. This review is only an overview of the capabilities provided with Yahoo! Small Business web hosting accounts.

Why Hire a Professional to Design Your Web Site?

August 4th, 2018

Creating an appealing, functional, and effective Web site is much harder than it looks. It’s not simply a matter of taking a company brochure or catalog, converting the text to HTML, and throwing in a few pictures (although many sites seem to have been created using this technique!).

A Web site is a 24-hour a day advertisement for your company and should be treated as such. You wouldn’t turn over the design of your next direct mail piece, newspaper ad, or TV commercial to an amateur, and the same should hold true for your Web site. Actually, more care should be given to your Web site considering the potential number of online viewers is much greater than the audience for any other communication medium.

We’ve redesigned Web sites for large companies that initially thought they’d save time and money by hiring a college student to design their site. They wound up with a site that looked like it had been designed by a college student, did not incorporate effective online marketing tools to draw traffic to the site, and the college student graduated and moved on, leaving them without ongoing support.

A Web site should not be static; it should be dynamic, offering the possibility of interacting with others in a way that traditional media can’t. As Web sites become more sophisticated, so does the need for experienced developers. Web designers also need to be familiar with the peculiarities of this new medium. Your Web site will be viewed by different people from all over the world using vastly different equipment. How do you design a page that needs to fit onto several different size monitor screens, set at a number of different resolutions, using a variety of different browser software?

The answer is… hiring a professional Web development firm like WebSolutions. We develop Web sites for a living. Our clients are pleased with the results because we strategically plan the elements of their sites depending on each individual customer’s needs. We expertly handle everything from securing the site’s domain name to creating graphics and programming the Web site. The possibilities are vast and ever changing. You need a professional firm to discuss the options and work with you to find the best solution for your site.

Designing an effective Web site is part art, part science and a little luck. You need an experienced professional to get the best results. And, to some extent, the old adage applies, “you get what you pay for.”