The popular search engine Google indexes over 8 billion websites. Is one of them yours, or is your website just floating around in cyberspace and you're hiring your customers will just find you? Is your website a benefit to your organization or company? Is it just an expensive showpiece or is it of true value?
These are some of the many questions that can be asked when launching a new website. With so many different websites being published (some amazing, awful and otherwise), it would be safe to assume that most current business plans under include the utilization of a website, and that most active companies are utilizing the Internet to some degree. If you are interested in publishing a website, or already have, here are some key elements that may help towards its success:
1. Domain Registration: Be sure to register your domain name (www.yourdomain.com) yourself or have it done within your organization, as opposed to letting a third party register your name. Without control of your domain name registration, you can expect to run into some unnecessary delays if the third party becomes unavailable, which is surprisingly common. You also run the risk of having the registration setup incorrectly or even losing the domain. Purchasing a domain is very easy and available at less than $ 10 a year, so it is a very inexpensive yet potentially valuable asset.
2. Hosting: After domain registration is complete, you will be in control of where to host your website. Your website will be hosted on an Internet server, a computer that will house your website files and process any functionality such as shopping carts, email, databases, etc. Shop around for hosting options, they vary from inexpensive do-it-yourself options, to managed hosting plans, to exorbitantly expensive plans that are unnecessary. What you need to accomplish with your website will determine what your hosting needs are. I have seen small, compact sites being very effective, so beware of purchasing 500MB of hosting when you may only need 10MB.
3. Design and Development: When it comes to website design, less can often be more. Your website should load quickly and still be visually stimulating. Try to maintain a consistency of look with any pre-existing marketing material you have in place. Avoid bombarding your visitors with tons of miscellaneous information and links, keep your content accurate and to the point, and be sure all of your links work correctly and that information is presented in an organized manner. Further development can allow you to take online orders, process payments, store customer info in a database, etc. The type of development you need will depend on what your company wants to accomplish with the website. The bottom line is that even a simple website should be beneficial to your organization when well designed.
4. Caution: Keep in mind that anyone, anywhere in the world, can access your website, so take caution with what you make public. The Internet offers wonders of information exchange, but sadly that can sometimes work against us, depending on who accesses the information and for what reasons. One very bizarre and extremely sad case was the young pregnant mother that was murdered and her baby stolen, after her killer saw a picture of the pregnant woman on the Internet (selling dogs) and then setup a meeting pretending to have an interest in a dog . Focus on publishing informative content related to your products and services only, and keep personal or sensitive information private as much as possible.
5. Marketing: Once your website is designed and hosted you will be ready for visitors, but how are you going to get them to visit your site? Make sure a major search engine indexes your website. If the website is coded correctly, this will be automatic but may take a few weeks. Be sure your website address appears on all of your marketing material, and direct customers to your website for specific reasons, ie. coupons, specials, additional info, etc. Also, explore the many online marketing opportunities as well as traditional print ads.
6. Maintenance: Be sure to pay all domain registration and hosting fees on time. If you would like to be able to update and edit your website yourself, some professional website designers may offer this service. You may be surprised how easily it can be done and being able to do self-maintenance that allows you to get the most out of your website.
Good luck and have fun publishing!