Small Business Websites. There Isn’t Anything “Small” About Them.

When it comes to creating a website for your business, where do you start?

We’re in a day and age where Google empowers us to answer our own questions and figure out how to do things we never thought we could, even creating your business website.  Which also means there are almost more answers out there than questions.

You can get a website anywhere. Seriously – every radio station, media company and “guy” you know can help you with a website, as can any agency or team – you name it.

You can create your own website. Yes, you can!

There are lots of subscription options like WIX, Square Space and even Weebly. These are platforms where you pay a monthly fee or subscription to use their service. They take care of hosting, updates and all of those things for you. Odds are, something like this will be okay enough for you to get a site started and up on the World-Wide-Web for your business.

One caution – is that WIX has had issues being indexed by Google – so if coming up in search is a big focus for you, you might want to stay away from these. This is a “Google problem” per the articles we’ve researched, but ultimately if Google isn’t crawling or indexing your site – it’s your problem too. Don’t just take our word for it, here are a few articles we found in our research from SearchEngineLand.com TheAmericanGenius.com.

There are also a lot of other open source content management systems that you can use to build your website. You’ll hear people talk about WordPress, Joomla, and Drupal. Trust us, there are many, many more.  (There are also enterprise level applications that exist for businesses who require full-on system integrations with ERPs, shipping, CRMs and other applications used to run the business day in and day out. Should we drone on about CMS systems? No – okay good. That’s boring anyway.)

What is a Content Management System?

Content management systems (or CMS as they are often referred to) – are a fancy way to let you know that you can manage the content for your website on your own. Most website platforms today allow a business to edit their content, change images and add/remove pages on their own. Good development companies (or “guys”) should give you access and show you how to maintain the site on your own. We even provide a user guide for our clients.

What is the best content management system for you to use for your small business website? That depends on who you decide to work with, their experience with different CMS systems and the business requirements at hand. Wish we had a better answer for you!

At 834, we prefer to use WordPress as the platform for our client websites, and our own. Why? WordPress is an open source platform – meaning there is a huge community of developers that contribute to the platform through plugins and added functionality. This allows us to offer scalable solutions for our clients as their business and website needs grow and change. And, our developers can also create custom plugins and solutions based on specific client needs. We’re not locked into what one system offers.

Scalable Websites? Yes, We Want That!

Creating a strong website foundation that can grow with you as your functionality needs change is important. And, a website that can keep up with the ever changing online space is critical. No one can afford to start over every year or two.

  • Say you want to start with a simple marketing website about your products & services. Great.
  • Then, as recruiting employees gets more and more important, you want to add job listings and applications to the website. Okay.
  • Over time, you want to provide reports and information only to customers or suppliers/vendors for the company. This needs to be password protected for them to login and view personalized information. Got it.
  • Eventually you may want to add an online store for standard parts and accessories. Done!
  • Even our website – we do a lot of blogging – and want to add in a client portfolio and other bits of functionality. WordPress allows us to do that too.

This is a simplified example of the evolution of what a business website may need. It happens often and can happen very quickly. Your business needs more than “just a website” – you need an online sales and marketing tool that helps you grow your business.

Considerations Before Developing Your Small Business Website

As you embark on the journey of creating a website for your business, keep a few of these things in mind:

  • Talk to a few different people (agencies, teams or “guys”). They’ll all have a different approach and take on things, and will give you good food for thought during the process.
  • Have clear idea of what you need the website to do for the business. If you are not sure, make sure the web development team you pick can help you with this step.
  • Review other websites to identify your preferences for look, feel, navigation style, etc. (These can be competitor websites or sites you visit on a regular basis).
  • Outline the content you want on your website – keep it focused on your ideal visitor and written for them.
  • Consider the process for updates to the website in terms of content, images, pages and even added functionality over time.

Ultimately, look for a team that you can work well with, collaborate with  and that understands your business goals. In a sense, you can end up “married” to your website design & development team throughout the development process, and no one wants to go through an ugly divorce.

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