Being in the online industry, we always get asked the question “how do i get my business online?” what I need to do and how we go about it. I have structured a brief below on how you can get your business to a kicking start online, from registering a domain, and taking your idea online, and where to start.
This is the initial stage of setting up your website, what kind of website are you looking for, what you are looking to achieve from your website. It’s just like a business idea, and business plan. At this stage you probably have an idea or a concept of what you want, eg: a website that will sell products, an informative website, a showcase of your products and pictures, maybe a blog that you would like to write your ideas on, or even a portal that hopefully would become an international success.
The idea could be anything, but it’s the first stage of going online, just like setting up a business for the first time, you brainstorm through ideas, and decide on the final one that you want to peruse and make it into a reality.
Registering your Domain Name
One you have decided on your idea, you need to think of a name and register a domain name as soon as possible, the last thing you want is someone else taking your domain name, - trust me it does happen (it’s a business in itself, where companies register all the good domains, and sell it at a higher price).
Points to consider when registering a domain name:
- Easy to remember, try registering a domain name, which is easy to remember, something related your business and service, but catchy at the same time.
- In your domain name, try mentioning your company name or your service name, for example if your registering a domain name for a Caribbean restaurant and your company name is Deep restaurant, your domain name could be: deepcaribbeanresturant.com , or if your business is refined to a particular area, such as a beauty salon, you could maybe include your towns, or locality name, this will also help in SEO (search engine optomisation) and promoting your website online.
- Register your domain with a reliable registration company, and a company that you would be hosting your website with.
- Make sure you register the domain name under your own name, or company name, not in anyone else’s name.
Most web design and development company will help you or have a service in place to register the domain name for you, along with the hosting of your website.
Contacting your web designers - Design Phase
You’ve got your idea and your name, now you need to start turning your idea to reality, so you approach a web designers or a web solutions company, to whom you will need to express your ideas and project to make sure that they fully understand the whole project. The brief that you will be giving to your web designers will need to be informative and giving as much information as possible. At this stage you may want to sign a non disclosure agreement with the designers, so that your idea does not leak out.
So what information and brief would you give to your designers in your meeting or consultation?
- Start with explaining to them the overall project, eg “we’re looking for an online e-commerce website that will sell mobile phone products, we will be needing so and so features....etc)
- How many pages, sections, categories will the website will have – this will help the designer structure your website layout. Most busines websites would at least need to have a Home page, which will be their main intro page giving out brief information, picture, and products about the company, an About Us Page, which will give in-depth information about the company, and a Contact Us page, which should have a contact form for your visitors to fill out, and maybe you could have a Google map integrated on this page.
- What features are you looking to have on your website – maybe you want to have a Live Support feature, or a flashing gallery, whatever you have in your mind, its best to explain that to the designer.
- Explain to the designers what you are looking to achieve, is this a short term project, or a site that you would be working on for a while, and would require many changes in the design as the business grows. This will help your designer design the site in a way its easily upgradable and changeable, this will save you money in the future, when you come to make changes on your website 3-6 months down the line.
- It’s also a good idea to give your designer some reference sites that you like, which they can use to see, what kind of layouts you like, and colour scheme, at this stage you may also want to discuss with your designer, what colour schemes you like, and also what colours you would prefer not have on the site.
- Target Audience – who would your website be targeting will also play a vital rule in the design phase, if your website is for kids and youngsters, the site will need to reflect that in its design, or if your website is targeted to gardeners, again this needs to come out in the design.
After you have discussed your site design and theme, the designer will start preparing your site layout, which may take him couple of days or weeks to do, depending on your requirements.
Contents to go on the website
While the design is being made, you can start preparing all the content that you would be having on your site. You can start typing up the texts for each page, gathering the images and pictures that you would be using.
When writing content for your website, make sure that the content is unique, and it’s your own content, not copied from another website. Copying content may save you time, but it will not go well when the search engines find out it’s a duplicate form a site elsewhere, which could have an impact not only on your search results, but also on your business. It’s always best to take some time out and write unique content for you site, even if it means delaying the launch of your site.
Images that you would be using on your site again ensure that they are not taken from a site without permission, and ensure that the images are not copyright , if you don’t have your own images, you could use Flickr Images – a good guide to read before using Flickr: http://www.skelliewag.org/a-complete-guide-to-finding-and-using-incredible-flickr-images-162.htm
Or you could purchase images from websites such as: www.istockphoto.com
Development of your website – Development Stage
By this time your designer would have go back to you with some design concepts, upon choosing your final design, you would now need to develop this into a fully functional and working website.
Most web designers and web companies will have the skills to do this, if not you will need to hire a web developer who will start the development of your project.
You will need to give him the content of the website that you have prepared so he can set and code it all up for you.
At this stage there’s not much you can do, but its best to stay in good contact with the developers, to ensure that all the features and functionalities are being worked on, and that you’re on track for completion. The development could take anything form couple of days to couple of months to do, again all deepening on the project requirements.
Once the site is developed, you and the developer would check the full site on a demo URL, to ensure that everything is working, and as expected. Few points to check and consider:
- Check if all the pages, and links to all the pages are working
- Check if all the functionalities and features are working, (live chat, support system..etc)]
- The forms on your website are sending emails to correct emails, are in working order
- The site is coded according to W3 standards.
Once you’re happy with the site, you’re ready to go online, and live on the World Wide Web.
Congratulation’s your website is now live.
You would now start thinking about marketing and ways of advertising your new website. This is a different topic all together. I will cover this in the coming week.