11.25.2008

The Web in Sight



E-commerce is such a wonderful thing. I fully intend to have much of my Christmas list items delivered directly to my doorstep, thereby avoiding the cranky and unskilled Atlanta drivers in their last-minute rush to find must-have items for Christmas morning.

The world-wide web provides everyone with a viable avenue to sell their goods. Written a how-to book but can’t find a publisher? Sell it on the web. Hit upon the perfect design for an apron to sell to stylish, at-home gourmets? A web site can perfectly display your wares. A photographer looking to visually capture your audience? An online portfolio can be at the world’s fingertips in a matter of a few hours.

Which is probably why I am often asked the question:

“I know I need a web site, but where do I begin?”

Business web sites range from the very basic to the wildly flashy and entertaining. You can land somewhere in the middle without paying a bundle of money.
There are three critical factors to your web site: the writing, the design and what I like to call “making it click.” There are many folks out there that think they can handle the writing and designing part themselves, and just part with the money for the web site technician.
Please do not become a member of that delusional mass of write-and-design-it-yourselfers.
Unless you are a writer, pay someone with marketing communications writing experience to write your site. Not only will they make sure the words connect with your audience and influence them to buy whatever it is you are selling, they can also ensure the copy helps build awareness with the search engines so when a potential customers “Googles” your product, your web site will appear like magic - and suddenly they are just one click away from…..
Your beautifully designed site. That’s right, I highly recommend you fork over the cash to a qualified graphic designer to layout the site. It’s the difference between looking like an operation out of someone’s garage and being a business that knows its appearance affects consumer confidence. My point is your web site takes the place of a brochure, and if you have a professionally designed web site it makes an important difference.
The last one is a little easier. Either you know how to set up a site on the web or you do not. No imagining “hey, I can figure this out.” If you know how to set up a web site, fantastic – get busy. Otherwise, find a good web site tech to set it up for you at a reasonable price.
Now that I have that off my chest, if you are a do-it-yourself kind of person, Go Daddy has a “build it in a night” web site tool that seems to be pretty user-friendly and is definitely worth checking out. If you have a web site that will need frequent updating, ask your web site tech to set up the site in Dreamweaver and purchase the Contribute companion software. Contribute is user friendly, even for the most technologically challenged, and will allow the administrator (you) to make changes to your site and publish them directly to the web.
My parting, pre-Thanksgiving word of advice is in the world of small business, it is critical to know where to invest your money. A well-written, well-designed web site is a sound investment … it’s your calling card to the world.

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