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Websites: Why they are important

As a small business you may wonder, "Do I really need a website?" or "Isn't a Facebook page good enough?" Well, the short answer is you do need a website, and Facebook alone often isn't enough. This can be scary because many web designers and developers are expensive, and maintaining a website seems time consuming and technical. There are free services like WiX or SquareSpace, but even with these you need some know how and time to build and maintain the site. The last option is a hybrid approach, have a developer develop the site on a builder for you so you only have to change minor things as it comes. So why do you need a website? You need a website because not only is it your digital footprint, but it makes you look more professional and legitimate. While a Facebook page is nice to have, people know that many pages are illegitimate or scams, and tend to be wary of trusting a page unless they have word of mouth as well. Keep in mind that not just any website will do, you need to have your own domain (www.<mybusiness>.com), a professional look, and it needs to function well. By having these three things, you earn trust right off the bat, but lacking any can scare away potential customers.

Now that you know what you need and why you need it, how do you do it? If your comfortable with the technology and have the time, building your own website can be a very rewarding endeavor, be it coding it outright or using a builder like WiX. If you don't feel comfortable or have the time, its time to search for an affordable designer to assist you. This can be a daunting task as there are thousands of choices, and many may charge well over a thousand dollars just to get the site designed. So how do you go about finding the write designer or developer for you? First, shop around, don't just take the first one that comes along. Any legitimate professional will be willing to talk to you about pricing and what it includes upfront. If someone you're talking to wants a payment before a consultation or is overly vague in what their services include, move on. Next compare prices and value. Cheaper isn't necessarily better, you need to consider what is offered, the website itself is obviously important, but how many pages are included, does that include pictures/videos, forms, a domain, email addresses, hosting, search engine optimization, etc. If someone offers just the website itself for $500 but no hosting its probably not worth the cost, whereas a service that costs $2,500 but includes everything mentioned is a better value. Lastly, ask to see examples of sites or a portfolio. Get an idea of what the developer is capable of, if it looks like something from the 1990's you probably want to look for someone else.

You want to shop around because you need to ensure your developer is a good fit for you. For example, if you were to hire a developer who wasn't a good fit you may get a site that looks nothing like you imagined, may not include features your require for your business, and may leave you feeling ripped off. Conversely, if you hire a developer that is a good fit you may see the final project is more than you hoped for, including features you didn't know you needed and looking better than you imagined giving your customers a great first impression. You wouldn't hire a caricature artist to paint you for a vintage portrait would you? Find a developer that fits your needs and you will be pleasantly surprised with the end result!

Now that you have done your shopping around you need to consider what your site should look like so you can give the developer a clear picture of what you want. Think about what colors you want to see, what your business needs to have on the site like menus, shopping carts, contact forms etc. Think about what a customer would want to see to be able to easily find information and utilize your business. A pro tip here, don't be overly specific, you hired a designer/developer to assist you and they have a decent idea of how to take your idea and make it a beautiful reality. Work with them as they show you prototypes and let them know what you like and what should be changed so that the final product is a beautiful website that reflects your business.

The final step is maintaining your site. Depending on the options you have chosen you can do this yourself or partner with a developer for help. You need to keep your information and prices up to date. This not only ensures customers have accurate information but keeps your site active in search engines so your ranking stays high. You wouldn't want to buy a product or service from a site only to find that what it is and what you saw are two different things or prices, and neither do your customers. Accurate, up-to-date information is crucial to your businesses reputation, and you should ensure that customers always have the latest available to them.

If you took the DIY route, make sure you get familiar with the tools available to you from the builder you chose. You want to ensure you know how to manage pictures, text, and tags. Most builders offer free knowledge bases and courses to help you learn to use their app to its maximum potential, and utilizing these free services will make maintenance not only easier, but ensure your site looks its best.

Now you know why you need a site, what options you have available, and the importance of seeing your site as a crucial part of your business that should be kept up-to-date. If you would like further information of assistance starting your website journey, feel free to reach out to All American Cyber for a free consultation today. We want to see your business succeed and are happy to help you find the right path for you.

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