As a creative I passionately preach the good news of web development and online presence. I’m always amazed at how many designers, photographers and artists don’t have some kind of online portfolio but what shocks me most is when I deal with companies that have no online reach and marketing presence at all. Surely, I thought, most people know that if you are not online you might as well not exist to your potential clients. It is very likely that the person who’s trying to find you online might consider another listed company for their business. It’s a fact that if you don’t have a website you are losing out on gaining new clients! So what is holding you back?
In this article I will eliminate all the excuses people have for not getting online and also shine a light on some grey areas regarding hosting and the process of getting a website online.
The process of getting a presence online:
What is a domain & how do I register?
Think of your domain as the directions to your website’s new home. It is the address that will link people to your website. We registered www.colourside.co.za as our address. Some of the most popular top level domains are .com, .net and .biz as well as .org and .org.za which are aimed at NPOs and charities. Your preferred domain may not always be available so it is always a good idea to search the availability of your name online before you register your company and start branding and marketing yourself.
There are many hosting websites that have a domain search function on their home page. A nice example is urbanhost.co.za. If you want to register a name you normally do it with the hosting company that will host your domain.
What does hosting involve and where should I host my site?
Paying for the hosting of your site is like renting a lot or property you will build your website on. The bandwidth your host provides is like the water and electricity you pay for every month. Your host also provides you with personalised email accounts e.g.: firstname.lastname@example.org so you don’t have to use a generic account such as Gmail address for business. It is also very important to host your site at a high quality host so that loading times will be as low as possible and the user experience for your visitors will be optimal.
Branding, web design & development
Where do I start with my website?
The branding of your company is one of the most important attributes in business and it is no different online. Your website acts as a salesman for your company, and if you were going to hire a salesman to talk to hundreds, thousands or perhaps even hundreds of thousands of prospects, you’d want to know he’s a darn fine salesman. For this reason, it’s important to have a website that is informative, functional and easy on the eye. Load times, ease of navigation, typography and the graphic elements of a site all play an important role in helping you communicate your brand’s message.
In most cases, a team of designers create the look and feel of a website and then hand it over the development team. They take the design and make it function and navigate the way it was intended. It’s similar to the relationship between an architect and a construction company when building a physical structure.
Updates and SEO – Search Engine Optimisation
How do I generate traffic to my site?
So often websites make it online but never get updated and eventually fall of the map. You’ve probably seen sites like these. It is your job to take care of new content on your website and a blog normally helps keep thing fresh and alive ;).
SEO is the practice of making your website search engine friendly so that your site will appear when someone searches for keywords that are relevant to your company. Some important ingredients in constructing a site with good SEO are:
- Search engine friendly coding
- Good content
- Accurate keyword research
This could be a pain but it’s totally worth the time and effort.
Getting people to your website is not always easy but by updating it regularly and a little bit of SEO is a very good place to start. You can help yourself a lot by making use of Search Engine Marketing campaigns such as Google Adwords.
Online marketing & social media
Why use social media and online marketing?
Social media is a great way to build up a reputation and to stay in touch with your clients. You could post news articles & new products that followers could bookmark, like or retweet. By providing your followers with useful content that is informative and interesting, you will gradually build a bridge with them and your efforts stand the chance of going viral.
Join online communities and forums and spread the word through networking, but always do it in a way that adds value to the reader and the platform you’re using. You can also make use of online advertising through Google Adwords and banner advertising or E-mail marketing.
Blogs are such a great way to promote your business. The best way to use your blog to attract readers and potential clients is to use it as a place where you can grow connections between people who might eventually love your work or your brand, and/or who might eventually share it with other people. Again, that is why social media is so important; make it easy for someone to spread the word!
We often hear small businesses complain about reasonable web design and development quotes and I got irritated with the idea that not everyone can be online because of their budget restrictions. We started thinking about how we could provide a means for people to get online quickly, easily and cost-effectively. Colourside was the solution we came up with and we hope that we can make this process easy and painless for you. This is our space and this is where we shine: We take care of everything from domain registration to online marketing.
There are some other options and solutions if you can’t afford our entry package. You can list your business on some local directories for free and create a Facebook page and start marketing yourself through “word of like”. Set up a Twitter account and just start somewhere. So, you see, there are no excuses!