Photo credit: plantronicsgermany (Creative Commons)
Photo credit: plantronicsgermany (Creative Commons)

For today’s businesses, having a website is almost essential to one’s survival. Even if people initially hear about a service through a friend’s referral or a business card picked up at a local store, the chances are they’ll want to check you out online first before making contact. And for many potential customers, a business without a website is one that doesn’t really exist.

However, it’s not enough just to have a website, which is as easy as registering for a domain name: a website has to look professional, keep readers’ attention with plenty of interesting graphics and images, and function correctly. There should be no broken links, no pages “currently under construction”, and no webshop that fails to perform. The same amount of time and money should be spent on creating a business website as on any other marketing strategy – it will definitely be worth it.

How much will it cost?

In itself, a business website costs next to nothing, but the costs soon start to add up if professional consultants, graphic designers and software developers are brought on board. Remember that setting up a website is not only about the time and money it takes to create, but also what is needed to maintain the website. Also important to factor in are the costs of good quality images, graphics, and a logo. In short, it’s impossible to say how much a website will cost, because it all depends how much one is prepared to invest. Spend wisely, however, and it will definitely pay off in the long run, as a good first impression will convert online users into loyal customers.

Keeping it updated

A website that is not up to date can be the kiss of death for potential customers, who may even assume the business is no longer operating. The website should be injected with regularly updated content in the form of new developments, new products, or even a blog reporting on the niche market the business operates in. It’s important to remember that a website is not only about advertising the business – it’s also an arena for communicating with customers.

Targeting readers

A website is like all forms of marketing: it needs to be targeted to the right audience. Remember that potential customers will want to search online for the business first, and this then becomes their first impression: it is important to make a good one, not only in terms of what is written online, but visually. Online users typically have low attention spans and are visually focused, so remember that a great image, or even a video, will tweak someone’s interest far more than a long stream of unbroken text. Avoid stock photography, and consider splashing out on a good photo shoot, which promotes the product as the gorgeous, delicious thing of beauty it is.

Where to go for help

There are now hundreds of free or low-cost website “builders” that range greatly in quality and usability. Their services include customizable templates and a wide range of tools for professionals as well as amateurs. The problem with the proliferation of such sites, however, is that so many small business websites look the same; to stand out from the crowd it is worth getting away from the generic template. It may seem like an unnecessary expense, but hiring the services of a professional designer or programmer can prove a shrewd investment in the long run.

Creating a mobile App

For many people today, their mobile phone is the essential gadget that goes with them wherever they go, and smartphones are now being used by banks as mobile payment methods, by online stores and even dating agencies. A mobile App can be the ideal accompaniment to a business website and can be integrated into a complete online package. For example, a deli or a restaurant could offer its customers meal suggestions or recipes via a mobile App.

Creating and setting up a mobile App is a little more complicated than a traditional website and requires expert help. Thankfully, such professional assistance is at hand, in the form of companies such as Worry Free Labs, whose employees are passionate about exploring new technologies and new ways for users and clients to make use of them. If the costs of App development will exceed the available budget, it may be worth considering how extra income can be generated from the App with in-App advertising.