It's the rare business that doesn't have a Web site, but among those that do, there are many different ways of doing things, and not all succeed.
What should the purpose of a business Web site be? That's the main question you should ask yourself if you're considering establishing a site. Are you providing information, advertising your services, selling a product or some combination of the three? At the very least, the site should be more than just a simple contact form. You want it to offer a good sense of what your business does, who you are, what you stand for and what you can offer clients.
The next consideration is the all-important domain name, the URL. For a professional site, it's essential to get a personalized domain name. That name is your brand (and should be your company name or something similar), and it's what people will most readily associate with your site. Strive for distinctive without being too complicated. A domain name with multiple hyphens or numbers or that's excessively long may make it more difficult for users to find your site.
Then there's the matter of design. If it's a serious business, you likely will want to turn to a professional Web designer, perhaps an independent contractor or a larger design firm. Many hosting services provide free templates, but they're often bare bones and may not have the polished look you want for your business. It may also not be as customizable and fully featured as what a professional designer can provide. However, if on a budget, some sort of premade template could be useful in initially establishing your site.
Most designers charge by the project. The cost may range from several hundred dollars to tens of thousands, depending on the scope of the project and the experience of the designer. With the designer, you will discuss the vision for the site, with particular focus on the following items:
- The brand
- Target audience
- Goals for the Web site
- Measurements of success
The designer will also likely help you to find a hosting service. In addition, he or she should help you to establish what kinds of resources you need -- hosting, security services, shopping engines and other such features.
OK, you're ready for the next step.