A home-based business can benefit greatly from having a Web site. It is a good idea to plan your Web site strategy in advance and launch it at the same time that you start your business.
Be sure to include your domain name and email address on all of your sales material, business cards, advertising material and letterheads. In that way, your Web site can provide information to your clients on their schedule. It can also function as a member of your sales force, allowing you to expand your possibilities and appeal to more customers.
Below is a checklist of some important things you will need to remember while you are setting up your Web site.
1. Purchase a domain that is catchy and easy to remember. If your company name does not evoke instant recognition, try purchasing a domain name that describes what you do or what you sell. For a sample Domain Name Purchase Agreement, check out the Forms & Agreements Center at AllBusiness.com.
2. Find an e-commerce Web hosting package. There are many hosting companies that offer Web site packages that are geared toward businesses. These packages often include a shopping cart, mailing list software, and site promotion tools that will allow you to save time and money by having these services at your fingertips ahead of time. Read the comprehensive “Business Web Site Hosting Services” buyer’s guide at AllBusiness.com to understand what such services offer.
3. Apply for a merchant account. If you need to sell your items online, you will need to make sure that you have a merchant account. This will allow you to process a variety of different credit cards on your site and may increase your business significantly as opposed to accepting only check or money orders.
4. Purchase Web site design software. You have enough to do without having to learn HTML to design your site. A WYSIWYG — “What you see is what you get,” pronounced wizzy-wig — software program will allow you to visually put your site together, saving you time and effort. If you are not confident that you can design your own site, you may need to hire a professional designer to take care of this for you.
5. Make sure your site has a professional appearance. Your site may be the only thing your customers associate with your business. It is essential to have a site that is professional and evokes a sense of trust. Even if you are running your business out of your basement, your Web site should not give this impression.
7. Thoroughly test drive your site before taking it live. Once your site has been designed, make sure that all of your links work and that all of the information is easily accessible. Have a friend or colleague test the site in order to ensure that the navigation makes sense and that nothing has been overlooked.
For more information on setting up and driving traffic to your small business Web site, check out the AllBusiness.com E-Commerce & Internet Center.
You can also read the AllBusiness.com Buyer’s Guide “The Scoop on Search Engine Marketing“ to learn how to buy search-engine keywords to drive traffic to your ecommerce site.