A Newsletter by SAM about using your website.
March / April 2010 Start Right
There comes a time when you realize your business needs a website. Social networking can do a lot but credibility really comes from a website. Or, maybe you have a website and realize it is time to put a little more into it. Websites are the business way to communicate your image. That happens not only in the look but what you do with the site to make it an effective business tool. Maybe, you do not have the budget to hire a web master. Getting a domain name and having a site on it no matter how you do it, helps establish your company on the web. If you realize the importance of a site and want to start it right, plan it like you do your business. Think big! When you put together a business plan you create a 5-year and a 10-year plan. A website can grow too, if a good foundation is laid, if it is a good website; it can be worth money. Once you decide the features you want on your site, start talking to web master candidates and compare what they say and what they cost. Another consideration you want to make when you build your site is who is writing the copy and how are you adding it to the site. Determine whether it is a good idea to train someone on your staff to maintain your site or is it is more effective, in the long run, to hire a professional, 3rd party who will always be there.
Once you launch your new site and feel confident that, when you are ready to add more to your site, your web master will be there for you and within your costs, make sure that the site belongs to you. If your web master decides to take on a new venture you wonít have to track it down and have them release it to you.
If you are pretty computer savvy but not a programmer, a content management site could be for you. It is also good to be a good writer. Good in the fact that you do it, are grammatically correct and make sense. A content management site is often compared to a blog. The difference between a blog and content management site is a blog has an RSS feed. That means that the content can be searched with a blog search within hours. A content management site takes as long as any web site to be listed by the search engines. Search engines scan all websites every few months to check for updates and store the data on their servers. When someone keys in a search the keywords on your site are prioritized and if you are ranked high enough you will come up. That is also why you often get dead links. A search is done and the keywords find your page but the page or site was taken down before the search engines got back to check it.
Content management sites are built as one size fits all. Who buys one size fits all? When it comes to clothes we know "one size fits all" never fits anyone. That is something to think about when you buy a packaged content management site. You are buying a lot more site then you need. You may think, well good maybe some day I will use that extra site. When you bought your computer, did you load it up with software that you know you will never use even though it came with the package? You are losing valuable space and bogging down your computer.
A first suggestion is: Make your website part of your business plan. Think Big. If your company continues to grow, where should your site be in 5 years. Lay a good custom fit foundation that can accommodate all the features you want in the future.
Second: A one size fits may not have anything in it that you need in 5 years. A financially set company or one that really wants to make a business out of their site always considers a custom fit site. You should too.
A blog is not a website. You can use a blog as a website but they do two different things. Blogs are weblogs where a user would keep an online journal. It seemed appropriate to add an RSS feed. A blog being is for current information. RSS feeds made the post available sooner. This means it goes to the blog searches within hours. The RSS feed actually started for news to get across to the sites ASAP. If you have a blog and you get a following, your followers can put a reader up on a page where they can see when you put a new posting up in hours. A blog should be treated differently than a website. It should link to your site but not be your site.
Most users know how to make an entry into a blog. It sounds nice to be able to edit your website like a blog. It sounds nice but most blog sites are not user friendly. They are overloaded with stuff and it is hard to get to the information your user came to your site to get. If a big company with a good budget builds a site they do not use a blog site, a template site or even a framework site. They get a custom site. A smaller company should think about how they really want their site to be and start with a custom site that can grow to the perfect site that fits them.
When you are on a budget, it is nice to go for the free. However, if this is an indicator of starting your site right, you may get what you pay for. If you are pretty proficient on the computer you may feel capable of launching a site with the type of template that comes free along with the hosting. It may even look like a pretty good site. The one thing you want to remember is that the site isnít really yours. It is created from a database and all the content and images you add are added to the hosting companyís database. If the hosting company is an established company, it probably isnít going anywhere. Thatís good! Then again you canít take it anywhere either. If your company starts to grow and you want to go more custom, it probably means starting over with your site. Since all this time you got away pretty cheap, that may be OK. It is better when it isnít a surprise.
There is also the user who wants to save money but is not computer savvy. Using a template is a nice idea but for them it can be intimidating. For some it is getting in over their head and there are other ways to get started. The decision you need to make is whether you want to spend your time on your site or on your business.
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