Building a Web Site on a Budget

Building a Web Site on a Budget

In today’s business world, having a web site is mandatory. It is your virtual business card and brochure that can help attract and retain more customers. For new or small business owners the thought of investing in a web site can be a little overwhelming as there is a misconception that it will be a huge expense. Well let’s pull the curtain back on this misconception, because you can build a web site on a budget. If you’re just starting out, a simple landing page that lists your business name, services or products offered, and contact information will suffice. Adding a photos will also help brighten up your landing page and break up the text. A landing page will, at the very least, give you a web presence and when you’re ready you can expand your landing page into a full web site.

Here are some available options to get your web site built and expand your web presence:

  • Do-it-yourself/Canned Web Site: There are companies that offer do-it-yourself or canned web sites that cater to new business owners or those on a budget. There are also some web hosting companies that offer web site builders that allow you to select a design and enter content. This type of web site is a quick and easy way to have a web presence, but once the business gets “off the ground” it is recommended that you upgrade and invest in a custom-designed web site that is more unique to your business.
    Just as with template web sites, canned sites can be used by multiple people and your creative autonomy is limited. Review the terms and conditions in regards to the domain name and web hosting. In most cases canned web sites cannot be taken to another hosting company and if the account is deactivated, it will disappear. To ensure that you preserve your content, save it in a digital format on your computer for future use.
  • Template Web Site: A template web site is a pre-designed web site where the graphics and overall layout are already in place. These templates can be purchased from various companies and some will configure the template to your specifications for a fee. Please note that these companies may offer 2 different fee structures.
    1. A base price which will allow you to purchase a license to use the template, but it will also be available for others to purchase. In this instance your web site may not be unique and the others who purchased the same template will have a similar web site. An experienced programmer will be able to make enough modifications to give it a more unique “look and feel”.
    2. A buy out price where you purchase all rights to the template and it will not be available for anyone else to buy. This is the more expensive option which can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars.

    In order to configure or add your own content (i.e. text, photos, graphics, forms, etc.) to a template, programming and graphics design knowledge is necessary. In some cases a web design firm will create your web site based on a template for less than the cost to create a custom-designed site. Be mindful that there are some firms that charge custom-designed prices for a template site, so always ask before entering into a contractual agreement.

  • Custom-designed Web Site: Even though the word “custom-designed” is equated with the word “expensive”, it doesn’t have to be if you do the proper research. Many small to mid-size web design firms offer low-cost, starter web sites. These web sites usually include 3 to 5 standard pages (e.g. Home, About, Products, Services, Contact, etc.) in order to provide general information about your business. Some packages may even come with a free domain name (for one year or more) and low-cost web hosting. Remember to thoroughly review the contract details to ensure that you maintain ownership of your web site and/or domain name.

(Excerpt from chapter one of E-Business Success: Using Technology to Take Your Business to the Next Level)

[ CLICK HERE to learn more about our Web Site Design Services ]

Is Your Web Site Mobile Friendly?

Is Your Web Site Mobile Friendly

With the increase in the purchase and use of mobile devices (i.e. smart phones, tablet PCs, etc.), people are accessing the Internet and web sites more through these devices than through desktop and laptop computers.  This fact emphasizes the importance of making sure your web site has responsive design. Responsive design makes your web site adjust to the screen size of the device used to access it. It also ensures that your web site layout and graphics look good on all devices and a lot of horizontal scrolling would not be necessary to view the content.

Currently there is a slight push from some search engine companies to encourage responsive web site design. This encouragement is coming in the form of a change in their search algorithms to give higher placement in search engine results pages to web sites that are mobile friendly.

One way to find out if your web site is responsive or mobile friendly is to enter your domain name into a responsive design testing tool such as the Responsinator. There are various testing tools available that will provide a good approximation of how your web site will appear on various devices. Of course using the actual mobile(s) is more accurate.

Now you might ask “do I have to completely re-build my web site to make it more accessible to mobile device users?” Well, there are a few factors that will determine the answer to that question such as:

  • the purpose of your current web site (i.e. e-commerce, informational, portfolio, etc.)
  • is it in your budget to re-build your web site
  • will a mobile web site suffice as a supplement to your current web site

The most cost effective, temporary solution is to have a mobile web site built that provides basic information via hyperlinked icons. The content on a mobile web site can be static or in real-time. Some examples are:

  • Hours of operation
  • Contact information
  • Online forms to submit feedback, questions or comments
  • GPS (global positioning system) navigation to give you turn-by-turn directions to a specific location
  • Offer coupons or promote sales/discount
  • Restaurant menus
  • List services provided by your business or organization
  • Provide a link to the desktop version of your web site for detailed information

Having a mobile web site is a temporary solution for providing mobile friendly access to your online content until you are ready to re-build the desktop version of your web site with responsive design.  As mobile device users continue to increase, it is essential to ensure that your web site is easily accessible across various platforms.

Contact us for more information about mobile web sites or responsive design.

Family - Business Balance Tips

Family – Business Balance Tips

When starting or maintaining a business, a support system is fundamental.  This support system can come in the form of other business colleagues, friends, and especially family.  In life our families are our first support system, whether they are related by blood or adopted/community family.  This support system serves as a foundation upon which you can stand in times of triumph and challenges.  In the business world you can expect more or less of both.  Their support can be displayed emotionally, financially, through their physical involvement in the business, respecting the space and time you need to focus on your business, referring people to your business, etc.  Just as each family structure varies, so can the type of support you can receive and this support is essential in creating a good family-business balance.  Those who have all of these aspects in place are in a good position, but this is not everyone’s reality.  For those who have to build this support system and create a sense of balance from the ground up, patience and diligence is necessary.

Here are a few tips on how to begin this process:

  • Clearly State Your Mission and Goals for the Business
  • Create a Schedule for Business Tasks
  • Set Aside Clearly Defined Times for Family/Leisure Time and Business
  • Have a Separation of Work Space and Living Space (This is especially important for those that have home based businesses.)
  • Inform or Include Family in Important Decisions or News

Find these and other important tips in E-Business Success:Using Technology to Take Your Business to the Next Level.

customer service sign

Customer Service – The Foundation of Your Business

One of the most important business activities next to providing products and/or services is customer service.  When your marketing efforts result in new customers, it is your job to retain them and get them to refer others to your business.  It is a known fact that it is much easier to retain existing customers than it is to attract new customers.  Additionally, existing customers are more likely to refer others to your business before they recommend another business that provides the same products and/or services.  So it is essential that you put various customer service strategies in place and that they are followed by everyone on your staff/team.  (An excerpt from Chapter 4 of E-Business Success: Using Technology to Take Your Business to the Next Level)

To learn more about effective Customer Service and Retaining Customers, Get Your Copy of E-Business Success today!

E-Business Success: Using Technology to Take Your Business to the Next Level, written by K. L. Graham the owner of Sirius Web Solutions, is a useful resource guide to help the owners and decision makers of small and medium sized businesses utilize technology more effectively to enhance or improve their businesses. CLICK HERE to learn more.

e-marketing strategies

Get Noticed and Get More Customers with E-Newsletters

E-Newsletters (electronic/digital newsletters) are a good way to get noticed and regularly keep in touch with your customers or web site visitors.  You can use your e-newsletter to:

  • Announce sales or discounts
  • Post upcoming events
  • Announce updates to your web site or business offerings
  • List articles relevant to your business, organization, or industry
  • Feature products or services

Through this regular correspondence, you can potentially gain new and repeat customers as well as build an extensive e-mail list.

E-newsletters can also be a good way to generate targeted advertising dollars. If you have a large number of subscribers, this can be used as leverage to gain advertisers who want to reach or market to your audience.

There are a number of e-newsletter/e-marketing tools available at various prices and each of them offers pre-designed templates for use.  Using pre-design templates are a good way to get started, but customizing the e-newsletter with your brand or logo will make you stand out from the others using the same template.

» CLICK HERE for a FREE Subscription to Sirius News.

To learn more about how to effectively incorporate e-newsletters into your marketing strategies, Get Your Copy of E-Business Success today!

E-Business Success: Using Technology to Take Your Business to the Next Level, written by K. L. Graham the owner of Sirius Web Solutions, is a useful resource guide to help the owners and decision makers of small and medium sized businesses utilize technology more effectively to enhance or improve their businesses.  CLICK HERE to learn more.