Frequently Asked Questions... and Answers
February 8, 2009
You can see that the typical small business website is used for advertising but, not all. A new customer of mine, a Home Re-modeler, has all of the work he can handle - and can have more for the asking. Yet he was very interested in presenting his finished projects on a website. He plans on using the site as an on-line showcase, just to show customers the available options.
However, even though he has all the work he can handle, the new website is bringing in new prospects. What a great position to be in - especially in the economy!
February 4, 2009
Listed below you will find a number of reasons why we go over the advantages of having a website.
|Consumers search for products and services online before making purchases. Being found on the Internet will give you an advantage over your competition when they call you instead of the competition.|
|You are able to conduct business when it is convenient for your client whether it be during the day or in the middle of the night. You are never actually closed. If you choose an e-commerce website, your customers can shop with you 24 hours.|
|Consumers can become educated about your business and get answers to many of their questions which will help to cut back on the number of phone calls you receive with this information on your website..|
|Your website can provide further support to existing customers by offering information such as troubleshooting procedures, product specification and parts list, how-to procedures, diagrams, and special help lines. By having this help available 24 hours a day you will be able to decrease the number of customer service employees you have on staff.|
|There is potential for your website to become a resource of information for the public. By supplying helpful tips and articles that are relevant to your industry, you will give visitors a reason to come back to your website..|
|Consumers have more confidence in and prefer doing business with companies that they know something about. Inform visitors about the structure of your company, of your community involvement, the products and services you offer, awards, and employment opportunities.|
February 3, 2009
There probably are a few small business owners that just don’t need a website, but not many.
Let’s say that your company has all of the customers it needs, your phone never stops ringing, your customers like you and your work, and they keep coming back for more. In that situation, how would a website help? To answer this I must first point out that a website can provide advantages other than advertising.
It can be an on-line reference to pass on information that would otherwise take up your time on the telephone. The information could be your business hours, your next opening in the schedule, the scope of projects you’re willing to take on. Then when they call, they are ready to place an order.
The website can offer a gallery of completed projects. For example, if you’re a house painter you can show a few before and after pictures. Again this will save you the time it takes to go over that on the phone - and it’s visual.
In short, your site can be an inexpensive way to save time. But for most of us it becomes a business expander.
January 16, 2009
As a producer of websites I can tell you that the path has not exactly been paved with gold. Why? Few companies offer full service. What’s offered is more of a “hit and run” service. The website is ordered, the website is delivered, and payment is made. Then, goodbye!
This is what should happen:
- The website should be reviewed by the customer during development
- The developer should study the website’s target audience and provide suggestions to reach that that audience. If the website advertises an accounting firm, the content need’s to appeal to the potential customers.
- After development and before the site is live, there should be a thorough review involving the customer and the developer. Amy change should be reviewed.
- The developer should monitor the website’s visitors to ensure that it’s search engine friendly.
- Website updates should be promptly dealt with.
- Periodic website reformatting should be introduced in order to keep the site looking fresh.
In other words, the website provider should act more like a partner!
January 1, 2009
Try a Website. It can improve and simplify your business. It can improve your company’s image. The good news is that VantageSites can provide a high quality website at a low price.
December 8, 2008
A Website! That’s right. The website is the perfect business enhancer. Or, if you wish, the website could be tailored as a family website. Either way we can help - and get it done before Christmas.
April 14, 2008
The best answer is: “It depends“.
To best explain this we will explore a couple of scenarios. In all cases the assumption is that you run a small business. Your particular situation will determine the best course of action.
- Established Business with a well established number of customers
Assuming that you are satisfied with the business from established customers, relying totally on the web may not be a bad idea. You could even argue that with a steady flow repeat business there is no point to any advertising - but don’t make that mistake! As you would expect, a website can keep you name out there, keep your customers informed about any changes to you business, and provide information to new prospects. However, unlike print ads, a website is far less expensive.
In this situation, my recommendation would be to:
- Launch a website.
- Sent a notice announcing the website to your customers.
- Discontinue all print ads.
With the website in place you will have the ability to “step it up” if you need more business.
- New company / Start up
In most cases a new business is best advertised with a combination of print and web based ads, unless you know for a fact that your customers would always look on-line. But even then, you still might catch some business with print ads. The problem is that in a start up company environment there are many surprises. Therefore it is best to diversify.
Note that it is as much of a mistake to depend solely on print ads!
- Young company worried about uncontrolled growth
A young company growing too fast is a valid concern. Fast paced expansion forces a long stream of quick decisions and a lot of opportunity for error. In this atmosphere, using a website in place of other advertising forms is a good idea. The website offers a single control point that can be changed quickly. Prices can be raises or lowered, levels of service can be adjusted, and new products can be announced.
- Established company in a down-turn
This is a touch call. A very common mistake is to turn off all advertising to save a few bucks. That could be a bad mistake. This is the time to get the word out and whether you do it face to face, by telephone, print ad, or over the internet – just do it!
I would recommend increasing the level of advertising with a high priority on adding or expanding your website. Put simply it is low cost and has a great up side.
So what do the larger companies do? They use their website and the print advertisements together. The company sales brochure will always reference the website. The website will have a form to order paper articles and instruction manuals.
In all cases the website is the centerpiece.
March 15, 2008
Since most business owners outsource their website work, few of them can explain the step by step process of launching a website. But, like most things you get involved in, it may help to know what’s involved in the process. The steps are as follows:
- Select a website name
- Determine the content to be displayed
- Build a website
- Install the website on a server
- Attract visitors
- Install periodic upgrades
Typically business owners who outsource their website design are involved in the website name selection and in selecting the content. Due to time constraints, this is often true even in cases where the owner has the necessary skills. But let’s assume that you wish to the job yourself. Each step is explained below:
Selecting a website name
Just like your address or phone number, every website name must be unique. The first choice is generally to use the company name. For example “Joe’s Landscaping” might become “www.joeslandscaping.com”. However, since there are so many websites out there, that name is probably taken. (It actually is.) No need to panic - this happens to just about everyone. In this case “www.joeslandscaping.biz” is available. But if you prefer a “.com” extension, the next step is to think in terms of subtitles. Maybe “www.joeslandscapingbyjoe.com” or “www.landscapesbyjoe.com” would work. Idealy the name is easy to remember, easy to spell, and not too long. We will guide you through this process and supply you with additional name choices until you are satisfied with your choice.
Building a Website
Just like many other services, you can do it yourself or you can get someone else to do it.Generally if your running a business doing it yourself isn’t a good choice but if you do want to do it, you require the necessary training. Let’s say your business is slow and you know how to design websites, you still may want to outsource the work. Your time would be better spent selling.If you get someone else to do it, there’s quite a few choices. At the low end of the spectrum you can have a two or three page “brochure site” put on-line for about $300 ($100 per page). At the high end you can pay well over $10,000 for an interactive website such as the type used by the real estate companies. Our product is positioned slightly above the low end. (It’s a pretty good deal!)
Installing the Website on a Server
The content of the website is transferred to a server at a web hosting company. That company provides and maintains the computers and keeps backup copies of the website. Hosting companies generally charge between $5 and $15 per month. This cost can be lowered by ordering a longer term contract.
Ideally, your website will immediately be visited the masses, you will be flooded with requests for your service or product, and your business will suddenly grow. By some stretch all of that is possible, but typically the ramp up is much more gradual. Most business do not entirely rely on the web. They use it in conjunction with traditional advertising - at that is a powerful combination! The website address is on the business card and is included on any printed add. Then over time the website begins to take the leading role. But, it’s not unreasonable to expect some amount of new business just because you have a website.In order to attract visitors the website must be “search engine optimized”. This involves setting up the site’s content to contain words and phrases that are frequently searched for. Also, Google and Yahoo accept payment for better search positioning.Here’s the good news. Wordpress based websites are naturally search engine friendly and all VantageSites use the Wordpress engine.
Installing Periodic Upgrades
Sometime after your website is put on-line you will want to have updates installed. Generally, these are the reasons:
- You’re business has changed. Maybe you’ve added a new product or service. Maybe you’ve changed your prices.
- The website needs to have some changes just to keep a fresh look.
- You have decided that there’s content that you would prefer be stated or pictured another way.
Updates are normal and keep your website interesting. For this reason, VantageSites are designed for flexibility.
March 15, 2008
Yes. Any request for extra features will be considered. For example you may wish to dedicate an entire page to highlight a certain part of your business. Or, perhaps you would like a separate page for each of your products.
The effort required to add in the feature will determine the add-on fee. Pricing for special features are considered on a case by case basis.
March 15, 2008
The base format will be the same as this site, however by the time we add your banner, your photos, and the colors you select, it will take on it’s own look. We believe that this format works well for most business. Because we’ve standardized on this format, our website production is efficient, flexible, and stable. As a result, your website will be a well crafted display of your companies assets.
The standardized format also allows us to engineer enhancements compatible with all our customers’ sites.