You know the value of having a web presence for your business – but you can’t afford to register your domain, find a host and hire a designer. Two of the three are must-haves – and it’s not the web designer. If you hire an agency to design and build your entire site, it can be very expensive. Luckily, there are tools you can use to build a professional website yourself.
Americans almost always type in .com to find the website of their choice. Many times, they’re right. However, for most, even .gov, .net and .edu take some getting used to. With an increase in websites, more domains are needed. New York City demonstrated this need by obtaining a top level domain (TLD) to be released at the end of 2013. As more TLDs become available, will .com always remain the most popular?
The Dot Com Kingdom
When you’re looking to complete domain registration, .com websites can make your business seem more legitimate and trustworthy to consumers. The average Internet user will feel most comfortable with websites that end in .com because that’s what they’re used to. For consistency’s sake, choosing .com might be most beneficial. However, as TLDs continue to increase, you can be more creative with your web address.
Even if you’d prefer to have your official website with another TLD, it might be beneficial to register the .com version of your website address as well. This will also allow you to keep your branding consistent. You wouldn’t want customers typing .com instead of .biz and ending up on the wrong page. That will become less of a problem as users get more accustomed to different TLDs.
The Land of Other TLDs
The number one benefit of other TLDs is that small businesses will no longer have to settle for available domains. When some businesses go to register for a domain name, they discover that it has already been taken. This means that the owner either has to name the website something unrelated to the business or even change the name of the business based on the domains that are still available.
Some of the new suggested TLDs would allow website owners to be more creative. Trendy businesses might prefer .biz while a new digital encyclopedia might go with .info. The addition of these TLDs also allows websites to sort themselves into more categories than have been provided in the past.
Some suggested TLDs, like .pro, might even be able to give you more credibility than a .com site. Those wishing to register a site with .pro might prove that they are a professional in that topic. The .pro sites may become highly trusted sources of information.
What’s my Domain, Again?
In this debate about the future of domains, some are pointing out that domains may not even matter. Unless your visitors frequent your site and can type it in from memory, they’re probably visiting by clicking links through e-mails, search engines or shortened links on social media.
As the number of available domain names increases, it will be interesting to see if .com remains the preference or if domain names become even less important than they are now. Businesses that have previously had to rely on whatever name was available will have an easier time registering a relevant domain name because of the increase.
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Smartphones used to be considered a luxury item, but now are common accessories used by many consumers to surf the internet and access data on the go. To keep up with this trend, website owners need to think about how their business translates over to the small screen. There are several ways to go about optimising your website for mobile users. It’s possible to use apps and plug-ins to create a separate mobile version of your existing website, or you could redesign and streamline your main site to make it equally accessible through a mobile phone or computer. No matter which path you wish to follow, there are several design tips that can help maximize your site’s mobile potential.
Minimize your Content
Whether you’re viewing a website on a full-sized computer screen or mobile phone, nothing looks worse than a site that’s cramped. Viewers naturally shy away from information overload, so less is more when it comes to web design. This is particularly true for an ecommerce website, which should feature products with adequate white space to show them off. A streamlined site will be easier for visitors to navigate and search for any particular items they have in mind. With today’s best ecommerce software solutions, you can take a look at templates built with simplicity in mind, which will translate more effectively to the mobile screen.
Design for Slow Connections
Although smartphones provide faster connections than ever before, most of the time they still don’t compare to a home computer or laptop. This means that if you overload your website with images, flash animations, or other visual features, it increases the time it takes to load up the page. With a slow connection, your audience might get frustrated and decide to go elsewhere rather than visiting your site. To help combat this problem, you can design your website without flash, to cut down on the time it takes to load. It’s also a good idea to limit your use of images to just one or two per post, which is usually enough to retain your viewer’s visual interest while reducing loading time.
Install Finger-Friendly Navigation Features
Many of today’s top phones use touch screens. This is something to keep in mind when you are trying to optimise your website for a mobile phone. It’s easier for visitors to your website to navigate your ecommerce shop if they have large buttons to tap. Another thing to think about is scrolling. Most readers will be scrolling down the page using their finger, so creating content in a simple vertical format will help them keep track of what they’re looking at.
Although pop-up ads can serve an important function on your main website, they can be more trouble than they’re worth on a mobile screen. They slow down the experience significantly, and can create confusion. Viewers may not understand where the pop-up is coming from, and may leave your site before they get a chance to view the rest of your content.
For your web site that is and this can be caused by one of many reasons. Many businesses who rely on the internet normally have firms providing hosting services for their web sites. This being the case, having low traffic on your site may be a rising concern so if the web site itself is designed so good, then what the hell could be causing you money? Well, if you’d take the time to review your hosting company and needs, you might just find out that the type of service you’re paying for isn’t cut out for the increasing demand on your web, causing them to bog down and thus losing customers in the process. There are basically two types, managed and unmanaged hosting services and they each have their distinct pros and cons.
Managed hosting has the hosting company working with you, taking care of the server management, application updates and many other technicalities you might not to bother yourself with. This type of hosting is more costly yet it allows you to focus your energy to money making goals leaving the technical stuff to the technical guys. Unmanaged hosting is the best option for people and businesses who have their own web development people and wish to save a lot in terms of the service. They handle all aspects of the technical stuff except for owning the servers and machines themselves. It is cheaper and more cost effective yet as mentioned, you do need knowledgeable people on the area of web development to manage the whole shebang. Now you can see the distinct differences of managed vs. unmanaged hosting services to analyze and see which works for you and if you are getting enough from your investment for the service. Hopefully, you pinpoint the problem and resolve the issue enough to resolve your traffic problem, getting your web site back on the map of the ever-changing internet.
Most every business these days have joined the bandwagon and have a web site of their own. Since practically everyone (consumers, especially) is online these days, it makes sense that businesses should make their presence felt in this venue as well. If your small business still has no web site and you find yourself with the need to come up with one in a short span of time, here are some things that can help you on your way.
My main suggestion would be to go find yourself a hosting service. Many web hosting services offer packages that include web site building tools. This is in fact a common (and quick and easy) way to build your own web site. That’s the upside. It is quite a good option if you are sure about the web hosting service; like if someone you know very well (and is knowledgeable) recommends it. This is because of the potential downside: if you use this option and you find out that you don’t like the hosting service, you might not be able to migrate your web site.
Another excellent option is to use WordPress. WordPress is very popular as a blogging platform but it can offer so much more than that. You can start with the free version and if you find yourself needing more, then paying for the premium service is well worth it.
Squidoo is another thing that you might want to look at. I know a lot of small businesses using Squidoo – it’s free and easy to use. The downside is that you have to create your web site within their own web site.
Merchant website – Merchant websites can be set up by existing businesses that want to take advantage of the huge client-base found in the internet. The great thing about merchant sites is that they are open 24/7 so that customers have access to products/services any time of the day. Due to the nature of the internet your business can also start shipping products internationally although you will of course need to prepare for such a set up. Merchant websites are very profitable but you will of course need to consider the security of online transactions, shipping details, the promotion of your online website, etc. The management/upkeep of a merchant website is definitely more complex than a simple information website but in the end it has greater returns.
The great thing about merchant sites is that they can be used by all kinds of businesses not matter how small or big your business is. Many stay-at-home moms have found that they can sell their home-made products through their websites, helping supplement the family income without having to go to work in an office. Large companies also make use of their websites to sell their products to their already very wide client-base making it even more convenient for customers to shop.
If you want to set up a merchant site but feel like you are not yet prepared for it you should go ahead and start building a website already. You do not need to have a full-blown online store already and can simply start with an informative website. In the end, you can be sure that no matter what, an online presence will be good for your business.