Creating Your Company Website

Share |

Venturing online may seem intimidating, but for contracted service providers such as painters, it is extremely important for creating longevity for your business. Taking advantage of the Web can be a very rewarding strategy for growing your business if done effectively. But in order to accomplish Web-based success, you need a basic understanding of Web hosting, which, in turn, will support you in choosing the right hosting provider.

WHY SHOULD YOU GET ONLINE?

For Painters and Decorators

✓ Time for the first coat – create your own business website today!

✓ No messy paint jobs here, you can customize your website however you want with a variety of layouts and designs available.

✓ Connect with potential customers through features like social media widgets, contact forms and much more!

A presence on the Web gives everyone access to you and your services. Without a Web space to represent your work, in other words, a website, your ability to showcase your business is somewhat limited in terms of how and with whom you communicate. Expanding your reach can be easily accomplished if you first take time to research and understand where to start.

Why is using the Web a smart business decision? Consider the status of your business now and where you would like to see it in a few years’ time. Likely your goal includes growing your business size and clientele, and an important element to achieving these objectives is marketing. Because the Internet has become an efficient information resource, using it significantly in your marketing strategy means you are taking the first step in expanding your outreach to consumers. In fact, research by BIA/Kelsey, Chantilly, Va., a media research firm, and its research partner ConStat, Berkeley, Calif., shows 97 percent of consumers turn to the Internet to research products and services. It is clear how important the Internet has become, and unless your business has a Web presence, consumers likely will overlook you and your services.

As a painter, your entire business relies on visual appeal, and a website is precisely in line with how the quality of your work is best communicated. It is a platform where extreme focus is given to your skills as both an interior designer and a skilled craftsman. Putting your work on display spotlights your specific skills, which can clearly add to the success of your business.

WHAT IS A WEB HOST?

Web hosting is easier to understand when compared to the idea of renting a space. Web hosting providers are companies that offer you a “space” online to house your website, much like a landlord offers living space. These companies provide you with a virtual part of the Internet to use for your website, which is stored on a computer server located in their data center. Not only do they essentially rent the space to you, but many hosting companies will also provide the tools necessary to get your business’s website up and running. For best results, choose a provider that includes Web space, a domain name, at least one email address and other essential resources all in one package. Not only is this the most affordable option, but it will also streamline your billing process so you only have one invoice to manage.

FINDING THE RIGHT SOLUTION

There are numerous Web hosting providers available in today’s market, so understanding what is most important to you will guide you through the search.

With the vitality a website can bring to your business, you want to make sure you are comfortable with a Web host – and their tools – before getting started. Know what price point you have to work with and determine which tool best suits your skill level. The small business market has grown significantly with an uptick in entrepreneurs and start-up ventures, creating a significant demand for resources that are approachable and accessible. Web hosts have realized the shift in who is using the Internet, so many are developing website applications that are “Do-It-Yourself ” friendly without sacrificing style and appeal. Also, make a list of features that you hope to utilize and use this as a basis for comparison between Web hosting solutions within your budget.

Learning about the specific features of different packages can help you realize what your expectations are for your own business website. For example, do you want to have a site where communication tools like a contact form can be integrated into content? Or do you plan on using the space solely as a showcase for your work and require people to call if interested? From there, you can compile a list of what you want and what you need for your website.

Consider how much space a Web host will give you to use. Space requirements will depend on how you plan to use the site, the type and amount of content, and the level of traffic (or the number of visitors) you expect it to receive. Demonstration videos will require more space to load, for instance, than static images.

Key Terms to Know:

Venturing online can certainly be overwhelming no matter how experienced you may be. But learning some of the “Internet lingo” can make all the difference as you explore new resources on the Web. Here are five words to get you started:

  • Domain: a company’s Web address (e.g., nameofbusiness.com)
  • Bandwidth: the measure of available or used data allowed by your provider
  • Web host: a company that provides space on the World Wide Web for you to house your website
  • Traffic: the number of viewers who visit your page; the amount of data sent and received through your site
  • Server: a computer that acts as a storage device for data and information used on the Internet (e.g., the information on your website is saved as data files on a server provided by a Web host)

Other key elements to look for are a customizable domain name and corresponding email address(es). Your domain is another term for your Web address (for example, www.yourbusinessname.com). If you don’t already have one, a domain that is straightforward and simple and incorporates your business name or industry will be most effective. Likewise, be sure to have corresponding email addresses, such as john@yourbusinessname.com, so your brand is reinforced with customers.

Overall, considering what your site needs now, as well as in the future, is important for avoiding growing pains. Seek a provider that is flexible, should you ever need to change your online strategy to ensure your website optimally performs for your business.

FROM WEB HOST TO WEBSITE

Once you have a hosting package arranged with a Web host, it is time to start phase two of an online presence – the actual website. Depending on the application you choose, the starting point in the design process will vary depending on how the package is set up. The most efficient avenue to take is to work with a website tool that offers industry-specific designs as an initial platform for you to work from. As a business owner, it saves you time so greater focus can be put on business management and your core skill set.

Designing a website lets you exercise some creativity to best reflect what you do. As painters, it is another place to show off your technique and talent by incorporating colors, textures and layouts in a way that emphasizes the style you offer to clients. Let website visitors realize how they can benefit from your work and what makes you uniquely different from competitors.

Creativity is an obvious way to impress potential clients, so looking for website solutions with flexible and customizable content is ideal. Beyond that, there are a variety of additional features to consider for building a unique yet professional online presence. Here are a few website enhancements to look for when researching Web hosts:

  • Visuals – Videos can add an interesting element to your website. Embedding clips from YouTube or your own Flash files lets you leverage information about specific services, illustrate unique client work or showcase positive customer feedback in a unique way. Photo galleries also bring out the best of your business using key visuals. Both features show people what you can do rather than just telling them, and they entice visitors to explore your site longer.
  • Marketing tools – Once your website is live, people need to learn about it. Offline, you can post signs, include the Web address on business cards and relay it by word of mouth. But marketing it online will present your site to a much larger audience. Look for tools that help you communicate with current clients and address the interests of new ones. For example, online registration for newsletters, contact forms, search engine optimization and marketing services, and online business listings can all boost attention to your business.
  • Social media – Although your reasons for using platforms like Facebook and Twitter may differ from why you created a website, using these avenues in support of each other increases accessibility to your business and can be a great way to emphasize your interest in customers’ wants and needs. Integrate links from community platforms into website content to increase touch points with your target audience. Website tools are becoming more social media-friendly so considering a design solution with such capabilities is worthwhile.

In the end, the Web host you choose, the design of your website and the extra features you use should all work toward one common goal – creating a unique identity for your business. The Web is truly a great resource with a lot to offer, and taking the initial step online is a move in the right direction. APC


Lauren Whitson is a manager at 1&1 Internet. She can be reached at lauren.whitson@1and1.com.

 

Article Issue Name: 
Category: 



© Copyright 2014 Columbia Books, Inc.