What Website Model Is Right for Your Business?

Websites can do a wide range of things, but typically your website will have a particular function depending on the nature of your business. Here are a few typical small business website themes, models, and practical suggestions on how to make the most of them.

Your Website as Brochure

The simplest and most basic site is a brochure website. It is the electronic equivalent of a printed brochure. It can be concise, easy to digest and just a few pages. A typical brochure-style website should include an overview of your business, provide your contact information, business hours, a list or brief description of your products and services, a history of the business, customer testimonials, and perhaps answers to frequently asked questions.

Online Referral Engine

The drawback to brochure websites is that they’re often static. Businesses post them and forget about them. But so do customers. What will draw your prospects and clients back to your website regularly? Fresh content. You can use your website as a referral engine to actively generate more business.
Aside from asking for and posting testimonials, you can create buzz and get people talking about your business by creating something to talk about. Write a blog. Give people something worth sharing. Create topical relevant content that speaks to their needs and shows your expertise.
Once you’ve published fresh content, share it on Facebook and LinkedIn, flag it on Twitter, or post a video on YouTube. Build it and they will come – if you promote it. When you keep refreshing and promoting it, visitors will talk about it and send it to their friends and so on. Deliver good content people want and need and you’ll raise your business’s profile, build trust and generate more referrals.

eCommerce Site

Electronic commerce, or eCommerce websites, are designed to sell products online. They can be any size from a mom and pop website to amazon.com. They can also fall anywhere on the simple-to-complex continuum. Building an eCommerce site from scratch is very time-consuming and challenging. You probably have better things to do with your time. Here are a variety of alternatives:
  • Yahoo! Small Business: A turnkey solution you can lease for a monthly fee.
  • PayPal: This service makes it easy to sell items from any website. You can even maintain a simple, brochure-style site with links to products to sell. When users place items in their shopping cart to checkout, they’re directed to PayPal to complete the financial transaction.
  • Shopify: Shopify is more involved. It hosts your site on its servers, manages the administrative backend and handles security issues.
  • Magento: This offers more powerful and sophisticated self-hosted eCommerce frameworks. But using it is more complex and time-consuming.

Game Plan

Now that you have a few basic models to consider, think about what you want your website to do and how much time you want to spend on it.
Next steps:
  • Look at a variety of websites and see how you feel about them. Critique them. What would you want your website to emulate or achieve?
  • Once you decide on a theme or model, begin to build out or sketch what you want it to look like and achieve. Begin to talk with a Web designer and put a plan in motion to create or revamp your site.
  • Try out some of the eCommerce tools if you go that route. If you are considering blogging, read a few blogs to get a feel for tone, frequency and content.
  • Keep in mind that there are ways to save money on your small business website while boosting online presence.
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