Website set up for your business:Your own web site
The best way to enter into e-business is to start your own web site. It is easier than setting-up of your two room office! It will be much more productive and cost effective in comparison to your real world marketing establishments. You can work locally and link globally. You will be opening your office for all your customers' 24 hours in a day and 365 days in a year. Now comes the big question HOW TO DO THIS?
Register Your Domain Name:
One out of every ten-domain names booked is actually hosted. So people are more interested in booking the domain names than actually hosting it. So if you don't want to host a site then also you should book a domain name to prevent cyber squatters to take your name or brand name of your business. First search for the availability of the name and for this you can go to any name register site and check your name. By paying few dollars starting from as low as $8 to $12 you can book a domain name. If your name is too important to you then book all the extension also. While booking take care to book it in your name or in the name of the organization. Here it should not be in the name of the person who has helped you in booking. You have to give four contact addresses at the time of booking. First is the address of the owner. Second one is of billing address, third one is of administrative contact and the fourth one is technical contact address. Give the administrative contact address as your address as in this address you will receive all conformation requests for changing of hosts etc. Ask for control panel to control the DNS information of your site. This is the address of the server where your site will be hosted. Once the name is registered your domain name will point to the DNS address you have provided at the time of registering the name. After this pay your hosting company for hosting your site. Avoid paying to a hosting company who will register and host the site for you.
Search For a host?
It is same as searching for an apartment for rent. You can pay rent in every month or can pay in one annual installment also. In India annual installment is preferred. Hosting charges varies from as low as one thousand per year to 15000 per year or even more depending upon the quality of the hosting service. This is known as virtual hosting and in same way many hosting companies also provide dedicated hosting. Most of the Indian hosting companies are reseller of USA hosting companies. Even some have their own hosting servers but almost all keep their servers in USA. This is to minimize the bandwidth cost and also to avail the better infrastructure available there. How to select a host depends on the site you planned, its design, its hits you expect on all that. Usually two most popular servers are NT and Linux. Cost of Linux hosting is less than NT hosting. You must check how many email ids you will get, the control panel for site set-up etc before selecting your host. If you want a site with complex coding with database support or an e-commerce site then you must consult your programmer on this. Your programmer will able to guide you on selection of host.
Make pages now.
Contact a web designer or a programmer to prepare all the pages for you. You must clearly tell your requirements, who will visit your site, what message you want to pass through your site. Ask for a feedback form, which is a minimum requirement of your site. Visitors can enter their comments, suggestions etc in a form and on submit you or the web master should receive them as email. This way you can force a visitor to give his contact address or any other thing (required fields), which you feel, must accompany with the message. Secondly this helps in hiding your email address from robots searching for email address on the pages for spaming. A guest book will also add to image of the site. If you are hosting a site with many pages give a site search function to your visitors to locate the information they are searching for. If you have any database to integrate or any complex programming code to implement then ask your designer to prepare all the front-end work accordingly. Then contact a programmer to work on the backend coding. You can integrate your existing off line activity, database etc to your web site. You can give your different departments or sections of your company to manage different areas of your site to reflect a true virtual office. If you change the content of a page or some different pages frequently then ask for a content management solution to your programmer. Daily message or monthly sales figures etc are part of the pages, which requires frequent updating.
Graphics and animations.
Graphics and animations will improve the appearance of the site, but they are not the must. Use graphics or pictures after checking their sizes. Your first page is most important as here the visitor will get the first information about the site and will decide whether to stay or skip to another site. So the first page or the doorway page should load fast. The thumb rule is it should load in 8 secs. Images only take more time to load. So the first page should not contain images of bigger size. If any scanned photo is used then check that it is scanned at not more than 72 dpi. This is because our monitor's displays up to this rate and any thing beyond 72 dpi will only increase the size of the file. There are good image optimizers available and they will compress the images to reduce the size. Use animations or pictures relevant to the content of the site. There are some sites, which gives a nice flash introduction (flash animation) before the first page and asks the visitors to click a link to skip the downloading of animation. This is not a good idea as the visitors visit a site for information so the content is the king and will keep the visitors in the site with supplying more information. Just check yahoo, google or rediff.com and see how fast they load. How much graphics they are using? On the other hand how many links for different sections they have in the first page. A nice flash introduction for school web site wills no way help the parent who will be searching for their kid's marks sheet. This will also create problem in ranking of site in search engines.
Tell the world about your site.
Now your site is ready and now it is the time for promotion of your site. You can give big newspaper advertisement on lunching of your site if your budget allows that. But if your site has customers/visitors all over the world then this way you can't inform all. So you must follow some basic promotion strategies to make your site popular. The best thing is to submit your site to search engines. Search engines will give your site ranking for a particular or for different key words. There are nearly 300 search engines and directories in the web and nearly 30 of them are most popular. Search engines have different criteria to rank site in the search result but there are some common strategies to adopt for a good search engine ranking. Most of the engines crawl through your site by using robots so all your pages are to be optimized for easy crawling and all links should be paced in all respective places. No page should have a under construction tag or no broken links should be there. The most popular search engine yahoo doesn't use robots and they manually check the site. But they have shortage of manpower and you will be lucky one if they do visit your site. Yahoo is very particular about your geographical address of the site owner or the organization so don't forget to put a about us page or contact us page. Along with the feedback form there should be the contact address to tell them who you are. Search engine submission is a continuous process and you should wait for four to eight weeks to see the listing of your site in different engines. Again submit your site with different keywords and check your ranking. Try to get some links in other sites pointing to words you and this will help you in getting a good ranking for your site. Some time some visitors may like your site and voluntarily they will put a link to your site. So over a period many such sites will be sending visitors to you, as you will be achieving popularity. There is a little trick to know how popular you are. Go to any famous search engine and in the search text box write your site name, then the list will show you the sites that have links pointing to you. You will be surprised to see so many links already pointing to you. So keep some good content or some interesting matters for others to point to you.
Your site is an electronic brand for you so you should promote it. Write your site address in all your letter pads, visiting cards, printed newsletters, annual reports etc. Put all your forms, newsletter, annual reports etc on the site and ask the customers / members to download it. You can have your own email address with your site name. How about using the address like email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com. These are better than using firstname.lastname@example.org. All these will enhance the image of your company / organization and will promote your site. In future we will be more depending on net for better business orientation and customer satisfaction so a well planed web site will be the most important step in this direction.