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A Beginner's Guide to Getting a Website

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Sometimes planning a website can be an absolute nightmare. Not knowing where to begin is one of the most common problem in getting the process started. In "A Beginner's Guide to Getting a Website", Trena explains the process in an easy to understand providing examples and definitions where needed.

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A Beginner's Guide to Getting a Website

  1. 1. ABeginner’s Guideto Ge ngaWebsite by:TrenaV.Stubbs
  2. 2. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 1 of 9 A Beginners Guide to Getting a Website Created By Trena V. Stubbs Business Development Manager ApexVirtualSolutions.com Toll Free: 866-874-3647 I am not very tech savvy and have no idea where to start. Over the years, I have had the pleasure of working with some really amazing companies. Companies that already had a website and needed a redesign and companies that were starting from scratch. Most of the companies that already had a website knew exactly what they wanted from start to finish. My newbies however, often struggled with their website design project because they weren’t sure where to start, what they needed to provide or even what to expect from me. Having a strong internet presence is no longer optional for most businesses. People are in fact using the internet to start their research before making important purchases and if you’re not online, you’ve already eliminated your company from being in the running. Who is this guide for? This guide is for you if…  You’re not sure where to start in the website design process  You’re not sure if your business needs a website  You have been putting off getting a website because you’re confused about the process Once you’re done reading this guide, you should be ready to finally tackle that new website or website redesign project. Knowledge is power and this is my attempt to make sure you’re well equipped to handle this important piece of your online branding strategy. Is this guide really necessary? Nope, you don’t have to read another word. You can call us at 866-874-3647 and we can walk you through the process. This guide was created for people that need a lot of fundamental information, the whole shebang, from start to finish. Now if you’re going to read the entire manual, please know that you can always call us for clarification or questions that may not have been covered. I’m doing my best to give you as much information as possible, but because I’m only human, I may have left out something that you’ve been dying to know.
  3. 3. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 2 of 9 Are there different types of websites? Yes, there are different types. I don’t think I need to reiterate the importance of having a website. I’m sure you’ve heard it a bazillion times. So now you’re completely aware of the fact that you need a website, I want to talk about some of the different types of websites available. The type of website you choose really depends on the type of business you’re in and what you expect to gain from having this online real estate. The biggest thing to remember is that your website is a serious investment because it represents your brand. A well though-out website can be very profitable. Here are some of the most commonly requested websites. I’ve include dollar symbols next to each type of site just to show where each type of site sits in terms of budget with a single $ being the most affordable option. The One Page Website $ The One Page Website is just as it sounds, a website that only has one page. This page often has your contact information, who you are, what your company offers, hours of operation and directions to your office. Don’t let this simple little site fool you, if it’s done right, it can get the job done! This type of site is usually a great option for businesses with a small budget not looking for a lot of maintenance. As your business grows, you can always add to your One Page Website. The Brochure Website $$ The Brochure Website is another really simple website. This type of site usually has about 3-8 pages. The pages usually include:  Home  About  Services  Testimonials  Contact Us The Brochure Website is a little more money than the One Page Website but serves a similar purpose in just giving your prospects the basics about your company. These type of sites are often not going to get a ton of repeat visitors but they will make sure that each visitor has the skinny on what you offer and who you are. The Online Marketing Website $$ - $$$ This type of website is perfect for companies looking to use their website for lead generation. It includes all of the pages in the Brochure Website and some other pieces that include free offers, email subscription or signup forms, search engine optimization, resources or tools that will encourage frequent visits from prospects, a blog,
  4. 4. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 3 of 9 etc. This type of website also requires maintenance because for it to be really effective, you will need regular search engine optimization (which requires a monthly fee, SEO will be discussed later) and regular content changes. Simple Ecommerce Website $$$ - $$$$ This type of website is pretty similar to the Online Marketing website, you want to drive traffic to your website except in this case; you want people to buy something. This site is a starter ecommerce site for companies that can still manually process orders. Once your business is too busy to manually process orders, you can upgrade to a Catalog Ecommerce Website that has features like automatic inventory control, better order fulfillment and tracking control, etc. The Catalog Ecommerce Website allows you to focus on sales rather than system maintenance. Customer Service Website $$$ - $$$$ A Customer Service Website works best for companies that need regular communication with current clients or customers. This type of websites is created for scheduling appointments, making payments, downloading files and forms, accessing client only pages, etc. This is a perfect solution for companies looking to reduce incoming customer service phone calls. Membership Website $$$$ This type of website is often for a club, community or business model that requires members and some type of registration. Membership Websites often have all of the regular pages of the brochure website but also contain a members only area that is password protected, the ability for users to purchase a membership, a backend that allows the business owner to manage memberships, and a forum and/or discussion board. What’s involved in getting a website setup? Now that you have a basic understanding of what a website is and how it could help your business, let’s talk about what having a website created consists of. Here are the basic steps in getting started. 1. You need to purchase a domain (your www.yourbusinessname.com; typically $10-$50 per year). We can register a domain for you with our company or you can do it yourself using companies like Godaddy.com or Hostgator.com. What is a domain? A domain name is a unique name that identifies an internet resource such as a website. It is often identified as www.yourbusinessname.com, www.yourbusinessname.org, www.yourbusinessname.net, etc. A domain is also referred to as a URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or website name/location.
  5. 5. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 4 of 9 You will never own your domain, you’re simply leasing it and if you don’t renew it you run the risk of losing it forever. 2. Deciding what type of website is needed and in alignment with your budget (our free consultation makes this super easy for you) 3. Once you know what type of website you want, you need to decide how you want it to look and function 4. The site is designed and the copy is written to your satisfaction 5. The hosting is setup (hosting requires a fee; often about $20 per month) 6. Search engine optimization also known as SEO (if purchased) is done to help you get traffic to your website 7. Your site is ready for your online visitors How Much Should You Pay for a Professional Website? How much is it going to cost me? $500? $5,000? $15,000? This is typically one of the first questions I hear from business owners that have made the decision to get or revamp a website. And like a broken record, I explain to them that it depends on the goals and features they want incorporated into their site. In a perfect situation, I’d schedule a consultation so that I can learn more about the business of the prospective client and uncover the purpose and expected features of the website. A red flag should pop up when a designer can give you an all-in-one quote without knowing anything about your business or why you need a website. Often times business owners don’t truly understand the work that goes into creating the perfect website. If done correctly, it’s more than just being pretty to the eye. If you own a business, your website is one of the most important online marketing assets to your bottom line. This is the first impression visitors will get about your business. I understand that most companies have budgets in place, but trust me when I say your website is not where you want to cut corners. The “I just need something basic” syndrome I don’t need anything fancy or expensive. I’m just looking for a basic website just to have an online presence. This is one of the other common ingredients of a conversation I generally have with business owners. I get it with the budget thing, but let’s be honest, people do judge a book by its cover and the same will hold true for your website. The features and look of your website have to match how you want to interact with your customers. The problem with shopping around The worst thing a business owner can do regarding their website is to price shop. This is a terrible way of finding the best designer for your project. There is nothing wrong with looking for the best value, but
  6. 6. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 5 of 9 it should never be based solely on price. A few things you should consider when getting multiple quotes is: 1. How long has the company or person been designing websites? Experience is extremely important because you want someone that can handle unexpected problems that may come up during your project. You also want someone that will be there for future questions. There is nothing worse than hiring a designer, getting your website started or created and then the designer disappears. You need someone that you can reach out to if you have questions or need support months after the project has been completed. 2. Are you comparing apples to apples? When reviewing quotes, it’s important to take a close look at what you are getting for each proposal. The website quote that is the most expensive may actually be giving you the biggest bang for your buck and it can also be the other way around. 3. Does the company or designer you are hiring have SEO or marketing experience? At first glance, I know this may seem like a silly question. After all, you are just looking for someone to build your website. This method of thinking should be completely washed out of your mind. There are over 300 million websites online so you really need someone that can help yours stand out. While it may be tempting to let your neighbor’s son design your site for 50 bucks, you need to do your due diligence. Everyone knows someone that builds websites in their spare time, but it’s more than knowing a little HTML, WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. There is an art to creating a great site. Would you let your cousin add a new room to your home just because he built a cool dog house during shop class in junior high? 4. Is the company or designer familiar with website conversion? The goal of your website is to definitely attract more business. You need a designer that can give you advice and help you create elements on your site that will convert visitors in to leads. 98% of all new website visitors won’t return to your website, so this may be your only shot to hook them. This is a key component to a successful website. Give me all the bells and whistles Don’t get fooled into getting more website than you need. Your designer should consult with you to learn about your business and help you decide what type of site will work best for you. Now at the same time, if your business model requires a hefty site, understand that it will cost you. Some things that typically drive up design costs include heavy graphics (videos, audio, images, etc.), membership or subscription features, e-commerce functions, project management or client log-in features, online magazine sites and custom graphics just to name a few. Are there any cost other than the website design fees? Other fees that you’ll need to budget for will include:
  7. 7. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 6 of 9  Your Domain Registration  Website Hosting  Search Engine Optimization  Copy-writing (only if you need to hire professional writers for the content on your website) No matter what price you pay for your website or who you let design it, make sure that it serves its purpose. A great designer doesn’t always mean expensive and an inexpensive designer doesn’t always mean poor quality. Tips for Planning Your Website Project Planning a website can be a tough task so I thought I’d create a planning guide that will help relieve some of the stress. After all who couldn’t use less stress? Life is so much easier when there’s a template or map to give you direction. This website planning section is a great fit for website projects of all sizes. What is the goal or objective of your website? Websites are created for different reasons so it’s important for you to decide why you need a website. Here are some questions that will help you identify the goals of your website project.  Will you be using this website as a primary source for generating income?  Is it to increase brand awareness?  Will you sell products on your website?  Will you be promoting a cause?  Do you want to offer resources to current customers or online visitors?  Will customers need to register and set up an account on your website? Understanding why you need a website will help when it’s time to get the layout and content created. Who are you creating your website for? Knowing who you want to target has to be identified before you start the website design process. Everything your website represents will be directly linked to who you want to attract to your website. Why should prospects do business with you? Is there anything that makes your business stand out from its competitors? Your website needs to showcase your core strengths. Here are examples to help you get started:  Are you more hands-on than your competitors?  Do you have better pricing?
  8. 8. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 7 of 9  Are you offering better quality?  Do you provide extra steps that your competitors omit?  Do you have a proven track record of success? How will your website be structured? There are so many beautiful and creative websites online that are simply unable to attract quality leads. Having a website that is only aesthetically appealing may not get you to your end goal. It’s important to structure your website in a way that makes sense for the people you want to attract. It’s generally not a good idea to make things overly complicated. You want people to land on your page and easily be able to find what they are looking for, if not they’ll most likely leave. Research Look at some of the websites of your competitors and take notes of what you like and don’t like. When you’re browsing through their website be sure to look at things like their content, features, overall design, functions and navigation. It’s not a good idea to make your website a replica of your competitor’s but the notes you take will help you get a better handle on the details you’d like to include on your own website. Create a content strategy Your content strategy is the information you will be displaying on your website and how you plan on presenting it to online visitors. The content is anything that gives website visitors information and can include:  Blog posts  Documents  Videos  Pictures (gallery, slideshows, etc.)  Embedded social media feeds (Twitter, Facebook, etc.)  Audio  Whitepapers  E-books Your content strategy is the method in which you plan to present or deliver information to your audience over a period of time. For example, you may want to publish a blog post 3 times a week and a video once a week. Your content strategy will play a huge role in the success of your website. Now of course these tips are just a few on the long list of developing an awesome website. If you’re stuck in the process and not sure where to go, contact us today at 866-874-3647 for a free evaluation or consultation.
  9. 9. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 8 of 9 Handy Website Design Glossary Blog: Blog is short for Web Log. Blogs are regularly updated websites or web pages, typically run by an individual or small group; that is written in an informal or conversational style. Copyright: Copyright is a legal means of protecting an author's work. It is a type of intellectual property that provides exclusive publication, distribution, and usage rights for the author. This means whatever content the author created cannot be used or published by anyone else without the consent of the author. The length of copyright protection may vary from country to country, but it usually lasts for the life of the author plus 50 to 100 years. Content Management System: Abbreviated as CMS, a content management system, also called a Web management system is software or a group or suite of applications and tools that enable an organization to seamlessly create, edit, review and publish electronic text. Domain: A domain name is a unique name that identifies an internet resource such as a website. It is often identified as www.yourbusinessname.com, www.yourbusinessname.org, www.yourbusinessname.net, etc. A domain is also referred to as a URL or website name/location. Email: Email, short for "electronic mail," is one of the most widely used features of the Internet, along with the web. It allows you to send and receive messages to and from anyone with an email address, anywhere in the world. Search Engine Optimization or SEO: Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the visibility of a website or a web page in a search engine's "natural" or un-paid ("organic") search results. Social Media:
  10. 10. Phone: 866-874-3647 Fax: 206-333-1161 Website: www.apexassising.com 9 of 9 Social media is a collection of Internet-based communities that allow users to interact with each other online. This includes web forums, wikis, and user-generated content (UGC) websites. However, the term is most often used to describe popular social networking websites, which include the following:  Facebook  Twitter  LinkedIn  Pinterest  Instagram URL: Stands for Uniform Resource Locator. A site’s URL is its address, the item that specifies where on the Internet it can the found. Also known as the domain. Web Browser: A web browser, or simply "browser," is an application used to access and view websites. Common web browsers include Microsoft Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, and Apple Safari. Web Page: A hypertext document connected to the World Wide Web. This page often represents text and/or photographs. Website: A location connected to the Internet that maintains one or more pages on the World Wide Web. Thanks for reading! I hope this has helped. Need additional help? Give us a call at 866-874-3647.

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