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August 5, 2010

The Entrepreneur’s Advisor | Choosing What To Do With Your Website

This is the 5th post in the series The Ultimate Checklist for Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Micro-enterprises. Now that you have done all your research it is time to begin making decisions. The last step before setting up your new venture website is to figure out what features you will want your website or blog to have.

The Entrepreneur's Advisor stepping stones to success

The Entrepreneur's Advisor stepping stones to success

Entrepreneur Decision Time

The objectives in this section are simple but do require some thought. Now it is time to bring in your goals from your business plan to determine the tools you will need to get your idea off to a great start.

Listing Your Goals and Checking Them Twice – The Web Presence Matrix

To help make your decision you need to understand the objective of your website, the minimum information you will need to construct the site, the resources available and web design considerations. For example:

Possible Objectives

  • Brochure site: Provide information such as location, restaurant menu, photographs, promotional specials
  • Informational site: News style information, promote a cause, build trust, collect data
  • Professional Practice site: Provide information, Image branding, establish authority in field, attract clients, build trust
  • Business site: Provide information, establish subject expertise, attract clients, build trust, image branding
  • Ecommerce site: selling products over the Internet, provide information, build trust, branding

Minimum Information Required

  • Brochure site: # of pages and sub pages, keywords*
  • Informational site: # of pages and sub pages, keywords*
  • Professional Practice site: # of pages and sub pages, keywords*, description of services, Bio(s), photos
  • Business site: # of pages and sub pages, keywords*, description of services, company history, sales metrics**
  • Ecommerce site: # of pages and sub pages, keywords*, product pages, photos, company history, sales metrics**

Suggested Resources

  • Brochure site: Social media profiles
  • Informational site: Social media profiles, blog to pass on new information
  • Professional Practice site: Social media profiles, blog to establish subject authority
  • Business site: Social media profiles, blog, advanced SEO knowledge
  • Ecommerce site: Social media profiles, product reviews, professional SEO assistance, professional design, SEO measurement tools

Possible Web Design Considerations

  • Brochure site: Colorful, feature box, video, photo rotator, multiple text boxes
  • Informational site: Feature box, video, multiple text boxes/columns, contact form
  • Professional Practice site: Conservative, contact form, article archives, search box, video, widgets and plugins
  • Business site: Functional theme, multiple columns, featured articles, archives, search box, affiliate programs, video, photo rotator, landing pages, contact form, email capture, RSS feed, purchase page, pop-up lead generator, unlimited widgets and plugins, interactive forum
  • Ecommerce site: Functional design, multiple columns and areas, featured products, archives, affiliate programs, video, photo rotator, landing pages, contact form, email capture, RSS feed, check out page, pop-up lead generator, unlimited widgets and plugins, content management system, hosted solutions, managed services, professional web design
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You can see the Web Presence Matrix in an easy to read table in pdf format on our free downloads page

* Keywords are the words or short phrases that are used throughout your website and/or blog to tell search engines to list/rank your site when someone does a search with those words. Keywords are very import to establishing your website presence. A more detailed look at keywords will be provided in a separate post.

** Sales metrics refers to the sales data needed to make your business successful. This data was started in the marketing section of your business plan and includes knowing precisely how sales will be achieved, how much web traffic it will take to produce XXXX leads to produce XXX sales. It is important to have realistic expectations with a budget built from the ground up. Patience and measuring inbound marketing is critical.

Entrepreneurs Start Your Engines

As you can see, there are many types of websites and varying degrees of complexity. Simple websites and blogs can be set quickly and for very little money. A simple website may just be a few pages and a contact form. On the other hand, if you are launching a well funded new venture that is relying heavily on internet sales for revenue or you just don’t feel like you have the time or knowledge, you may want to engage the services of a professional web development company. If you do decide to outsource your web site, you will at least have a starting point for discussions.

The one item you will not want to outsource is your blog. A blog is easy to
create, keep up and is used for a variety of purposes. Blogging can be done daily, weekly or monthly. Search engines like fresh content so it is important to be consistent with new posts.

As previously mentioned a blog can be your website or an addition to your website. Free WordPress websites are common on the Internet. Increased functionality and design options can be obtained with paid WordPress themes from companies like Thesis or Headway and a combination of multiple plugins and widgets. The Entrepreneur’s Advisor makes use of The Thesis Theme for WordPress.

Now you are ready to start your web presence. Review the prior articles in this series and then:

  • Register your domain, related series article – Choosing Names for New Ventures, Domains and Social Media
  • Choose your host. The host is the site that will hold your website files for a small monthly fee. This is preferred unless you have the resources to maintain a 24/7/365 web server. The Entrepreneur’s Advisor uses HostGator.com,
  • Set up your website and/or blog. A good domain host often provides tools for ease of set up. For example, I recently set up a client’s website using HostGator. They have a wizard that enabled me to set up the WordPress theme and have the entire site up and running with 15 minutes.
  • Choose your keywords
  • Claim your social media names
  • Start writing content for website and/or blog. How to title pages and articles will be provided in an upcoming post.

The next article in this series will talk about the basics of Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and how you can help your professional practice or new venture website show up in search engine results without having to pay for SEO tools or SEO experts. I have said this in prior posts and will mention it at least a hundred more times (laughing), establishing a web presence takes time perhaps 6-18 months or more. Expecting or paying someone for quicker results is not realistic. This time line is in agreement with the time it takes to establish any business as a viable, trusted entity.

Tell us some of the web tools you use or have heard about. If you have questions please contact us. Prior articles in this series are:

  1. The Ultimate Checklist For Entrepreneurs, Innovators and Micro-enterprises
  2. Choosing Your New Venture Legal Entity
  3. Choosing Names for New Ventures, Domains and Social Media
  4. How Entrepreneurs Can Determine Their Web Presence Needs

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