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Small Business Web Design
- what are your options?

For small business web design, whether you've already registered your domain name or not, there are basically three options:

1. DIY - do it yourself!

2. Pay a third party web design company to do it for you

3. Hybrid - a mixture of #1+2 (explained below)

We'll look at each small business web design option in detail in a little while. Which one of these you choose is heavily influenced by both your budget and the purpose of your web site. Broadly speaking, the purpose is likely to fall into one of the following four categories:

1. Internet presence

2. Provide leads for your business

3. PRE-sell products

4. Sell products.

Categories of Web Sites

Let's look at each of these in a bit more detail:

1. Internet presence

As you realise you need a web site these days (preferably before all of your competitors also have one!) and all you want is a basic web site that lets your potential customers know details about your existing bricks-and-mortar business, this is the simplest small business web design option.

You can include such things as your address, directions or a map to enable your customers to find you easily, some background about your company, testimonials from existing customers etc., etc. The price of this small business web design compares very favourably to a 'Yellow Pages' ad. or any other way you may already use to promote your business. It also has tremendous potential to expand your customer base as more and more people gain access to the internet and are increasingly using it to find local retailers and services.

2. Provide leads for your business

If you sell a service or a high ticket item and you want more than just an internet presence, this is probably your small business web design category. It is very difficult (not impossible, but certainly very difficult) to sell high ticket items straight off a web page unless you have a strong recognised 'brand' name e.g. Cadillac, Sony etc. Even then people invariably use the internet for research about the product, or to find the cheapest place to buy once they already know what they want.

If your profession sells any kind of service (unless it's solely internet based e.g. providing web sites with internet merchant accounts), such as insurance, plumber, any kind of consultant, or decorator etc., the internet provides the perfect medium to explode your profit potential.

Your web site will be working for you 24/7 to let your potential customers know about you, whether they're down the road or around the world!

3. PRE-sell products

This is an interesting category that most people don't consider. There are two main reasons to have a small business web design that falls into this category:

1. To generate traffic (visitors) to your main company web site that sells your products online, by providing valuable free information about your particular field.

For example, if you sell golf equipment, you can build a web site that has loads of useful information about golf including, say, ways to improve your putting, product reviews etc., then link to your product web site for visitors to buy your recommendations.

If you do this right (and I'll tell you the best resources for this small business web design a bit later), this second site can easily become your product web site's single biggest traffic generator.


2. You don't have any products of your own or you want to expand your current product range to create additional revenue for your business. To stay with our golf example - you build the information web site as above but you link to other golf web sites that sell the products and pay you a percentage of the sale as a commission. These operations are called affiliate, associate or partner schemes. There are thousands of them already on the internet for virtually every product you can think of.

Even if you have your own golf equipment web site, you could also use the information web site to link to the sites of other golf-related products that you don't sell e.g. golf holidays, books, videos etc.

It is important to recognise the basic difference between PRE-selling and selling.

The former small business web design creates an open-to-buy mind set in your visitors by establishing your credentials in your field by providing high-quality information for free, and then recommending certain products. The latter aims to sell your products straight off the web page.

4. Sell Products

This should be fairly self-explanatory. You want a small business web design that enables your potential customers to order and pay for your products online, by credit or debit card.

This small business web design can vary enormously in complexity from a single product, or just a handful of selected products, to a full 'shopping cart' system (you've probably seen these on '' and similar large sites) that can store the details of, and process the orders for, thousands of different products.

One thing that is often overlooked here is that there is little point developing this more complex 'shopping cart' functionality into your small business web design, even if you sell quite a large number of products, unless your customers are likely to buy more than one or two different products at the same time. 'View your Shopping Cart' just adds an additional step before making a sale, and that is always bad news!

For example, we sell hand-painted oil paintings on our first web site. What are the chances of a customer buying more than one oil painting at a time, given that we also have several multiple purchase offers and a separate 'business to business' page? Probably very small, so we decided against a shopping cart.

We sell more than 50 'Old Master' reproductions online with a simple to set-up, but totally secure, credit card facility from one of the leading 'Payment Service Providers'. We did this ourselves, with no prior knowledge, so anyone can do the same. More about how to do this later, if this interests you.

Now let's look at your small business web design options...

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