based on BTOpenWorld's business factsheets

Why Set Up a Business Website?

  • To advertise/publicise your company.
  • To collect information for market research or sales leads.
  • Instant communication between your business and customers.
  • Information about your business can be constantly updated and improved.
  • Exposure to national/international markets means your business can compete at an equal level with large multi-national companies.
  • Trading online means reduced costs and an increased customer base, which can in turn lead to increased sales.
Getting Started

Two options:
  1. Simple website running on a leased server from a web hosting company.
    Cheaper and easier option if your business doesn't need total control over their website.
  2. Business-owned web server.
    Running a web server can cost many thousands of pounds to set up. While server space can always be leased to other small firms, the costs can add up. Realistically, only very large companies will have this sort of capacity.

Planning a Website

Questions to ask:

  • What's the website for and how important is it to your business?
  • Is it just to keep up with the competition, expand into new markets, building a contact database or to project a modern image for your business?
Things to consider next:
  • Information to be included e.g. business profile, contact details, range of products/services.
  • Competition - look at how your competitors are using their websites to sell their products.
  • Choosing a name - see CHOOSING A DOMAIN NAME.
  • Databases - it's possible to integrate a database into a website, especially if the website will feature constantly changing and large volume of information, e.g. news archive or product catalogue. It's best to seek advice regarding the type of database needed for your business.
  • Security - is a priority as confidential information must not be made available over the internet. You might want to limit access to some areas of the site. This can be achieved by installing a user password system.
Designing and Constructing a Website

Setting up the site:
  • Web space.
  • Simple clear website design to start off with.
  • Get a professional agency to develop the website or you can learn HTML/use HTML packages to do it yourself. (HTML is the language used to format web pages). Examples of HTML packages include: FrontPage, Dreamweaver and HotMetal Pro.
  • Transfer the web files to your web space using File Transfer Protocol (FTP). Software packages you can use to do this include: CuteFTP and WS_FTP.
Managing a Website
  • Register your website with search engines.
  • Update the content of your website regularly.
  • Analyse the number of visitors to your website, how long they stay, what links they use most etc. Most web hosting companies provide these kind of statistics as part of their web hosting package. This information can then be used for sales or market research purposes.
  • Handle feedback by setting up a system or allocate staff to respond to emails.
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