Ideas

Does Your Business Have an Online Presence?

Consumer behaviour is changing rapidly. 5-10 years ago if you were looking for a business or service then it would normally be a case of cracking open that big yellow directory or perhaps call a friend. People are now far more likely to do a search in Google or ask a group of friends over Facebook for a link to the company’s website.

This shift in behaviour now means that almost all companies need an online presence, whether you’re selling homemade jam, car finance, or window cleaning services. The cost of creating an online presence is low but the rewards are high. Online marketing is cheap yet scalable. You can discover a wider audience for your product or service, and quickly build loyalty and return custom.

Having an online presence for your business is now much more than having a company website. You can now share your company messages via social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and via video on YouTube and Vimeo. Having a company blog is also a great addition to help make your company more accessible and give it a more human/personal feel.

It can seem like a daunting step to get your business online. Thankfully it is now really quick and easy to go from not even having a domain name (eg. www.domain.co.uk) to owning a fully-fledged website that looks professional.

Over the last 12 months more and more of my friends and family have been setting up websites for their SMB’s or start-up companies. They often come to me with the same question – What are the best steps I can take to create a website? Below are the steps I always advise to take.

Getting started with a professional, affordable website

Register a domain name (from £2.95pa ex VAT)

A domain name is the URL that people will use to access your website such as www.bbc.co.uk. It’s important to spend time choosing a name that reflects your company as it is likely you will also use this for your email addresses (joe.bloggs@bbc.co.uk). Click here to find out if the domain you want is available.

Hosting (from £3.49pm ex VAT)

Once you have your domain name you will need website hosting. Hosting is the “space” where your website files are stored, the platform for your website. Click here to view our hosting packages.

WordPress

Now that you have your domain name and somewhere to upload the website to you have some options open to you. There are lots of different ways to create a website, you could hire a web designer to create it or perhaps download software such as Dreamweaver and design it from scratch yourself. Unfortunately both of these steps are quiet daunting and is where many people new to creating websites get put off.

In the last few years an excellent free online tool has emerged bringing web design to the masses. The tool is called WordPress and whilst it was originally intended for creating blogs (such as this one) it has become much more than that. You can now install free themes (website templates) that give you a fully functioning and professional website.

WordPress is free and so are many of the themes you can install. It is “open source” which means people all over the world are designing new templates and plugins for it and offer these out free or for a small fee.

Whilst there are thousands of free WordPress themes available online it is sometimes worth spending that little bit more for a professional finish. ThemeTrust are one of the best I’ve come across if you are happy to spend £30-£50 on a theme. They offer themes such as Reveal which is mobile optimised and looks fantastic.

You can install WordPress on Fasthosts hosting really easily with our free OneClick installer.

If you don’t yet have a company website then there has never been a better time to get started. It’s affordable for businesses of any size and you don’t need to have any prior knowledge of web design. And thanks to the evolution of WordPress you can have a site within minutes that rivals the most impressive of websites.

Written by James Hay, Social Media Coordinator, Fasthosts Internet Ltd.


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