Portland, Maine Web Services – Internet Presence and Website Development
Since you are here, you already know that the Internet is critical to your success. It’s clear that the Internet has reshaped the face of commerce.We offer the following questions for small business owners to consider when evaluating their firm’s Internet strategy.
Does my small business really need a website?
According to most experts the answer is a resounding yes. No matter what size your business is, or what industry you’re in –even if you never plan to handle any transactions online–the value of a web site as a marketing tool vastly outweighs the cost of creating and maintaining the site.
In the U.S., recent Pew surveys found that 90 percent of American adults currently use the Internet, with almost 73 percent of American households now possessing broadband (high-speed) Internet access. Mary Madden, a researcher at the Pew Internet and American Life Project, notes that 32 percent of adults say the Internet has profoundly changed the way they shop and gather information. “Many people begin their shopping with a visit to Google or another search portal,” she says. “More and more people look at online phone directories before they pull out the Yellow Pages.” And, of course, Internet use by young people, especially teenagers, is even higher than that of adults. Today’s children and teens will become tomorrow’s consumers, likely to consider the Internet an integral part of seeking out product information, locating businesses, and even purchasing products or services.
This means that if your business doesn’t have a presence on the Internet, you may end up overlooked by potential consumers, including many from outside the geographical area in which you normally operate and advertise.
How difficult is it to create a website?
Getting your business onto the Internet is not terribly difficult. We are a full service web provider (i.e., Internet strategy, web development, web design, site hosting, maintenance, etc.) and you can participate as little or as much as you like in the process. Spire Express will obtain a domain name (Internet address) for your company’s site, put together email accounts, set up hosting and install WordPress. The look and feel of a WordPress site is determined by its ‘theme’. We can install an off-the-shelf theme (less expensive) and customize it for you, or build a theme from scratch based on your old site or sketches. We walk and talk you through the entire process to make sure you receive the website that you need.
Do I need to have an eCommerce web site?
While eCommerce — buying and selling merchandise online — is a major buzzword, and surely a growing trend, not all businesses require eCommerce to have a successful web presence. Professional practices, for example, may benefit from simply having a website that outlines the services offered and the professionals available, gives office hours, and lists contact information. A service-oriented firm, on the other hand, might offer a way for online visitors to schedule an appointment. Businesses that sell products, on the other hand, need e-commerce options. These include credit card and payment processing, secured online transactions, billing and shipping notification, and customer feedback. All of these functions are provided by the Woo Commerce plugin for WordPress. Woo Commerce works seamlessly within WordPress, and will take on the style of your site so that the store pages look similar to the rest of the site without too much additional work.
What should I consider when building a web site?
It’s important to choose the right company to help build your site. Since keeping a web site current is often important to a business, we primarily use WordPress, which is a content management system (CMS). A CMS makes it easy for you to change your web site, if the need arises, adding or deleting information or changing the site’s appearance. The back end for the CMS is run in a web browser, so there is no need for any specialized software. You will also be able to update your ecommerce pages from within WordPress, keeping your inventory up-to-date and fulfilling/tracking customer orders.
You’ll also want you to keep track of your website’s usage. As part of our comprehensive services, we offer an excellent online statistics package that lets you see statistics showing how many people are visiting the site, where they come from, and what they are looking at on the site. Such statistics will be useful in evaluating what elements of your web site are attracting consumers, and what your geographical reach may be.
What information should I put on my web site?
Since your website may be the first exposure a consumer has to your business, you want to keep your website as professional as possible while making it absolutely clear exactly what your business does.
Equally important is providing contact information. So make sure that your website at least features your business address and telephone or fax numbers. Email is another great option, which provides website visitors the chance to communicate directly from the site. If you offer email contact information on your site, make certain you have someone check the incoming email regularly. Unanswered email is a surefire way of irritating a customer.
How often should my business’s website be updated?
Internet users have become accustomed to up-to-the-minute news and information, so it’s a good idea to keep your website as current as possible. Not every website needs to be updated every day, but you want to make certain that all the information you have on it is accurate. When aspects of your business change, make sure that your website reflects those changes as soon as possible. This includes people who join or leave the company, changes in client-relevant company policies, events sponsored by your firm, or products and services offered.
Even if your business isn’t a whirlwind of change, it’s probably a good thing to alter your web site’s appearance every so often, or add company news and information that can be updated weekly or monthly. This is especially important from a search engine marketing (SEM) aspect.
What are the web hosting aspects with which I should be concerned?
- How much storage space do I need (will you be serving media files)?
- How much bandwidth is provided (how much traffic is expected)?
- What level of security is required (do you handle credit cards or other sensitive info)?
- Are there any custom applications required for your business?
- How many email accounts are needed (email is frequently hosted on a third-party site)?
- Do you offer spam filtering on the provided email accounts?
- Do you provide auto-responders for the email accounts?
- What is the guaranteed uptime for the web site?
If you’d like to fill out the survey and email it, click the red button, then click the download button on the right side of the resultant form. The pdf has fillable form fields. Complete the survey and email to firstname.lastname@example.org. OR, click the print button, fill it out by hand, and fax it to 207-773-8597.