The decision to have a website is a given for most entrepreneurs, but what is not so certain is the kind of website you should have. There are several different types of sites, offering a range of functionalities with prices to match, so selecting the right one is not as simple as you may have thought. What are your options, and how do you choose the right one?
Brochure websites are very basic sites that detail who you are, where you are, and what you do. As the name suggests, they are an online version of a brochure you might hand out in your store. If you just want to publicize the key details about your business but have no use for much more, these are a good low-cost option. If you want to upgrade to add more content in the future, there are add-on options that can bring content management system functionality to a static site.
Content management systems
Content management systems are the clever tools that allow anyone to edit the website without needing any knowledge of programming or HTML. Pages are edited in a user-friendly mode based on the principles of a Microsoft Word-based document or a similar, familiar template. There are many hosting companies offering CMS packages that are ideal for small businesses or freelancers who don’t want to get involved in using HTML. You can also get a wide variety of plug-ins to add extra functionality such as animated banners and editable contact forms – pretty much anything your basic site doesn’t include.
E-commerce platforms are designed for businesses who sell online rather than those who just want to market their offering. Some CMS systems have an e-commerce option to them, which may be sufficient depending on the focus of your site. It might be perfect for you if you’re selling products as a complementary aspect of your business, for example, if you are a yoga teacher and sell yoga mats, bolsters, and other accessories in addition to your main business of teaching. If your focus is solely on sales, then a hosting option like Shopify could be a good choice. Once again, the emphasis is on making these online stores simple to use without any programming skills being required, although they will require more input in terms of getting product details and photos uploaded. You will also need to think about linking to a payment gateway, and the process of stock and pricing management so the website is always up to date.
Bespoke websites are designed from scratch to suit your precise requirements. You would work with an advanced website design company who will create precisely the look and functionality you require. This is a more costly option, but unless you are a whizz at website design yourself, this may be the only way to get everything you want down to the finest detail.
When it comes to marketing your business, a website is an essential tool. It is a shop window for your company, viewable all over the world and a vital way for consumers to find out about your offer, so make sure you choose the right platform for your business.