So what’s the best way to find a great web or information technology services partner to work with and then get the most out of that relationship?
1. Domain names
Choosing the right domain name is an important branding decision which impacts how your organization is perceived and also how it is found in the search engines. Purchasing from a cheap bulk registrar or choosing can spell trouble.
2. Website Design & Development Services
Find a provider that specializes in small business web design and development. An organization that offers a solutions-based approach can assist your company in doing thorough needs analysis and in designing all of the elements to work well together. First impressions count!
3. E-mail Management
E-mail is a key communication tool for your business. The right system will help you maximize communications within the company, on the road and with your customers..
4. Social Media
Social media such as blogging, Podcasting and other web 2.0 tools can greatly enhance customer communications. Your web services company should be able to help you evaluate how social media tools can best benefit your web presence and business objects.
5. Small Business Website Hosting Services
All web hosting is NOT created equal. There are many nuances and technical consideration involved with hosting solutions. It is best to stay away from budget hosting companies. Look for a managed hosting provider who can help you select the right plan for your web solution goals, get your website up and running and support you as it grows and evolves.
6. Website Maintenance
How will your site be maintained and updated? Having both small business web development and managed web site hosting as a package is immensely helpful for maximizing web server resources, identifying problems and keeping the site maintained and updated.
Will you be actually selling on your site or using it for lead generation or information dissemination? If you are selling products, who will create and maintain your product database. How will transactions be handled? What about web server requirements? Working with a professional can help ensure you make the right choices for your e-commerce site.
8. Business Process Interaction
(database development, customer relationship management, integration with your business management systems) – A website needs to be more than just an ad on the Internet to be effective as a business tool. There are many ways the web can be used to improve your business processes and integrate with your existing systems such as accounting or contact management.
9. Website Marketing
How will people find you on the web? Will you optimize your site for organic search or employ paid marketing techniques or a combination? What directories should you list your site in? Search engine marketing has evolved to be a complex specialty. It’s critical that you understand the tools available for driving traffic to your site and if needed, know how to evaluate and engage a web marketing specialist.
9. Website Analytics and Conversion
Having a great site isn’t enough if your visitors aren’t doing what you intended; buying something, contacting your company or using your site for an information source. Does your site have usability issues? What kind of reporting will you use to track site visitors? What do you need to know and do to convert your visitors into action-takers?
10. Can I still do it myself?
Working with a good provider of information technology services doesn’t mean you can’t do anything yourself. In fact, a reputable and innovative IT company should educate you on how to better manage your technology needs and investments. There are still a lot of day-to-day tasks you can and should do within your organization, depending on your skill level, time and desire. The point is to keep your computer support services partner in the loop and use their expertise and input on major technology decisions.
It’s a Process and a Work in Progress
While there is certainly a lot to think about, creating the best possible website solution for your business doesn’t have to be overwhelming. Your website can and should be a work in progress, evolving as your business grows. Because most small businesses do not have an internal IT staff to handle the technical elements of web development and planning, working with a web solutions provider that specializes in small business website hosting services and small business web design and development is a good start. Such an organization can help you identify your goals, manage the technical aspects of your site and guide you in your marketing efforts. They can also help you work within your budget to develop a plan that combines all the elements into a cohesive whole for creating and maintaining a successful web presence.