WHY YOUR BUSINESS NEEDS A WEBSITE AND A DIGITAL PRESENCE
The goal of every business person is to develop solutions in the form of services and products that work for their clients. They spend significant amounts of effort, time and resources to develop these solutions in an effort to satisfy their target markets, stay competitive and achieve relevance in their domains of practice. As a business person, you want your solutions to reach as many people as possible, to increase the likelihood that interested individuals, institutions, organizations or establishments can be reached.
Traditionally, the easiest ways to access potential clients has been setting up a shop, office or physical address where people passing by are able to see the shop and probably check in to make inquiries and probably make purchases. Business practice has always gotten more creative over time in an attempt to try access a wider array of audiences including the use of moving advertisements, television advertisements, radio and mainstream public media. A list of products, services and contacts on a banner in multiple locations far away from your physical address like other forms of advertisements has come in handy in an attempt to access more potential customers.
In comes the Internet
The advent of internet technology has diversified clusters of target groups further. Large groups of people can be reached everyday on internet forums, social media platforms, search engine pages among other digital addresses. Forms of entertainment have diversified so much that so many people can be reached on YouTube for instance, far more people to be precise, than you would reach people on Cable News Networks. This calls for creativity and more critical analysis by business people when working to reach more people.
You have established a physical address, some good physical branding, banners, posters, brochures, catalogues and the business is “happening”. We believe it’s important that you consider the possibility of reaching beyond the “physical” target. A well designed and managed digital presence is instrumental in getting your business to the next level. Today, the internet commands a huge number of following that cuts across all possible cultural, ideological and economic strata. Exploiting the power of the internet in modern times is a practice that every business person needs to adopt if they truly intend to grow and propel their practice to greater heights. This not only applies to just business people, but to every facet of practice that has growth as part of their goals.
Here are some starting places for access to wider audiences on the internet for growth:
- Social media presence
- Digital Branding
- Digital Marketing
- Search Engine Optimization
Just like the conventional strategy of placing your services, products, solutions and contacts on a banner and getting it to be seen by as many people as possible on, say, a moving truck or on television screens, You need an internet address with the respective information. Information about the business, what it’s all about, a concise description of the business, a detailed list of products, services and solutions, contact details and a summary of all this information on the primary address of the business on the internet. This is the starting point of your journey to accessing the wide pool of audience clusters on the internet.
Understanding a Website
The Domain Name
Domain names are used worldwide, particularly in the world of networks and data communication. The following points explain how they work and how they are used:
- Domain names have two parts that are separated by a dot, such as example.com.
- A domain name can be used to identify a single IP address or group of IP addresses.
- A host or organization may use a domain name as an alternate IP address because domain names are alphanumeric (as opposed to all numbers), making them easier to memorize.
- A domain name is used as part of a URL to identify a website.
- The part that follows the dot is the top level domain (TLD), or group to which the domain name belongs. For example, .gov is the TLD for U.S. government domains.
- The IP address in the domain name’s background is converted to a recognizable, alphanumeric domain name by a system known as the domain name system (DNS).
Important parts of a website
- Website logo
The logo section of the website will commonly be the space for identifying the website brand. While personal blogs and other non-brand-driven websites may only include the name of the website here, this spot is the first point of call for establishing a brand on the website. This image or text is often linked to the website main page, often known as “home”.
The header is the top portion of the website, often containing the website logo as well as the main menu. The header is often a permanent fixture of the website, where the main content might scroll beneath it. The header contains information that is important to website navigation.
Menus, often placed at an easy-to-reach place on the website, provide a way to navigate the website in an easy way. A main menu is often contained in the header, or on a collapsible pane (especially in mobile views of websites), and allows navigation through the pages of the website.
The body area of a website is the area of the website that contains the most content. There are a number of different kinds of content. Specific pages will contain specific content. The home page depicted contains examples of these types of content in ways that would be displayed on a home page.
- Highlighted content
Highlighted content, often exclusively on the home page, guides visitors to parts of your website that will convert into website goals. Website goals are the actions, interactions, etc. on your website that fulfil the very purpose of your website. Booking a flight on a travel agent’s website, or buying goods on an online store are examples of this.
- Call To Action (CTA)
CTAs are important for guiding visitors to your website to important information, completing website goals, and navigating your website. CTAs can be obvious, such as buttons, or more subtle, like linking within text, but all serve the same purpose: guiding visitors to information that is relevant to them.
While many modern websites with flat design elements frame the body content within the full width of the website, sidebars are very common website elements that haven’t disappeared entirely. Sidebars, like menus, often help with navigation. When large amount of information, like multiple blog posts, or products need to be ordered, a sidebar can help. Sidebars are often used in displaying related bits of information, contain CTAs, or guide visitors to the next step after they’ve read a post or added a product to their cart (for example).
- Posts and “feed” content
A handy way to get visitors to your website engaging with the content on your website is by offering a “feed” of content. This, like a slideshow of recommended products or, in this case, the latest blog posts, serves to pique the visitor’s interest and guide them to completing website goals (in the case of the dummy website, reading a blog post).
- Internal Links
Internal links are useful for creating an ideal flow through your website. In the example, the link takes users to the blog page, where they can peruse the full list of blog posts and find something that interests them and effectively completing a website goal. Sidebar content and highlighted content CTAs are another way of achieving the same thing, with an even more effective attention grabbing effect.
Forms are ideal ways of gathering information from your visitors. Contact forms are very common, and work to get the name and a means of contacting visitors at the very least. Sign-up forms, application forms, shipping information forms, and the like are other examples of how forms are used on websites. Forms are an easy and intuitive way for your visitors, from whatever level of technological background, to get the correct information to you.
As CTAs, prompts to complete an interaction like a form, or simply as a link to another part of your website (menus use this often) buttons are handy interactive parts of your website that prompt engagement. Unique styling to these parts of the website can be helpful in brand building, highlighting the CTA related, and guiding the visitor’s eye to a particular piece of information.
The footer is the round-up of the website. Typically the footer will contain important links on the website, or, sometimes, links to all of the pages of the website. A copyright and date stamp is common, to protect the information on your website and let visitors know when your website was last updated. Any other pertinent information – perhaps a mini contact form, a CTA, a scrolling photo gallery, or any other permanent information you would like to display at the end of every page – is contained in the footer.
- Social links
Social media links are a popular addition to most websites. While the example show the links in the footer, social media links can be displayed on any part of the website. If a visitor likes your website, wants to get updates from your website via social media, or simply prefers getting in contact via social media, these links will prompt further engagement with your website.
A social media presence is almost essential to creating and maintaining a brand online and is a huge help with engaging with your online audience.