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Web Studio Featured Article
Control Your website--Control Your Life
Read about what a website can do for a small business.
One of the most important steps in building a successful web site is to optimize it effectively for search engines. This can feel complicated and overwhelming, but there are a few simple steps that every company can follow that will make a huge difference in the success of the site. Companies must determine what key words prospects will enter into search engines to find businesses like theirs. It’s best to try searching on a number of different words and combinations to determine the most likely options. Then, the company can include those words in the text on its home page, and in headlines on the page using large, bold type and in product descriptions. Just this simple step can mean the difference between being found by prospects and not.
Tricia Corman, TC Designs (www.etcdesigns.com), a web site and graphic designer based in suburban Washington D.C., tried several different web design programs. “I found other programs to be horrifically cumbersome. I don’t like to stick with templates. I customize all my sites. So many of the programs out there require you to use their rigid templates in specific ways. They aren’t flexible and become a cookie cutter approach to building a site. Web Studio allows me to do what I want from a design standpoint; I can create my own designs, then drag and drop them anywhere I want on the page.”
Previously, Corman had been an interior designer. She discovered her web design program when building a family site, and found it was so easy to use, she started offering to build sites for other people and charging for her services. Having a really easy program with great flexibility gave her a lot of control and allowed her to build her business from the ground up. Now, she designs and builds sites for many regional, and even international, businesses.
“After just a few months, I was able to stop my interior design work entirely, and work from my home on my schedule,” continued Corman. “I do other design work as well, but web design is 90 to 95 percent of my business. I really see this as a logical evolution in my career – I used to design physical spaces, now I design virtual ones. Because of the flexibility my business gives me, I’m able to spend more time with my family and be more active in my community.”
While some businesses start on the web, many are existing off-line businesses that find they can move to the next level with an effective web site. Gunpoint Graphics (www.gunpointgraphics.com) in Brunson, S.C., offers custom painting services for motorcycles. Owner Jody Davis began taking on side jobs on a part-time basis in addition to his full-time job at a local paint and autobody shop, but that meant working nights and weekends on side work that he mostly got through word of mouth. Davis and his wife, Jennifer, thought it would be a good idea to post a portfolio online where they could direct prospective customers to review his work to try and build the business. Jennifer priced having a site designed, and found it prohibitive for her purposes. In her search for a designer, however, she found a program that she felt would work for her.
One of the most important steps for most businesses is to find a design that will work for the business, whether it’s a customized design or a template. Gunpoint Graphics chose not to use a template, but selected a simple, professional, appealing layout that Jennifer used as a sample, then modeled her site after it.
Within about a year of starting the web site, Jody was able to build a shop on his property, quit his day job, and pursue his business, full-time, on his own time. “Now, we have the flexibility of running our own business."
Jody and Jennifer Davis
Pam Boles, founder of Floor Mania (www.floormania.com), an online flooring company, based in Gadsden, Ala., learned the importance of search engine optimization. Floor Mania did $14,000 of business in the first month when she launched her Web Studio site and several eBay auctions the same day in July 2005. The next month, after optimizing her site for search engines by adding key words and meta tags, the business shot to $40,000 in sales. By August, Boles was able to quit her job and she and her husband now work full time with their own business which grosses over $500,000. annually.
In the flooring business, as pricing and availability change constantly, it’s important that Boles have the ability to update the site easily, quickly and efficiently on an ongoing basis.
“The real difference that having control over my web site has made in our business and in our life is that we have peace of mind – the peace of mind that comes from financial security and hope for the future,” said Boles. “We’ve been able to build up more savings, we plan to install a pool in a couple of months, and we hope that when our children get older, we’ll be able to pass this business along to them so that it is truly a family business.”
No matter what size a business is, companies can move their business to the next level and accomplish goals by following a few simple steps and managing their own web sites.
When building the site, it’s easy to focus on the design, then make selecting a hosting provider an afterthought, but it’s important to select the right hosting provider at the outset. Working with a hosting company can be complicated. Some of the common problems small businesses report with hosting companies are that they give incomplete information, use different terminology than what the company is used to with its web design software, hook up the domain names to the wrong web sites, or have technical problems that blocks web site uploads. It’s ideal to find a web design software package that offers a hosting solution, so the systems are integrated and headaches and confusion are minimized.
Author: Steve Cochard
Steve is the President of Back To the Beach Software
Everyone accepts that having a good web site is the “pay to play” of today’s businesses — no matter what size the business might be. But how can a small business create and maintain an effective web site without paying an expensive web designer? There are some simple steps businesses can take to web site success that won’t strain the technical expertise or budget of the small business owner. By managing their web sites on their own, business owners find that they can better control their businesses and their lives.
It’s important for business owners to select a web site design software package that will work for their business. They should look for products with live people offering technical support. If the company is only available via e-mail, or through a form on a web site, it’s best to look elsewhere. No matter what the user’s technical skill level, the web design program must be simple to use, so that companies don’t spend too much time building their sites, and not enough time building their business. It’s best to select software that allows a trial period and use it to build a few pages to understand the options and complexity the software provides.