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The Small Business e-commerce solution


Web Site Design and Content
The internet is full of information covering these issues. However, the only points you need to be aware of right now are as follows:

1. Content.

Probably the most important aspect of your web site is its content. In fact, "Content is King". Now I can hear you saying already, "what content could I possibly provide which relates to my small business". When we talk of content, we must think of the people visiting your site - potential and existing customers. Let's take a small Restaurant for example. What content could they possible supply that would be of interest to a visitor.

How about starting with:

  • The Menu.
  • Chefs suggestions.
  • Customer testimonials.
  • Weekly or Monthly Specials.
  • A wine list with descriptions and suggestions
  • A list of frequently asked questions.
  • Details of any special catering services they might offer.
  • A Special recipes section prepared by the Chef.
  • Competitions.
  • Photos of the premises and staff.
  • A section where the visitor can leave their email address so that they can be notified of special occasions etc.
  • A special reminder service aimed at reminding an individual of any occasions which might get them into 'hot water' if they forget i.e wedding anniversaries.
  • An online reservation form.

In fact, for those actually operating a Restaurant, I'm sure they can come up with many other potential content areas.

It does not matter what type of small business you operate. The above suggestions can easily be adopted to your specific area of business. This will ensure that your web site does contain the sort of content which will benefit "ALL" visitors (potential and existing customers) to your site.

2. Design

Keep it simple. A visitor is after information about your businesses products and/or services. They don't want to "waste time" being dazzled with flashy web site design. It's important to note that this does go against many of the design 'experts' recommendations. My personal opinion on why design 'experts' are against the use of simple sites goes something like this. A simple and clean site takes very little time to construct and maintain once you've organised the content as described previously. This greatly limits the amount of money which such a firm can extract from you. However, by recommending a really sophisticated site with lots of graphics and other 'bells and whistles' they are in a much better position to empty your bank account. The really scary aspect of all this is that a simple and clean site will prove to be more effective than one with all the 'bells and whistles'. I'll let you work that one out.

Our personal experience proves that a simple and clean sites works. In fact, I've noted my own browsing experiences and find that sites which load quickly and present the information which I'm after are much preferred over those which try to impress using large graphics and fancy page designs etc. When I'm browsing, I'm only interested in information which will satisfy my immediate needs. If a site provides this information quickly and easily, then as far as I'm concerned it's an effective site. Why not make a note of your own observations as you browse the internet to see what you like and dislike. I'm sure you'll be surprised at what you discover.

We could devote a whole site to web site design. Fortunately, there is no need. The best place to start looking for ideas is by visiting other sites which may be similar to your line of business. From these sites, you can get some excellent ideas on what works and what doesn't work - from a design point of view. You'll suddenly see how large graphics can impede a sites functionality. You'll also discover sites that require specialised "plug-in's" to be installed on your computer before you can view the site. This is a big no-no but as you guessed it, the design 'experts' have had their way with the business owner. View the sites as a potential customer and note those things which you like and dislike. There really are no mysteries in putting a web site together. Once you've organised the content, you 80% finished.

Once again, use the
forums to ask any questions which you may have. You'll also find some valuable links in the Resource Centre.

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