Your Business Website

Here are some general factors to consider when setting up a website for your business. They include:

1. Remember that your website can be accessed by over 100 million people world-wide. This means that you will have an international audience. Therefore, spell out all information on your web pages. Don’t assume people know what you are talking about. For example, all prices should include US dollars and don’t use abbreviations only locals will understand.

2. Establish some clear goals and objectives for your website. Exactly why are you setting it up and what do you want it to do for you? If possible, set some targets and be sure to have ways to measure your results.

3. Be sure you are on the Internet yourself. Don’t just give your web page to someone else to set up and run. Your need to be available to answer questions sent to you via e-mail, and monitor the responses to your website. If you can’t do it, train your staff, spouse or children to check the e-mail everyday.

4. If possible use your site to collect data. Include a counter to measure the number of visits. Also include a guest book, questionnaire or feedback form. The more information you can get back from visitors, the more effective you can make your site. Capture e-mail addresses for marketing.

5. Be prepared to maintain and update the site. If you are using your web page to sell products and services, be sure the data is current and timely. If you don’t plan to update it on a regular basis, then “time-proof” the site, e.g., don’t use “last updated.”

6. Provide links to other related and useful sites. Provide value added services to your Net visitors. Link to local, provincial and national sites and to other complementary businesses.

Let’s take a look at what good websites should look like for some of the applications discussed above.

1. Image website. Assuming you want to project a positive image, the website should have a professional look and feel. Types of information you could include are:

  • Description of your company and operations
  • History of your business
  • Description of location
  • About you and your staff
  • Each staff member can have a page
  • Any awards your business has won
  • Interests and plans
  • Useful business information and advice
  • Photographs of your staff and business
  • Employment or work opportunities
  • Association and business memberships e.g., Chamber of Commerce
  • Contact information including e-mail, phone, fax and mail
  • Links to other nearby businesses, attractions and the community

2. Marketing tool. The website is used as a marketing tool to provide information on products and services sold by your business. There are several different types:

a) Tourism. The business offers vacations, bed and breakfast, a campground or tours. The type of information that your Web page should have include:

  • Location of your business and how to get there
  • Nearest international airport
  • Dates and/or hours open
  • Available dates (will have to be updated regularly)
  • Prices and fees (local and US currency)
  • Descriptions of facilities
  • What’s included in the package
  • Things to do and attractions
  • Rules and regulations (for health and safety reasons)
  • Are pets/kids welcome
  • Things to bring
  • Things not to bring (e.g., guns)
  • Health care and emergency help
  • Photographs of the attractions
  • Links to local attractions (golf courses) and events (fairs)
  • Links to provincial and federal tourist information
  • Applicable regulations and dates (e.g. for out-of-province fishermen and hunters)
  • On-line booking (if possible)
  • A guest book and visitor counter
  • Contact information – mail, phone, fax and e-mail.

b) Food products. This type of operation would sell food products directly to consumers. It could be a berry farm, a pick you own vegetable operation, frozen/fresh pheasant, wild boar or other meat, bakery items, etc. Information for the Web page should include:

  • Description and photos of the products
  • Prices and payment options
  • Where to get and/or ordering information
  • Will you sell/ship out of province/country
  • Days and hours of operation (if applicable)
  • Product benefits and nutritional information
  • Recipes, cooking instructions and other suggested uses
  • Health and regulatory certification
  • Links to other similar and relevant sites
  • On-line order form
  • Guest book and customer feedback
  • Contact information including mail, telephone, fax and e-mail.

c) Arts and crafts. This business could sell any range of artistic items for the general market. Products could vary from paintings, quilts, wood carving, straw paper to wood furniture. The Web page should include the following:

  • Description and photos of the products
  • Prices and payment options
  • Where to get and/or ordering information
  • Will you sell/ship out of province/country
  • Are brochures and/or print catalogues available
  • Product benefits and applications
  • Materials or help wanted
  • Instructions on how to assemble or use
  • Customer testimonials
  • Refund policy
  • Links to other similar and relevant sites
  • On-line order form
  • Guest book and customer feedback
  • Contact information including mail, telephone, fax and e-mail.

d) Business and other services. Any business or professional services offered by your company fall into this category. It could include such things as trucking services, construction, electrical/plumbing, to specialized consulting services. This website should contain the following:

  • Description of services
  • Qualifications and experience
  • Machinery/tools available
  • Availability
  • Geographical area served
  • Prices and payment options
  • Employment or contract opportunities
  • Satisfaction policy/procedures
  • Testimonials and references
  • Links to other relevant, but non-competitive sites
  • Guest book
  • Contact information including mail, telephone, fax and e-mail.

3. A business web. This is a site that provides Internet services to other businesses or companies. It could be an “electronic mall” where certain classes of products and services are promoted. This website should include the following:

  • An electronic mall providing listings for clients including all the necessary information for each as described in the above applications.
  • Information to encourage other clients to use your website services. You would need to have:
    • Descriptions of the services you provide on your website
    • The costs associated with different levels of service
    • The benefits associated with using your service
    • Your qualifications and experience (optional if you are starting out)
    • Your marketing and promotion strategies to ensure your clients get maximum exposure
    • Any testimonials and references from satisfied clients
    • Contact information including e-mail, telephone, fax and mail.

4. Fun website. This is a website that is set up just for the fun of it, and/or to learn more about the World Wide Web. It could also be part of a hobby or set of interests. The type of content that could be on this site is:

  • Purpose and reason for the website
  • Specific information on topics of interest to the website
  • Lots of links to other similar websites
  • Innovative design and applications of the latest web technology
  • Feedback and/or discussion area
  • Contact information including e-mail, telephone, fax and mail.

5. Public information site. This site should have as much information, contact and links on the subject as possible.