Make a Home Business look Businesslike
You can tell when looking through a website just how well the business is organized to compete in the market place. It dare not look unprofessional.
Although itís technically possible to have a 67-character long domain name, any name containing more than three words is a challenge for the average person to remember. If your domain name looks desperate you can always register another and have both domain names open the same website. But keep key words in the domain name.
A website that looks like it was designed by the ownerís eleven year old nephew is great for the family, except when it is inviting someone to buy from it.
If you are serious about your business, pay a professional to build your website. There are free shopping cart / ecommerce templates available and they look very professional.
However, a website custom designed to suit your products will pay for itself.
Search engines will list products on a custom designed website that they cannot find on a free ecommerce website. Free ecommerce websites list the URL of products in a format like store.yourbusiness.com/index.php?prod=x98456789123z. Thatís because they are designed to fit any type of business, but itís not search engine friendly.
If you have just a small number of products for sale, PayPal offers a free shopping cart that your customers can add items to and be returned to your website. You can access it from a website that you have built in HTML or in a WordPress template.
Search Engine Optimization:
Another indication that a website is home made can be a lack of search engine optimization. Seek advice on this, because even some web designers do not have experience in SEO.
Some operators have not even registered a business name. Somehow, a business name looks more businesslike than a personís name. You can have unregistered business names, but then run the risk of a competitor taking your name.
We are horrified to see a hotmail or yahoo or gmail address as the email contact for a shopping cart website.
When a customer receives a reply to an enquiry and itís from a hotmail address, they wonder how long the sender has been in business, and how long they will stay in business.
Your web host will provide email addresses that use your domain name, like email@example.com
If you want to avoid using Outlook or other desktop email programs, your web host will provide web mail where you can check your incoming email and reply with From:firstname.lastname@example.org and a business signature at the foot of the email. Your customers will then know that your message is from a business.
Some websites do not even show a telephone address. This implies that you cannot speak to any human behind the website.
At least a cell phone number will assure customers that you will discuss your products with them if necessary. Landline looks more permanent.
We knew of one business that listed a landline phone number, but all incoming calls went to voice mail. They went out of business after six months.
Customers expect personal service, even from internet businesses. Funny, but we all want to deal with humans!
If a website shows no geographic or postal address, a customer knows they cannot use postal services to send anything back to the business.
Never display the address of your private home on the internet, but a PO Box number and town gives some assurance to customers. Post Office Box addresses are very cheap in small towns and in suburbs of cities.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ken McKay is a web designer at Platypus Websites Australia. More info at http://www.platywebs.com.au/