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1 BUILDING A WEB SITE WILL ENHANCE YOUR BOTTOM LINE series

2 BUILDING A WEB SITE WILL ENHANCE YOUR BOTTOM LINE Even if you re not selling products online, having a Web site will impact potential customers decision to do business with you. It s a fact web sites influence purchase decisions, including an estimated $471 billion in in-store sales 1. Consumers now research online before they decide which law firm to use, which gas grill to buy or even which doctor to entrust their medical care to. Yet, only 41% of small business owners have a web site. 2 Many small business owners put off developing a web site because they think it s too complicated, time-consuming and expensive. They worry about their ability to refresh and update content and are afraid of the complexities of coding it themselves. And many think they can t afford to pay the big bucks for a third-party service provider to handle all the design, hosting and content management. But, with everyone using search engines and social media, if you don t have a site, you re not fully in business. With competition getting tougher and margins thinner it s critical to take the time to establish your business web presence. Even the smallest of small businesses can access free easy-to-use web site building tools that take just minutes to master. Don t be one of the 59 percent that are behind the game! Web sites created with Comcast Business Class SiteBuilder BUT, WHAT WOULD I DO WITH A WEB SITE? Depending on your type of business, you ll find many uses for your own web site. Communicate with your customers Your web site can serve as a vibrant communications tool between you and your customers. Strive to keep your content new, fresh and interesting. Post company news on your latest product or service offerings or important management changes. Create customer case studies to show how your company has helped someone s business or productivity. Post, and easily update, your product catalogue. Write a daily or weekly blog as a way to share useful advice and information. Doctor s offices can use their site to keep patients updated on the latest local outbreaks of flu and vaccine schedules. Florists can provide tips for keeping your recently-purchased flowers thriving. And tax accountants can provide insights into the latest IRS rulings. It s about knowing what information your customer will find useful.and then providing it. 2

3 Get insight into customers interests Track the number of visitors to your site and the pages they viewed. You ll quickly discover what your customers and prospects are interested in, helping you improve your site and your business. Be sure to give your customers a place to rate and review your products or services. This immediate feedback can create goodwill with them, provide valuable insights that you can use and can serve as a testimonial for potential customers viewing your site. Bed and breakfasts can solicit recent guests to blog about their visit. Music stores can ask musicians to rank their top three instruments. You get it. It s a way to bring people back to your site as well as a way to make it interesting for visitors. Generate online sales with ecommerce If you already have a storefront operation, opening a web store will give you the ability to quickly expand your customer base. Geography will no longer be a barrier you ll have the ability to sell all over the country and the world and you are open 24x7. This type of web site will require the most development work and is certainly more complex than an informational site, but it is still a very achievable goal. Before you begin, it s important to understand the online selling process. It s made up of two parts. The first part is the shopping cart program. This program runs the front-end of your online store. This is the part your customer sees. For example, when they click a buy button, the shopping cart program keeps a running total of the items your customer wants to buy. Then at checkout, it calculates the tax, shipping, coupons and sales prior to the last step the credit card authorization. Most Internet providers, including Comcast, offer a preinstalled shopping cart program as part of their hosting package. It is very easy to integrate the shopping cart program with your website. The second part of the online selling process is called real time credit card processing or a credit card payment gateway. This is how the customer s credit card is checked or authorized. This part of the process is not done on your website. You need to setup an account with a credit card processing company that will handle the credit card authorization. Your shopping cart program passes the necessary information to this company and they complete the credit card transaction. There are many credit card payment gateway Create web site in seven easy steps using SiteBuilder, an online tool that makes creating a professional web site easy. There is no need for a web designer or previous web design experience. 3

4 companies that can process your online transactions. A simple web search will provide provider names and contact information. There are also companies that offer both a shopping cart and credit card processing. This sometimes makes the start up less complicated. I M CONVINCED.NOW WHAT? One of the first decisions you have to make is who will host your site? Typically, the host will provide the web development tools that you ll use, so be sure to select the right company for your needs. Ask colleagues for recommendations and investigate how they stack up against the following criteria before signing on with anyone. Look for a reliable, reputable and stable service provider. Ensure that they have secure backup processes in place. Network bandwidth and availability are key considerations. You don t want people coming to your site and waiting for a response. Performance is important to keep visitors on your site. Check out any value added services (e.g. online marketing tools, productivity tools, anti-virus support, etc.) Ensure that there is an upgrade path if you need it and what the costs will be. Security is absolutely critical, especially when running an e-commerce site. Ensure they have the tools to verify your checkout processes. COMCAST BUSINESS CLASS OPTIONS The Starter Plan is available to all customers at no additional charge, making it easy and affordable to launch your web site. Everything you need to get started including a domain name and wizard-based SiteBuilder. Perfect for informational sites. Provides 10 MB of storage space, 100 MB data transfer, three SiteBuilder Web pages and a traffic-reporting tool. All you need to launch your web site and track your success. Business, Commerce and Professional plans also available for e-commerce sites. More storage space and generous traffic allotments provided Advanced shopping cart software that lets you manage inventory, track sales and update your ecommerce site from a single, user-friendly control panel. Blogging software included SiteBuilder has 100 professional web site designs to choose from Now that you ve selected your provider, you must think about the look and feel as well as the content for your site. The more groundwork you can do first, the easier it will come together. First, establish your content and the general architecture of your site by putting together a wireframe, Up to $100 credit for Google AdWords Database functionality Advanced scripting support 4

5 or a basic visual guide to suggest the structure of an interface and relationships between its pages. Typically, wireframes are completed before any artwork is developed. This can be done in PowerPoint. Research competitor sites and make note of what you like and don t like. Visit sites you normally use and do the same. This will help you not only get a sense of the kind of content you ll want to have, it ll give you a feel for the colors and styles you like. There are great resources on the Internet to get more in-depth on design and content direction, but there are some basic guiding principles you can start with check out the Comcast Business Class Top Ten Tips. Finally, remember that no good site is ever static. There will always room for improvement. Make sure you keep testing responses to your web content and don t be afraid to make changes when you have to. Now, all you have to do is get started! COMCAST BUSINESS CLASS TOP TEN TIPS FOR BUILDING YOUR OWN WEBSITE 1. Shoot for six or eight main categories of information you will have on your site and give each one it s own tab or button. More than this will overwhelm users. 2. Use the same navigational structure on every page. Consistency is important. 3. Create a clear hierarchy on each page head, sub head, etc. so your information is easy to find. 4. Be careful about getting too fancy with flash graphics or using too many graphics. This will slow your site down and distract viewers. Simpler is better. 5. Standardize on fonts that most computers have and don t use too many of them. 6. Don t use too many colors and be sure they are readable. There is nothing more frustrating than blue text on a black background. 7. Leave enough white space. There are no awards given for using all the space on a page. Keep it clean looking. 8. Don t make your pages too long viewers hate scrolling down and down and down. Break it up into a few easy-to-navigate pages. 9. Be sure to include the basics phone numbers, contact information, address and directions. 10. Take some time to test the site. Get people who haven t been involved in the development to go through it and give you honest feedback. Adjust as needed Warrillow & Co,

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