Small Business IT Architecture – Part 3: Web Presence with a Website

Reading Time: 5 minutes

The web presence in the form of a website in business is used to represent your company and its product and/or services, it may often be the first touch point for many customers, and you always want to make a good first impression.

Your company website needs to explain a few things:

  • who you are as a company
  • your services
  • your products
  • where you are based
  • how to get in contact with you

This list is by no means complete but rather the minimum any company site should have.

A word on Hosting

Apply a simple philosophy when it comes to IT services, pick the best service for your needs.

This will often mean that your email service provider, your website hosting provider, website development and other providers may be different. This approach has some drawbacks as it may come at a higher cost. However, it will also mean that you will be able to change providers with less inconvenience than if you had all of your services with one provider. It also allows you to choose and tailor the services you need for your business.

This modular approach, or the LEGO block architecture principles as we like to call it, provides a highly flexible and scalable services infrastructure that will last.

Choose your hosting company carefully; they must also be able to cater to your needs in the future.

Shared hosting

I recommend that you opt for shared hosting if you chose either Google for Business or Microsoft Office 365 for your email and office solution.

Some packages may be tempting for hosting companies such as GoDaddy, DreamHost or other of the kind but be warned, these are not business grade and do not offer the minimum requirements for reliable hosting. I was a customer and they through the ball back at me by saying I was abusing their services, with this site.

If you are opting for shared hosting, there are a few things to keep in mind. You are sharing resources with other clients, check your processing, disk and memory limits.
I cannot tell you what you will need; I can tell you that for an advanced WordPress website package from Domains.co.za works fine.
For full disclosure, I am an affiliate member of Domains.co.za, so if you want to support me and the site, this is one way to go about it. However, I have been using their services long before I became one.

Other hosting options

Virtual server hosting, server hosting or self-hosting will probably not be necessary for small businesses and is generally far more expensive; therefore I will not discuss these.

Homepage

Treat your home or landing page like the entrance lobby of your company, clean, easy to navigate and attractive.
Things I recommend you consider putting on your landing page:

  • Keep it simple
  • Featured product/service or special, a banner is helpful for this type of section
  • A short but concise explanation of what your company does
  • How to contact your company
  • A visible navigation summary
  • Customer satisfaction and recommendation you may have received

Products and Services

Product and/or Services that your company provides is its bread and butter, treat it as such.

I often see sections on Product and/or Services that have no thinking or care behind it; frankly, it turns me off, and I usually move to the next company.

Treat your product and services as you would an online shop, include things like:

  • A detailed description
  • A call to action
  • A rating
  • A shopping cart if possible
  • Prices where possible
  • Get a quote, possibly from a shopping cart
  • Call me back, from a shopping cart
  • Order, from a shopping cart
  • Good quality photographs are a must for products
  • Maybe a video for services
  • An online payment system even if it is from a quote

These will engage your customers and makes them feel like you are a professional.

Company profile

A history of a company will often indicate the commitment to customers; it needs to be concise and truthful.

A well-written company profile can sway a customer’s choice, don’t hesitate to include your employees as part of it too they are the heart of your company.

Contact page

Though I think this is self-explanatory, here are the minimum requirement:

  • At least one telephone number, and for each division in your company if that is convenient.
  • Address and map
  • Email address, info@mycompanyname.co.za for example.
    Avoid using people’s name email addresses, generics like sales@ OR info@ will allow you to change the employees without impact to your business.
    I discuss emails in more details here.
  • Online email form, make sure you use a captcha to avoid spam
  • Opening hours, if required.
  • Social links to your Facebook page, Facebook Messenger, WhatsApp, Google +, Twitter, LinkedIn, SnapChat and other

Including all the above allows your customers to get in touch with you any way they prefer.

Blog page

A blog page is a great way to engage with your customers, and you can give them tips, installation instructions or recommendations from experts, the uses are endless.

If used well, it can boost your reputation, visibility, search engine ranking and keep your site fresh.

But beware, if you start, you will need to keep it going to attract your customers back, stale blogs are generally not well received by potential customers.

Privacy Policy and Terms and Conditions

Is it indispensable to have Privacy Policies and Terms and Conditions on your website? The short answer is yes.

These are your legal shields against anything that could happen caused by your website and/or content of your website, much like a customer contract. If you intend going e-commerce, this is a legal requirement in most countries.

In South Africa, the Electronic Communications and Transactions Act (ECT) requires companies to disclose a few bits of information; the same goes for the new European General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR).

There are a few more acts that will affect your website as a business in South Africa; the Consumer Protection Act (CPA) and the Protection of Personal Information Act (POPI) are some of these.

I would advise that you consult a legal professional about both the legal requirements for your Privacy Policies and Terms and Conditions to be safe.

If you do not have or know a legal professional, I used Legal Legends in the past and had brilliant service.

Social links

Have these on every page, footer, header or both. I will discuss the social presence aspect in a future post.

Social networks such as Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Google + and others have become a communication and advertising medium, do not ignore them as both a presence for your company and a sharing platform for your customers.

Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and Tracking

I am not going to go in-depth with SEO in this post. However, I want you to think of this seriously. SEO is about how you get the search engines, like Google and Bing, to rank you, think of it as your reputation status. The higher your ranking, the more likely you are to get business from your listing as you will be closer to the 1st entry on the first page.
Get whoever you hire to build your site to help you with SEO if they can’t either wait for my post or hire an SEO professional.

I will also discuss tracking in a future post; you should at least register and make use of Google Analytics, your web developer will be able to help you with this.

Conclusion

No matter how big you are as a company, a website is a great way to achieve many things, but there is no halfway, your company will need to commit to it to be of value.

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