Creating a Website and Establishing Your Internet Presence
Whether you’re considering selling products online or not, all businesses these days benefit from having an Internet presence and a good website can bring in lots of business. Here’s a useful guide to why creating a website is a good move.
The Internet has made a big difference to businesses on a local and national scale. It’s opened up a wider range of opportunities for selling gardening products and plants, plus of promoting gardening and landscape design services to a bigger audience. Even if you’re not intending on selling products online, a website for your gardening business can be highly beneficial. A lot of people like to look up details of a company before they hire their services and a website allows them to check out who you are, what you do, who you’ve already worked for, your typical prices and how you work.
If you’re technologically challenged and the idea of trying to create a website yourself is thoroughly daunting, then don’t panic. There are plenty of companies who can help you get started, by registering domain names on your behalf and designing and uploading a website. They will even update it periodically for you, taking away all the computer hassles.
Registering a Domain Name
The sign of a good business is a memorable domain name. Ideally this should be the same as your business trading name, as it will make it much easier for your customers to find you. It’s possible though that there may be another business in the UK or another part of the world who’s had the same idea and already snapped up the name you want. If this happens, try varying it, such as putting hyphens between the words, or seeing if different prefixes are available (e.g. .biz instead of .com). In the end, whatever you choose must be memorable.
There’s a small annual fee to register a domain name – the exact fee varies, depending in part on what prefix you choose, and on which company you’re using for the registration. It may be worth shopping around to get a good deal.
What Information Should Be Included?
A business website can have various functions. It can simply provide details of your bricks and mortar business, so customers can find out what time you open, what you stock, any special offers you’ve got or courses you’re running.
Or it can provide an online or mail ordering service, alongside the bricks and mortar business. Or you can use it to showcase gardens you’ve designed or worked on and provide added features, such as videos, podcasts or blogs.
Have a good think about what information you’d like to include on your website and how you’d like your site to function. For a gardening business, a website can be really handy, both for general information and all the added extras it can offer. One of the things many gardeners lack is the knowledge about how to use products to their full potential or what conditions certain plants need, and they value the opportunity to see demos, or get tips and advice. So if you’re going to include step-by-step instructions about planting, or pruning, or even video clips or podcasts, these could work very well.Be clear in your mind about exactly what you want included on your website, especially if someone else is designing it for you. It may help to sketch out a diagram on paper showing the homepage, any additional pages you’d like to have and what information you’d like on each.
Designing The Site
It can be easy to get carried away with designing the site itself, but it’s better to try and keep it simple and easy to use. Include your logo and business name in your website design wherever possible, but stick to using a few colours, rather than a whole rainbow, and a font that will be clear and easy to read.
Remember that there may be some viewers who are visually impaired, so don’t use font colours that can’t be read easily on coloured backgrounds – e.g. white text on yellow or pale backgrounds is often impossible to read for anyone.
Launching Your Website
After all the hard work, launching your website can often seem like a bit of a let down – as unless you tell people it’s up and running, no-one will know! To help spread the word, add your website URL to your headed notepaper, include it on any adverts you do, mention it on flyers, add it to the bottom of printed till receipts, put it on your business card and add it to the end of emails. The general idea is to promote it as best as possible and let the world know about your site.
Don’t forget to keep it updated, so it’s always got the most relevant information on. A site that is still advertising the January sale in August will not give the best impression.
As the business and the site develops, you can add more elements over time. You may decide, for example, to add video content as you progress, or add a blog so customers and potential customers can find out more about you, what you sell and your love of gardening. Another useful element to consider is whether you could have a gardening forum, where customers could ask questions and discuss their gardening issues and concerns.
A website offers the ideal chance to showcase your business, your skills and your services, so have fun creating it and let the world know your business exists!