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Small Business Websites That Work: Introduction

Book cover: Small Business Websites That Work By Sean McManus

At a glance:

Why you should read this book

Will a website designer understand your business and your customers as intimately as you do? Even the best designers probably have no background in marketing, no previous contact with your target audience and little experience in setting a corporate website strategy. Your business is at stake if you delegate responsibility for more than they can handle.

That's why it's important that you learn enough about how the internet works, and how your business will benefit from having a website, to be able to manage the design team. If your website designers are to support your company — and not the other way around — you need to be independent of them. They have a vested interest in selling you website services, so it's vital that you can assess their proposals from the perspective of what the business needs.

The book 'Small Business Websites That Work' will walk you through the decisions you need to make in commissioning a website for your organisation and managing the team responsible. It will show you how to create and promote a successful website. You could just put your existing brochure online, but it's easy to build a site that will generate a better response from the marketplace and will enable you to engage the internet community more fully. This book shows how.

Who should read this book

This book is ideal for:

  • Managers and sole traders who need to understand the opportunities their website offers and how to exploit them fully
  • Marketing managers who want to see how the web can help improve profitability, improve customer relationships and cut the cost of customer acquisition
  • Website designers who want to learn how they can provide business solutions and not just website designs

Your company might be looking to set up its first website, or might be dissatisfied with the results from the existing site. In either case, the book delivers ideas for how you can use the technology can grow your company.

How this book is organised

Getting to know the internet

How can you judge your website if it's the only one you've seen? This chapter introduces why the internet matters to business, and provides a tour of websites that showcase the web's potential.

Planning your website and creating the content

If you don't know what your website will do for your business, it will only be profitable by accident. This chapter starts by asking why you might want to have a website, and goes on to discuss eleven ways your website can improve your business. The chapter also explains how you can use website content to attract and keep customers, and includes case studies of small businesses that are thinking beyond putting their brochure online. The chapter also offers guidance on planning your content and writing for the web.

Resourcing your website design

Once you know why you're creating a website and what it will contain, it's time to think about who will design it. This chapter compares your options: bringing someone in-house, outsourcing the work or doing it yourself. There's a pay-off between control and cost, but as this chapter shows, what might seem like the cheapest option can turn out to be the most expensive.

Naming and hosting your website

Your existing customers will find your site by typing in its domain name, so it needs to be memorable. This chapter guides you in choosing a good name and will tell you what to look out for when deciding where the site will be hosted. With good names being registered all the time, you must stake your territory as soon as you're confident you've found the right name.

What makes a good website?

Now your design team is ready to develop the site, you need to look more closely at what makes a good design. This chapter explains the limitations your designers have to work with, and what they should be doing to get around them. It highlights often-seen design crimes and explains the minimum technical background you need to make sure that the site is as fast and easy to use as possible.

Making money through advertising and affiliate programmes

Everywhere you go online you see promotions offering you '$$$' for linking to a website. Can you really make money like this? This chapter points out the pitfalls and tells you how to make a success of affiliate programmes.

Selling from your website

For many businesses, the web gives them a chance to engage in distance-selling for the first time. This chapter discusses how you can encourage customers to buy from your website, how you can accept credit cards and what security you'll need.

Offering great customer service online

You must be able to respond to enquiries promptly. It takes seconds to write an email, so customers expect a fast reply. This chapter explains how to introduce customer service by email into your business and warns of the risks of viruses and other email nuisances.

Promoting your website

For most successful sites, this is where the real hard work begins. It won't be enough to just register with search engines if you want to make the most of your opportunities online. This chapter explains all the different ways you can promote your website, both online and offline, including tips on writing press releases, an insight into how search engines rank websites and the importance of links. As these ideas show, effective promotion doesn't cost much but does need time and commitment.

Keeping your website legal and ethical

How can national laws legislate websites that are available everywhere? This chapter discusses how you can limit your risk using a clear privacy policy and terms and conditions of use for your website. Although test cases are few are far between, leaving lawyers uncertain how the law will be applied to the web, it's as much a case of keeping the site ethical as it is of second-guessing how judges will think.

Measuring your website's success

You can only manage what you measure, but that doesn't have to be just the traffic running through your site. This chapter explains how you can tell whether your site is meeting its business objectives or not. It's the last chapter in the book, but it's also the start of the next wave of site design and promotion. Accurate information on how your website is performing will stop you repeating mistakes or false assumptions as your website grows.


The glossary explains terms that are used throughout the book.

Find out more

Visit the homepage for Small Business Websites That Work.


© Sean McManus. All rights reserved.

Visit www.sean.co.uk for free chapters from Sean's coding books (including Mission Python, Scratch Programming in Easy Steps and Coder Academy) and more!

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