Excuse me, are you listening? – There are plenty of fish in the sea

photo of Rina Risper

Dear Readers,

Trust me, I understand the struggle you’re facing updating your website or getting a technological update.  I am especially talking to those who have at least a 5 year old website, did not know what they were doing the first time, and are frustrated trying to upload new information in the backend.  Please know the definitions prior to doing anything with your website.  There are sharks out there and if you are not careful you will get bitten.  I did needed to the helm or our website was going to sink.   Write down how you want your website to perform, whether it is new or not.

The journey to picking a domain name and finding a website company can be filled with uncertainties and questions.  It can be downright scary and treacherous if you pick the wrong website company that does not align with what you want your website to look like.  It is like setting up a new home in the vast universe of the internet.  I am not saying that every website development company ignores you but if you have more than 6,000 pages to transfer, hold on and read this before you even consider.  I have three years of experience going through this and in the technology world that is a lifetime. 

But don’t worry, I am going to help navigate the waters of the unknown. We have too many small business entrepreneurs who just want to be about the business of running a business and not being a website builder, fixer or destroyer.  Remember if you do not know what you are doing, do not try to do this alone.  

The first stop on our voyage is selecting a domain name if you don’t have one. Think of it as your unique address in the digital world, a beacon that will guide your customers straight to your door. Choose a name that’s unforgettable, something that rolls off the tongue and is easy to type. For instance, www.thenewscitizenspress.com is too long.  We chose www.tncp.net and now we have www.tncpnews.com.  It took me a while but I realized that adding “news” would help the company be more recognizable.

Try to stay away from hyphens or numbers, as they can make your address seem like a complex code rather than a welcoming site.  Also, you want the website address to be easy to remember. Remember, your domain should mirror your brand or business. Once you’ve found that perfect name, secure it by purchasing your domain name quickly to prevent it from slipping away.  There are folks who will buy your domain name as soon as you start talking about a business idea.  Being an entrepreneur is not for the weak.  With everything, talk to a professional.   

Next, you must move slowly toward your choice of a website company. Take your time, don’t rush. Do your homework to find a company with a good reputation, one that has solid experience in crafting the type of website you envision. Peer through the looking glass and find reviews, delve into their portfolio, and look at their website. Ensure they have a successful history and can offer all the services you need.  Please do not let your friends help you.  If a friend says, “I can help you but you need to change your WordPress content management system to WIX because I hate WordPress,” just do not even read into it. You need a professional.  Seriously!

Customer service from your content management system is another lighthouse to guide you. Will they be there for you when your website goes down and you are crying in your hands? If your website encounters difficulties or if you need guidance, will they provide timely and effective support? And do not forget the essential lifelines of website security, backups, and maintenance. Your online presence should always be a safe and secure haven for your customers, so make sure you are protecting your website!  

The people you really trust

Dana James who owns Black Iowa News heard the distress in my voice.  We rely on each other for professional advice and she came through.  Jonathan Zanders is the owner of  Vertical Marketing  Solutions in Des Moines, Iowa and he came through too.  I finally got what I needed and my website was fixed and looking fabulous.  The content management system that we chose was SiteGround.  The migration, which is the process of moving from one content management system to another was very easy because I hired him to do it because he could effectively handle the person who held some control over the website.  He was professional and effectively became “Jon Z” my new superhero. I need to send him a cape because the pirates were outsmarted.  I may be joking now but it was not funny at the time.

Pay the money

The reality of cost is an unavoidable island on this journey. Understand the pricing model and any ongoing fees from the content management system will be there. Do not be tempted to pick the most affordable option, it may not offer the level of service or features that your business deserves.  Hire the right people.  I have to reiterate that if you currently have a website, and you need to migrate or change it, there will be a migration fee from your old content management system to a new one.  Also, if you now want to sell multiple items or need a website with better functionality, hire a website development company and talk to someone like Jonathan.

And what about the platform your website will be built on? WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, and Bluehost, all have their strengths and weaknesses. Some platforms may be more suited to your specific needs than others. Make sure you have the right tools to construct your online masterpiece.

Lastly, let us think about the horizon, the future of your website. Can your website company or content management system help you sail toward your growth goals? Will they or it be able to handle an influx of traffic, accommodate expanding sales, and add functionality as your business blossoms?  Will you be taking credit cards?  Will you need any online forms?  I could go on and on.

A storm cannot last forever

Choosing your domain name, a content management system and a website company are significant steps in your online journey. Look at other websites,  the construction of a website may be made with themes.   It may feel overwhelming, but by considering these factors, you’ll be well-prepared to make these crucial decisions.

Just like the careful planning of a sea voyage, watch out for sharks, and if you cannot swim get a couple of life jackets and put them all on.  These thoughtful choices will hopefully lead you to the successful establishment of your online presence. It is a voyage I have taken, and with a lot of care and thought, it is one that can lead to wonderful destinations.  The school of chicanery was out there but thank goodness the storm broke and we are smooth sailing.

Love people,

Rina Risper