Wherever you are doing business, online, or offline you need to present a professional image.
You can have the best product in the world, the most targeted advertising campaign dragging people to wherever it is you sell your product, but when they get there if you don't look like someone who takes their business seriously why should your customer?
For an online business owner, the cost needn't be a reason not to look as professional as anyone else.
So ask yourself if you need to address any of the following to bring your website up to professional standards.
Firstly, what is the url to your business homepage? The url is the address you type in to get to your website. If it looks like http://www.somefreehost.com/123/yourname.com you are in need of a domain name immediately.
Domain names are a great first step to creating a professional looking website, and are simple and cheap to setup. I personally use http://www.godaddy.com for my website at http://www.cashinonline.info as a domain for 1 year there only costs $8.95 and is easy to administer to point at an existing site (forwarding) or to a hosting service.
So there's no excuse not to have a domain name for your business, unless it's already taken, but Godaddy will even offer alternative names containing your name so even that's taken care of. Go and find your domain name now, and then continue reading.
The next big question is where you host your site, at first free hosting can seem like a good idea, but your business could quickly outgrow their offerings. Most free hosts only offer very low bandwidth and may have high demands placed by hosting lots of sites. This means your site will load slowly, and your potential customers will move on before it loads.
The next problem is the amount of download (transfer) the free host will allow you. If your site gets lots of hits (which would be great) they could pull the plug to conserve their own transfer limits. Then your website will not be seen.
My reccomendation for web hosting would have to be http://www.Host4Profit.com/cgi-bin/home.cgi?67213 host4profit has an excellent package for businesses, and offers plenty of space for your site and more bandwidth than most will ever need. Your site will always be available. But even better is that as a host4profit user you can refer others to the service (with a clear conscience too) and receive commissions each month, and with just 3 people referred using the service you are into a profit.
A slightly cheaper alternative which gives you both a domain and webhosting for $10 a month is available from www.Movie.ws/dougyt which would be more than good enough to host most
startup sites, and also has a business built in.
So now you have an easy to remember address, your business site has ample space and bandwidth to make sure it's always available, what else could you do to improve it?
Well how does it look when it opens in your browser?
There are some terrible examples of business sites around, but yours needn't be one of them.
Here is a basic checklist for your website.
Does your site resemble a Banner farm? Let me clarify that a bit, do you have too many banners either selling other products, or to try to create traffic through banner exchanges? Either way they will slow down your site, and distract your visitors. Lose the banners, and add some content about your products and look for traffic from other sources.
Are words Poorly spelt? It's up to you to proofread your website copy, and even pros can make mistakes. If your website has spelling mistakes your customers are going to think you don't care or worse aren't smart enough to be able to advise them properly.
Does it all make sense? Sometimes, a comma, or other punctuation can change the whole context of your sentence. Make sure you read every line back, and that it all reads as you want it to. Then get someone else to check it again. My own proofreader is my wife, and she spots plenty of mistakes before I publish, and make a fool of myself.
Lastly, how do you tie it all together into a nice good looking package? If you are like most small businesses, you won't be able to afford the high prices of the web designers the big boys use. It is however still possible to have a an eyecatching webdesign for little cost by using templates.
A great source of low cost professional looking templates can be found at http://www.cashinonline.info/info/sitetemplates.htm If you don't know about website building and html, it's worthwhile learning the basics and/or using a free wysiwig editor with the template you buy. If you don't want to do that, you can always find someone who is doing a course on website design at a college who may do it for low cost or even free as part of their coursework, or portfolio for when they're looking for a job afterwards.
So go take a look now and see what your website is saying about your business, and use this article as your guideline to a better looking online presence. It doesn't have to be expensive to look professional, and it will make your potential customers more likely to do business with you.
About the Author
BIO Doug Titchmarsh runs several sites including http://www.cashinonline.info and http://www.titchmarsh.com and publishes an e-zine for marketers online and off which you can get by sending an email to email@example.com