Most business owners have this question. What is a website? Why do I need it? What’s my return on investment?
In this comprehensive guide, we will analyze all the aspects a business owner needs to know before investing in a website.
In simplest terms you can visualize a website as a flyer or pamphlet which is available online.
So where is the difference and why should your business have an online presence?
I will cut the chase first and present reasons why you should not be online.
- Your business is very local. (eg- tea shop, newspaper/magazine vendor, juice shop etc)
- You are satisfied with the steady flow of customer and do not intend to grow into more markets/customers
While there may be many businesses which are the first case, rarely will a business say they do not want more customers.
So let’s see, even if you are a local business, why do you need an online presence.
- It’s a fact, more and more of your customers are going online
- It’s now easy to start a business. So you have competition coming up every day. You need some competitive advantage
- If properly played out, with very less investment, your reach and engagement with customers will increase
If you decide, you need to go online, there are things you should know. This will ensure, you are in controlling position and will be taking informed decisions.
How does a website work?
Now what happens when you type in google.com or facebook.com?
The below image explains that.
Essentially you make a request to these websites, which have files stored away somewhere on the internet and are served against your request.
Now you might ask, why do I need to know the technical stuff?
Well because as a business owner, you will have to invest some money in setting up the infrastructure to go online. You should be aware of it.
Take for example, you want to set up a manufacturing unit. You will need to know – how much land cost, pay for some architect to design the factory, find out what machinery will cost, electricity, water etc.
So here are two most important things you need to own/rent before you can go online.
- Domain – Well it’s the address you purchase where people will find you. It’s the name of your website. Think of it as your mailing address.
Approx Cost – Rs. 500-700 per year 
- Hosting – It’s the storage space we talked about earlier.
Approx Cost – Rs. 1200-1500 per year 
Approx storage space – 30GB 
With the above two you now have a virtual space(land) and address(domain) for your manufacturing unit.
Now you need to hire an architect(website designer) to design the actual factory(website) for you.
The price of the design depends on whether you want a static or a dynamic site.
Now what are these?
- Static Websites – These are websites where the displayed information does not change. These are the ones which you can compare to any flyer or pamphlet from the offline world.
- Dynamic Websites – These are the websites where information is changed based in certain criteria.
Think of it as, let’s say you have your company ad on some leading newspaper. However the ad changes based on who is reading the newspaper.
So how do you decide if you want a static or a dynamic website?
- Static Websites – You want to just treat it as a great marketing material, where people can know more about your business and have contact details to get in touch with you for further discussion
- Dynamic Websites – You offer your customer services or products based on different criteria
An ideal website will be combination of both, where you use static pages to showcase your business and dynamic pages to deliver the actual product or service you offer.
In today’s world however a business’s online presence does not only depend on to have a website. With advent of social media, various other channels like facebook, twitter, blogs etc have major effect on your online presence.
We will learn more about these in our upcoming articles.
For now you know that to start your online presence, you need a domain and hosting space.
In few of our next articles we will take up different business scenarios. We will go through exact steps that a business owner should take to bring his/her business online.