Starting a business in the online sphere can be intimidating, regardless of your prior experience. Confusion over what businesses need is a common issue, and one with many different avenues depending on the minutia of daily operations. Understanding this, we want to explore some of the most crucial elements for building an online business, to explore what might be needed for your individual situation.
The first step to getting started in online business is to have a clear and concise vision for your overall design. If your online business is built on an existing physical company, then this can be relatively simple. In this case, you want your online section to reflect your offline ideals and priorities, while also ensuring you maintain strict standards of high-quality UI and UX design.
In either case, to accomplish this goal properly, you’ll want to ensure that your design strikes the right balance of form and function. Too much towards form and your customers could be driven away through an unintuitive layout. Too much towards function and your website could fail to hold customer attention, as this article from Medium explains. Iterations on your early designs and browsing ideas set by others can be a great help here.
A great example of this in action could be found in how Costco handles its online/offline design. In physical locations, Costco operates within warehouses and showcases many items while also giving the impression of space. In their online storefront, it similarly leans on this idea. While there are thousands of items listed online, the use of space and clearly designed UI finds the perfect fit of illustrating so much on offer while never overstepping into visual noise.
Once you understand the direction you want to take your design, the next step is finding the right host. Comparisons from specialized websites can help in this regard, though, first, businesses need to understand their exact needs. The primary concern here is bandwidth, where paying for the most expensive option or plan might be overkill for certain needs. To illustrate this idea, consider the classic and modern forms of online casinos.
Originally, online casinos were slightly more data-heavy websites, though not significantly so. Over time, as their games and audiences became larger, these casinos would have to expand their bandwidth to keep up. They kept growing larger but still weren’t the most data-intensive.
Compare this to a modern online casino like Betway. In this recent example, the enormous audiences, a wide range of advanced titles, and the arrival of live casino titles all tied into higher bandwidth demands. Even though many games like European and American roulette might require little data individually, everything quickly adds up. Compare this to a simple sales site like Furniture Canada. Using only static images, sites like this won’t require significant bandwidth unless they routinely draw in enormous numbers.
If you’re unsure exactly how much bandwidth your site will use, a good idea could be to join a server host with a flexible plan. That way, if you end up using far more or less bandwidth than you initially expected, changing monthly bandwidth allotments could be much easier. This is what online casinos used to grow, and it could work for you too.
System Support and Maintenance
While designing website layout and themes can often be done in-house, the actual implementation is usually left to IT professionals. This extends to ongoing support and maintenance, both of which are components that cannot be overlooked. In most instances, finding a local business to perform this work for you is a good start, though it should be noted that distance support, once systems are implemented, is also now a valid option.
Much of the cost in this area will be inevitable, but some aspects can be learned internally to cut down on support reliance. This is most notable when it comes to basic website updates such as announcements and changes in-stock availability. Learning how to operate these systems can be tricky at first, but the continued effort will result in far great efficiency. Businesses should also research search engine optimization, or SEO, which can help drive your website up the ranks of search engine results.
Finally, in terms of greater support, users also need to carefully consider which payment options they’ll accept online. According to CreditCards, 28% and 23% of all physical payments are performed by debit and credit cards, respectively. In the online space, where purchasing through cash is no longer possible, these proportions skew much higher. Outside of this arena, additional concerns could also be given to digital systems like PayPal, which was used for $712 billion worth of transactions in 2019 alone.
A strong illustration of all of these aspects in action can be seen on eBay. On a personal level, the website operates with such clearly defined rules and systems that even newcomer outsiders can easily list and sell their items. In terms of funding, eBay clearly lists a multitude of funding options, including PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay, credit cards, and more. These elements illustrate why putting in the initial work implementing forward-thinking solutions can be worth pursuing, as the payoff for future efficiency has been enormous.
Rounding out business developments should be the relevant connections to all social media platforms. The idea here is that businesses should build a framework of different systems, each of which can appeal to different users on different social media services. By keeping open communication on these different platforms, as well as linking back to a primary website, a healthier and stronger overall presence should result.
National Geographic is a perfect example of this idea, modifying its social media presence on each platform to great effect. On Instagram, it leans on larger images, on Twitter, it turns to more rapid and up-to-date announcements, while on YouTube it turns to longer-form video footage. Each platform does its own thing, and each pays off back to brand awareness.
As intimidating as building a website and digital presence can be, it’s not as difficult as it sounds. In the modern age, considerable work has gone into streamlining all aspects of business website creation. No matter your level of technical acumen, finding a valid path along these lines is almost always a lot easier than we think. Take your time, learn from your mistakes, and you could soon be reaping the advantages of a more visible business presence.
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