Website Building and Technology Development: A Snapshot Guide for SMEs

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Without any knowledge or skill set, managers often face a daunting task when it comes to managing their website and other technology systems, often turning to other external providers to assist with the process. With the right approach, SMEs can achieve success in their web and technology management efforts. What often fails to happen in small businesses in particular is that there is no one person they can turn to for all their technology and digital needs.  The cost of hiring a Technology Manager is often out of reach. When rolling out new technology, small to medium business owners and managers should take a methodical and measured approach. It is important to plan ahead and do research into the different options available. Every business case is unique, and what may have worked for one company may not necessarily work for another. That said, it is best to start small and scale up as needed. This helps keep costs down while still providing the key features that are needed for the job.  The assistance of an expert to provide advice along the way is critical in ensuring that all needs and requirements are considered from the start and waste is kept to a minimum.

Keep things as simple as possible. Overcomplicating matters can result in lost time and money due to the resources dedicated to maintaining and supporting the system over extended periods of time. Complex systems are also more difficult to troubleshoot when problems arise, making them prone to downtime and costly delays. Furthermore, complex systems can mean a higher cost of ownership over time due to maintenance costs associated with keeping them running smoothly. For these reasons, it is best to opt for simplicity whenever possible.

 Building a Small Business Website - A simple guide

1. Purpose of a Website - It should act as as your virtual storefront and an essential for visibility of your organization to customers (current, prospective and former). It needs to be a platform for showcasing products or services, and gathering customer reviews.
2. Characteristics of a Good Website - Think User-Friendly with Easy navigation and accessibility. Ensure it is Visually Appealing: Attractive layout and design that reflect your brand. Include Valuable Content: Informative, engaging, and SEO-optimized content. Ensure it works across multiple platforms, from mobile to desktop.
3. Steps to Build a Website - Start with Choosing a Platform, Evaluate different platforms based on ease of use, customization options, and technical requirements. Selecting a Domain Name: Choose a memorable and relevant domain name.
Designing the Site: Decide on layout, color scheme, and fonts. Create quality content that includes effective SEO practices.
3a. Setting Up E-commerce (if applicable): Implement a payment gateway. Configure shipping options. Ensure security for online transactions. Consider off the shelf SaaS options such as Shopify.
4. Testing and Launching: Perform thorough testing for errors or glitches. Ensure all links and functionalities work. Officially launch the website.
5. Post-Launch - Monitor the website’s performance and user engagement. Continuously update the content and maintain SEO.
Cloud-based technologies offer a number of advantages for SMEs. Since cloud services are hosted on remote servers, businesses don’t need expensive hardware or IT staff onsite to manage them. This significantly reduces costs while still offering powerful features like analytics and collaboration tools that help boost productivity. Additionally, cloud services can be scaled up or down as needed, allowing businesses to pay only for what they need without incurring expensive setup costs required with traditional hosting providers. Cloud-based technologies are often more reliable than on-premises solutions thanks to distributed architecture that helps prevent outages due to single points of failure.

In an effort to save on technology infrastructure, many SMEs turn to free solutions, A perfect example of this that I find with many of my clients is in the use of Email Marketing systems. While free solutions may sound enticing at first, SMEs should avoid them if at all possible. While free software may provide basic functionality and cover initial limitation requirements, it typically lacks features offered by paid solutions that are essential for scalability, automation and long-term success. Furthermore, free solutions typically lack customer support, leaving business owners and managers with little recourse if something goes wrong.  Often free solutions are limited in some shape or form; when you need to scale and have to pay for use of the service, you may find that the systems costs are actually more than other equivalent systems, or using certain features in one system come at an additional cost. Cloud based CRM technologies are a typical example of where a free solution may be more costly in the long term when your client database scales and you are being charged for every record in the database as opposed to one flat fee.

Watch the video below on how you can build your own website.