When you have a small business and decide to take it online, it is a good idea to have a plan in place first. A website can accomplish a number of things and the first thing you need to decide is exactly what you want yours to accomplish. This should be decided before you even start because it can affect what type of web design or what kind of website you get and even who you choose as your host, as well as many other things.

For instance, are you going to use your website just as an online advertisement, or as a place customers can come to buy? If it’s the latter, you will need business hosting with a shopping cart and several ways for the customer to pay. Not all shopping carts accept credit cards, but many potential customers prefer to pay that way. You need to make sure your shopping cart is suitable for your needs.

If you just want to use the website to advertise, you may want to use the comments feature so you can interact with visitors. You will also need to offer contact details, especially if you are advertising a service. Potential customers will need to be able to contact you in some way to carry out business. Social media such as Facebook can be linked to your website and you may consider using Facebook ads.

Some websites are just a landing page used to harvest the email addresses of potential customers. This is often done by offering a digital product containing pertinent information in exchange for joining your list. You can then get a customer base of people that are interested in what you have to offer, who will look forward to your emails. You will be able to email them more information and provide links in order to sell your product or service. But you will find this difficult to do if you don’t decide ahead of time and just get any kind of website.

The kind of online strategy you use depends not only on what you are offering, but on the kind of demographic you have. That is, the age and interests of potential customers and where they are likely to be found. Do they go online using an iPhone, tablet, laptop or PC? If they use an iPhone as so many people do these days, your website will need to be responsive so that it shows up well on the smaller screen.

If this all seems more than you can cope with or have time for, contacting a digital agency to do it all for you could be the best way forward. At least you could be sure of getting a website that is truly professional – something that is important if you want your business to be taken seriously.