Do You Need a Website?

In the early days of the web, a "Home page" (and then a web site) was The Thing to Do. However, the current incarnation of the WWW offers many other options. Do you really need a website of your own with an affiliated, registered domain name?

First, a few questions:

  • Is this page for yourself?

  • Is this page for a hobby?

  • Is this page for your company?
    • Are you an artist, performer, or solopreneur?
    • Is this a startup company?
    • Do you have employees?
    • How large do you expect to grow?

  • Are you a programmer, graphic designer, writer...?
    • Or can you hire one?
    • Or swap favors with one?

  • Do you know (and enjoy using) HTML, CSS, or web design software?

If you want a page for yourself, your hobby, or a one-person company, you may find that a weblog or Facebook account will suit you well, at least at the beginning.

If you want something for a company that you hope will grow larger, gain name recognition, and add employees or sites, you may want to start with Facebook anyway, but give thought to registering a domain name and setting up a web site in the future.

If you're new to web marketing, I recommend starting with a Facebook page. Even if you set up a web site later, a Facebook presence is currently considered de rigeur.

Pros and Cons of Your Own Website

Having your own domain name and website gives you

  • Full control of the site design
  • A personalized (company-name) URL
  • Multiple pages
  • Access to tools such as visitor counters, comment forms, shopping pages, direct links to PayPal, etc.

However, maintaining your own domain name and website requires you to

  • Register and pay for a domain name
  • Design the site (or hire someone to do this for you)
  • Use HTML or specialized web page editing tools (or hire someone to do this for you)
  • Set up the site and keep it up to date
  • Find, test, and install desired tools such as counters, forms, etc...

Starting "Small" (eg, with Facebook)

If your company is just you, Facebook might be a better way to start. Facebook began as a way for individuals to keep in touch with friends and family members, but the current version provides support for Pages. Pages provide tools for businesses, brands, and organizations to interact with your audience and customers via the web.

Facebook provides the basic web infrastructure; all you need to do is some basic setup, post text and photos, and interact with your followers. Pages have an "About" area and you can easily set a unique and shorter address for the URL.

Some examples:

An Etsy shop

Dreaming Dragons

Note that the owner posts updates and photos, has a "Note" about how to purchase through Etsy, and can have conversations with people who like her art. (I've purchased several of her dragons just from photos.)

A Restaurant

Big Joe's San Bruno

What are tonight's specials? Photos of food bring more "Likes" and "Views" than textual descriptions.

Sweet Treats

Tantalizing Toffee from The Lady Who Kissed the Cow

Available at local Farmer's Markets. Up-to-date information helps customers find the booth at nearby events.

Authors

Susan Cain

Many authors have Facebook pages for communication and interaction with their readers.

Movies and TV Shows

NBC Grimm

Movies and television shows have started Facebook pages to interact with their fans.

Before You Start

I recommend creating a personal FaceBook account first, if you don't already have one. Then, while logged into FaceBook as yourself, create a Page for your company or organization.

Facebook likes to know that it can connect a "company" page to a person. We discovered with Tantalizing Toffee that if you create the company page without obviously linking it to an existing account, the page becomes "claimable" (which is confusing and weird).

Note that this doesn't mean you need to publicize your personal page or make it easily searchable. You can make it as private as you like and not tell anyone about it if you prefer. It's just handy to have some page as a contact point for the administrator of the company page.

-- Main.VickiBrown - 11 Sep 2013
Topic revision: r4 - 31 Aug 2014, RichMorin
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