How to Construct a Website for Your Online Business

Although you can make a living buying and selling full time on eBay, a website will likely be the focus of your online business. Fortunately, websites are becoming easier to create. You don’t have to know a line of HTML to create an effective web page.

Make your business easy to find online. Pick a web address (also known as a URL, or Uniform Resource Locator) that’s easy to remember. You can purchase a short domain-name alias, such as www.company.com, to replace a longer one like www.internetprovider.com/~username/companyname/index.html. If the ideal dot-com (.com) name isn’t available, you can choose one of the newer domain suffixes such as .biz.

If the perfect domain name for your business is already taken, consider adding a short, easy-to-remember prefix or suffix to your existing company name. For example, if your company name is something common, such as Housing Services, try fairly recognizable names such as housing.com and housingservices.com.

That way, the web address is still easy to recall and associate with your business. Or create a “cyber” name that’s related to your real name. The Art Institute of Chicago can’t use www.artinstitute.edu because it’s already taken by a group of Art Institutes to which it belongs. So the Art Institute of Chicago created the short abbreviation www.artic.edu — which is easy to remember.

Spellings that differ from common English, such as niteline.com, are difficult for people to remember — and people who only hear the name spoken won’t know how to type it or search for it properly. Also avoid hyphens in your domain name, such as in WBX-TV-Bozo@somestation.com, because, again, their placement isn’t obvious.

Make your site content-rich

The textual component of a website is what attracts visitors and keeps them coming back. The more useful information and compelling content you provide, the more visits your site will receive. Use words, headings, or images that induce visitors to interact with your site in some way. You can make your content compelling in a number of ways:

  • Provide a call to action, such as Click Here! or Buy Now!

  • Explain how the reader benefits by clicking a link and exploring your site. (“Visit our News and Specials page to find out how to win 500 frequent flyer miles.”)

  • Briefly and concisely state your business and its mission.

  • Scan or use a digital camera to capture images of your sale items (or of the services you provide) and post them on a web page called Products.

Don’t forget the personal touch when connecting with your customers’ needs. Online shoppers don’t get to meet their merchants in person, so anything you can tell about yourself helps to personalize the process and put your visitors at ease.

For example, one of Lucky Boyd’s primary goals for his MyTexasMusic site is to encourage people to become members so they’re more likely to visit on a regular basis. His photos of music fans personalize the site and remind visitors that they’re members of a community of music lovers. Let your cybervisitors know that they’re dealing with real people, not remote machines and computer programs.

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Peeking in on other businesses’ websites to pick up ideas and see how they handle similar issues is a natural practice. In cyberspace, you can visit plenty of businesses that are comparable to yours from the comfort of your home office, and the trip takes only minutes.

Establish a graphic identity for your business

When you start your first business on the web, you have to convince customers that you’re competent and professional. One factor that helps build trust is a graphic identity. A site with an identity looks a certain way. Using elements consistently from page to page creates an identity that gives your business credibility and helps viewers find what they’re looking for.

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