By Shaan Khan
At the surface, starting an online business can be seen as intimidating. Where it’s assumed the largest corporations only have the teams, funds and facilities to carry out the venture of bringing their businesses online.
But do you need a team of web developers, content creators and high server maintenance costs to run a successful online business? Better yet, is an online business worth it for your content, products, services and brand?
First off, you can start by scratch creating your own website and fortunately its more streamlined than ever before with web design companies that will set you up with templates and features for a website that you can easily control and customise without computer science knowledge or worrying about hosting your own servers—picture running a modern website like you would a social media account but with greater creative freedom.
Some website templates, features and themes are free or cost money, but it’s your first foot into the door of building an online business. Tools to run your website are intuitive to use, and you can begin managing your website how you see fit or eventually hire people who know the best practices to optimise a website for a business.
The alternative to your own website is using an e-commerce platform like Amazon, Fiverr, eBay or Etsy to trade your goods or services. It’s a means of relying on an already established website with a large userbase to host your business within their ecosystem.
Still, both methods come with the competitive caveat of trying to make your business stand out from the rest and the same goes for offline business—Capitalism 101.
Why should you put in the time & effort for a successful online business? It’s because of these following benefits:
The screen real-estate of every consumer smartphone or computer becomes your stage. You must put on a performance that holds the audiences undying attention.
What makes this stage perfect for presenting business? Well, advertising on printed papers is static information with limited interaction. Physical shops can include bespoke interior design and eye-catching avant-garde architecture. Still, they’re incredibly pricey and operating them with high-end tech and a well-trained staff force only rockets the expenses astronomically higher.
Not everyone can run a business like Apple, but you don’t need to because the online platform comes with neither of these negatives! We are in the age of Web 3.0. where visual information behind our screens holds so much depth to interact with compared to print. Websites offer immersive realism that can captivate us with humanly emotions felt from setting our eyes on world-class architecture—it’s no longer just texts, numbers and pixelated images!
A world-class example of splendorous web design is Apple’s website that incorporates colours that emphasise the brand for users to remember & recognise. There are smooth animations to transition between contextually differentiating text to unclutter information and keep it compartmentalised for our brains to digest & store manageably.
Screenshot captured on Apple’s website
The animation & graphic design is gifted to displaying the Apple products, giving a realistic observation of an object where every detail is captured from 3D rotational angles. Apple’s website host videos and audio clips to provide you with more detail on their products, such as highlighting their usage in the real world.
All this information on screens found anywhere in the world, instead of having to find a unique shop that can attempt to host all of this information in one centralised place that limits consumer access due to travel restraints.
The good news is that many of the features that make Apple’s website so great are made available by web design platforms for you to use with your own website. All you must do is pick a template, theme & features that you think will display your business in the best light.
Say hello to the more cost-effective and just as stimulating alternative to offline business!
To start with an awe-inspiring story of cultural shift, before the prevalence of e-commerce, Africans that produced artisanal crafts or beauty products were victims to unethical business practices where middlemen & corporations would use them as cheap labour to sell their creations globally.
With greater access to internet in the continent and web design becoming more streamlined, there has been a stark incline in African entrepreneurs setting up online businesses to sell their products globally with full control over their brand, workload and costs. Now queue the song ‘Rains Down in Africa’ since online business ‘blessed the rains down in Africa’.
So it comes as no surprise that online business will open you up to an audience far more expansive than the miles-radius of your town or city. Also, foreigners that want your products would, from a logical standpoint, be more inclined to pay international shipping fees instead of putting all their responsibilities on hold to book a trip abroad to obtain your product.
Even if you’re just advertising a service, a website with global reach will get the message across, so whenever anyone does travel to your country, town or city, they will have your business held in their memory and hopefully their desires.
Interaction & Management
An online business with all its publicly displayed information is literally at the customer’s fingertips. Whether it’s navigating by touching the screen of your iPad or swiping at a touchpad on your MacBook Air, it’s effortless for customers to browse your products or services with intuitive web design.
Better yet, the customer has the power to make transactions on your website on their own accord. Without the need of a shop clerk standing by a cash register, or a salesman making their rounds across the commercial floor to sell a product and no need for marketing posters outside the store! All of this occurs autonomously on a well-designed webpage where customers will read the marketing material and product description then choose to make a purchase—in return, earning you passive income without clocking-in daily hours of traditional work to make a sale.
In fact, the website markets itself with the inclusion of the following features:
- Share Button – This useful icon integrated on strategic parts of a website, such as the bottom of a product description, can be interacted with to allow a customer to share the website or webpage with another individual or group on a variety of communication & social media platforms.
- SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) – A strategy in web design to include written content such as blogs, articles and copywriting material on the website that host trending words within them. Using SEO effectively will have your website higher up in search results. More specifically, SEO allows your website to show up in search results for the most popular terms & words—offering your site greater visibility on the web.
- Email Sign-ups – If the content, products or services on the website appeal to the user, this feature will allow them to receive the latest updates from your business through email—growing your returning customer base by keeping them in the loop for what’s to come next and allowing for your business to uphold relevancy.
Communication & Privacy
With content constantly being updated onto your website, you eventually become a hub for information or entertainment that will garner you routine visitors. Whatever community or industry you are a part of, if you report on current events & trends and do so accurately, then your website earns reputability where people begin to trust you, giving you influential power.
Users also feel safe & comforted being on a website that secures the user’s privacy. The main reason many people would rather browse a website than a store for a product is that you won’t have people watching you, which makes some people anxious when searching for what they want.
Another advantage to online private communication is no queuing in lines to be served! Or being in crowded spaces! If you build a strong reputation, then all of these beneficial reasons will lead people to use your online business!
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