As the internet revolution shows no signs of slowing down, there is a danger that the small business owner may get left behind, discouraged by the complexity and costs of creating an internet presence. Entries in Yellow Pages, Thomson Local and other publications used to be a sure fire way of ensuring that your name was known, but now a growing proportion of the population use the internet for their information, including for the telephone numbers of reliable tradesmen, pubs, leisure facilities and the local takeaway.
When thinking about creating a website, many local shopkeepers and small traders imagine a bewildering sea of technology in their way, or a prohibitive cost from a specialist web design company. Now, though, it is possible for anyone with access to a computer connected to the internet to create their own website quickly and easily, with no set up cost. Thanks to the Getting British Business Online (www.gbbo.co.uk) initiative, all that is required is an email account and a mobile phone, and within minutes you can have your own website for absolutely no outlay. You can even set it up to receive payments via Paypal.
The first step is to create an email account if you do not already have one. This is relatively easy at www.gmail.com. Follow the “Create Account” instructions to establish your email address, and bear in mind that you may not get your first choice. For instance, Mikemadden@gmail.com was already taken, so I simply added the number 1 after my name to create my email address.
The next step is to go to the GBBO website www.gbbo.co.uk. Choose your website name, and again you may not get your first choice. www.michaelmadden.co.uk has been taken by an artist, so I inserted a hyphen to create www.michael-madden.co.uk. Once you have agreed to the terms and conditions you are well on your way.
There is a page for you to enter your business details, and this is very similar to a Yellow Pages entry. You need to provide details for your business, including a contact name, and then you are asked for a mobile phone number for verification. A 5 digit code is sent to the mobile phone that you specified, and you need to enter this code on the next screen.
The final step is to select a template for your website, and there are dozens to choose from. You can select bar, restaurant, mechanic, salon, and many more, but remember these are just templates and can be amended later.
Your website is set up according to the template that you chose, with pages for contact details already included. These can be changed at this point, or you can amend them later.
To complete the process you should sign in using your Google account (set up when you created your Gmail address). This consists of your username (in my case mikemadden1), and your password. GBBO will then set up your website (you must select “Allow” when asked about permissions), and that is that. You can view your website at any time, and by clicking the “sign-in” button you can make changes such as adding new content, changing things around, or even adding new pages. Look out for the “Create Page” and “Edit Page” buttons in the top right corner when you are signed in.
One small thing to note, just by creating a new page does not mean that you will be bale to get to it. You have to click the “Edit sidebar” button then go into the Navigation sidebar item to add your new page. This takes a little bit of getting used to, but once you get the hang of it you should find yourself navigating around your new website with ease, and it should have taken you no longer than an hour of your valuable time! If you would like any more information, please contact me by email at Mikemadden1@gmail.com.