No matter what your company does or sells, it needs a website -- at most, a place where you can engage your community of customers and clients; and at least, a simple contact page where people can find you without cracking the Yellow Pages.
If neither you nor your staff have web development chops, you'll likely be searching for a designer that can build you a site from scratch. A well designed website is a great asset, but business-wise, hiring help from the outside can pose a few problems.
Mainly, it can be expensive. And while the initial investment in a good looking, functional site is well worth it, the second issue is that websites (and your business) will change. If your website is custom built, you'll have to go back through the designer (if he or she is still available) to make updates -- and it may cost you each time.
If you like to be in control of your web presence at all times, and save some money in the process, consider the advantages of using an online blogging platform as your company's main website. Here are some of the pros.
A hosted blog with the right theme or template can look as good as a custom website. Whether your platform is WordPress, Blogger, Tumblr, or Posterous, there are plenty of well-designed (and often free) themes you can download, plug in, and customize easily.
Some customization resources include:
If you really need something that's one-of-a-kind, ask your web designer to build you a blog theme instead of a static website. This way, you'll have a custom site that you can update yourself for the long term.
No need for web hosting services
While web hosting for static pages is relatively inexpensive these days, accounts on these blogging platforms are absolutely free, and all of your data is stored on the web.
Creation and updates are free and easily accessible
Blog accounts are free to register and easy to maintain via the web. Like web e-email, anyone on your team with a login and password can access and update your site as needed.
Updates don't require coding or developers
Once your blog site is in place, making changes and updates doesn't require any technical skill. Simply add a post, edit a post, or re-arrange your layout.
A platform for dynamic content is built right into your site
Even if your business model is fairly straightforward, and doesn't require a lot of community engagement, it's still a good idea to publish something every now and then to let customers, employees, and investors know what's up.
Even if it's just a re-hash of your monthly newsletter, some dynamic content on your "Internet Storefront" reminds visitors that your team is still hard at work behind the scenes.
If your business is ready to take the next step toward social media engagement, it's very easy to add Twitter widgets, Facebook Fan Page badges, and other items that will connect your website to your social campaigns.
Important things to know
If all these advantages make sense for your business, there's still a bit of homework to be done before you take the blog-site plunge. Take note of these guidelines to ensure your website meets the professional standards of your business.
Learn a bit of HTML
While most of the functionality that makes blogging platforms easy and fun to use is baked right in, knowing the basics of HTML will go a long way to ensuring that your site will look and read the way you intend it to.
WordPress actually has a static front page feature built into its settings, making it one of the best options for a business site. The step-by-step instructions to create a static page are located here.
Unfortunately, the other blogging platforms mentioned above do not yet have this functionality, but you can "trick" them into creating a front page. Simply add a blog post and date it years in the future. Thus, it will always be the "newest" post, and always appear at the top of your site.