Does your small business have a website yet?

If not, you probably realize you’re potentially losing a lot of business since more and more people start their search for local businesses online now.

If you do have a website, can people find it when they search for you online?  And are you paying too much for your website?

I’m excited to finally be able to tell you about a new service we’re offering that solves these problems.  It’s called Ezw3:  The Easy Way To Get Your Business Online.

I’ll share with you what lead to the decision to start this service.

I’ve been doing web design for around 12 years and started my own web design business about five years ago.  For the majority of that time, almost all of my clients came as referrals and they were located, not only all over the country, but all over the world.  The only websites I set up for local businesses were for personal friends.  It’s just the way it worked out.  I found a couple niches that I worked in primarily (mostly websites for internet marketers and real estate investors).

However, I have always had a desire to help small businesses, especially the really small ones, to get their business online.  I am entrepreneurial by nature and appreciate the unique challenges of running a small business.  I love going in small local shops and stores.  It’s the small, privately owned businesses that make a town unique and give it a certain flavor.

Personally, I hate seeing the big “box” stores come in to an area because of the harm it does to local businesses.  Not only that, these stores make every town look the same and take away the uniqueness that different areas would have otherwise.  Granted, we all have to shop in them sometimes, but I still hate to see them take over a community and make it look like everywhere else – commercial and generic.

So for many years I wanted to be able to provide websites to small businesses because it can give them an edge and help level the playing field somewhat.  It gives customers a different impression of your business when they see you have a website.  It gives you more credibility and shows you’re serious about your business and are doing what you can to make sure it sticks around.

I’ve noticed with myself and other people I have talked to that people are using the phone book less and less to find local businesses.  More and more people just go to Google and search for the business or category they’re looking for.  If you’re not listed, they’re going to contact someone else.

You may be wondering why, since I have wanted to offer websites to small businesses for many years, that I didn’t do so.  The answer, frankly, is that it didn’t make sense from a business standpoint.  It took quite a bit of time to set up a new website, especially from a design perspective.  Because it took a lot of time, that meant the price would have to be at a point that would put it out of reach for many small businesses.  Sure, I could probably have thrown something really simple together, but I don’t like setting up a website if it’s not going to look good.

So there just didn’t seem to be a way to offer websites to small businesses that would make sense.  I wanted it to be within a certain price range so that any business owner could afford it.

So what changed?

Well, simply put, new technology.

I came across a platform I could use to build websites where a lot of the really tedious, time-consuming parts are automated.  Specifically, I’m referring to WordPress.  It started out as blogging software, but now is used for websites in general.  Many businesses now use WordPress to manage their website.

Not only did this make it possible to simplify the setup process, but it opened up many other new doors.  For instance, there are many plugins and other tools freely available for WordPress that do pretty much anything you can think of.  In the past, if you wanted some of these features on your website, you would have had to hire a programmer for hundreds or thousands of dollars, but now many of those things can be incorporated into your site using free plugins.

Another great advantage is that it eliminates or at least greatly reduces the need for paying a webmaster to make updates on your site.  In the past, when you got a website you often had to pay someone a maintenance fee to go in and make small updates to your website, even if it was just changing a few lines of text.  Now, with WordPress, you can login and easily make changes to your own website.  If you can send an e-mail, you have all the technical skills you need to edit your website.

So this new technology made it possible to streamline much of the setup process.  On top of that, we could put together some really nice designs that provide the basic framework for a website, but still offer a lot of flexibility so that each site can be customized.  That way, we’ve been able to eliminate much of the tedious, time-consuming tasks that traditionally went into setting up a website.  Now we can give clients a number of layout options to pick from and then most of the work is just putting in the text and other content that you want on your website and getting it optimized so people can find it in the search engines.

What this means is that we can now set up a professional, nice looking website with state-of-the-art features in a fraction of the time it would have taken in years past.  While we could have just used that to our own advantage, we decided to pass along the savings so we could do what I’ve always wanted to do… provide affordable websites to small businesses.

I noticed in my local area (Salem / Roanoke, Virginia) there are a handful of web design companies, and I think they do great work.  I’ve seen a number of websites they’ve set up and some are very impressive.  Honestly, I’m not trying to cut into their business.  But they’re building completely custom websites from scratch, which means you end up with a completely unique website that looks great, but with a high price tag.  And it has to be that way for those type of websites because many hours go into building them.

What we realized is that not everyone needs a site like that.  Many of the small businesses don’t need anything super flashy, but just need a place to put information about their business so people can find them online.  Not to say these sites don’t look nice, because they are very professional.  But they’re not quite as flashy as some, and they don’t need to be.  And besides getting the website up and running, we also optimize it for search engines so that it’s more likely to show up on search sites like Google, Yahoo, MSN, etc. when people search for you.

So I’m very proud to present… Ezw3 – The Easy Way To Get Your Business Online!

Just in case you didn’t figure out the name, the “EZ” part is an abbreviated form of “easy” and “W3” is short for “WWW” or “Worldwide Web”.  So again, it’s the easy way to get your business online, or on the worldwide web.

Ezw3 is an affordable web design service for small businesses.

Our official launch date for the site is June 15, 2010.  However, in the meantime we’re accepting a few beta testers who would like to get a website set up for their business.  This will just give us a chance to run through a few sites and iron out any wrinkles in our processes and make sure we haven’t set the prices too low.  We’re going as low as we can with them and may have gone too low, depending on how long the average site takes, which we’ll only know after setting up quite a few sites.

You might wonder how this Ezw3 service relates to Serve Sense, LLC, the web design business I’ve been running for the past five years.  Well, Ezw3 is just a service provided by Serve Sense, LLC.  Serve Sense will continue to provide custom web design services, audio editing services, search engine optimization, consulting, and everything else we have been doing all along.  We will have different team members focusing on the Ezw3 service, which specifically focuses on websites for small businesses.

So if you need a website for your small business, come visit our site or give us a call and we’ll help you get your business online affordably and easily!