The Sportsphysio.com was one of the first websites My wife and I ever put together and has been online for well over 10 years.
In that time we have become well experienced in the web, social media and website construction.
One of the major benefits of the web is that a small business can expand or diversify easily and this is what we have done regularly ever since we developed our first websites.
Our clinic website and a complimentary sports medical supplies website were where it all started way back in the late 1990’s. Called TheSportsphysio.com and TheSportsmedic.com we now have around 20 titles including a blog regularly updated by our two dogs Charlie and Buster.
As a result of many hours sat in front of a computer screen we have gained unique experience of website construction. Our sites have all been constructed in house and all within the budgets of many small businesses.
Here is an insight into what we would call our basic website toolkit and the starting point for our next website. There always seems to be another one in the wings 🙂
Web hosting and domain names
We use a company called Heart Internet for domain names and web hosting.
They offer 24 hour support and have, so far, offered great customer service and reliability.
Costs currently are from around £3 per year for a .co.uk address.
Six years ago we revisited WordPress and had to say that it had come of age.
We had been using Dreamweaver but this produced flat un-dynamic websites unless you know your way around code. It just was not easy enough to move in to the emerging dynamic website era with it. However, we do still use it for code tweaks and other bits and pieces.
WordPress opened up a new world of databases and by using easily installed widgets has become our software of choice. It is backed by thousands of coders working in an open source environment and best of all it is FREE.
Content management systems (CMS) can cost millions of pounds and although WordPress was not designed initially as a CMS system, it fits the brief very well. You can even set up levels of access so creating a sub or buddy working system.
We use WordPress as the core to our sites and add bits and pieces along the way, some of which we do have to pay for.
One advantage of a CMS system is that all the data entered is stored in a database, so you can display it in almost an infinite number of ways. Adding a skin or theme to the base WordPress software allows you to change easily the look of your website.
Thousands of themes are available for WordPress for free, however we have in the main used Studiopress. These themes are free from encryption and are backed by a great team of support forum moderators. It is easy and simple to make tweaks to code or just to get a website working.
One of our many current projects is to introduce new ways to interact with visitors and gather feedback. We have settled on Gravityforms to provide us the tools to achieve this.
Using drag and drop browser based technology it is very simple to create quite complex forms and we are having fun experimenting.
Notepad and other very simple plain text editors are always open on our machines. CMS systems like to generate their own code when laying out a page so a straight copy and paste from your source document is not advised.
From your original source document copy the text into notepad and convert to plain text before you copy it back out and into your CMS system. If you find a page looks incorrect when you preview it then you possibly have dragged across some legacy code from your source document.
Over the years we have tried a selection of affiliate schemes and our current main one is AffiliateWindow.
With accounts of some of the major high street brands we are easily able to create a revenue stream in sympathy with our diverse website themes and objectives all under one roof. This just makes life easier if you are trying to manage adverts and time sensitive promotions.
Amazon stores and widgets also feature in our list of affiliate schemes as it provides links to books and services easily embedded within pages.
Top-Tip – Use one of the many WordPress plugins available to assist with gettting often clunky Amazon code to stay in a post.
Websites live and they evolve.
Every few weeks something new comes along and changes how you approach a task or article.
Multimedia and social networking are the current things in vogue but who can see into the future? Twitter being one of the major players with a micro-blogging platform allowing for comment in 140 characters or fewer.
All we can say is that these are exciting times, especially for the small business.