As the weather took a turn for the worse at the weekend, I used the time to start thinking about a website for our new venture. Now you could suggest that this is a little premature seeing as we haven’t even sold our house in the UK yet, never mind found somewhere in France. However, thinking ahead, I can’t see us having a great deal of time when we’re surrounded by our belongings in boxes and covered in paint, so I thought I’d get started now and customise it later.
Other than this blog I have never ‘built’ a website, though I have had a hand in commissioning one or two, but now seems as good a time as any to learn. I’ve decided to use WordPress, like 32% of all websites worldwide, as it is reasonably intuitive and has a multitude of visual themes and plug-in ‘tools’ to add all the functions we might need. This blog was created using WordPress and, despite one or two glitches at the beginning, works fine when I have something to write about!
My first task was to think of a domain name for the website. A domain name is the web address, like www.leroideprusse.com the address for this blog. Now you might expect that we’d have to wait to find a property so we can use that name, ChateauFawlty.com for example. However, whilst browsing property online, it struck me that if you Google ‘French estate agents’ the first result that comes up is a well-known English-speaking agency who registered that address and are now everywhere.
Quick as a flash I started trying the words that potential customers might use and came up with frenchfamilyholiday.co.uk; frenchholidayproperties.co.uk and frenchholidayproperties.com as both useful and affordable domain names. A few moments later and they were mine! I’ll use the latter as the address for our new website and point the other domains at it. This isn’t intended to fool or deceive anyone but will hopefully make sure lots of people see our site when it is up and running.
I’ve also been looking at design and layout templates for WordPress so that we can find something that is visually enticing as well as easy to use. It will need to incorporate simple reservation systems so that people can book easily online and channel management software so that we can avoid duplicate bookings. It will also need to be capable of accommodating several languages so that we can appeal to a wide range of customers and extend our season as much as possible.
Once this is all put together, I’ll be able to customise the site with details and images of our chosen property as soon as it is ready to open. I’ll also have to learn about search engine optimisation, or SEO, so that I can make sure the content is easily read and interesting to potential customers. With a little help from links from other sites it should soon start to appear in web searches and help us to minimise reliance on online travel agents who seem to take a large chunk of everyone’s profits.