Hannah Harris is the winner of the 2020 Scholarship with her article about Using Cloud Platforms to Host Websites
In a growing day and age of technology and advancement, the most fundamental step we can take as individuals, business owners, and creators is to embrace and utilize advancements in technology and services for our gain. Personally, using cloud platforms like Google Drive, Gmail, Facebook, and Instagram already come with a depth of advantages and efficiencies; I am able to access all kinds of platforms, information, services, and products with ease, security, and mobility. What feels like an elite and pristine service is actually available to me on a daily basis in a way that is reliable, relatable, and extremely convenient. All of my information can be stored safely in one space, and I can obtain a wealth of information at my fingertips. Not to mention, there are features like blogs, YouTube, maps, news, chats, calendars, and more for my enjoyment.
Similarly, as a business owner, using cloud platforms by themselves and using them to host websites has proved invaluable. Because of the partnership between cloud platforms and websites, I have additional services available to me that have been vetted and created with me/my business in mind. For example, with Google Drive, I can create hiring paperwork, training manuals, signs for our coffee shop, and shift checklists all stored in one place. Likewise, there I can also create inventory spreadsheets, manager responsibility spreadsheets, and order summaries to streamline our system of operations and recording. Therefore, I am afforded countless more hours I would have wasted manually processing payment and inputting customer information, inventory, product information, etc.
Moreover, with websites like Shopify, I can compile all the customer information, brand awareness, and e-commerce needs into one platform. This has proven monumental for us, too! Not only that, Shopify feeds customer information, order recording, and subscription services into a direct spreadsheet so that I can then go into google drive to see what orders are due when and see all the customer contact information in order to increase our customer loyalty through personal notes, direct emails with product information, and so on. We recently switched from SquareSpace to Shopify for all of our website marketing, point of sale, and e-commerce per their greater ease, navigation, streamlining, and the quality/quality of services available. This includes valuable marketing, modern designs, retail services, order and shipment services, embedded marketing tools, and social media add-ins that help us stay trendy and attractive to customers. In using these files and features of cloud platforms and in websites like Shopify, I can rest more easily that the services are secure, trustworthy, reliable, and saving me time in not having to research best websites and services to launch my brand and products from. And with websites like Wix, WordPress and HubSpot, when properly maintained and invested into, these can help generate customers, educate the consumer, and be an effective means of traffic to the product, services, and brand with continual blog posts that populate in search engines. Additionally, I receive the efficiencies, cost benefits, and effects of competition in the market when I use these services because competition in the market produces the best products. Thus, I can be sure that websites and platforms are up to date with the latest trends in culture, the market, and customer needs.
With the increasing demands of social media and digital marketing as well, cloud platforms and websites allow me the freedom to expand my brand, connect social media marketing with digital marketing through e-commerce, websites, and blogs as well as monitor each avenue. This mobility of access and flexibility in the services means a more accessible and readily available, user-friendly product and brand that customers will keep coming back to. What’s more, these websites and platforms continually undergo automatic software updates, loss prevention checks, and quality control audits so that I know they will work and the creators will attend to my inquiries quickly when they do not work. Therefore, these websites allow for combining social media and sharing posts and blogs, creating successful marketing that impacts brand awareness, product information, and our credibility in conjunction with increasing our reach to new customers. By its nature then, this generates more sales and, ideally, generates customer retention and loyalty. Because cloud platforms and their partnering websites and features are constantly being improved with efficiency, market trends, and customer needs in mind, I can market with sleek design, optimize development of our brand and product, and expand our customer base. Lastly, when I see these new trends and services being announced or updated, I can transfer these upcoming additions and intelligence into other elements of our business and product with confidence that the improvements with be impactful and timely. Thus, I can see how cloud platforms are improving and expanding firsthand, then use those observations to inform the trajectory of our changes and goals for the future.
Now more than ever, the use of cloud platforms and websites like Wix, HubSpot, WordPress, and Spotify are crucial. When Covid-19 hit this year, improving our online presence and digital marketing saved our business. When we could no longer be our prominent store-front presence and meet the needs of our customers, really ramping up our online presence and e-commerce sustained us and communicated value and urgency to continue serving our customers. Through the ease of Shopify, we launched an online subscription service, presented our products in a modern and enticing way, and kept our customers up to date and educated with ongoing regulations, re-openings, and new services offered in the crazy times. Without Shopify and the combination of cloud platforms and websites, we likely would not have made it through this pandemic.