How to go about creating web sites
So, youve just started surfing the Net and had some fun checking out websites, but now youd like to know how to get your business on the Internet. Or, perhaps youve been on the Net for a while and youve thought about a website for your company from time to time and finally decided its time to do something about it. Well, heres some information we hope will be of service to you.
By now you realize that millions are on the Internet from around the world and thousands more are joining each day, so, you cant afford to ignore this population and medium that allows so much for so little!
So, whats Step 1? Simple. If youve already made the decision to place your business on-line, you need to decide whether you will do it yourself, or have a reputable (and I stress reputable) website design company do it for you.
Heres a few questions to ask if you decide to do it for yourself:
1. Do you know what HTML is?
2. Are you good at designing graphics?
3. Do you have the software capable of doing HTML and designing graphics?
4. Do you have the time to do the HTML as well as design the graphics?
5. Are you familiar with Java or CGI programming and installing scripts?
6. Are you familiar with the do and don't of web hosting?
7. Are you familiar with all acpects of promoting a website?
8. Who will maintain or make changes to the website once it is in place?
These are just a few questions concerning the details of getting your business on the Net. Now, heres some questions to ask yourself if you decide to have a website design company do it for you:
1. How long has this company been in business?
2. What other clients do they have?
3. What type of references do their clients give?
4. Are their prices reasonable?
5. What do the websites theyve designed look like?
6. Are their clients websites easy to navigate?
7. What types of creative services and e-business consulting do they give? What is their track record on launching successful web businesses. ( And we feel this is the most important!)
With these things in mind, Step 1 is simply making the decision of whether youre going to do it yourself or have a website design company do it. Now on to Step 2.
Regardless of what decision you make in Step 1, the next thing you should do is familiarize yourself with as many competitor websites as you can, beginning with the major companies as well as the not-so-major companies. Make a list of pros and cons for each website you visited.
Some things to consider should be:
1. Did their page(s) load fast and the site design build "first impression" trust?
2. Did their graphics overwhelm you or did they compliment the site nicely, enticing you to peruse the information you were looking for?
3. Was their content informative? Concise? Hype?
4. Did you lose yourself in the site while surfing through it or get deadended on a page?
5. Was the contact information (addresses, phone numbers, etc.) easy to find?
6. Was the text easy to read or did the background make it difficult to see?
7. Overall, did the website give you the feeling that the company was professional and reputable?
Visiting other websites should also give you an idea of what you want to do for your website. Have you noticed the common factors among all websites? Great! Lets go to Step 3.
If youve begun to feel fairly comfortable with the World Wide Web and youve become familiar with a lot of different sites, then its time to gather your information together to build your site.
Heres a list of sources (for yourself or the IMS website design team) to consider when preparing for your website:
1. Current brochures, press releases or flyers
2. Newspaper features about your company (although you cant use it verbatim because of copyright hassles)
3. Photographs of your building, staff products
4. Logos and slogans on letterhead or business cards
5. Databases interfacing (if youre planning on putting one on the Web)
6. Merchant account (if youre planning to take credit cards on the Net)
7. Microsoft Word or text based for cut-n-paste copy (product info, etc.)
8. Graphic files that may be available from the local printer you use such as your logo, etc.
9. Your budget: How much do you want to spend per year for hosting & maintenance ?
If you have several employees, it's also good to get input from them, especially those who are familiar with the Internet and the World Wide Web. You'll be surprised at how many great ideas you'll get from "kicking around" the idea of a website with others! Now on to Step 4.
So, you've decided to do it yourself (or have one of your employees do it), and you've went through the steps above.
Here's a list of "To-Do's" to get you going:
1. Check the market for HTML programs and believe me, there's a lot of them out there. SEE our Free resources page. Some do the HTML for you while others expect you to know how to do the actual programming. This will be time consuming, but don't make a hasty decision. Some of the programs that do it for you are very limited! Also keep in mind that some of the programs also require special extensions on the "server" (where your HTML files reside) in order to function properly.
2. Check the market for graphic design programs, and again, there's a lot to choose from. Keep in mind that many of them do a fair job, but watch out for programs that give you "ragged" edges on your text, or are very limited in "effects."
3. Allot yourself (or someone else) plenty of time to learn the above programs and don't get too anxious to get the website up. All of this takes some time and the more time you take, the better your website will look in the end!
We hope this information is helpful and gets you going in the right direction. Please let me share one more thought with you.
Putting your business on the Internet should never replace your current marketing strategies, but, should serve as an "enhancement" to what you are now doing. Yes, some folks got rich quick in the beginning with some pretty great ideas, but for the most part, building a website that's top-notch and professional and gets results takes time. There are hundreds (probably thousands) of would-be entrepreneurs and fly-by-night companies and schemes designed to get your money using this phenomenon we call the World Wide Web. As a result, people are becoming more cautious everyday (and they should!).
Be prepared to "build your presence" on the Web by checking your e-mail frequently and answering promptly, updating your website often, and "staying put" while others come and go. Despite the wonderful technology and the tremendous appeal of the Internet, NOTHING will ever replace good ol' fashioned service and quality products that are worth our hard-earned money!
We wish you great success!
Respectfully, IMS webmaster Mike
The biggest mistake of all is hosting your site on a FREE hosting service without your own domain name. No serious buyer will ever purchase products or services from a site where the owner hasn't spent a dime to establish their business. Same goes with an e-mail address like: firstname.lastname@example.org etc.
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