Building Your Web Site
Doing It Right
Today, the general public expects businesses to have
an online presence. As an author or writer, you are a business.
Business owners who realize this will definitely want their own web
sites, and some of them will take the do-it-yourself route. Small
business owners in particular can feel pressure to save money by
doing their own work. Its definitely doable if you're persistent and
motivated. Sometimes, though, creating a web site begins to feel
like do-it-yourself dentistry. A crash course in HTML and web
authoring programs can start to feel like you're drilling your own
In developing a website, there's no anesthetic
(except maybe chocolate) when the frustrations accumulate. Big
questions can loom large: Whew! Okay. I've got it up and running;
now, how do I get my site to pop up in those top spots on the big
search engines? Oh, no! Do I really have to pay for that? Which host
is the best for my site? Need to do more research. More time. Time
is money. Speaking of money, do I really save any by registering my
domain name for five dollars a year? How do I know if I did this
Good questions. After all, your hard-won
professional image is at stake. If you decide that building your own
website is for you, here are some tips. Following them will help you
give your site a professional feel that creates a positive image of
your business in the minds of your visitors. And if you decide to
hire someone, these tips will help you to know what questions to
simple for your visitor. Flash is fun to do, but your
visitors are not interested in your good time. A little is ok,
but remember, people want to get in, see what they want to see,
and get out If you design your site around what your visitor
wants, they will come back. if you don't, they won't.
reliable, verified content. Always have something to
say, and change the content often to keep visitors coming back.
A series of outlines with vague information wastes visitors'
time. You've been to sites like that. How many of them did you
your navigation structure allows easy movement
through your site. Have you ever tried to contact someone from
their website and given up because you couldn't figure out how
to do it? It seems like some people don't wont you to know how
to reach them. Big mistake! Always give the public a way to
contact you easily. Even people who don't buy may give you
feedback about the site. If a link doesn't work, or a picture
doesn't show, you want to know that.
sure you have correct navigation for all viewers.
Text navigation is an important convenience. Too many rollovers
and drop-down menus can frustrate visitors. Keep it simple is
still the best answer.
get Fancy. Remember that not every browser out
it off. Limiting yourself in this way is like inviting 100
people to a party, then telling everyone who's wearing a blue
shirt to go home.
your site in several different browsers, not just the
one you use all the time; not everyone is using the same one.
And different browsers render the page differently. Test
in Netscape, Firefox, Safari and MS Internet Explorer.
And test older versions. One client of mine had a site
built and it look beautiful in IE8, but when I opened IE6 the
entire site became a series of blue squares because the
developer used transparent .png images which were not read by
the older browser (which is still used by many government
agencies because of incompatibility issues for some of their
look at your site from another location to test
links, graphics and page appearance and to make sure everything
loads correctly. When you visit your web site from the computer
on which it was built, you will always see it correctly. Do not
into e-commerce for sales online (a shopping cart
set-up), and be meticulous about security. If online selling
seems daunting, not to worry. Remember that simply taking email
inquiries for your products can boost sales.
site reflect your unique business personality. You've
been to sites that were built from cookie-cutter templates and
generic software. You can tell. Make your site your own --
without getting carried away.
Be Careful Who You Use. There are
many inexpensive services out there that offer you a template to
build your website. It's generally pretty easy for you to
manage adding text and uploading images. What they
don't offer is the ability to optimize images (just shrinking
them doesn't make the image smaller it's still the same huge
size it was - just visually smaller). Most don't
offer the ability to create good search engine optimization (SEO)
so you can be found. And, don't submit your site to search
engines. And, if you can't get someone 24/7/365 - on the
phone - for FREE - run away as quickly as possible from that
service. If something goes wrong you need help right away
not by email with a response in 5 days.
Doing your own web site, and doing it right can be
fun and rewarding. However, it involved a bit time investment, a
steep learning curve, and lots of potential frustrations. Once it's
up and running, you'll want your site to stay current, and handling
that also takes time. For most people, it's impractical.
However, if you are thinking of doing your own
website, that's great, just do it right - and for the right reasons.
If reading up on navigation structure, design principles,
repurposing text for the web, and learning how to resize and save
graphics for fast loading just makes you tingle with excitement, by
all means, go for it. If you're already too busy to take care of
yourself well, or technical things make you yawn or hyperventilate,
give yourself a break and leave it to the experts.
Lilly has a background in computers and graphic design. She also
teaches part-time for Baltimore County's employees in the Office of
Information Technology. Ms. Lilly has created classes on Writing
for the Web, and written over 100 manuals for software instruction,
as well as helped to develop a Rural Industrial Training Center and
School to Work Program. It took a while but she's finally doing the
things she loves most, teaching others how to be completely lazy and
let the computer do it all, experimenting with the computer and
expanding her artistic background. Bizness Concepts creates
website for small businesses that are very affordable.