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WEBSITE 101  

Things you need to know, before you design your website

Click here for an important tip!

  Beginners click here for a guide to starting your Web Site in 5 easy steps.

1. Domain Name

 

A domain name is what someone will look for, that identifies you and/or your company. There are many Domain Registration companies that you can register your name with. You should not pay more than $7.00 - $10.00 a year for this service.

You need to decide if you are a company (.com), network (.net), or and organization (.org). General rule-of-thumb is to select an extension that best matches your needs.

However, be aware that it is sometimes wise to purchase the other extensions, to protect your name from being used by others on the web.

Also, most hosting companies will offer to register your name. Likewise, most domain registering services will also offer hosting.

Choose a plan that YOU can afford, and that offers the best fit for your company.

2. Hosting

Choosing a hosting service depends on what your web site needs are and how much you are willing to spend for that service. There are plans out there for as little as $1 per month. Be sure you read the fine print before you buy!

If a company is charging more than $12 per month for a personal website, it usually means they have purchased a block of service packages from another host provider, and are reselling them at a higher rate. However, many times it is a design company who will also offer other services with the extra cost. Again, read the fine print before you buy!

Do I need a Personal, Business, or E-Commerce Plan?

Be sure you are not buying more than you need for your website. If you just want a simple site for your business, purchase a 'personal plan'. You can always upgrade later.

Check that the hosting service does not restrict usage. Some hosting services will block your site, if you purchase a personal plan and use it for a business.

There are no laws (that I know of) that state you have to buy a business plan for a business site; or, that it is illegal to use a personal plan for your business.

Click here for more information on hosting.

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3. About Templates

One of the most popular 'quick fix' entities out there are those companies that offer website templates for a fee. While this is a great way to get things done fast, there are a couple things that you may not be aware of.

* While the 'flash' templates, or other motion-graphic designs, are really cool to watch, you cannot update or integrate your information into those templates unless you have the the specific program that created the design.

* For those that purchase templates without having the skills or software to work on them, you will find that the template company will offer to do the work for you, for a fee. The ones that I investigated usually end up projecting a cost of $500 to $5,000+ just to get the basic information up and running.

* Make sure you know someone that can work with the software that created the template BEFORE you buy it!

If you are stuck with a template you cannot use, we can help. Contact us for a quote.

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4. Advertising & Marketing

read more about search engine marketing
 

Search Engines - The first thing you should do is educate yourself about search engines. Here are a couple sites that I found to be very useful:

If you have a budget that affords you some paid advertising, then you can look at companies that work the search engines for you. These companies generally charge you $40-100 per month or charge a 'per-click' fee for every visitor to your website. The per-click fees can really add up, even at less than $1 per click. Plus you pay for anyone that clicks onto your site, even if they come there by mistake.

Marketing Materials - Put your web address on all of your existing marketing materials such as: business cards, stationary, brochures, newsletter, product sheets, etc. And then, you need to somehow release the information on where to find your web address on all your promotional materials.

We are all eager to find faster and more convenient ways to communicate with the companies we want to do business with. The key is: The more effort you put in, the more positive results you will get! Leave no potential market untapped!

Word-of-Mouth - Sometimes the best web advertisement is free. Once the customers you have know you are on-line, they will visit; and if you're good, they will share your site with others. You just cannot buy the kind of advertising you get from word-of-mouth. Talk to everyone with whom you do business about your new website. And, even if they already have your business card (with the site address), give them another. Customers that are happy with your work may share that extra card with someone else.

And, every time you talk to someone, and the conversation leads (lead them!) to your business, have ample cards ready to hand out. Remember that every nice person you meet, standing in line to check-out, is a potential customer.

Leg work - Go to businesses that don't already know about your service.

Keep in mind that your website should never be the only means of advertising you have. It isn't enough to have a great search engine directing viewers to your site. YOU need to take a proactive approach to your web business. Think of your website as another brochure or advertising venue; it has to be worked in the same way. The difference is in cost and approach. But, the best approach is to think of your site as one of the marketing tools, not the ONLY marketing tool.

Even if your business is totally web-based, you still have to apply old-fashioned marketing ingenuity in attracting your target market to your web business.

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