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GETTING STARTED: How do I get my First Website on the Internet

23 Jan

Hello Again,

Welcome back to our series, on how to get started with owning a website. I am going to break it down into a few topics and questions to ponder. If you are hiring a professional, they will need you to be able to answer most of these questions at your first meeting. If designing the site yourself, you need to be able to answer this before you type your first word in HTML. So let’s begin.

What is the purpose of your Web site?:

What do you hope to achieve with your website? What are your goals? Is your purpose to attract a larger audience through search engines? Or to provide information to your current customers? Write down your thoughts about your "Purpose and Goals" on a notepad. I suggest that you keep all your ideas for this project together. I find that this will help keep you focused on working towards and achieving the goals you set for your Website.

Domain Name(.com) & Hosting:

First thing find is "Hosting". The host is a very special computer that stores your website and delivers it to the world. If you buy your domain name from a good hosting company like iPage, they will automatically register and connect that domain up to any hosting you buy: so your site is ready to start uploading to very quickly. If this is not included by your Host, the very next thing you will need to do is register a domain name. A domain name is basically your address on the World Wide Web that enables people to find you amongst the enormous multitude of sites. (I personally use iPage, for combined purchase savings and great service. Just my opinion). If the preferred {dot} com is unavailable, look for something that makes sense to that product. Like an address, it directs people to you. Your domain should have a similar name to your business-product-service. so as to reinforce your business to people. Keep it short. If your business name is really long try something shorter that will resonate with consumers.

Audience :

So who is going to come to this website? “Everyone, Anyone” is not the way life works or the web. Just like when deciding on print or media advertising, you are targeting a particular demographic. What is their age, what is their location in connection to you, man or woman, reading level, or income level? What they want from you? What motivates them want to contact you?  Take time to think about who your target audience is. What do you plan to say or display to them? Do you have a good idea of how to communicate with your target customer? Consider what their problems are and how you plan to offers solutions to those problems through your product or service.

Carefully choose your colors. Keep your target audience in mind – what would appeal to them? Remember that colors represent emotions and perceptions. Elegant, business-like colors include dark colors such as navy blue and burgundy. Fresh, healthy colors include bright colors such as pale yellows, blues and greens. Loud, high-impact colors include vibrant colors such as red and bright shades of yellow, blue, orange and purple and black. When you see a Web site that has a color or color scheme that you would like for your site be sure to write it down. I recommend choosing one color that will be your primary color throughout the site and one or two complimentary colors. If you choose a background color other than white for your Web site, make sure you choose a text color that is easily read on that background color. I recommend using an easy-to-read font for the majority of your text, but fancy fonts can be used for headings and subheadings. Take note of several Web sites that use fonts that you like.

Scope – what website does:

What type of website is it?

  • Company website
  • E-commerce
  • Informational / Wiki / Blog
  • Community Building
  • Non-Profit / Educational
  • Arts & Entertainment
  • Temporary Special Event
  • Custom Web Application

The scope of what you wish your website to do can change a lot of things for the web designer. If you are having static pages, then there are more liberties in creative options. With Wikis, Blogs, and Educational Sites there is usually a format requirement, or large template designing and rendering. With E-commerce sites you have to consider shopping carts and much more.  So knowing what the end result is when you sit down with your designer can save you loads of $$$ with not having to pay for a new website in a year because you forgot to mention that you wanted to sell products, not just display the details and images,

Content – am I ready:

You will need to supply your designer/ developer with the sites content. This does not have to be pages and pages of text or hundreds of images. As a basis, start with your main pages such as the home page, about us, products/ services and a contact page. This will give someone visiting your site an overview as to who you are, what you are about and how to contact you. If you require additional pages your designer can always add them later. Also get your images ready. Get your logos, product pictures, and any other relevant images in 1 folder and labeled as to what they are. Read our Content is Everything Post for more information. Great content is what will bring people to your website and keep them there.

Resources:

http://www.CTDWebDesigns.com – My Design Firm

http://colorschemedesigner.com – Just like it sounds. It is a great color scheme designer. Easy to use and export results.

http://www.twitter.com – A great place to do research and find information on the newest trends.

http://www.templatemonster.com/website-templates.php – This is a template site. I do not recommend buying one of these, but if trying to decide what you want or want to know how something might look, this is a great place to look through 1,000 of template websites.

http://www.osalt.com/ – osalt.com helps recommend a open source software alternative or replacement for commercial products and even shareware. Remember that open source software is also a freeware alternative. Great place to get photo editing software to crop images. Hosting Companies: iPage, GoDaddy, Hostfor2bucks, c2c, yahoo, and many more… 

Our Future Blog Postings will feature reviews of some of the free resources available to the website owners.

Budget :

This can be a hot button topic, but you need to have a good idea of what are you willing to spend. Consider the price of the website and hosting in comparison to listing in the Yellow Phone Book. And then you add in a weekly newspaper advertisement and you have only reached 0.01% or less of the local audience. The studies show that internet is in 75% of homes, 90% of businesses and 100% in schools. So consider that when you decide how much to spend, and on what type of advertising budget you are allotting for your website.

Do(s) & Don’t(s):

Spend time browsing the Web. Jot a note of the Web sites that appeal to you. What is it you like about them? The layout? The colors? The navigation? The fonts? Write down a few of the address’s of several Web sites that have a layout similar to what you would like to have on your Website. Add notes on what you like about their website. Pay attention to the Navigation bar you respond to well. What kind of navigation would you like for your Website? Buttons? Tabs? Text links? Drop down menu? A combination? Again, take note of the URL’s of several Web sites that have navigation links that you like.  It is also important that you take notes on Web sites you don’t like. What don’t you like about them? Are they visually overwhelming? Too difficult to read? Write down the URLs of several Web sites that you do not like with a short explanation as to why you don’t like them.

Involvement:

Your involvement in the project will determine its overall success. You should be able to commit between 3-5 hours minimum per week for communications and approvals.


Written By: Chuck Dowe (@chuckdowe)

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