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Getting Started Online

You've decided to take the plunge and have your own website. Now what? Here are a few basic things you'll need to know to get started online.

  1. Web Domain. This is your website address also known as a URL (example: yoursite.com). A domain name is purchased annually or longer and can have various endings (.com, .edu). The most popular for businesses are .com and .net, while .org is generally used by non-profits or other organizations. Always have a list of possible domains as popular keywords may not be available.
  2. Web Hosting. Your web site files or html files need to stored on an accessible server that can be connected with your domain. Hosting is usually purchased and billed month-to-month. There are three ways to go about getting online. Consider your level of html expertise, your knowledge of search engine optimization and your budget before selecting one of these options:
    • Do it for me. You will want to contract a web design firm that can do it all for a reasonable price. Make sure you get what you want at the price you want.
    • Purchase your own hosting. Purchasing your own hosting and domain can save you a lot of money down the road but can also cause headaches if you don't choose the right services. Stay away from cheap $2 hosting. These hosting companies generally do not provide quality support especially when you need it most.
    • Do it myself. Templates are provided online for easy, quick setup of your new website. Search engine optimization is not included and design is limited.
  3. Web-readable files. This is the heart of your website. Your content can be created in several different formats (html, xml, dhtml, asp) but html is the most widely used.
  4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO). SEO is one of THE most important things about your website. Key words help otherwise unknown searchers to find you online. The more unique your keywords the better.

Most web designers will start from a basic concept or framework that your content will reside in. Main navigation will either be on left, top or right side. Each page will follow this general framework so that visitors can easily navigate your site. It's always helpful to keep your most popular pages linked from your main page.

Keeping your web design costs down

Web Design. When hiring a web designer, it is helpful to have a firm idea of what kind of design you are interesting in achieving. You can keep design costs down by doing a little research before requesting your design. The following will help you to know what you want.

  • Search and selecting you top 3 favorite web sites. This will help your web designer to know exactly what you are looking for.
  • Select colors. Cut out color swatches or patterns out of magazines or supply paint swatches to your designer. This will help to nail down your color pallette.

Content. Keep your web page content in a word doc and make sure you have your pages seperated by page title. Make sure spell check is on to ensure proper spelling. Before handing your content over to your designer, it's a good idea to have someone else proofread what you want to include. This will cut down on content changes.

Flash and the "coolness" factor. Having a "cool" website with all the bells and whistles may sound good until you get your first estimate. We suggest starting your website with simple html. This is the best option for your budget, for your search engine optimization and for your visitors. Although cool is cool, not many visitors will wait around long enough for your page to load to find out.

Karen's Blog