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ritchiem
01-13-2006, 10:00 AM
Hello all! I have been on many forums giving advice on company’s websites, and I have put together a list of tips to help you with yours.

The Process

1. Plan out your site first! Don't just jump into it...consider these;
- Who is your target audience?
- What pages will you have on your site? i.e. home, about us
- Do you have a color scheme?
- Write an editorial about your company and the services you provide
- Do you have pictures (original pictures) for your site?

2. Draw your layout on a piece of paper to get a good idea on what you want in the end. Or if you will be using a Gopher Web Template (http://www.gophergraphics.com/forum/cgi-bin/ikonboard.cgi?act=ST;f=15;t=898) make sure it will work with what you want in the end.

Now that you have the preliminary stuff out of the way, this would be a good time to find a domain name and hosting. Domain names can be purchased anywhere, Omnis.com (http://omnis.com) is where I purchase mine for $7.99 you cannot go wrong. You may have some trouble finding a great domain name as they may be taken already...here are some tips;

- Keep it simple
- Keep it short
- Make sure the domain directly reflects your company.

As for hosting, Design In Q now offers hosting. We also have a special running for LCO's for $1.99 per month (promo titled "Keep your green"). We give you what you need and don't sell you on stuff you don't. Design In Q prides itself on keeping it real and avoiding mind bending sales tactics. Here is a breakdown on what $1.99 gets you.

- 50 MB of online storage
- 1000 MB of transfer
- 25 email addy's including webmail
- Supports cgi, perl, PHP, streaming video and music
- Webalizer stats
- cPanel
- The list goes on

If you are interested please shoot me an email rmurphy@designinq.com and we can set it up (larger packages are available as well).

Now comes time for the fun stuff...Design. There are so many wysiwyg (what you see is what you get) programs out there. My favorite is Macromedia Dreamweaver. You can download a free 30 day trial of the software here. (http://www.macromedia.com/downloads/) I am not going to tell you how to use it, it comes with very nice tutorials built in that you can try. Adobe Photoshop or Macromedia Fireworks are great graphic programs you can use to jazz up your site.

Here are some Design Tips.

1. Do not create your site in a screen resolution above 800 x 600. If you do the average visitor will have to scroll to view your site. Just because it looks good to you, does not mean it will be that way for everyone else.

2. Test your site in all browsers. Again what works in IE may not work at all in Firefox. The sooner you check the sooner you can curb the problem.

- Internet Explorer
- Mozilla Firefox
- Netscape Nav

3. Keep your colors within the websafe pallet. Here is a good link to further explain what I mean.


256 Color Pallet (http://www.techbomb.com/websafe/)

4. Keep your Navigation simple. Don't make visitor hunt for your links or buttons. Making your information easy to find is key.

5. Stay away from Flash. Are you selling media services or landscape services? Nothing worse than going to a landscapers site and they have a flashy intro with techno music. Plus not everyone has the flash plug-in installed on their computer...don't know why but it is true. Some visitors are just scared to install things they don't know about.

6. Optimize all of your images for fast download. Too many sites out there with 1-3MB images in their pages. Someone viewing your site using 28.8-56Kbs modem (half of the world still uses dialup) would just leave if the page does not load within 10 seconds even less. Most HTML editors have optimization tools built in so you can view download speeds at different connection rates.

7. When naming your pages and files (flower.jpg, index.html), stay away from using spaces and keep everything in lower case. Most Unix servers are case sensitive and will not recognize the file. This is just good practice.

SEO Practices(search engine optimization)

Well when it all comes down to it, this topic can break or make your site. Just because a site is designed well and is easy to navigate does not mean it will survive in the www. Here are some things to consider.

1. Make sure your meta tags are in there. Meta tags for keywords and description will help web crawlers/spiders index your site. Here is an example of good meta tags.

<table border="0" align="center" width="95%" cellpadding="0" cellspacing="0"><tr><td>Code Sample </td></tr><tr><td id="CODE"><meta name="description" content="Landmark Design is a full service exterior and interior landscape company. Our services, ranging from Design to Construction and Maintenance, are for residential and commercial clients.">
<meta name="keywords" content="Design, exterior, interior, landscape, construction, maintenance, lawns, cutting, trimming, certified, weed, pest control, fertilizing, aerating, gardens, weeding, annual, planting, perennial, care, shrubs, trees, pruning, pest, control, spring, fall, clean-ups, installation, capabilities, acclimatized, plants, weeping, spreading, palms, ferns, decorative, containers, soil, mixes, planters, rock, wood, stream, pond, waterfall, fountain">
<meta name="Author" content="Richard Murphy">
<meta name="Author" content="Design In Q">
<meta name="rating" content="General">
<meta name="ROBOTS" content="ALL">[/QUOTE]

You can use them as you wish.

2. Make sure that the keywords you specify are in your content.

3. Title your pages right! If you are working on 'Our Services' page make sure to title the page accordingly. Also include in the title keywords of the pages content. i.e. "Our Services lawn mowing fertilizing aerating" This will help narrow down searches for your potential clients.

Those are just a few examples of SEO. There are so many tricks you can try, however these ones are the most important.

When your site is finished upload it to your hosting account using FTP software such as, Cute FTP, you can even use your web browser to upload your site. In the address bar type in your ftp address (ftp://yoursite.com) and at the prompt input your username and password and you are in.

Remember to test, test, and test. Give your site out to family and friends for them to test it out on their computers. Ask them to check for spelling errors and graphic issues. Better they find them than your clients. Remember that your site is a direct reflection of your company.

If there is anything to add to this post please feel free to reply.