Getting Started on Building Your Website
How to plan a simple strategy for your business website
Identify your audienceWho are your current and potential clients? What do you want them to know about you?
Distinguish yourself from your competitionResearch and understand your competition. What are they saying and how do they look? You may only get one chance to distinguish yourself or lose a potential client forever. Your website may be the only initial comparison they have upon which to judge you. Does your website look professional or does it look like you’ve let your nephew in High School have a go at setting it up for you? Is it a template? If so how many other businesses are using it and what is that saying about your originality?
Claim or re-claim your domain name for your website (www.yourcompanyname.com)A domain name is a unique name which people use to access your website. A domain name is portable and in most cases has to be renewed yearly for a fee. Beware of re-sellers, people who charge you money to “host” your site on the servers of major hosting companies. They charge you a premium for a service you can receive directly for a fraction of the cost.
Tips for choosing your domain name:
Keep your website name short.Unless you have a ridiculously long surname or
company name then the shorter the better. Remember, people need to be able
to find you, easily. The simpler your domain name is to remember (and type) the
easier to find. If you can, you should purchase your own company name.
You can “call forward” a website name.If you have a bakery called Cake Master.
You may want to purchase www.cakemaster.com, www.masterofcakes.com and
www.greatcakes.com. You can buy any or all and have the address “point” to the
same website. It’s a good way to help market your site and make your store/product easier to find on the web.
How to find out if your website name is available It’s simple! Just go to http://www.bluehost.com and type in what you would like as a website address and bluehost will let you know if it’s available.
Content is King (or Queen)
Writing for the Web is very different from writing for print. Writing copy for the Web that grabs attention and gets the results you want requires special skill and attention. The internet is a lot less formal, whether you're trying to sell products or services at a business or commercial site or if you just want to let people know the latest on your social networking. Stale content (outdated) gets noticed too. It shows an inattentiveness to detail which, in the minds of the viewer, may suggest an inattentiveness to your business.
Tips for writing on the web
Delete every unnecessary word.
Keep sentences short and simple.
Bullet-point parallel words, phrases, or clauses. Bullet points not only cut down on words and organize content, but also stand out from surrounding text and get read.
Put important information at the beginnings of sentences and important sentences at the beginnings of paragraphs.
Whenever possible, use the active voice.
Consider adding a Blog
A Blog is a tool which can be used to inform your audience and direct people to your website.
Blogs are an essential tool to some businesses as their content can be updated quickly and
tailored directly to the clients you are seeking. Keep it interesting as well as informative and
your Blog may have the effect of attracting clients you never considered.
Add Social Networking
LinkedIn, facebook and Twitter. Unusual names to some but they may represent the biggest
free (did we mention free?) markets out there for your business. Old school classmates,
forgotten and re-discovered friends and colleagues current and former are all potential
sources of business and so are all of the people that they know. Why shouldn’t you use
that to your business advantage?
Keep your Branding consistent
Website, Blog, Social Network. They all work together and so should your branding. Your Branding tells the world who you are and what you do. A recognized brand creates it’s own business so it is important that your brand be consistent across media. Only an inspired, original and well-designed product will do that for you.
A Design Checklist
We’re aware that launching a new website or re-designing and existing one can be an intimidating process. Jill Duffy Designs will work with you one-on-one to provide you guidance, suggestions and recommendations on how you can maximize your online presence. It’s our goal to make building a website a positive experience.
Your Role (The Client)
Try to think of yourself as the writer and editor of a book and Jill Duffy Designs as the publisher. Unless you can’t write, of course, in which case think of us as the writer too. Only you know the vision you have for your website. Jill will implement that vision based upon the ideas you provide and her artistic inspiration. It has to be more complicated than that. Well, no. It really isn’t. Here is what we need from you, specifically, to begin designing the website you’ve envisioned:
Your Domain Name If you have one already great. Make sure that you own it. Check with the company hosting your domain. If a re-seller owns it, reclaim it -ask for it back or find a new one. No domain name? No problem. Any number of domain hosting companies, we recommend bluehost. Bluehost can provide you with a domain name and a place to host it for a reasonable annual fee.
Your Ideas We’re certain you have some. Websites you like and those you don’t. The websites of your competitors and how you wish to distinguish yourself from them. Talk to Jill about your ideas. We promise that she will listen.
Your Content Copy, Bios, information, news -in short all of the things that make you, well, you. Along with photos or any specific graphic, artwork or logo you want us to incorporate. Don’t worry if you don’t have photos, we can pick photos appropriate for your business and artistically pair them with your website. Don’t have a logo or brand? We can do that for you too. See how accommodating we are?
Done! That’s it. Seriously. Once we have your domain, your ideas and your content we can start designing you a custom website (and Blog, Brand, Social Networking page) that you can be proud of. All of our deigns are unique and not a template or form. You may find signature elements of our designer but you will not find that your site looks just like the site we designed for someone else. Not even close.