Things You Should Know

Ok, so you've decided you need a web site. Now where to start? Here's some basic information that everyone should know. Click on a topic below to learn more.

What do I need to get a web site started?

There are three things you need to get a site up and running: a domain name, a web host, and a web site.

A domain name, also called a URL, is how a person finds you on the web. For example, our domain name is RAMEYDESIGN.COM. So anyone who types www.rameydesign.com in their browser finds this site. There are several companies who sell domain names. Some of the more popular are Network Solutions, Go Daddy, and Register.com.

Next, you will need a web host. This is a company that will store your site on their computers, called web servers. Once you register your domain name and sign up for a web host, the domain name will point to your site on the server, allowing everyone to see it. These days, most web hosting companies also allow you to register a new domain name. One stop shopping! Companies such as Media Temple (who hosts this site!), Network Solutions, Go Daddy, Yahoo, and Earthlink all provide both domain registration and web hosting. Web hosts will provide you with a set amount of space on their servers, a set amount of bandwidth (this measures how much traffic your site is allowed), a set number of e-mail addresses, and possibly other features. Be sure to shop around to find the best fit for you and your site.

And finally, you will need a web site. This is where I come in. A web site can dramatically increase your visibility, and what business owner doesn't want that? A site needs to have a good design, making it user-friendly, and be well programmed, so that search engines can find it and it is easy to update.

Questions you should ask yourself.

If you are ready to get a web site, here are some questions you should think about before you begin:

Will your site be mainly content, advertising, or e-commerce based?

What aspects of your company do you most want to highlight in the message and image that your site will convey?

Have you defined your target audience?

Do you see your web site as dynamic – that is, evolving over time in response to both user feedback and your changing needs?

Is there an organizational "look" – or corporate branding – involving standards for graphics, colors, logos, and written content that needs to be included on the web site?

Would visual or functional features such as animation or dynamic database elements be truly cost/time effective in supporting your content? Could these features be added later as your site grows?

If you have a web site now, are you satisfied with the quality of service from your current Internet Service Provider?

If you already have a web site up and running that does not satisfy you, do you understand the reason(s) for the problem?

Who will be responsible for gathering content for the web site?

Have you budgeted for revisions and upgrades? Will the site have features that change on a regular basis?

What about Web Standards?

A standards based web site offers many benefits, including:

Simple visual consistency — Because content and style are separated a style change made in one location affects content across the entire site.

Better search engine results — With the code being much more compact, search engines can easily read content and will display better results for you.

web site maintenance less expensive — With visual appearance controlled by a single file maintenance becomes a breeze. No more changing dozens of individual pages.

Accessibility to all devices — Cell phones, pdas, screen readers - a standards based web site will render better in these than a traditional tables based web site.

What about Search Engines?

Search Engine Optimization is a big deal these days. Everyone wants their web site to be at the top of the list. Lot's of companies claim that by purchasing their services, they will GUARANTY that your site will be at the top of the list. Take these claims with a giant grain of salt. Often, these companies will use an automated submission method which bombards a search engine with your web site's information. Search engines are getting smarter these days and are learning to ignore, or even remove sites that use these types of systems.

Let's face it, Google is the most used search engine these days. According to Google, there are two big things that will help with a sites search visibility:

1) Is the text that is being searched for actually on the site? If you want people to find your site when they search for "Bob's Burgers", then the text "Bob's Burgers" had better be all over your site.

2) Do other sites link to your site? Google uses something called Page Rank to rate sites by importance. The higher the Page Rank, the more important Google perceives your site to be, and therefore the higher it will place in searches. Page Rank is based on how many other sites link to yours.

I will submit all new sites to Google, Yahoo, and MSN search engines (the big three.) When I work with a new client, we will discuss the optimum search terms for their site, and we will find other places where we can add links to your site.