here is an 'Oldie but a Goodie' from Seth Godin himself on the fundamentals of building a website that works. It was written in 2005 but the advise is timeless and free! click on the image to download.
i read this again after years and its surprising how we all tend to ignore basic common sense.
thanks again Seth!
Doing your own website would have been unthinkable a few years ago, but the new online applications are so simple that anyone familiar with MS word can create their own professional looking website. But before proceeding please refer to our article on the 5 Things You Should Do Before Hiring A Website Developer.
There are a considerable number of DIY website design applications out there and we have tried most of them and shortlisted the ones below. They all offer multiple packages with varying feature sets, support and services so its near impossible to do a comparison. They all offer a free version or a free to try version, so the best thing to do is to subscribe to all of them and see which one you like best. Here is a quick review to get you started.
Online Website Design & Development Applications
Features: Free Version | No Email | Templates | Tutorials | Blog | Support
Features: Free to Try | Emails | Templates | Tutorial | Blog | Support
Features: Free To Try | No Emails | Templates | Tutorials | Blog | Support | Resume Feature
Features: Free To try | Emails | Templates | Tutorials | Blog | Support
Features: Free Version | No Email | Templates | Tutorials | Blog | Support
Features: Free To Try | No Email | Templates | Tutorials | Blog | Support
As you'll notice some of them don't host emails, but they have excellent guidance to explain how to manage that, so don't let that bother you at all. Most of them also offer shopping cart features too, incase you intend to set up an e-comm website.
With all these solutions, your website is developed and hosted on their servers, so be sure to ask them if they allow you to export the site incase you want to change the service provider later on. Also ask them if you can export the site yourself.
Mobile Browser compliance
Something that you have to take into consideration is Mobile browsing, which is growing rapidly and is expected to overtake desktop browsing by 2013. None of the above websites of the solutions providers listed above are mobile compliant, but its still well worth asking them about it.
How is mobile browsing different?
Well mobile browsing means adapting the website to fit the screens of handheld to minimise the scrolling, especially horizontal scrolling. This site is mobile compliant, so if you visit it from a mobile device, it'll automatically reformat the content to fit a smaller screen. If you'd like to test it, type the url (www.siteu2.com) into your phone's browser.
Website Templates & Other Graphic Designs
All the web-development applications listed above have hundreds of
customizable templates and they are great if you are on a low budget. If you have some money to splurge, most of these companies will custom build a website template for you. Another option you might want to consider is 99Designs, where you set a price you are willing to pay and a whole bunch of designers submit their designs. The higher your price, the more designers participate. This is better than an agency because you get to engage more designers instead of being limited to the few in the agency.
Flickr is the best resource for free images, but you need to know the how the licenses work, so first refer to the Flickr Creative Commons. Wylio is a great tool for quickly finding free pictures on Flickr.
Much of the free images are not available for commercial use, yes - that means your website too. Besides, you'll probably want better quality photos and there are several sites for this and here is our shortlist:
> Animation Factory
You have more choice of high quality images with the paid services. The free Flick images are great for things like blogs and if you intend on writing regular blogs we suggest you subscribe to Wylio's paid service, which is infinitely cheaper than using the paid images.
If you are building a personal site then it is advisable to write up the content in your own language, but if you are building a commercial website and you don't have a good copywriter then you are better off outsourcing it, and Elance is an excellent cost-effective resource for that. Elance gives you access to a network of skilled freelancers worldwide for research, copywriting, graphic design and much more. Many website design agencies use Elance, the difference is that over time they know the better ones.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Onsite SEO ensures that your website is search engine friendly, and Offsite SEO is how you drive traffic to your website. Since this article is about website development, here is what you need to know about Onsite Search Engine Optimisation.
Your feedback encourages us to write similar helpful articles, so do let us know what you think.
Onsite search engine optimisation makes it easy for the search engines to index and understand your website and of each of the pages within it. Here are the fundamentals of onsite SEO.
1. Page Title Tag
This is what appears at the very top of the browser when viewing a page. This title should not exceed 70 character and basically is a one-liner about content of that specific page. Ensure you work in at least 1 or 2 primary keywords as long as they are part of the overall content of that page.
2. Page Description
The page description is what you see when as a description on the google or yahoo results page. This is what is going to prompt your prospect to click through to you so:
> always ensure you have a description for each page. If you don't the likes of google will simply take an excerpt from you page relevant to the keyword used to search - sometimes this may not be ideal.
> ensure the description is one that will encourage click-throughs to your site.
> keep it to 150 characters. exceeding this can be detrimental to your search rankings.
Search for your keywords and check the descriptions you come across and the write a compelling description in order to stand out from the crowd. Hight light your unique value proposition/s.
Search engine optimisation is all about relevant content. Your important keywords should have dedicated pages with page content that covers variations of that keyword. E.g.; if you own an italian restaurant "Italian restaurant" and variation "Italian restaurant in Boston".
When setting the keywords in the tags, you should:
> only include keywords that are a part of the content of that page. This allows search engines to display the correct page to whoever is searching. If you use same keywords tags in all your pages, it will confuse the search engines and you visitors could end up on the wrong page and you'll simply lose them.
> keep your keywords to 5 per page.
4. Image Alt Tags
In simple terms; these tags are used to tell the search the search engines what each of the images on your site are about because these search bots cannot read images. Its particularly relevant to anyone who wants the images to pop-up on image searches in the results for image searches.
5. Header Tags
We all use headers & sub-headers in our documents to draw attention to specific areas and for readability this can be achieved by the increasing the font size and "bolding" the relevant text. However, this does not work with search-engine bots so header tags are used to tell the search engines the significance of the page sections. The most important header tags are the h1 and h2 and the h3 tags. So be sure to split your content into sections and use the h-tags.
The Wikipedia definition of a "site-map" is: "A sitemap is a list of pages of a web site accessible to crawlers or users". Basically its a guide to the structure of your website that search engines like Google use to find and index all the pages on your site. Having a site-map makes the indexing process more efficient and thorough, which helps your site's search-engine ranking.
7. Website Speed
The speed at which a site loads now plays an important role in the search engine rankings, not to mention testing your visitors patience. Its all too easy to hit the back button, return to search results and click on your competitors link. Here are some of the considerations to optimise page loading speed.
> avoid using flash on your page; not only does it slow your page loading, it actually harms search engine rankings. If your visitor is not expecting to see any flash presentation, it shouldn't be there - its just annoying!
> avoid any kind of video, audio or animation files from loading on a page; unless of course your visitor knows that they are clicking through to such an element.
> ensure your html code is written and optimized to load quick.
> ask your agency to use CSS (cascading style sheets). CSS ensures your design style remains consistent through out the site, optimises speed and in turn helps search ranking.
7. Internal Linking
Internal links are links between pages on you website and it can be part of the navigation or in the content of your page. This is important because it helps the search engines to decide and present the most relevant page for specific keywords.
For e.g by linking the term Mobile Website Design Company to the Mobile Website Design page on this website tells the search engines that the Mobile Website Design page is the most relevant for the search term Mobile Website Design Company.
The URL of each website page should contain the the most desired keyword for that page. This doesn't have to be the most popular keyword because popular keywords tend to be highly contested.
For e.g; the URL for the Internet Marketing page on this website is http://www.siteu2.com/internet-marketing.html. The keyword is a prt of the URL.
Contact us for a FREE Evaluation Report of just how search engine friendly your website is.
We always enjoy hearing form you so please do leave a comment.
When you hire a web agency you are paying for their time and there are several things you can do to save money and time. And then there are things you must do yourself.
1. Domain Registration
If you haven't done so already, please go and register the domain yourself. Whoever has access to this controls your presence on the internet, so do not pass this job to someone else. Domain registration is a simple and easy process and the popular registrars are:
Most registrars will try and sell you hosting with the registration. Avoid this, unless you know the functional and technical requirements of your website. If you don't, then this should only be done after discussions with your selected web developer. Some web developers offer hosting service, but be sure you compare rates.
2. Branding Basics
If you need a logo, most web design companies can develop this for you, but it can be expensive. Alternatively you can source this through online freelancers at Elance. Another way is to crowd-source designers through sites like 99designs; the advantage is that you set the price you are prepared to pay and you get the benefit of dozens of designers working on it. The more you are prepared to pay the more designers work on it.
If you don't have a tagline, get one sorted through an ad agency; most web development agencies don't provide this service. You may want to run a competition within your company
3. Content Basics
Content is King and this is where you should spend most of your time.
First decide on how many pages you think you need, this may change later and that's OK. Since, you know your business best, write up that content yourself. If you lack the copywriting skill-set you can outsource this through Elance as well. Of course, your web developer can do this for you, but its more than likely that they'll outsource it themselves.
Avoid Flash on the home page or on any page your visitors are not expecting it. Flash has its place, like presentations; having said that bear in mind that iphones & ipads don't support flash.
Procure the media you intend to use on the website, be it photos, audio, video, etc,. Your web developer can do this for you, but it'll increase costs, simply because selecting and right media takes time and that costs money. You'll ultimately have to make the selections, so you may as well do it yourself.
4. Bookmark your Competitors
Your competitor sities are excellent sources of inspiration on how to and how not to do things. They are also a good benchmark for your web development agency. Bookmark at least 5.
5. Bookmark Other Websites
We have all come across many well designed sites, so book mark the ones you like. Involve your staff in this exercise as well, it will save you a lot of time and money with the agency.
We’d like to hear form you on this article, so please do leave a comment.
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