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Often you will have a logo and/or other graphics you'd like to build a design around. You probably have some colour and style preferences. Perhaps a certain font has caught your eye. If you're stumped and lacking ideas, go surfing! Look through a wide variety of websites — both your competitors' and other successful businesses/ organizations. Write down (or bookmark) sites you like and what appealed (or didn't appeal) to you. Do same with magazine ads. You'll get a lot of inspiration.
7. Organize and formulate a layout for information you'd like to include.
Assign page names to each distinct "chunk" of information and, if total number of pages is sufficiently high (over 12, as a rule of thumb), group them into sections. This will make navigating through your site that much easier. Your designer should be able to make some recommendations in this area.
8. Make sure you understand importance of effective website copy (text).
Your website copy will be determined by your purpose and your audience. On Internet, people have very short attention spans. If they don't get information within a few seconds they'll usually move on to next website — possibly your competition's. Furthermore, more you know about writing web copy, more customers you will draw in. You can learn some basic copywriting skills yourself, or you can hire a professional copywriter to write it for you. Always make sure you know what you want to say and say it concisely. If you have need for a lot of text that can always follow further down page or on another page.
9. Choose a domain name and find a hosting company.
Your website will need to reside somewhere so that others will be able to access it. And, you'll probably want to register a domain name, such as www.mybusiness.com. Doing so rather than using long, awkward name (and free web space) provided by your Internet Service Provider (ISP), sounds much more professional and is much easier for customers to remember. Choosing a good domain name can also help you get found in search engines, such as Google. You'll also get related email addresses, such as firstname.lastname@example.org, which, again, sound professional and reinforce your domain name. There are plenty of hosting companies out there at a variety of prices. Find one that suits your needs. Your web designer or marketing consultant should be able to help you with all of above.
10. If you have a business website, develop a strategy on how you will market it.
Having a website without visitors will get you nowhere. An analogy is writing a fantastic book, hiding it in library, and not telling anyone about it. You will need to drive traffic to your site. There are numerous ways to do this. You can either learn to do this yourself, or hire a marketing professional to help you. Although hiring someone will increase your initial costs, it can pay off in long run when you have more potential customers visiting your site, and ultimately increasing your sales.
© Juliet Austin & Nathaniel Richman, 2005.
Juliet Austin assists counselors, other professionals and organizations in writing compelling website copy and marketing their services online.
Nathaniel Richman assists ethical and socially responsible businesses and organizations in developing unique and professional websites.
They can be reached at; http://www.julietaustin.com and http://www.nrichmedia.com