Does my business really need a Web site?
What if I’m not trying to sell anything online?
Should I design my own Web site or outsource the work?
Do I have to know any special programming?
How do I find a good Web Developer?
1. Can you view “live” samples of their work?
2. Do they use ready-made templates or design from scratch, custom or “canned” graphics?
3. Do they ask about your target audience and competition, and do they research for similar and complementary sites?
4. Do they price by the hour or by the job?
5. Exactly what is included in the base price and what is considered “extra”?
6. How long a review period is allowed to correct typos and other minor problems?
7. How much is charged after the review period?
8. Do they ask what YOU want in your site—do they encourage your participation and input?
9. Do they educate you on what they are doing or simply say “leave it all to me”?
10. Do they test the site on multiple browsers and/or platforms?
11. Do they use specialized descriptive and keyword meta tags and submit your site to search engines?
Where should I locate my site once it’s finished?
Domain Name Registration (www.yourname.com)
You can register your own name or have your ISP do it for you. Choose your name carefully — it’s your identity to the world.
If registering through your ISP, preferable method, insist that all registration and contact information be in your company’s name (not the ISP’s name). Should you have an ISP that is not really reputable or if they should go out of business, you may find you don’t have access to or control over your domain name anymore.
Cost varies depending on ISP/Host, setup charges, etc.
ISP Server Setup Questions
1. How much space is available for pages? Any restrictions?
2. Do they offer Domain Name Hosting? (Many, such as AOL, do not.)
3. What is their “back-up plan” if their server goes down or if they go out of business (what happens to your site???)?
4. Do they offer a CGI bin for your scripts? If so, are there any limits or restrictions?
5. Do they offer full FTP access/Control Panel for uploading your site and changes or do you have to notify them each time you make changes? (Make sure you get full direct access to your space on the server). If you have to wait for someone at the ISP to upload your changes, you could wait for days. If you have direct access, the changes are instantaneous.
6. If using FrontPage to design your site, does the ISP/host offer FrontPage Extensions (A must in order to fully utilize all features of FrontPage).
7. Do you require a secure server (necessary only for online transactions involving credit cards or other sensitive information)?
How often should my site be updated?
How do I promote my site?
Next, send a “press release” to your local newspaper’s business section. Depending on where you live, they may accept this or not. Usually the smaller towns are more inclined to accept press releases of this type, but if you are offering something really special, useful or otherwise valuable to a large segment of the population, even the larger newspapers may accept it.
Finally, you should submit your site to all of the major search engines or directory services such as Google, Yahoo, Infoseek and AltaVista, etc. There are many of these services, some of which are very specialized, but your focus should be on the more popular search services initially. You can submit your site to several at once by going to a free service called Submit Express. Submission to all of the major search engines is free for basic service.
Once this is done, you can also consider such advertising methods as banners (there are some free “banner swap” services, but you have to agree to host their banners as well) and other types of paid advertising.
Another great way to promote your site is to find complementary Web sites in your local area (or even worldwide) and ask for a reciprocal link. In exchange for them advertising your Web site with a link, you will advertise theirs with a reciprocal link on your site. This is almost always free, but some people will try to get you to pay. Think long and hard before agreeing to pay for a reciprocal link unless it is from something like your local newspaper, radio or television station because the return on your investment is questionable in many cases.
How often should my site be updated?
If you should decide to outsource all or part of the work, expect to pay about $45-$75 per hour, depending on what you need done. Prices vary, but this seems to be the average for full-service, experienced, quality designers. You can definitely pay less (sometimes much less), but remember that old adage: You Get What You Pay For. Quality design is time consuming and takes a lot of skill and knowledge in research, design, editing, programming and marketing.