First off, you will need a domain name. This is the www.yourname.com (or .net, .org, etc) address that users type into a browser to see your site. EMGraphics recommend can register your name for you. Although unlikely to happen, someone else can buy your name if you forget to renew! When you register your domain name, remember to write down your password and username. You will need this for renewing the name and for specifying who your host will be.
Try to keep your domain short and memorable. Also, try to get a .com or .net domain if you are a business, .org if you are non-profit. Obscure endings (.tv or .biz) are not as memorable.
Remember, just because a website doesn’t pull up in your browser doesn’t mean it is available. Someone may own it and not have a page up yet. NEVER publish a domain on print material until you own it.
Next, you need to arrange for your site to be “hosted”. A host puts your web page information on a special computer called a server. This computer can be accessed around the world by various browsers to see your website. Browsers are the type of software program you use to view a website: Firefox, Safari, Internet Explorer, Opera, etc. You are essentially paying to rent a certain amount of memory on one of the host’s servers. A host will cost from $2-25 a month, depending on your location, size of your site, number of email accounts and other features you would like to include.
EMGraphics offers very affordable hosting at a trustworthy and helpful host. Hosting starts at $6 a month and includes 2 email accounts.
When you contact the host to set up an account, they will give you the name of the server. This is a name like name.name.net or a number like 10.0.0.1. This tells the world “I own www.myname.com and the information for this page is on the server named name.name.net. Once you have this information, send it to us along with your domain name password and login and we will get your host information set up. If you change hosts, we can easily change to the new name server.
Remember, you own your domain name and any information you host on a server, not the hosting company. You have the right to move your website to a new host if you want to.
When setting up the hosting you can also set up your email accounts. Even if there are only 1 or 2 employees at your business, you may find it useful to have email accounts such as firstname.lastname@example.org, email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org, etc. These can all be separate accounts or all forward (empty out) into one account. Take full advantage of having an email with your domain name in it. Nothing looks more unprofessional than having a great new web page but a hotmail or aol contact email (email@example.com)!
Once hosting is set up, the host will give you a FTP (file transfer protocol) login name and password. This login name and password are necessary to put your finished site on to the server and to make changes.
Remember to keep track of all your hosting, domain name and design invoices and receipts. They are all tax deductible as business expenses.
Designing Your Site
Things to consider for your site are:
- Who will be using this site?
- Why am I creating this site? What are my goals for this site?
- What information do I want on this site? Do I need product or portfolio images, contact information, hours, location map, Frequently Asked Questions, request for information form, client testimonial, links, my logo, professional association logos, history, spec sheets, pdf forms, etc.?
- Have I seen sites that I like? What elements do I like – layout, colors, links, images?
- What is my budget for now? What are the most important areas to get done first? Can I do part of the page now and add other pages later?
- How often do I plan to update this page? Daily, weekly, monthly, quarterly? Will I update this site regularly so information does not become dated, or should I put more generic information on it?
- Am I writing/gathering new text and information for this site, or can I pull it from previously created pieces such as brochures?
- Who has final authority on the site design/content/launch?
- Do I want to make changes myself, or perhaps blog?
- Do I want to sell products online via my site or another entity like etsy?
- What are the keywords you want to use for your site meta (hidden keyword for search engines) tags?
Once I have an overview of what you would like to do with your site , we will provide a proposal and cost estimate.
To start out, EMGraphics will usually create 2-3 rough index (main page) designs. These will be sent via email as a pdf (Acrobat) file or placed on a hidden folder off of this website. We will refine and tweak the initial page design until it meets your approval. EMGraphics will then create web ready artwork from this design.
The artwork will be put into a CMS framework like WordPress or into a DreamWeaver template. The site will be available to you in a hidden directory to view progress and make comments and suggestions.
Clients are responsible for providing content and for content’s veracity. EMGraphics does not edit text nor check to make sure you have copyright to images or videos. If you have questions about using certain content, please ask. EMGraphics can always help you find stock images and will be glad to provide feedback on content if asked.
EMGraphics will test the site on various browsers and platforms. Once the page is ready to launch, we will put the new site on your host’s server and register it in the search engines. The page will then be live.
Search Engine Registration and Site Promotion
At present, there are about 300,000 new sites added to search engines like Google, Yahoo, Bing and others every hour. The main browsers still accept registration of new sites for free. However, it may be often weeks until your site has filtered into the system. There are other ways to become listed and visited.
The first is to pay for a listing. Sites like Yahoo charge a few hundred dollars to list you. This may not be the best use of your advertising dollars. The majority of people searching on the web now use Google. Google both lists sites for free and also offers a “pay per click” program. You can chose what words you want your site to show up for and how much you are willing to pay for it. You can offer to spend anywhere from a few cents a day to hundreds of dollars.
Facebook ads are also a very affordable way to target specific audiences.
Using social media (Facebook, Twitter, blogs) in a smart and savvy way can be a great way to reach new audiences. However, do take time to consider your message, how you will interest viewers, how often you will do updates and other aspects of using social media. The programs may be free to use, but your time rarely is “free” in any sense of the word.
If you belong to any professional associations, make sure your page is listed. You may also want to consider paying a small fee to be listed on various local business listings. Far from being dead, print is actually one of the best ways to get noticed. Most potential customers expect a company to have a site. They will look for the web address on letterhead, business cards, print ads, phone book listings etc.
While you still need print advertising, the web site can save you money by:
- Spending less time on the phone giving hours, directions, rates and more.
- Show a wide variety of products in full color, without the cost of printing.
- Collect information from forms and emails when the business closed.
- Offer printable forms, brochures and other documents to be downloaded. This saves you the time and cost of printing and mailing them.
- Quickly make announcements, offer sales or coupons, newsletters and other up-to-date information without waiting for a publication to go to press.
Last, but not least, take a big breath. This is a lot of information to take in. Don’t worry about understanding it all at once – that is what I am here for. Feel free to call or email for help or with questions. We will be glad to explain anything that doesn’t make sense, work with you in getting the name and the host and help you in any way we can.