Developing & Maintaining Your Own Website Introduction Every day it becomes clearer that the Net is taking its place alongside the other great transformational technologies that first challenged, and then fundamentally changed, the way things are done in the world. - Louis Gerstner, Chairman & CEO of IBM Question… How do you decide whether to create a business website? Question… How do you decide whether to create a business website? Do your competitors have websites? Where are your customers located? What questions are commonly asked? What we’ll cover • Website development – – – – – Domain names Content Design Building Hosting • Website maintenance – Monitoring use – Updating Website Development • Requires a plan • Takes time • Will cost money • Hire help or professional assistance if needed Domain Names • Domain name is your internet address/identity • Typically the business name – Ex. Mercer Vu Farms – www.mercervufarms.com • Can be a product name – Ex. Mountain Dew – product of PepsiCo, Inc www.mountaindew.com Domain Names • Two parts Domain Name Registrars – Label – Extension The popular registrars: •www.godaddy.com •www.easydns.com • Mercervufarm.com label •www.networksolutions.com extension • Possible extensions – .com, .net, .org, .edu, .gov, .info, .biz Domain Names • Two options – Stand alone website • Ex. Yourbusinessname.com – Your website is part of a larger website • Ex. Earthlink.com/yourbusinessname • Can register a domain name without creating a website Website Content • Only include pertinent information • Get input & feedback from people familiar with your business • Start simple – Can always add content and features Question… What content should a business’s website include? Website Content Content Musts • Business name • Contact information – – – – Address Phone number Fax number Email address • Business description • Product descriptions and/or photos • Service descriptions Website Content Possible content • • • • • • • • Company logo Company vision and/or mission statement Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Purchasing Information Special project info Calendar of events Product use ideas/suggestions Forms/links for sending email Website Content • Content must be accurate, clear, and explicit – Don’t assume people know what you mean or understand what you’re telling them • Must abide by information presented on the website – Updating is essential when things change • Ex. Product prices increase Website Design • Develop content before designing the site • People form instant opinions – Designs should • Be eye-catching, appealing, not too busy • Encourage people to stay & explore • Clean & Professional • Use flow charts or storyboards Website Design • Check out other websites for design elements that you do and don’t like. – www.webpagesthatsuck.com Building the Website • Two choices – You • Saves money • Takes time away from other activities • May take longer depending on ability/knowledge – Lose potential sales – Someone else • May be costly • Already possesses the skills/knowledge • Website can be finished more quickly Website Hosting • Websites need a home – called a server • Internal or External hosting – Internal • You house and maintain the server • Typically more expensive • Requires experienced technical knowledge – External • Someone else owns and maintains the server • Multiple websites on the same server • Most internet service providers (ISPs) offer hosting services. Also local hosting businesses. Website Hosting • Hosting Service Considerations – Support for the software and programming language used to design your website – Web space or storage space needed – Bandwidth – speed and amount of data you can transmit – Back-up services – Other software offered • Shopping carts, email, forums, blogs, etc. Brief Review Steps to Build a Website 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. Register a domain name Develop content Develop a design Build the site Find someplace to host the site Website Maintenance • Need to keep your website up to date and error free – You can do this yourself or hire it to be done • People stop visiting websites with incorrect, out of date, or old information Monitoring Use • Monitoring methods – – – – Logs Visits Hits Cookies • Utilize website monitoring software – Provided by hosting services – Purchase your own Monitoring Use • Use information from web monitoring to decide on necessary updates – Is the website being found? • What are you best sources of traffic? – Are people leaving quickly? • No hits on sub-pages Question… How do you know when and what to update? Updating a website • How do you know when and what to update? – Dependent on content • New, Seasonal products? • Monthly newsletter? – Get feedback from visitors • Feedback forms • Email Section Wrap-Up • Website development takes time • Process involved – – – – – Register a domain name Develop content Develop design Build the site Find hosting • Regularly monitor use • Maintain and update as needed • Get assistance!