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"The only way to discover the limits of the possible is to go beyond them into the impossible"

~ Anonymous

Tea Time with Liv

Start your website

You have a great idea and want to make money. Maybe this will be your sole income or just a way to make some extra money. Where to start?

Deciding where you're going to host your Web site is extremely important. But there are so many different types of Web hosting options, it can be overwhelming making the choice. If you know what the different types of hosting options are, you can make a more informed choice about what you need. While cheap sounds great, cheap an be the worst thing you can ever do. Before jumping into a cheap option or even free, know what you are getting, get the good and bad from those using the host in question, know what you need.

Many free hosting providers support your free site by automatically adding advertisements to your Web pages through pop-ups, frames, scripts, and so forth. These cannot be removed an can many times take your potential customers to another site. Free Web hosting is limited in some way compared to paid hosting. One way is your domain name. These will look something like www.webhost.com/mywebsite. Some can be long and hard to remember. You can purchase a domain and have it redirected to your given domain name making it easier for customers to remember. While this can be a starting off point or a temporary solution, DO NOT and I repeat DO NOT use these permanently. You need to establish yourself as a legitimate business in the perception of the public eye. While you are your friends may not mind the ads, your customers may. You are not always dealing with those accustomed to WAHMs, costs of hosting, building websites, and automatic ads. Just proceed with caution here.

Standard web hosting is paid service. You pay for a specific amount of server space on a Web hosting system, and they provide you with servers, software, shopping carts, and other features. You will not always have all you need with a web host so be sure you read everything there is to know about a prospective host. Most standard Web hosting providers use a shared system where you are granted say 5GB of space on a 100GB server. Your files are hosted there along with 15-20 other Web sites. You will need to purchase a domain name here and possibly a cart. Some hosts offer pre-made templates while others you need to build from scratch. If you are not tech savvy in the area of design, look for companies that offer web design and know your host. This is important. You do not want to get stuck paying a few hundred dollars for something that is unusable or unreliable.

Here are a few web hosts to look at:

Low Cost options:

Free options:

http://webs.com (formerly freewebs)

http://www.weebly.com (currently researching)


(***While I have listed these sites as options, make sure you do your own research to ensure they are safe for you and your customers)

Also do some research and find others available. There is a plethora of web hosts these days with a variety of options. Compare your needs and what is offered before signing up.

Here are a couple things to keep in mind when starting a website:

1. Know your audience. You have to know who you are marketing to in order to be successful.

2. Be aware of different bandwidth. If your Web pages are frequented by people with slower modems then designing a page that looks best over a T1 is not a successful strategy.

3. Keep your pages short. Long pages are boring and lose a readers attention quickly. If you keep the scrolling to a minimum, chances are your readers will stay on your page and understand what you are offering.

4. Use tables of contents. I read somewhere that only about 10% of visitors go past the first page. If that first screen has a table of contents viewers will click on the links keeping them on the page. It needs to be easily visible and easily understood. No fancy fonts, centered text, or strange colors. Colors in the red and yellows are hard on the eyes. Avoid these. Make sure the background for the table of contents is solid to make it easier to read.

5. Keep images small and simple. Large images and glitter images annoy people. If it takes too long to download, many people will never see it, as they will have browsed somewhere. DO NOT use graphics intended for social networks such as MySpace. These are fun graphics and do not portray the professionalism you are trying to convey. Also do not put up too many images. These will big down the web page leaving your visitor searching for a page that loads faster.

6. Use Web colors. The browser-safe color palette will ensure that most people will see your page and images in the colors you intended. Here is a site to help identify what colors are browser safe and allow everyone to view your intended colors: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Web_colors

7. Avoid lots of text. People don't read the Web, they skim it. Long pages of endless paragraphs are a waste of time. Keep it short, sweet, and to the point.

8. Don't include your life story. This also includes long paragraphs of why you are a WAHM to stay home with children and pay bills, how you are raising children alone, stricken with a terrible illness, or losing your home. If you sound down and out, you don't not sound successful, therefore you are a risk at being a fly by night company. If you appear to be a fly by night companies nobody wants to buy in fear they are giving money for a product they will never see, buying a product they can never return, buying a product that they cannot return to buy more of. You can include that you are a successful WAHM sharing the products you love.

9. Check your spelling. Bad spelling is not professional and does not convey your attention to detail. Use a spell checker, either in your editor or on-line.You can also open a program such as word to check all spelling leaving you to copy and paste on to your website when completed.

10. Keep all links current on your web page. Check your links often to make sure they are still valid. This includes reciprocal links through link exchanges with others as well as link you have placed to redirect to other pages on your site.

11. Put contact information on your pages. The Web is interactive and you should welcome comments on your pages. Also, if there is a broken link or other problem, your readers can let you know, easily.Websites with no contact information are less likely to be successful if you receive any sales at all.

12.Keep your navigation simple. If your readers can't understand how to get around your site, chances are they won't and will leave without ever returning. Easy navigation is one of the most important parts of your site. If you are not constantly tweaking your site to make it better for your readers, then you are losing them to some other site that is easier to find things in.

13. Avoid excessive ads on your site. While you may feel that the ads serve a purpose, if there are more ads than actual content, your readers will notice and leave. This is especially true for those who setup free websites to hold all your affiliate companies. These are nothing bu ads. And what good are ads if no one is there to read them?

14. Maintain your website regularly. A website with outdated information or errors seems like a site that no one cares about. If you don't care, why should your visitors care? Even if you can't update your site with new information daily, you should strive to update it weekly or perhaps rotate what is displayed on a regular basis. This gives the appearance of a site that is constantly maintained and visitors will be interested in what is new.

15. A big turn off these days is the requirement to give information before accessing a site. While requiring information gives you contact info, but what good is it if the customer does not want to be there? If you require information to gain access to your website, this doesn't convince people to give it to you, instead, they leave and don't return. This defeats the purpose and is a recipe for failure.

16. In your design, keep it unique and fresh. Do not use a template that is used over and over again. Those surfing the web see thousands of sites. It is easy to forget a site if it looks like others. Keep it memorable.

17. Avoid busy backgrounds. While a decorative border is fine you do not want to have a background that is hard to get around or view text. If a customer can't see, they cannot buy.

This list is no where near all inclusive but it gives you a great start at website basics. Your site may not be perfect at first but you can count on it will be ever changing for the life of your page. Go to your favorite big company web pages and see what you like. Take notes and incorporate what you like to see on others into your site. Do the same with web pages you do not like. Notate what you do not like and avoid it.

Always ask others to visit your site and offer constructive criticism. This is the best way to get an honest observation on your website. You know what you think of your site and how to navigate it. Now see if others can.

Don't rush a website. Take your time. A website can take a month or longer to construct properly so exercise patience. Don't rush it or it will look rushed. Make sure it runs smoothly before you take it public. This will avoid any embarrassing situations.

Olivia Vidal
© 2009
So Chic Bag Boutique


Busy Shopaholics said...

hi, Olivia! First of all, excellent article! I noticed you have Weebly listed. Aren't they the ones that are somehow accessing customers' emails and spamming like crazy? I seem to remember reading something like that in Yahoo groups. Maybe I have it confused with something with a very similar name? Have you heard of what I'm talking about?

Olivia - http://sochicbagboutique.com said...

I have not heard that so I will research that further. Thank you for pointing that out.

Christie said...

Great post for all the newbies out there. It can seem so overwhelming putting up a blog or website, but once you get over the initial learning curve, it is not hard at all.

David Rusenko said...

@Busy Shopaholics, we most certainly do not spam our users, under any circumstance. I'm not sure where you heard that from, but if you care to point it out to me, I'd be happy to clarify our position there, too.

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