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Web site design-  do it all yourself? (2)

Aside from  creating the HTML for your pages, you'll need top-notch graphics software to create and process your images for the web.

If your images have text, you'll want to save them as GIF's.  Otherwise use the JPG format.  A good image optimizer makes the process easy.

There's a long list of features to look for in this type of program.

For video or animation, your choice of software is critical.

We use and highly recommend image editing software from

 
 
Review: 7 Easy Websites Builders The winners will let you get a website up in 5 minutes with no experience.

 


Preliminary planning...


You'll get the site you planned for...

Before you begin to really plan your site, you'll need to decide on a few parameters.  Cut through the confusions of  infinite possibilities and focus on your specific requirements.  You need to have some clear, thought-out answers to the following interrelated questions:

What kind of site will it be?

This will be determined by the type of business you have and your own unique needs. Think of your site as you would contemplate hiring a new employee.  If you were going to hire someone new, what would their job be? Would you want a salesman (sales or presentation site)? A customer service representative (basically answers to frequently asked questions)? A showroom clerk (sales catalog)? A complete sales team that presents your products, then processes customer orders and collects payment (e-commerce)?  Some combination or something in between, or even something else entirely?

What will your site will accomplish?

Persuade prospects to do business with you? Show customers your wares? Take some of the load off your telephone queries?  What is its job, and how does it relate to the rest of your operation?

What do you want to say?

You hand someone a business card in hopes they will call when you have more time. When they do call, what do you say? Your website can say the same things, 24 hours a day and seven days a week, to practically any number of people at a time.

Who are you talking to?

As a small business, you are almost certainly serving a niche market. It is essential that you isolate and profile that niche as well as you can so your site can do the same.
Some sites are designed primarily to attract new prospects, while others are meant to serve existing customers. Directing an existing customer to a prospect oriented site will only annoy that customer. Remember, your content must be tailored for the people you expect to see it. For existing customers, you might consider a section on the use and enjoyment of your product. A bicycle shop, for example, could publish news and articles of interest to cycling enthusiasts. By making your expertise available, you create and maintain an ongoing relationship with your customers.

What kind of impression do you want to make?

Big companies can create a fictitious persona and hire people to play the roles they have created. It may be tempting to use the relatively anonymous nature of the medium for pretense and affectation.  You might get customers that way, but you'll seldom keep them.

How you will generate traffic to your site?

You might hire graffiti artists to paint your web address on the water tower, but we don't recommend it.  For the small business, it may be best to utilize a website as a complementary component of your existing advertising.  Let your site take up where the ad leaves off with a more in-depth presentation.

What are your budget constraints?

If your budget is very limited, or you are not ready to commit to a large expenditure of time and/or money, your site must be planned accordingly.  Don't include dated or fluid material if you haven't budgeted the inevitable expense of changing it. You are better off with only a couple of well done, low maintenance pages than with a larger but sloppily executed and poorly maintained site.

 

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