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This page is intended for those who are planning their first Web site. (The dictionary offers additional definitions of some common terms.)

If you're well acquainted with the basics, please proceed to the Site Planner.

Do I need a Web site?

The public now expects businesses and organizations to have a Web site that can, at the very least, supply basic information and a means of getting in contact. Web sites have become nearly as commonplace as a telephone or fax machine or printed brochure.

Today, a good site for a medium-sized business should be attractive and professional in appearance. But above all, it should effectively communicate your message to your target audience.

Will a Web site make my business immediately more successful?

Does a phone, or fax machine or brochure? All are means of promotion and communication, but need to be used effectively. On the other hand, neglecting to have one of these tools can put the organization at a serious disadvantage.

So I've decided to get a Web site. How can I tell who can design a good one for me?

You must do some homework, and compare what is being offered by various designers. Study their own sites, and look carefully and critically at sites they have already produced. Try to test these sites with a variety of browsers.

Some warning signs:

  • Poor organization, making it difficult to find the information you want.
  • Pages that load slowly. Many people will not wait around.
  • Colors or graphics that make the actual content harder to read and absorb.
  • Graphics that are jagged or fuzzy.
  • A general appearance that could be confused with a "personal homepage" by a hobbyist, and that can make your business seem less than professional.
  • A site that looks great on the most current browsers and state of the art computers, but that is unusable on older systems.
  • Dead ends. No one should ever have to click on a link that sounds interesting, wait for that page to download, and then be greeted by an "Under Construction" sign. Never.

My nephew has a copy of Front Page. Can he develop my Web site?

Maybe. Judge his work by the standards mentioned above.

What will make my site good?

We've already discussed several important issues:

  • Ease of finding important information
  • Attractive and professional appearance
  • Fast downloads
  • Good accessibility for all computers/browsers as well as for disabled visitors (see information about this site)

But a different quality, often overlooked, may be the most important:

Give your audience a reason to visit your site.

Define your target audience, and give them a compelling reason to visit. Don't restrict yourself to a "brochure site" that is essentially an advertisement. On the Web, people search for information or "freebies" -- something that is of use to them. Useful sites keep their visitors for longer periods, and have return visitors. A good designer can help you plan a strategy for incorporating useful content.

Which leads to another important point:

Keep the Web site up to date, and keep adding new material.

This is crucial. With over one billion webpages fighting for attention, search engines eliminate static webpages from their indexes. You may have a wonderful site, but people need to be able to locate it.

What else can I do to make my site successful?

A few more tips, mostly involving money:

  • Host your site with a reputable company, that will function reliably.
  • Make sure to register for a domain name that accurately reflects the name of your business. And then use it everywhere you can: on business cards, brochures, stationery, etc.
  • Do not succumb to the temptation to plaster your site with advertisements.

Frankly, when I surf the Internet none of the sites look so good. Why?

Your computer may not be configured to take best advantage of the Internet's offerings. For more information, please read an article I wrote about upgrading browsers and configuring your system.

I hope you are forming a better idea of what you need.

Next, the Site Planner will help you prepare for the initial consultation.

You may also contact me for further clarifications and a free estimate.

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