Creating Your Web Site - Part I

Written By: Stephen Scott
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Building your first web site can be a bit intimidating. However, if you have a clear understanding of what you need to do and more importantly, how to do it, creating your first web site can be fun and enjoyable.

First step; take a deep breath and understand that building a web site is a process. It's not something that should be rushed or taken lightly. Remember, the success of your site will depend largely upon the fundamentals of how you plan and build your site, and not on the look of more advanced high-end web sites you see online.

What Is Your Goal?

Your website content, function and design are based upon your ultimate goal. For instance, are you trying to sell a product or service? Are you providing valuable information on a particular topic? Do you want visitors to interact with your site (discussion groups, comments, sign-ups)?

Take time to clearly and concisely define the goal of your website.

  • I want people to visit my web site, read about my product(s) and place an order.
  • I want visitors to join my club or sign my guest book.
  • I want my web site to be a resource with information on a specific topic, and links to other web sites with additional information.

Understand Your Visitor Personas

Designing a "one size fits all" web site is perhaps the most common mistake made in developing a web site. And surprisingly, Fortune 500 companies with large advertising budgets aren't immune to making this mistake.

Lets say your web site is about golf clubs. Visitors to your site can include a variety of personas:

  • They are looking for information of how to buy/select golf clubs.
  • They know exactly what clubs they want to buy and are comparing prices.
  • They are interested in golf apparel as well as golf clubs.

Each persona has an expectation that the information they are interested in is not only available on your site, but can be found quickly and easily. As a rule of thumb, each persona should be able to find the information they are looking for within two clicks after reaching your website. Visitors will leave your site out of frustration if it's too difficult to find the information they are looking for.

Map Out User Pathways (site navigation)

Now that you understand the overall goal of your web site and the various user personas of your visitors, it time to begin designing the structure (navigation) of your site.

Note: You'll notice that we haven't yet discussed the actual look and design of your web site but don't worry, we will get to that. We first have the set the foundation before we begin building the site itself!

One-size-fits-all web sites fail to incorporate specific navigation pathways for different user personas. Using the earlier example of golf clubs; if the site is solely about selling golf clubs, visitors looking for information on how to buy/select golf clubs, as well as visitors looking for golf apparel would quickly become dissatisfied and leave the site. These are visitors that may have actually purchased golf clubs if they had only been presented with a clear and concise pathway to their information of interest.

The solution? Incorporate distinct user pathways in your web site. A very simple example would be a site with the following links prominently displayed on the home page:

  • How To Select Golf Clubs
  • Golf Club Price Comparisons
  • Golf Apparel and Accessories

Remember, anticipate what your web site visitors are interested in and provide clear and concise navigation for them to discover it quickly.

Begin Writing You Web Site Content

Now you are ready to begin writing the content for your web site. This is where the selection and use of "keywords" is very important.

Keywords are important because search engines use them to determine where your site will be listed in their search results. To help get you started on selecting the right keywords for use on your web site please read the following articles:

Get A Domain Name

One of the first and most important task in creating your online presence is to choose a domain name for your website. The domain name will represent you, your hobby or business and will give your website a memorable name, so your visitors will be able to find and remember it easily.

More than 128 million domain names have been registered worldwide and thousands of new ones are added every day. That is why it might be hard for new users to get the name they really like for their website. Do not get discouraged from that fact, but rather try to be creative!

Remember that you can use a combination of almost all characters (letters, numbers, hyphens) for your domain. The length of a domain name can vary, but generally speaking it should be a minimum of 3 and a maximum of 67 characters.

Tips to help you choose a successful domain name:

Brainstorm for words relevant to your web sites content.

  • List as may words as you can think of related to your preferred domain name.
  • List as many words as you can think of that are related to the content of your website.

Shorter domain names are easier to remember and type, and far less susceptible to mistakes: for example homebusiness.com is easier to remember, type than howtomakemoneyathome.com.

But sometimes there is an exception to this rule. A longer domain can be easier to remember by human memory than the shorter one - for example relosvs.com is a sequence of unrelated letters that is difficult to remember and type correctly, whereas, if we expand it to its long form 'RelocationServices.com' we are more likely to remember the domain name. Start searching for alternate domain names.

If you do a search for "domain name registration" in any search engine you will find several reputable domain registrars to choose from. Most registrars provide a "domain availability" search tool that will not only check to see of your preferred domain is available, but will also offer multiple alternatives that are similar to your preferred domain name, and available for registration.

Helpful tips when registering your domain name:

Try to register a domain that contains a popular keyword applicable for your industry. This will help your customers remember your domain name better.

Don't register a domain containing the digit "0" in it, unless it is going to be part of a recognizable word (like 1000 or 2000). This is because the digit "0" is often confused with the vowel "O".

Try to avoid using domains that contain "2" for "to", "4" for "four", "u" for "you". Your visitors will easily get confused. However, if you must register such a domain, register the expanded form of the domain as well. e.g. if you are registering shoes4you.com also you can register shoesforyou.com.

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