Frequently Asked Questions
Why Should I Have a Website?
In this day and age, maybe the question should be, “Why shouldn’t you have a website?” It has become very easy and very cheap for anyone to have one or more websites and/or blogs. If you have something to sell, something to show, or something to say, you can have a place to do that. You can do it for free (create a blog on Blogger, Tumbler or Weebly, for example); you can do it for an investment of your time (blogs and WordPress), or you can hire a person or a team to create a site that’s as simple or as complex as you need (and it probably won’t cost you what it would have 5-10 years ago).
Having a website is like having your business or organization open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, all year long, to a worldwide audience (without you having to be there or pay an employee to ‘mind the store’). Anyone at anytime can find out about you, your company, your products or services at their convenience. Your website can help your existing customers as well as attract new customers. A website is a relatively inexpensive form of advertising your products, your services, your artwork or music—whatever the special thing is that you do.
Should I Create My Own Website?
That depends. If you are a graphic designer or have a flair for good design, and if you are technically inclined and patient enough to learn the intricacies of website coding (and debugging), and if you have a lot of time, you may want to consider it.
On the other hand, it has become quite easy to create your own website in WordPress (for instance). But perhaps you need something more complex than a blog/site, and yet you’d rather not immerse yourself in web design, graphic design and programming. If that is the case, hire a professional. Look for someone with several years of experience and knowledge, the technical skills to make things work, and the design skills to make it look great.
How Much Does a Website Cost?
There are usually three types of expenses involved in the total cost of a basic website: registering a domain name, hosting your site files on a server, and the design and development of the site. Domain name registration and website hosting are ongoing expenses, usually paid annually, while the design of your website is more or less a one-time charge, and maintenance is charged only as needed. (See below for more information on domain names and web hosting.)
The cost of the design and development can vary greatly, depending on such things as the size of the site, the complexity, features, the quality of advance planning, how much of the required information and assets are in a ready-to-use format, the number and type of changes made after the design process has begun, etc. I have heard of quotes for small business sites costing as much as $20,000; when I was designing websites, most sites that I created ranged from about $500 to about $3500, with the majority falling into the $1000-$2000 range.
What Should I Consider When Choosing a Domain Name?
Now that you’ve decided to start your online presence, choosing a name for your website, and more specifically a domain name (the URL people will type into their browser window to find your site) can be harder than you think. You want something that people will associate with your business, that’s easy to remember or easy to type. Here are some tips about choosing and registering your domain name.
What Should I Look for in a Web Hosting Company?
Once you’ve made the decision to start your website, selecting a good web host is extremely important. Your hosting service will provide you with server space where your website files will reside, as well as standard features, such as email, and usually many extra features, such as e-commerce, scripts or multiple domains. The speed at which your website is seen by your visitors starts with a good web hosting service. Here is more information about choosing a good hosting service.
Should I Use Flash on My Website?
Should you decide to use Flash on your site, please read some more detailed information about some things to consider before making the investment to add Flash to your website.
Should I Use a Database?
Database driven websites are becoming ubiquitous on the web! Some of the most useful sites on the web employ relational databases, such as Amazon.com, IMDB, and Netflix. And smaller, personal, group or company sites created in WordPress, Joomla, Drupal and other content management systems take advantage of database features.
There are many instances where having a database on your website is the best thing to do. If you are selling products online, if you need to track the progress of a project, or if you have any sort of large inventory which changes frequently, designing at least a portion of your site to be database-driven may save you time and money in the long run.
If you think you will want a database-driven website, either now or in the future, keep that in mind when choosing your web hosting company, to be sure they offer the technologies you will need.
How Do I Get Traffic to My Site?
The first step begins when your site is designed with proper coding to aid in natural search engine searches. You may also want to hand-submit your site to the major search engines (which should be done monthly); additionally you can create a Google Site Map of your site and submit it to Google.
Spread the word about your site by taking advantage of social media. Create a page on Facebook, for example.
Another very useful thing to do is to have your site linked from other websites, as Google’s search algorithm works by considering the number of external links to a site as indicative of the site’s relevance to the search; the more links to your site, the more relevant it is seen to be, and hence, the higher up in the search engines it will appear.
Look for free (or paid) online directories that list your type of site, and ask to be included — be willing to trade links with other similar sites.
You can also invest in pay-per click advertising, which has worked well for some of my clients, particularly Google Ad-words. Of course, advertise your site whenever and wherever you normally advertise your business.
How Do I Know Who is Visiting My Site?
Most web hosting companies provide you with some type of web statistics that will show you several detailed views of such things as: history of visits on an hourly, daily, weekly and monthly basis, as well as what domain and country your visitors are from, what browser and platform they used, the color-depth and resolution of their monitor, etc.
My personal favorite stats package is Awstats, which shows a wealth of interesting information besides the usual, such as search keywords and search keyphrases, which versions of which operating systems and browsers have been used, which search engines have visited, how many visitors have added your pages to their favorites, and more.
Adding Google analytics to your site’s pages will also show you some fascinating results. You may consult the Google Analytics results to do some tweaking to your website after the initial launch to bring in more of the clients you are looking for.