Creating a website
This is a short course on Internet web site development. It should
give you an idea of what is involved in the creation and promotion
of a custom website. If you wish to become a web site developer, there are
many books and on-line resources on the subject. This discussion
is aimed at developing a commercial Internet website, but the principles involved are
applicable to "information" and other sites as well. This course will
not teach html, php, nor JAVA script coding. There are already a huge number
of places to learn both skills. With the proper development tools
you can create an attractive, functional custom web site with little or no
A website is not a sure road to success. Failed dot coms
litter the landscape. The most successful Internet web sites are usually tied
to a "brick-and-mortar" business. But there are exceptions
as witnessed by Amazon.
Decide on what it is you want to accomplish. This is not as simple
as it sounds. If you don't have a clear idea of what your website
is supposed to accomplish, you'll spend a lot of time creating the
wrong site. Is this going to be a show-and-tell web site to display
your firm's products or services (similar to this site) or do you
want to sell product directly from the site? Is the purpose of the
site to educate, communicate, or just to show off?
Next decide on how you're going to go about accomplishing your
goals. What kind of Internet visitors will land on your website? Will they know
what they're looking for or will they have to be educated and guided?
Will your site visitors fall into more than one category? How will you
handle each type of visitor?
Now, make a chart of the route each type of visitor will take into
your site. What do you want him/her to see? Why?
What are you going to say? Where are you going to say it?
Okay, NOW you can design the look and feel of your web site.
You really wanted to do this right away, didn't you? After all,
it's the fun part. But there is a catch. If you visitors
are likely to be using an old Internet browser, it has to work on your website.
You can't use the latest and greatest techniques. In fact, you can't
even use all the older techniques unless they are supported by all
the Internet browsers you wish to cater to. For instance, older versions
of Netscape were notorious for not supporting all the tools for
a given version of the standards. Explorer is better, but even Explorer
doesn't support all the tools. Don't despair, you can still build
a very attractive and functional web site.
Another thing you have to keep in mind is load time. Remember,
not everyone enjoys a high-speed connection to the Internet. A visitor
with a 28.8kb modem doesn't want to wait for a full minute before
seeing your web page. So, keep it as small as possible. Loading the
pages up with photographs and other heavy-duty graphics is a sure
way to slow the page load time to the point the visitor will give
up and vote with a mouse click. This page should load in 9 seconds at 56Kbps.
Your website should be readable. How many times have you landed on
a site with a black background sporting text that is barely legible?
Again, your visitor is going to click out to greener Internet pastures. You
did, didn't you?
Unless you're trying for a web site development award, keep it simple.
Awards don't bring in paying customers.
Now that you know what you're going to make, you can start creating
Program a template. This will control your look and feel. If you're
using a tool like Dreamweaver (which works great on a Microsoft
Windows platform), this is easy. Use the template to start each
page of your site. If you're a good website coder, you can use other techniques, such as "includes".
The first phase will be the minimum you need to present a complete
site to your visitors. We'll get to the rest later.
Create the main (index) web page, all the subordinate pages and link
them together. Make sure everything is spell checked, proofread,
and that all links and so forth work correctly. Then you can load
them onto your web server (or host server). Now, test it out using
a normal Internet connection.
Now, call in your Search Engine Optimizer (SEO).
either an in-house
expert or a professional SEO. Be very careful here. Some SEOs will
use any technique available to promote your web site. Unfortunately,
some of the techniques can get you blacklisted from the search engines
when discovered or reported (perhaps by a competitor). There is
no sadder website owner than one who has been blacklisted by Google.
Especially after spending several thousands of dollars to develop
a killer site. It happened to one retailer just before
Christmas which effectively destroyed his holiday sales. Do it by
the numbers and you'll be able to sleep nights.
Expect the SEO to research your keywords and phrases to find out which ones
are searched most often. After that s/he'll rewrite your text to
capitalize on your most important key phrases. S/he might get rid of
a lot of gee whiz stuff you so proudly created to make the site
more friendly to the search engines. This would be a good time for
your marketing people to work closely with the SEO to make sure
the resulting content is accurate and will still sell visitors on
your products. The finished product should appeal first to
your prospective customers and second to the search engines. After
all, you created the site to entice customers, so make sure your
search engine optimizer doesn't do anything that will hurt the primary
reason for the site: to make sales.
Your SEO should also start a campaign to trade links with sites
that have similar, but not competing, sites. This is important,
but not as important as the content of your site. Link farming and
pages with hundreds of links are no longer productive. What your
SEO should be looking for is selective links that will appear on
a page that has few outgoing links rather than the now ubiquitous
"links" page. A good way to attract quality links is to
offer content in the form of articles and "how-to" pages
that other web sites will want their visitors to see.
The SEO should discuss your marketing goals and budget. Will you
advertise the site in the conventional media? (Remember Amazon?
They advertised heavily in their early days.) Will you pay some
search engines for a prime place in a search (sometimes called pay
per click). Will you create banner ads or annoying pop-ups
and pay other sites to display them? All of these questions need
to be addressed as part of your marketing plan. The answers to these
questions will depend upon your budget and the nature of your competition.
Some websites can do quite well by creating a site that shows up "organically"
on page one of good search sites such as Google. For others, one
or more of the above techniques may be required if it will bring
enough extra paying traffic to return the investment along with
a healthy profit.
When everything is ready and it works, submit your web site to the
search engines and directories. This step is not necessary if other websites have links to your site. If the other websites are already being scanned
by the search engines, those same spiders will find your site by
Now wait -- and wait -- and wait. It takes a while for search engines
to get around to you. Often three months or more. You can sometimes
pay for faster inclusion and pay per click will, of course, get
instant attention and placement (depending upon how much you bid compared to the competition). Google has an aging methodology that might
keep you off page one for up to a year.
But don't sit around while waiting. Create more pages for your
web site. The more content you have, the better you'll do. Create new
pages that will give your Internet visitors a rich experience (but related
to your business) and the search engines will reward you with better
ratings and possibly the Holy Grail of webmasters, a listing on
page one of a Google search.
However, you must be realistic. If you have a lot of competition,
getting on to page one may be extremely difficult. For instance,
the key phrase that would work best for this page is "creating
a website". A Google search for that phrase, inside quotes,
returns between 36,000 to over 1/2 million "hits"; without the quotes a
Google search returns from 10 million to more than 3/4 billion hits. This page
is not on Google's page one. We don't want to spend
a lot of effort going after that phrase since our business model
doesn't depend upon web traffic. Nor will presenting "how to"
information make any money for our firm. It's a service to you.
Spend your time, effort, and money going after key phrases that
will return the greatest benefit to your organization. Consider
the amount of competition and develop a plan of advertising, pay-per-click,
and/or optimization that will give you the maximum return.
Viking Waters can help you create a fine web site and optimize it
for search engines.
If you want to try to do it yourself, here are some tools that will help you keep your mistakes down:
The best tool for finding keywords and key phrases. This is the one we use when we're doing serious work for clients in a highly competative field.
Overture is the "poor man's Keyword Discovery" Only uses data from Yahoo and very limited functionality, always behind by a month or so, only uses a few month's data, but a free way to get started.
Live Keyword Analysis - Paste your code into this tool, pick the key words or phrases you want counted and it will return your keyword density ratios.
Google's Webmaster site has a number of tools and information.
Google's official BLOG. Get the straight scoop on what's happening at Google.