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It is very important to plan your website well. Your
website reflects your business, project or event, and should be well thought out. It may be the deciding factor in whether or not a prospective
customer will or will not use your business.
Designs and Digital Photography will make it easy to get your business or organization on the
Internet, starting with a free 1 HR consultation: You have unique needs for your website and we will take special care that
those needs are met. In order for
us to get a better understanding of what you would like to see in your website,
we have prepared the following questions and tips to help you in deciding what will work
best for your business or organization:
Consider the following reasons:
To have a
"presence" on the net
To get an
advantage over my competition
To keep up with
To let potential
customers learn about our company, and gain a favourable impression of us
To sell online
To give my
customers access to a detailed catalogue of my products
To expand my
To interact with my
customers via forms or live chat
To enable my
business to be open 24 hours per day
To conduct market
To decrease the
cost of printing and distributing marketing materials
To provide better
To provide great
customer service at a reduced cost by offering in-depth content about care and
maintenance of my products online.
To reduce the
cost of advertising and increase the range of options available in marketing
(ie. online brochures or catalogues)
the playing field" with larger companies
To be able to
have online promotions (such as printable coupons and announcements of sales)
important to realize that a web site may not result in immediate results and
unimaginable sales. When creating a
web site you should be looking at the long-term view: Begin with patience, but
be ready for success.
Keyword Phrases and Site Description
Before doing anything else, I'd like you to
stop and think about your business. how would you describe what you do in
25 words or less? As an example, here is what we would say for WebStar
"A Comox Valley, Vancouver Island company
which specializes in creative, professional website design, digital photography,
search engine optimization, domain names and hosting at affordable prices."
For us, being local is important so we make
sure that the Comox Valley is mentioned, then we added in all of our services
and made sure everyone knows that we provide quality at an affordable price.
The description should have your best keywords in it.
What are keywords? Keywords (or more
like keyword phrases) are words and phrases which people who are searching for a
company like yours would type into a search engine such as Google. When
they do, you'd like to be at the top of the results so they'll click on the link
to your site first. This is where
optimization comes in (more on that later). You can save a lot of
money if you have a good idea of what keyword phrases are relevant to your
business so that when we start designing your site we keep these important
phrases in mind, lessening the need for extensive optimization later on.
How do I make my list of keyword phrases???
You can start with the yellow pages. Is
your business listed in the yellow pages? If so, what heading is it under?
For us it's "Web Design" as well as "Internet Services other than access" so our
keyword phrases would include "web design" and "internet services". We can
then build on these keywords: website designers, webpage design, internet web
services, hosting, search engine optimization, domain name registration, etc.
You can add localities as well: Comox Valley
web designers, Courtenay web designers. It's also a good idea to add
spelling mistakes for some commonly misspelled words: Courtney web design.
Ask your friends what they think and
brainstorm ideas together.
Give your friends the phonebook and tell them
to find you in the yellow pages... write down what they are mumbling along the
way in their attempts to find you.
Stop everyone you meet on the street... ok
maybe now we're overdoing it. But you could ask peoples' opinions if the
occasion arises in a conversation.
After we have your list we can utilize our
keyword selection tools to possibly add to these even more, then determine which
would be your best bets in an optimization campaign. A keyword phrase that
is searched often by people on the internet, while not having a lot of other
companies trying to optimize for it as well will most likely give you the best
return for your efforts.
What would you like the name of your website to
be? If your business name is descriptive
enough you can use that, but if it isn’t, you may want to add to
it or use a different name for your site. Search
engines tend to look more favourably on sites that have “keywords” in their
name. You may also think about
using a short and memorable name if your main target audience will be typing it
in rather than finding it on the Internet search engines and entering by simply clicking.
A short name will be more likely to be typed in correctly and remembered
in the future.
An ideal website name will be descriptive, unique, short and memorable.
Unfortunately short and descriptive don't often fall into the same category!
What we suggest to companies that are serious about search engine optimization,
but who still want an easy, memorable name for everyday use is to register 2
domain name: one short, and one with keywords in it. The extra cost is
minimal ($12.99 US per year for a .com) and the benefits to rankings are usually
high. You can use the same hosting package for both URLS, and you can set
up unlimited emails with both domain name endings. (using our hosting package -
other hosting companies may not have this option included, so check first)
are 2 options when choosing a domain name: You can register a domain name and
have it hosted (see our
hosting page for more
information on our packages), or you can use the free web space provided by your internet
service provider ( ISP).
A registered domain name will look more
professional and is usually easier to remember than if you used your ISP's free web space. An
important advantage of using a unique domain name for your business or
organization is that you won’t be dependant on your ISP.
If your ISP goes out of business, changes hands (like what happened with
the @home.com changing to @shaw.ca
or raises its prices too high, you can simply have another ISP assume the
address for your site. Your name
stays the same, any links to your page are protected and customers will not be
affected. Another reason to have your own
domain name is for search engine optimization purposes. A unique URL with
keywords in it is usually given more weight than if that keyword came at the end
of a typical ISP providers webspace URL. Examples of URLS would be
and of course this website,
you have thought of a few names, you need to make sure that they have not
already been registered by someone else.
To check availability, please go to our
names page. You can search for and register directly from our site and
pay with your credit card using the secure payment method. (Always check
for the little padlock at the bottom of your browser window when making any
purchases on the internet to show that your have a secure connection. In
addition, you want to make sure you trust the person at the other end of that
connection - a secure connection doesn't help if the person receiving your
credit card information isn't honest!) If you're not comfortable using
your credit card online, we'd be happy to do the registration for you.
We highly recommend that domain name registrations are done in your name and
with your email address in the administration section so that you have ownership
and thereby control over your domain. We have had many clients who have
lost or have had a lot of trouble getting changes made to their domain name
records when someone else had control. The last thing you want to hear is
that the company who has your domain name registration is out of town or out of
business, and your domain name is expired - meaning that your business is now
offline, your search engine rankings are in danger of being lost, and all your
advertising campaigns lead to a non-existent URL. Worse yet, another
company could snap up your domain name and use your hard-earned rankings to
redirect to their site instead.
**Always make sure that your email address is
kept up to date on your administration records for your domain name. (You
will receive expiry notices by email) Always keep your username and password in
a safe place.
If you want to switch domain name registrars,
don't wait until too close to the expiry date to do it or your domain may be
locked and unable to move. Most registrars give you the remainder of your
current contract for free anyway if you switch to them, so no time is lost in
The other option you have is to go with your
Internet Service Provider’s domain name.
Your user name would then be at the end of the common web address that
they use for all their clients. Examples
Shaw cable: username nothinflat’s (drag boat
racing) website is http://members.shaw.ca/nothinflat
Digital Ark: username ores
(Oyster River Enhancement Society) http://mars.ark.com/~ores
(ORES has since registered a domain name:
to enhance their image and search engine rankings.)
The benefit is that it is included in the fees
that you are already paying for their internet service.
It really depends on how much money you are willing to spend and the
image you are trying to portray. For a business, we strongly recommend using a
registered domain name to portray a professional image and for the above
mentioned advantages. For a
non-profit society however, I think most people would find it appropriate for a
less expensive approach to be taken.
WebStar Designs and Digital Photography currently
has a very cost effective hosting plan at $16.50/month.
(see our hosting page for more information)
You can also register your domain name at our
domain names page if you have not already
registered your name.
We can assist you in finding which name would be best for your business
or community group.
Index Page and Site Organization
as “home page” or “storefront”. This
page will describe what the whole site is about, and usually links to a series
of pages that describe your business or organization.
should load quickly and grab the visitor's attention, making them want to read
pages linking from the index page include:
This page will describe your business or organization.
History, mission statement, philosophy, etc.
This page gives you the opportunity to tell your customers why they
should do business with you, rather than your competition.
Services: photos and
descriptions of features. These
should be organized in easy to find, logical groupings. The use of a
shopping cart allows for easy online orders.
can include a form which your customer can use to email their information to
you. It should also show alternate
ways of ordering: your Phone/toll free numbers, mailing address etc.
Providing technical information, frequently asked questions, specification,
diagrams, troubleshooting information, etc. on your website will allow your
customers to have technical support 24 hours per day, and could save you time on
the phone in person.
and updates: a
section where you can post your newsletters and add any updates that may be of
interest to your customers.
will keep customers coming back: free information, news, contests, free samples, or a good
list of related links which will save your customers time in searching.
Keeping this information up-to-date and interesting will keep your
customers coming back to your site.
It is a good idea to have some graphics and
pictures in your site to make your site look more appealing to your customers.
Your home page should make your customers want to explore more of your
site. There are a few factors to
consider, however, when deciding on what type, and how many graphics to use.
It should have enough to be appealing, but not so much that it becomes
slow to load and confusing to read and navigate. Your home page should be graphically balanced, look appealing, and be
Choices of graphics include:
Clip art graphic
(make sure they are copyright free)
we can scan in your company logo or an artists drawing
or scanned-in photographs
Graphics with colored
borders, or with a shadow effect
Images with transparent
backgrounds to seamlessly add them into your page
Customized Type Fonts:
we can design your graphic for you using a combination of fonts and
colour, then save them as a picture to ensure that they will show up as you
intended on everyone's computer (no need for the end user to have the same
type fonts installed on their computer)
Superimposing fonts on a
either found on the Internet, from your private collection of photos, or from
WebStar Designs stock photos, can make a great design for a logo or graphic
“Hotspot” image maps:
different spots in the graphic will lead to different links
You can also get a
professional graphic designer to design your logo or graphics for you.
Background Color or Texture
A well thought out background will compliment your
graphics and text and enhance the overall design of your website.
There are several options you have for your choice of background.
One solid colour:
Then make your text a contrasting colour.
there are many backgrounds available in a variety of textures like wood, water,
rocks, marbles, leaves, etc. If
they are not too overwhelming, they can compliment your design nicely.
a mixture of colours, such as a blending rainbow of colours, custom designed
with you in mind.
Background picture: a
small background picture which repeats itself over and over, or repeat itself
along the side of a page can enhance a website
Graphically enhanced pictures and art:
different pictures or art blend together in different areas of the page to
make a very attractive website background.
A background should not be too overwhelming: we
want to make sure the text is still readable!
Sometimes white is still the best choice.
Order Forms or Customer Response Forms
You will want to interact with your customers, and
to do so you need to make it easy and inviting for them:
make sure your contact information is readily accessible on each page of your
site, and provide forms that the customer can fill out and automatically send
you by email:
Request for Information
This form will have a place for the customer’s name, address, phone number,
etc. and provide check boxes and comment boxes which allow the customer to
request information on certain products and services.
with the appropriate securities, you can take orders directly online.
It is a good idea to also provide an alternate method of purchasing (ie
1-800 number) for the many people that are still concerned about purchasing
Printable Order Form:
Have a page that the customer can fill in and print out on their printer ( or
print out, and fill in afterwards), then mail it to you in the traditional way.
for guests to give their opinions of your products and service, etc.
“Join my mailing list”
You can invite customers to join your mailing list to be periodically updated on
what your business is doing, and to receive special discounts etc. by email.
You could entice them with a free gift for signing up.
You may also ask if you may follow up with a telephone call or direct
If you have many products to sell on the Internet, a shopping cart may be a
worthwhile investment. In order to
take money online, you will need to have a secure server to allow your customers
to safely conduct business with you. WebStar
Designs can help you determine which method will work the best for your type of
business or organization. There are very cost effective ways in which even
the smallest business can sell online.
How to Promote your Website:
There are many ways to promote your website.
Here are some of the highlights:
Register your site with
the major search engines and directories. WebStar
Designs provides this service, and is also experienced in Search Engine
Optimization to give your site the best chance at a top listing for your
Optimize your site for the major search engines.
Include your site URL on
your business cards, letterhead, flyers, etc.
Include your URL as part
of your signature on every email you mail out. (even non-business emails)
Announce your site in
newspapers and on the Internet.
Keep your site up-to-date
and interesting, to give customers a reason to come back.
For more tips and tricks
on promoting your website, check out our handout: “30 ways to Promote
your Site”. To get your copy, see our
website promotion page.
Maintaining Your Website
you have your site the way you want it, you may periodically need to make
changes or updates to it to keep your website current. You'll need to
think of how to handle:
pages to describe other parts of your business
links which have become obsolete
external links which have changed
Continuous search engine optimization and
resubmissions to keep your site ranking high.
WebStar Designs and Digital Photography will help you maintain,
update, and optimize your site on a regular basis, or as needed. Please see our
Costs and Services
section for more information on prices and package deals.
If you have the time and desire, we can also give
you or one of your staff members a tutorial on how to do minor updates (such as
price changes, etc.) to the site.
"30 Ways to Promote Your Website".
Download your free copy today! (PDF format)
||After having taken these points into consideration, you will
have a general idea of what you want in your website. Now it is time to
turn this idea into reality! WebStar Designs and Digital Photography will take every measure possible to
give you the website of your dreams, while ensuring that it will
still be practical on the internet.