How To Start A Website

April 3rd, 2013

How to Start A WebsiteMany of you might have arrived here from a Google search wondering – how on earth do I start a website? I mean at first it can seem somewhat baffling the sheer amount of choice you have with so many different options. Do I go for a self hosted website or one of the free ones? Do I pay someone to design the website for me or not? How do I run the site day to day? I want to sell a product or service – but how? Fear not, we’re here to help you understand what is best for you. Sit back, have a hot drink of your choice, as we talk through the 5 key areas to think about.

1 – “Free or not to be free”… that is the question?

So you want to know if you should go with one of the many  free website hosting systems out there or if you should pay to have your own website professionally designed? The answer depends on a few key factors. What’s your budget? If you have some sort of budget you should probably consider hiring a professional to launch your website. This has benefits in terms of offering you a custom design, value adding services such as Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) and support if something goes wrong. If you have little or no budget you might want to consider one of the free web services out there. However, for your customers or clients consider would it be off putting if adverts appear on websites hosted by the free sites? Consider those key factors again – what is something goes wrong? How do I get my website to appear in search engine results? When you answer the individual questions of budget, support, customisation you will begin to arrive at your answer.

2 – SEO is the new black….

If you haven’t heard Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is the new black. Once upon a time you could build a website and the people would come! Sadly, today, in this burgeoning digital world once your site has been built it’s shouting to be heard amongst giant and older established websites. It’s scurrying and running at the feet of giants trying to be heard but simply can’t. See my earlier post for more details on this. Don’t fear though. SEO is here. You need to think about SEO if you want to have website that people will actually be able to find and visit. I know of too many people who build a website expecting a tidal wave of customers and clients who are then disappointed when this doesn’t materialise. If you do decide to go with a web designer to run your project make sure you’ve talked through SEO with them and specifically what SEO benefits they have of going with them. The second major hint. Think about “Off Page Optimisation”, ask your web developer about this. They should talk about “Link Juice”, ‘Article Marketing”, “Link Building” Etc. Here’s the red light warning for you. Avoid anyone promising to get you to Google position number one in a week  or so. This can take up to six months or longer realistically, depending on how competitive the search terms you want to appear in Google search results for, especially with newly launched websites. Avoid anyone who uses Black Hat SEO techniques. Research that term to find out more. Only use White hat SEO I would strongly advise.

3 – What is CMS? What about a brochure website?

So you may have heard the term Content Management System or CMS for short? But what does this actually mean? Well, put simply it means you can manage – update, add, edit, delete, modify the content of the website yourself. These type of websites are increasingly popular because you don’t have to normally pay a third party to update your website. This can also save you money and empower you run your own website. You login much like you do on Facebook, arrive at the CMS dashboard or homepage and you can begin to edit your website.

Many businesses say they just want a brochure. Something they can point customers to find out more about their product or service. That’s all well and good but you might want to consider if your clients / audience would also like regular updates? If you know your content needs to be regularly updated, think about a CMS as it may save you time and money updating it yourself. If you do want a website you point people to a brochure style site may be more useful. However, Google and other search engines increasingly prefer dynamic, CMS style websites as dynamic and regular fresh content can be positively viewed by search engines.

4 – How do I choose a good Web Designer / Developer?

So, you’ve decided you’d like a professional Web Designer to build your website? Fear not we can help you to make your choice. Like most good decisions you make a bit of research and due diligence on your part will pay off down the line. Look at testimonials and reviews, preferably on third party review sites to see what others thought of their service. Ask them what value adding services they have, such as SEO and social media assistance? How can you contact them – telephone, email, instant message, forums, etc? How is the website hosted? What happens if things go wrong? Any good Designer or Developer should be able to assist you and make you feel comfortable. No question should be too silly. Feel free to ask them all the questions you have.

5 – How do I get this thing launched?

You may have decided to get your website launched. But what next? Here’s the individual things you need to think about. What platform are you going to use for your website? Think of your platform as technology that powers your website. Many open source platforms such as WordPress, Joomla, Drupal etc are very powerful open source platforms that can greatly assist you in having a website. They are also relatively inexpensive and look very professional. This website is built using WordPress for example. Whilst the powerful software that runs the site is free and open source. Designing and setting up your website to be customised and professional takes experience and the input of a professional web designer to bring the vision to life. If you do hire a web designer they can take care of your hosting. Think of hosting as the physical space where the files that store the information about your website sit. They live on something called servers (the filling cabinets if you will) where the internet opens the files and shows you the information. You will need to buy a  domain, that is the actually name, eg, www.yourbusinessname.com of your business / service or information site. You will also need to think about how your email system will work. If you want your domain and email as well as hosting taken care of, often a web designer / developer will take care of all of this. Leaving you to get on with running your business or service.

I hope you’ve found this article useful in thinking through how to start a website. As a web development company we’d be happy to assist you in bringing your project to life. Feel free to start a discussion with us may help you to take the next steps in your journey. We’re friendly and no question is too silly, we’d be happy to hear from you.

Otherwise we wish you luck in getting your website launched!

 

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It’s all about the link juice!

September 26th, 2012

I’m often asked how do I get my site to appear in Google, Bing and the major search engines. This is too broader question that cannot be answered in one way. However, one major boost you can give to your website is to think about links and link juice.

This of link juice as a voting system. Let’s say there’s two sites that are dedicated to homemade Italian cooking. If we know that one of these sites has 5 external sites that link to it. Let’s say the other site has just 1 link to it. A search engine will compare these sites and look at their link juice, that is the amount of links the site has going inbound to it (5 versus 1). It will almost certainly rank the site that has 5 links to it higher than the one that has just 1 link to it.

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Getting your website seen

May 29th, 2012

A question I’m constantly asked is how do I get my site to appear high on Google search results? The answer to this, like many questions in life is essentially through hard work and employing a well crafted campaign and strategy. Or paying a specialist to optimise your website. Multi-million dollar industries have popped up, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) specialists, social media marketers to name a few have emerged to cater to quench this thirst for the sacred Google top ten position.

Take for example the number of websites that are estimated to exist on the web. Netcraft, a company that provides web hosting and market share information, based in Bath, England sent a signal to as many unique websites as possible. They found that there are around 366,848,493 unique websites in the world as of 2011. Whilst no one can be sure to the exact number, we can be sure there are hundreds of millions of websites, probably here in 2012 approaching half a billion websites.

The sheer volume means that any new website has to fight to merely be heard within the cacophony of noise on the internet. The web is like an orchestra with no conductor and getting heard is hard, as the competing drums, strings and cellos clash over each other. No longer can the old maxim of ‘build it and they shall come’ be said to be true. Today, in 2012 the maxim would be much more accurate to be something more akin to ‘build it and then the hard work starts’. Not as catchy but it’s a much more truthful depiction of websites and the internet in 2012.

Another myth that perhaps should be debunked, other than the ‘build it and they shall come’ is the notion that a website is finished. For any website that’s serious about getting good rankings in major search engines the website is never probably never exactly ‘finished’. Granted some companies want a website that acts like a brochure, an information point, but these are limited and less likely to be seen than live, constantly updated websites with dynamic content. The reason for this is that websites need to provide an incentive to be seen and heard. If a website does not update regularly, has static content, there is little incentive to revisit a website, after all, with website that doesn’t really update – there’s no reason to go back. Even if you are an organisation that only wants a brochure type website, having a blog, news or updates provides an area where visitors can get useful information and updates about that product / service. Providing an incentive for web users to revisit the site, if the content is good, the visitor can read something and recommend that blog / news source. Being an expert in an area or at least providing opinion can be a source of debate, the more readers you engage with your content the better. If you pick your topics to have some sort of cross over with your business, eg a translator may blog about language and its differences, the target audience are likely to be a potential source of new business. This may sound like hard work, but let’s compare this to hard manual work it’s hopefully not an exhausting line of work by comparison.

The other way to think about your website is think of it, for a moment as if you were one of Google’s hard working spider robots that crawls and indexes the worldwide web tirelessly to come up with the search results. Every day you’re catalouging humanities’ swelling electronic repository of information that is the internet. Everything from ‘LOL’ cute cats, celebratory news, companies and so on. When a robot views your website it ideally needs a sitemap which tells the robot – ‘hey, here’s where all the information and links are in my website’. It should also comply with the W3C’s web standards, if you’re having a website done or your website redesigned, keeping the code clean and in conformance with the W3C standards makes it easier for robots to read and rank your website. The other key thing that you need to do is getting inbound links to your website. If we think like a Google robot for a second, when we come across a website that has 5 links to it on the subject of home made pizza and another website on the same topic that only has 1 link to it. The robot is likely to think well, the one that has 5 links to it is more popular as measured by the number of websites that link to it, therefore I’ll display that website before the website that has just one inbound link to it.

 

We’ll add more information here as time goes on but, remember just having a website is the first part, getting is seen is the hard part. Remember, dynamic websites provide a ready incentive for readers to go back to a particular site for the latest information or indeed to share it with others. Pick a crossover topic with your business or chosen topic and you’re likely to start to reach potential customers or at least start to be seen as an expert or opinion on a subject. Finally, if you create content you can, over time, create inbound links that tell google your site is popular with other sites therefore it must be worth ranking well. We’ll discuss SEO more, watch this space and feel free to leave a comment.

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Inspiring Street Art

May 15th, 2012

We thought this piece of street art was a creative and inspiring way to use everyday materials with a dramatic impact and enhanced the street with dramatic effects.

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Inspiring Colours

April 23rd, 2012

This great video by Ixoul shows some amazing vivid colours. This really inspired us and we think this video vividly illustrates the power of colour to influence our conscious perception and how we see the world.

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A warm welcome to our Blog section!

April 15th, 2012

A warm welcome to our blog section.

We shall endeavour to share the things that inspire us to create – from web design to the arts we shall be looking to share our latest thoughts here. We’re also hoping to add some useful tips and tricks and how to’s. So please do bookmark us and follow our RSS feeds to keep up to do date!

 

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