The best place to start the process is with a name for your site; a domain name. The most popular domains are dot-com names (.com). Also high on popularity are dot-net (.net), dot-org (.org), plus many others including dot-info (.info), dot-biz (.biz) and dot-us (.us).
Unless you are looking for a very unique name, most combinations of one or two common English words with the famed dot-com tag at the end are already claimed. This is where creativity may be required to find ways to make your domain name unique. To start searching for your domain name you’ll need to go to a domain registrar such as Network Solutions. Registering a domain name works essentially like a lease, granting you permission to use the name as long as you maintain the nominal annual fees to keep it registered.
A good domain name should be short, but still reflect your website; you want your visitors to remember their way back. Avoid using initials (unless they are as well known as CBS or NBC). Avoid hyphenation if possible or overly long names. A good domain name is memorable and easy on the tongue. The best test is to find several good candidates and test them by speaking the names out loud. How easy are they to communicate, and to spell? How well do they represent the mission of your site?
In some cases, it may be advantageous to purchase a domain name that someone else has the rights to. The fees for this type of transfer of ownership can command some hefty fees though. Bidding usually starts around $500, but the right name can fetch a million dollars or more.
Organization and Research
Once the domain name is secured, the next step is to create an outline.
- Start by creating a list of the ideas to be covered
- Group the ideas into major categories that will become web pages
- Look at similar or competitive sites for more ideas
- Think about how you want your site to look
- Think of photos or illustrations that will best complement your message
- Find and document examples of web sites that you like the best
- Sort these ideas into a finished outline
Here are some web design samples that may help you as you consider your options. All of this organization and research may sound a lot like what you learned in English class you were paying attention weren’t you?
Keywords are a group of words that best describe the topic of your site. They are the group of words your customers would use to find you in a web search. For example, if you sell eyeglasses, and you only use the words “eyeglasses” to describe your products but your potential customer searches for “prescription lenses” or “designer frames” your website will probably not be found.
Finding the best and most popular keywords and using them effectively is a vital part of driving more traffic to your site. For best results you should use a keyword research tools like Wordtracker. Wordtracker can compile a list of terms people search for, indicate how often they are searched for, and even help you discover keywords you may not have considered. Developing a database of customer searched keywords will help to focus the efforts of the next step most successfully; the script.
Writing The Script
Writing a script for the web is not like writing a book. Most people will read at least a chapter of a book before giving up. Web pages however, are not treated the same. After all there are just too many choices! We live in a “sound bite” world and surfing the net is no different. When a visitor comes to your web page you have between five and ten seconds to impress them that they are in the right place before they reach for the back key on their browser to search out the next candidate. Your web pages need a clear and easily understood message with interesting graphics, good pictures and a great script.
A great script on the web is short, to the point and broken up into easy to digest pieces. It is filled with keywords pertinent to your topic, but not to the detriment of your message. Effective use of headlines, sub-headers, bold or italicized phrases, links, bullet points and other lists all can work together to make your message stand out and tell the story. The headline can also be a creative tool to capture the desired attention.
Whew, don’t despair! The best way to start the process of script writing is to go back to the outline. Write the first draft and then start refining the results. Don’t forget about other things already written like brochures, flyers, and other advertising. This may provide a better base to build upon, while generating fresh ideas in the process.
Like the sculptor who chips away stone to create a beautiful statue one hammer stroke at a time. Great scripts are written very much the same way. Read through, change and improve again and again. When you think you are done read your script out loud. Keep working until the desired result is there.
All About Links
There are two basic types of links on a website; forward links and backward links. Simply put, forward links connect to other pages and sites. In order to be useful the links should be relevant to your topic. Create links to professional organizations you belong to, equipment or software related to your topic, or articles of interest to your readers. Use your imagination.
Backward links are links from other sites to you. Again, the key is to have relevant information about your topic on the page with a link to your site. Possible sources are web directories, blog links, forum posts or social networks such as digg.com and technorati.com.
Why are links so valuable? They make your web site more important to search engines like Google and Yahoo. The more backward links you have from pertinent sources, and forward links to relevant information, the better your site will be ranked; and that will help you to get found.
Photography One picture is worth a thousand words; and a great picture will help communicate your message quickly. Pictures can:
- Grab the attention of visitors
- Convey the importance of your company or project
- Illustrate an important point
- Create warmth and strong feelings
- Illustrate your product or service
Whether you have digital photos or scans of slides and film, having a number of good and appropriate pictures on your site can make a huge difference.