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How to Get Your Business on the Web Quickly & Affordably: A Beginner's Guide to Getting a Website; Everything You Need to Know

An E-Book Excerpt

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Unsolicited Testimonial: I want to set up a website as part of my plan to promote a book of mine that's due out later this year. I ... just finished your e-book, How To Get Your Small Business On the Web Quickly & Affordably. Excellent, concise, practical advice. Stuart


In 1998, I decided to get a web site for my small business. I found the process to be confusing, expensive and frustrating. After five months, two web designers and several thousand dollars and a still unfinished site I just knew there had to be a better way.

Much later, I discovered that if I were somewhat familiar with the web design process and could formulate key questions to ask potential designers, the process would have been much smoother and less expensive.

Based on my personal experience, I formulated this guide to cover the basic issues one should know to have a web site built. This guide is for anyone who wants to get a website, but have little or no knowledge of web technology.

By understanding the process and language of web design, you will be able to converse with and convey key ideas to a web designer in clear terms. This saves time and money both of which are usually in small supply for small business owners.

Questions and answers are written in simple, easy-to-understand language. It is organized by section and has a glossary of commonly used web terms at the end. It also offers valuable insight into why you should do something, instead of just saying, do it.

There are several blank pages at the end of the manual for taking notes. I always jot down questions, ideas and observations as I read. This makes it easy to revisit issues later.

So, how did my business finally get on the web? Not wanting to risk more time and money, my partner at the time and I built the company web site. We taught ourselves the necessary software and completed the site within a month. I have drawn upon all of the issues I faced during this difficult process to help you, hopefully, avoid what I went through.

I hope you find the guide useful and it saves you much in the way of time, money and frustration.

Welcome to the World Wide Web!
Technology and Small Business
According to research by International Data Corp. [IDC], it is increasingly important for small businesses to have some sort of presence on the Internet. About 513,000 small businesses, or 9%, maintained a home page in 1997, up from 2.7% in 1996.

"Smaller companies should realize using the Web increases their marketing might and geographic scope," said IDC analyst Warren Childs. The typical small business that uses the Internet is younger and growing faster than U.S. small businesses as a whole, the report says.

What does the Internet do?

Technically, the Internet doesn't do anything. It allows you to do things. Like what? Search databases (academic research, telephone directories, people locator information, etc.); download/send data (request a catalog, send grandma a photo, shop for clothes); participate in chat rooms, and much more. It's an exciting world!

The different types of web sites
There are different types of web sites. They can be separated into three distinct categories, ie, the: 1) Informational/Brochure Site; 2) Interactive Site; and 3) E-Commerce Site.

The four main reasons why every business needs a web site
Increase Revenue
: Would you like to make money while you sleep? Essentially, a web site allows you to do just that. Proof?

After launching a Web site, 41% of small businesses report an increase in their sales volume, and more than half (55%) with a Web site say their sites have generated a profit or paid for themselves. SmallBusinessComputing.com, "Internet Future Bright for Small Businesses," January 14, 2003

Basically, there are five steps that must be taken to get a web site. They are:
1. Idea Formulation: What will your site be about; what do you want to accomplish
2. Naming Your Site: Domain name registration

1. Idea Formulation
What you want to accomplish
: Before you contact a web designer, you should ask (and answer) the following questions of yourself. Although they may seem elementary, these questions will, in large part, decide which firms you decide to contact to build your site.

Why do I want a web site? After reading the introductory information above, you should realize what a web site can mean to your bottom line. There can also be additional reasons, eg, to expand a customer base; to project a more professional image; going from a paper to an online catalog, etc. The list is endless. Have a clear picture of whatever this is.

Registering Your Domain Name

The first step in getting a web site is to register your domain name. You can do this yourself, without the help of a web designer. Even if you can't afford a web site right now, it is a good idea to register your dot-com name. This can be done for under $10.00 a year. Ideally, this would be the name of your company or of a popular product you sell.

Choosing a web designer will depend greatly on the answers to the questions above. Many designers/firms have a dollar minimum that you must spend in order to work with them. This is fine because it doesn't waste your time or theirs. Once you start to interview web designers ask, at a minimum, the following questions:

11 Questions You Must Ask All Potential Web Designers

Do you have a web site? Elementary, I know. However, many seem to think that anyone can design a site. You might be their first customer. A web designer without a web site is like a tailor without a sewing machine. What can they possibly do for you?

Who will own the site? Do not automatically assume that because you are paying for it that it belongs to you.

How much will it cost and what are your billing arrangements? Many firms bill in increments eg, halves or thirds. A designer may ask for half to begin and the balance after the site is complete.

What is content development? The process of developing the information (text, graphics, animation, etc.) that will go on your web site. If you don't like to write, can't write, or simply are not confident in your abilities in this area, pay someone to do it for you. It's an investment in your business.

What pages must I absolutely have on my web site
In my opinion, a professional web site should contain the following pages (or information). Some of this information can be listed more than one way, eg, on your About Us page you may also list your company mission. That's up to you.

What is a web hosting company?

Simply put, a company that "hosts" web sites. Web hosting companies own the facilities and computers where the files of your web site are served by their web server.

What to look for in a web hosting company
The web hosting company you choose depends on the type/purpose of your web site. Your choice of host is absolutely critical to the success of your web site. You should become familiar with, and ask questions of your web designer about, the aspects outlined below.

Definition, Statistics, Technology

Small Business and Its Effect on the Economy
Technology and What It Means for Small Business

About: What is it? What does it do? Who runs it?
Web Browsers: What is it? What does it do?
What is the World Wide Web?

What is a Web Site?
Different Types of Web Sites
The Difference Between a Web "Site" and a Web "Page"
Four Main Reasons Every Business Needs a Web Site

The Web Design Process: Questions, Answers, Action
Idea Formulation: How to Formulate the Key Ingredients of Your web Site
Domain Name: What is it? How to register it

Eleven (11) Questions You Must Ask All Potential Web Designers

What is Content Development?
Create Effective Content in Four Easy Steps
What to Look for in a Freelance Content Developer/Writer/Editor
Cost of Content Developers

What is a Web Hosting Company?
What to Look for in a Web Hosting Company
Web Servers: What are they? What do they do?
Web Hosting Costs
About Free Web Hosting Companies

Four Things You Need to Sell Goods & Services On Your Web Site
Shopping Carts: What are they? How do they work? How much do they cost?
Merchant Accounts: What are they? How much do they cost?
Online Credit Card Processors: What are they? How much do they cost?
Securing Transactions
E-Commerce A Summary

Maintaining/Updating Your Site
Pages Every Web Site Should Have


What are Search Engines and Search Directories?
What is the Difference Between a Search Engine and a Search Directory?
How to Submit to Search Engines and Directories
What are Key Words?

Marketing Your Web Site Beyond Search Engine (Directory) Registration
The Myth: If You Build It, They Will Come

Web Terminology: Definitions of Commonly Used Terms

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