designing your site...
Each web site we create is unique. Colors, graphics, size and layout are all choices that each client makes before we begin, or early into the development of your site. At the same time, every web site shares certain features and basic components that are necessary for fundamental operation. Start your web site by outlining these component features:
- NavMap - a basic chart of the pages that your website will include, in the order of importance or presence on the navigation map used by your site visitors to browse through the pages of information contained on your site.
- Basic Layout - you have many choices of layouts from which to choose. Layouts should respond to the kind of site you are creating, your audience, and the amount of actual copy/content you plan to deploy. Sites with minimal text may want a Letterbox layout; sites can be fixed-width, or variable width, using one, two or three columns. The design may employ a vertical or a horizontal navigation system. Sites that employ a content management system may select from available templates from the chosen CMS, including ones we offer for free with our web hosting packages.
- Page Contents - for each of the pages on your chart, you will want to write out the actual text that is to appear on each page in plain text, MSWord, or even in an email format. While DCIWebworks can assist you in writing Internet content, no one understands your business or industry better than you. Your message on each page should be clear and to the point; we'll help you empasize your content with dHTML tools and features that make it easy for visitors to find the content they seek.
- Logo and Graphics - If you have an established logo and/or other graphics that are already associated with your business or group, we'll want to incorporate the images and colors into your web site in some form. If you would like to re-visit your logo design or other graphics, we're ready to assist you with internal and external sources working together to create the best image for your web site. Color schemes are also important, and with our use of externally-defined CSS (cascading style sheets) for state-of-the-art site definition, you are only minutes away from completely different color schemes on any finished site.
- Photo, Video, PDF and other assets - bring all of the different media and information at your disposal to your site. The documents, videos, photographs, sound and other elements are referred to as the "assets" of your web site. Give them to us on CD-ROM or other media; DCIWebworks will show you how we can deploy these assets throughout your site for better audience response and increased visits. We can create PDF documents for you from MS Word or other digital files. And we'll create your own favicon...that's the little image you see next to urls in the address line in your browser.
- Title, Descriptions and Meta Tags - We will prepare your site for Search Engines by creating hidden features on every page that include a description of the web page/site, and a list of keywords that search engines such as Google will index. We'll include search engine-friendly features such as a robots.txt file that tells the search engine robots which directories and files should be indexed and which should be skipped. Whlle meta tags are no guarantee of Search Engine ranking, they remain helpful in the overall identification and indexing of your pages.
planning for success
Once you have your site in place, with its assets and features, it's time to focus on the longer term return on investment that your web site has promised. You will have many tools and resources available for your use:
- full email capabilities, including the ability to send html-based broadcast emails to your qualified, opt-in list of clients, members or other interested parties. Regular mailings, updated lists and consistent and thoughtful contact with your client base is one of the most important benefits of your web site.
- promotion-driven traffic that is measurable within 24 hours or less. When you did mailings or placed display advertisements in the past, you probably wondered how many people really read your communication--not every successful communication results in a sale. With proper application, you can now find out whether your advertising dollars are really stirring interest. Traffic analysis is available daily and can be tracked by hour, day, week or month to show where site traffic is going, where it is coming from, search engine keywords used to find your site, and much more.
- maintain your web site with timely updates to the content, including pictures and text. You want your audience to return to your site often; when visitors encounter fresh content, it validates their time spent on your site. Make your web site a vital part of your business, a communication center for your clients. DCIWebworks regularly updates clients sites on demand on a daily basis; there's no waiting for weeks to get your content updated.
- use the power of cPanel to install content management modules, such as forums, bulletin boards, blogging tools and more. This brings your clients into the discussion directly and makes for a vibrant web site.