The 7 Steps to Creating a Successful Web Presence

       There are many steps along the way between the decision to become a web-enabled company and actually being there. Below, you'll find our checklist containing the seven steps you'll need to take to become a web-oriented company. You can use this checklist as a step-by-step guide to actually setting up your site yourself, or you can use it to select the parts you want us to do. Either way, it gives you a really good idea of what needs to be accomplished in creating your web presence.
       If you are unfamiliar with how the whole "world wide web" thing works, you should start with our "Internet Primer" to get comfortable with the terminology.

1. Decide on the domain name your company will use.
     The domain name is the name people type into their browsers to see your web site. Our domain name, for example, is sutherdyne.com. Use a Domain Name Registrar to see if your domain name is available. A Registrar is the company that you will use to register your domain name...that is, they make it yours so nobody else can use it. The Registrar will want some money to register your domain (of course). We use GoDaddy, only because they offer a good service at a reasonable price. There are many other Registrars, so look around.

2. Decide what capabilities you need in your web site.
     Do you need a shopping cart? Do you need a secure server to process credit card transactions, or possibly an on-line credit card processor? Do you need membership pages or search capabilities or catalogs or Flash graphics or database support? The list is long. If you don't know what those things mean, or if you don't know whether you need them, worry not. That's why we're here! We can help guide you to making the right choices. Or, if you'd rather not make the choices at all, we'll do it all for you.

3. Develop your web site pages.
     These are the pages that people will see when they visit your web site. It is best to draw a map, or "wiring diagram", of your pages and how they will link together before you actually start building pages. Then, use an HTML Editor to develop your pages...an HTML editor is a program that lets you see the page the way your customer will see it, while writing the HTML code in the background. If you are using a shopping cart, be sure to integrate the shopping cart into your web pages, as well as the payment processes you'll use. If you're not artistically inclined, consider outsoucing this, because you really need to have your web pages looking as professional as possible.

4. Purchase hosting support.
     Complete steps 1 - 3 before proceeding to this step. The web host is the company that will actually have your web site on their computer. They have a bunch of computers called "servers", all of which are hooked up to the Internet on really fast connections. You need a good host, one with good equipment, good technical support, and a broad range of capabilities. Review your list of web site requirements and find a host that will give you the services you require at a price you can be happy with. There are literally thousands of web site hosts, so you'll need to do some research to find one that offers the services you need to make your web site work. Then, sign up! Once signed up with a host, they will provide you with your passwords to log in to your new site. They will also provide you with the names of two "DNS Servers", which you need to give to your Registrar (step 1) so they can direct your Internet traffic to your web site.

5. Move the web pages to your new web site.
     Use an FTP application to do this...FTP stands for "File Transfer Protocol", which only means that it is a program that understands how to talk to a web server. Using an FTP program, you can move all of your web site page files from your computer over to the web server at your hosting company. Make sure that the main page of your web site is called "Index.htm", so that the web server will know that it is the main page. That way, when people go to your web site using only the domain name, the web server will serve up the Index.htm page by default. Like, when you go to "www.sutherdyne.com", you get the main page, the same as if you had typed "www.sutherdyne.com/index.htm".

6. Market your web site.
     Your web site is absolutely worthless unless people know it's there. As soon as your site is up and running, you need to explore the various ways to make it known. Your web site address on business cards and letterhead is certainly a necessity. Consider joining one or more professional associations in your industry. People will often use an association directory when looking for a business. But probably the most important marketing tool is the Web search engine. There are only three that really matter (the rest are associated with one of these three)...Google, AltaVista and AllTheWeb. Definitely submit your site to them (still free as of this date). Likewise, the only Web Directory that matters is Yahoo, but it will cost you about $300 to submit your site to them. If you can afford it, having a listing in the Yahoo directory is almost certainly worth your while. Before submitting to any search engine or directory, do some serious research on the "Meta tags" for "keywords" and "description", as well as the placement of all-important keywords in the body of your pages!

7. Manage your web site.
     Now that you are on-line, (congratulations!) you will find that there are tons of people running weird computers and archaeic browsers, and all of them will be writing to you and saying "I can't buy this item", or "I can't see my shopping cart", or whatever. The point is, once your web site is on-line, the fun doesn't stop. Now you are a webmaster and you must deal with the daily problems of managing and maintaining not only the items you sell at your web site, but also the technical parts of the web site itself.

 

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