Creating a Website
Pick a domain name: A domain name is what people type into their browser to get to your website - something like www.mysite.com. Your domain name is how people will find you on the Internet, so you want something that says "you". A couple guidelines:
You can't use a domain name someone else already has. To check if someone has your domain name, go to http://www.networksolutions.com/domain-name-registration/index.jsp, enter the domain name you want and click "search". If it's taken, they will tell you.
If yoursite.com is taken, try variations like yoursite.biz, yoursite.net, or your-site.com.
Type out your domain name and look at it to make sure it doesn't spell something you don't want it to. For example, even if your company is "World Of Art", you may not want to use worldofart.com - something like world-of-art.com would be better!
Register your domain name: This makes you the owner of the domain name you picked. We can help you with this, or you can do it yourself. If you register your own domain name, be sure to pick a reputable registrar. We recommend Network Solutions, but GoDaddy and Register.com are a couple other well-established registrars.
Find a place to host your website: Your host provides a place for your site to "live" on the Internet - a spot where you can put your website's content and other people on the Net will be able to see it. Boreal Access provides website hosting, and using Boreal's hosting services gives us a few more options as to what we can do on your site. Therefore hosting your site with Boreal is recommended, but not required.
Plan your site: The more you can plan out ahead of time, the less time (and money) you will spend with us! Things to think about before you meet with us are:
- What pages should your site have? Ex. home, about us, contact us, shop, etc.
- What text should go on the pages?
- What colors do you like? More importantly, what colors do people associate with your organization?
- What parts of the site (if any) do you need to be able to easily update yourself?
- Do you need special features like a shopping cart or blog?
- Do you have an existing logo or would you like us to create one for you?
Meet with us: We will discuss what you want to do with your site, options we can offer you in design and programming, timelines, costs, etc. Once we're all on the same page we can provide you a cost estimate and start working on your site! Some things you may want to bring to the meeting are:
- Your list of pages or outline from step 4
- Your organization's logo, if any, pamphlets, stationery, etc. This helps us design a site that fits in with your existing organization's image
- Photos you want to use on the site
- Ideas of what you want people to be able to see and do on your site. If you can dream it, there's a good chance we can do it!
We will send you a possible color palette and up to three potential designs for your website. Look them over and pick the design(s) you like best. Give us your honest feedback, and we will adjust the design you choose until it's exactly what you are looking for!
Once you've decided on the design you like, we will start programming your site. As the site progresses we'll provide you with a website address you can use to review the site so you can provide feedback and we can adjust things to your liking.
Once you're happy with the way the website looks and operates, we will make it "live" on the Internet so others can find it and see it. At that point we'll also send you any instructions needed for updating your site, operating your shopping cart or blog, etc.
Congratulations! You are on the web!
Why do I need to hire a designer? Can't I just get the programmer to create the site? You have 3 seconds to grab someone's attention when they come to your web site. Visual appeal is very important to keeping them there. While the programmer can create a basic layout for the site, it's not really his or her area of expertise. Asking the programmer to design your site is kind of like asking your electrician to decorate your living room. Sure, he can tell you where to put the outlets and he's probably seen a lot of other living rooms, but he's still not really the best person to pick your wall colors, window treatments, carpet, etc. In the same way, your programmer can set up menus and pages of text, but to make a really attractive site that stands out from the rest, you need an expert - the designer. Plus your designer can do other things for your organization like creating a logo, brochures, stationery and business cards.
OK, then why do I need a programmer? The designer will create a picture of what your website will look like, but that's all it is - a picture. If you click on a link in the picture you won't go anywhere, because it's not a real link, it's just a picture of a link. If you load the picture to your host's server and go to your site, you won't see the picture because there's no code there to tell the site to display the picture. The programmer is the one who takes the picture the designer created and brings it to life on the Internet. This includes writing code to do things like making the links work, making the text visible to search engines, making animations like slide shows work, allowing people to do things on the site like placing an order, allowing you to update text and pictures, etc.
What if I already have a design and just need a programmer, or if I already have a programmer and just need to get a design created? Do I have to hire you both or can I hire one or the other? While we do our best work together, yes, we can also be hired individually.
You don't get a second chance to make a first impression. Your website is most people's first impression of your organization, so let us help you make it a good one!