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 Updated: 9/26/2009
Do You Need a Website?

A professionally designed website serves several purposes. For a business, it:
  • provides information to customers and vendors about who you are, what you do, and where you are (services, background, customers, location(s)/directions, contact information, etc.)
  • creates trust by letting others know something about you
  • provides legitimacy by showing you know your business
  • provides an area for feedback so customers can tell you how you're doing

A personal, family, or special-interest website can:
  • keep track of family news
  • show off family photos
  • publish a calendar of events
  • keep track of names and addresses
  • talk about interests and activities
  • provide a place for sharing comments

Everybody's Doing It



Everybody seems to be getting a website these days. But if you're like many people, the process can be intimidating. There's so much to know! How do you get started? What does it cost? Do you have to hire a web developer or contract with a company to do it for you? What are the steps involved? What about updates and maintenance? Is it worth it?

It helps to work with someone who has some expertise in doing this. And "this," to me, is more than just getting some web pages set up. There is really a whole process involved here a process of deciding what you want to say, how to structure the content, how to write the content, and how to make it look. You will end up doing all of this during your website project. If you include someone who can help with all of these steps, the project can go quickly and painlessly. If you don't, it can turn into the never-ending project that never achieves what you hoped for it.

As a professional writer who develops websites, I can advise and help you create not only the look but also the content for your site. Many services set up websites but have to involve another person to write or edit the content. With me on the project, you get both capabilities.

I can help with:
  • Website Planning
  • Navigation Structure
  • Content Development
  • Site Setup on Altuit's Hemingway Server Solution
  • On-going Site Changes and Maintenance

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Click HERE to view a one-page summary document.

Purpose

The first step is to determine what you want to do with the website what you expect to achieve with it. Knowing this will help you focus your efforts, from deciding what information to include to how you want the site to look.

This doesn't have to be complicated. It's often just a phrase like, "increase traffic to our store," or "provide customers the information they need to use our products better," or "increase business!"

What's important is that once you have defined the purpose, you should look at everything you put on the site to see how it relates to that purpose.

You may decide, once you look at the information you want to include, that you should change your purpose, and that's OK. At least start with a specific idea so you'll be able to judge if you've been successful in achieving it.

Navigation

Determining how you want navigation to work on your site is important information for the website designer. This is really nothing more than deciding the answers to these questions:
  • What are the major categories of information?
  • How many mouse clicks will it take for someone to reach the information they need?
  • How many overall pages will there be?
While knowing these things is important for the designer, it is also important for the next stage — content development.

Content

Once you have defined the major categories of information, you can begin to put together the actual content. This will probably be a mixture of pictures and text. It is the content that determines whether or not your website fulfills the purpose you defined for it.

If you find this portion of the project intimidating, I can help! This is one of the advantages of having a website developer who is also a writer. We can work together to develop words and pictures that tell your story, and I can provide the editing skills necessary to ensure that the content is something you can be proud of.

Design

Remember that your website represents you to the whole wide world. More people will probably see your website than will ever see you or your business. And people will form an impression of you from your website — how it looks, how it's organized, what it says.

This is why the design, the look, is so important. It's the first impression people have of you.

I use Altuit's Hemingway web development solution to create and manage websites. It has professionally designed templates, and custom design services are available.

The advantage with using the existing templates is that they have all been tested on many different browsers at different resolutions and found to work well on all of them.

And these templates can be modified by changing certain styles. You can modify background and text colors, you can add images, you can do a lot of things!

Hemingway increases your options for updating a site, too, because I can set it up so no knowledge of the Hemingway interface or of HTML is necessary to replace certain sections of the website. This means you can modify certain portions yourself, and quickly, too! This can reduce your monthly site maintenance costs.

Maintenance

Your website won't stay the same forever. One of the wonderful things about the World Wide Web is that information there can always be current. It's much easier to change than ads in magazines, printed flyers, or other kinds of written information.

If visitors to your site find old information there, they'll be less likely to come back. That probably means you haven't fulfilled the purpose you had in mind when you set up the site. Therefore, it's important to have a plan for keeping the information on the site updated.

I can help with this in several ways.
  • Monthly fee for agreed-upon levels of updates/maintenance If you estimate that updates will take about X hours a month, we agree on a fee. All work that takes up to that X hours is included in the fee. This fee also includes periodic reviews of every page and a check of every link on your site. It also includes a monthly web-statistics report.


  • Hourly fee for updates that exceed the monthly level If you decide on a minimum monthly support level because you want to do the updates yourself, but at some time find you need more extensive changes than you want to tackle, I charge an hourly fee for doing the work.


  • Set-up to provide access to portions of the site that you can maintain yourself If there are portions of the site that you know will change frequently and you want to make these changes yourself, I can set up "wizards" that enable you to do this without knowing anything about the Hemingway interface or anything about HTML.


  • Training in Hemingway's interface so you can maintain the site yourself Most business owners would rather spend time doing the things that are necessary to run the business, but if you're a closet web designer and want to be able to make changes directly, I can train you on what you need to know to manage the site yourself.

Web Hosting and Domain Name

If you have already purchased a domain name (the name by which people can find you on the web), Altuit can help you get this name aliased to their servers. This way, when someone types in www.YourSite.com, they will see YourSite.

However, not all services that host your name are the same some make it hard, or expensive, to do the aliasing. So if you have not selected your domain name yet, Altuit can tell you that it has had good experience with how www.register.com, www.directnic.com, and www.tucows.com manage their domain name servers. All are quite inexpensive.

Costs

Website Development covers everything from helping you plan what you want to put on a website to writing content for you, all the way to designing and maintaining the site's pages.

I use Altuit's Hemingway Server Solution to design pages. I can create them for you or train you to use the application yourself. I can design the pages and them turn them over to you to maintain (no HTML knowledge necessary), or I can do updates for you as required.

If you don't want to keep an expert on staff or take time away from running your business to design and maintain your website, I can provide this service for a very reasonable fee. (See the Maintenance section above.)

Design fees start as low as $500 for a simple project with just a page or two and $50 a month for maintenance. Let's talk about your project!



copyright 2003 Sher Orpen. All rights reserved.

Technology by: Altuit, Inc.