15 October 2007

Great Meeting Tonight - Website Tips

Hey all,

Excellent to see all of you there tonight. In the spirit of talking about how important it is to blog here are my notes from tonights meeting. Please also feel free to contact me or leave posts on my other blog http://julzink.blogspot.com/ or email me at juli@the-io-group.com with questions on web design or whatever.

Here are my unedited notes.

Ten Website Tips

  1. Do a website worksheet. This will help you define your site, how you would like it to look, feel, function.
  2. Start a blog. Search engines love them. Update it regularly Blogger, Typepad ($5-$30 a month), Xanga
  3. Get as many people as possible to link to you. Make sure they are legit links
  4. Write articles pertaining to your field and then get others to link to them or post them on your site.
  5. One word google. On the google home page is a link called business solutions.
    Add a google map to your site
    Put your site on Google Maps business listings, Appear on Google Maps for free,
    Visit our Local Business Center to create your business listing. Add hours, photos, coupons and more.
  6. Decide if it is more important to have search engines find you, or have a flashy site, both, or somewhere in between.
  7. My personal taste is to keep it simple. It can have an intricate design, but the navigation needs to be very easy.
  8. When looking for a hosting company, see what they offer and what you can expand into (i.e. a shopping cart, on-line store, e-marketing resources)
  9. Use stock photography when you can. Unless you have a full time photographer at your beck and call, it would be great use of your resources.

Questions from the group
1. I would like to know the least expensive way to make changes to my website without having to bother my designer everytime I want a little change. (And pay her every time for something simple.)

Learn HTML and you can edit in notepad or word pad, or ask for a content management system. It will be more expensive but might be worth it.

2. Could you talk a little about “shopping carts” and how they work? Do you have to stock your own products or do most manufacturers allow you to order directly from them?

This is relative. You do the shipping so you can ship it to them from wherever. Usually I would recommend shipping something off with your own packaging and branding and if it is something you are going to sell quite a bit of I would imagine that you could get a discount on it and stock it yourself.

Depending on what you are looking for in a shopping cart though, are you hoping to run a store complete with inventory and wanting to store your client information for future visits, which also allows for direct specific marketing, or are you looking to sell one product and not very much of it.

Depending on that answer you will also need to interact with a merchant account or use a solution like paypal, but you will pay a certain percentage of each sale regardless.
The different shopping cart solutions out there are paypal which is pretty widely recognized and quite easy to work with. Miva Merchant, osCommerce.

In the end it sounds like Amazon is a great solution. Design the front end so it looks like your store and let Amazon handle the back end.

3. Hi. Our website is a template based site that allows for html "skin" to be altered. we are having a heck of a time getting anyone to do this for less than $6000 to start...a cost we just don't want to incur. any suggestions?

It shouldn't cost $6000 and it can be done through css (cascading style sheets). Come on in and we will talk to you about it.

Once again thanks to all who came tonight.