Where is your website going?

(A few thoughts from a different source.)

All about web, multimedia and graphic design.

 

Astoundingly enough, there are still ways of getting on line without a budget.


Granted it is not as professional as the real thing - but not having a website at all these days is decidedly amateurish, so the following options are way better than nothing. 

Plus there is the issue that plenty of so called professionals look pretty bland/sameish/frankly awful and perform accordingly. 

 

In truth there are very few reasons for actually needing professional services other than SEO and as Google gets increasingly clever the only SEO technique that really works with any degree of reliability is "give Google money" and you can probably do that on your own.

 

I am convinced that the major offering from any webmaster should be to realise your design goals faster and more painlessly that you would (probably) be able to do if left to your own devices.  It's your site, your clients and your business and accordingly you probably know best.  Granted artistic and technical issues can be stumbling blocks for the newbie designer - huge images that slow things down, difficult to read colour choices or poorly written copy are all major setbacks - yet I would suggest your enthusiasm and presence  shines through a clean, basic design more powerfully than through a one-size-fits-all clone of a site that offers (perhaps) a tad more polish technically.

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Free Websites?  It's possible.

 

Certainly your own offering will be more convincing if you spend the time and trouble building it with thought and care rather than something thrown together in a few hours by someone who has no interest in your business other than your ability to pay their inflated bill.

 

So - on to the basics.

A website is made of three parts - the name (your URL such as englesos.net), the hosting where your content physically lives and the content itself, the website.
Free hosting and website building tools are on offer from Tripod (http://www.tripod.lycos.com)  although this organisation sells paid-for packages it is most likely their intention to whet your appetite in order to get you to sign up for something they can make a profit on. Accordingly expect a few items to be missing from your free option list.


Names on such free services look decidedly odd - http://membername.tripod.com is an example where the "membername" is your Tripod username. And here we run into an issue to be aware of.


Arguably you could use such free services to create an anonymous and untraceable website for questionable business practices. Certainly anyone trading from a Yahoo!, Hotmail or Google e-mail address does not inspire confidence in their use of untraceable e-mail accounts.
For sure I will not be sending you any money any time soon! However, I might visit your shop or drop by your restaurant though if I like the look of your products.

 

Another issue is that the "free" hosting is paid for by advertising banners placed on your site and/or pop up adverts. See an example here and note the address while you are there :-)
It gets the job done but impressive it isn't......unless your content is.

Naming Names

 

An alternative to these cumbersome addresses is available here - http://www.go.to


 This is a Redirection service that, once again, pays for itself with an advertising banner buywill allow you to offer customers an easier to remember name such as http://www.go.to/englesos.  Note that the formation of the address is not the typical .com or .net ending so I would suggest writing it down for the viewing public rather than just telling them.  Having said that, I have a client to routinely refers to his website as "thename.org.com" so possibly this should apply to all names anyway  :-)
 

A newer alternative to all this is GoDaddy - a very popular registrar for domain names that offers a bunch of freebies with any new name that you buy through them.  Details here, but basically it gets you a free e-mail address and a five page DIY website (at time of writing)  together with a few other very nice but not exactly essential goodies.  Note that advertising will be involved here and there.

 

Online empire it isn't - but you get past issues with bizzare names and when the time comes for you to upgrade to something more ambitious you are already half way there.  You have your name and its out there working for you.
 

KISS

 

A final word of advice, three words actually.  Keep it simple.


Nothing looks more amateurish than blinking cats that say "You are visitor number 00017 - free counters from Web-dorks" and weather reports for your home town and biorhythms and cutesy little cursor trails and flickery Flash banners and all the rest of the free content beloved of those who still think such a deluge of relevance-free embellishment spiced with bewilderingly pointless data attracts a deluge of visitors.  Actually it will annoy a deluge of visitors assuming they ever show up.
Resist the urge to do things just because you can, or if the urge is irresistible make a second site, a personal site rather than a business site, and do whatever pleases you best.  It's your own personal page - nothing to do with your business - so if you think its cool then it is, because yours is the final word. 
If you dislike my personal page that much - feel free to avoid it.
 
Amateur and simple are two totally different concepts, and bearing in mind the surprising amount of "professionals" who have no real clue as to what they are trying to achieve on-line - why should you make any more of a mess than they do of getting your own message across?  They will just do it wrong way more elegantly and much more expensively - but you will end up with your website firing blanks at the end of the day none the less. 
Plus, for certain what you learn whilst DIYing will help you firm up your ideas for when there is a budget available and/or you get the chance to talk to someone like me  :-).
 
PS Re DIY - This article is all the advice I have to offer - don't ask for more because there isn't any.  However,  I wish you all the best and send me a link to your site if it all turns out well.
 
Englesos :-)

The Basics