Sunday, May 15, 2005

Lesson #9 - Creating a custom web site

If you have looked through Lesson #8 and decided that it is time to create a custom web site, then there are two things that you are going to need at the very minimum to get started:
  • A domain name for your site.

  • A template of some sort for your site
We will talk about domain names in more depth in the weeks to come, but in general you should try to think of a word or phrase that describes your business. Obviously, if the name of your business is available as a domain name, it is a good candidate. But many common domain names have already been taken by someone else. Go to this page and use the domain name finder in the bottom right hand corner of the page to see if the domain name you want to use is available or not.

The second thing you need is some sort of site template, or "look", for your web site. You have three options here:
  • Most places like EZ-WEB-HOSTING.COM offer 100 or more site templates that you can use to create your site's initial look.

  • You can hire a web site designer to create the look. To find a web site designer you can look in the Yellow Pages, type "web site designers" into Google or go to a freelancer site like Elance.

  • You can create the site yourself. If you go this route, you will need to learn about HTML and some other related tools. If you have never done it before, I would recommend finding a book or reading tutorials on the web (use Google to find them - there are hundreds) to get started.
Does the "look" of your site matter? Yes and no. If you are creating a content web site, we can all take some solace in DrudgeReport.com. It is an incredibly popular web site but it looks like crap. I would argue that DrudgeReport, like CarefulParents.com, uses an extremely simple look. That helps a lot. As you can see, you can get away with very simple, very plain web site designs and they will not necessarily hurt your site's success.

On the other hand, if you are creating a business brochure site, I would say that a bad design can hurt you. Customers will come to your web site, and if it looks shoddy they will think less highly of your business or your content idea. If you are going to do it yourself, or if you are going to have "your spouse's 16-year-old nephew" do your web site, the one thing that I would ask you to understand is that a bad web site design can hurt you to some extent.

Let me demonstrate this to you. I sat here and I tried to think, "what is the most generic, mundane sort of business web site that I can think of???" What I came up with are dentists. In your community there are dozens of dentists, and they all have web sites. They are all advertising approximately the same services. So I went out and looked at a bunch of dental web sites and I divided them into two groups.

Now I am not saying that either of these groups of web sites are "better" or "worse" than the other. However, I think you will find yourself feeling differently about the two groups of web sites. Compare the first batch to second batch. Imagine what a new patient will feel like arriving at these different web sites:

Group 1:Group 2:The appearance of a web site does make a difference to visitors and/or customers. The web site's design reflects in some way on your professionalism and attention to detail. Keep that in mind as you are creating your own web site.

If you have no idea what sort of look to create for your site, I would go into Google and try to find similar and/or related sites. Find one with a look that you like and use it for inspiration in creating your own site.

32 Comments:

At 9:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Your list of dentist web sites is hilarious. It is a very good demonstration. Several of the group 1 sites are gorgeous and I hate dentists.

 
At 1:52 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

one thing to learn = people's bad teeth do not belong on a home page

 
At 4:17 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

excellent choice of webpages, helped me to think about my future plans

 
At 4:13 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

List one seems to favor "flash" design while list two does not. Is that intentional?
Do you have a personal preference towards flash?
I don't see it utilized on any of your sites.

The feel I got from the list one sites is that they cater to upscale adult clients. If I was a parent looking for a dentist for my kids I would stay away! Of course, I'm sure they don't really want my kids there either.
So I guess the targeted design worked, didn't it?

 
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At 1:26 PM, Anonymous custom website designers said...

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At 11:23 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I want to start a web site but i'm 14 so i will have to wait, my idea will probly be taken when i'm older and probly is already taken thinking about it.I'm going to search the web to see if i can find any sites that are the same as my idea.Great stuff keep it up.

 
At 10:47 PM, Blogger Tau said...

You don't have to wait to make a website just because you are 14. Anyone can make one, and the sooner you starter, the easier it may be because new websites are coming every day. I think you should just do what you want right now, and achieve your dream you wanted soon!

 
At 8:56 AM, Anonymous Pete Williams said...

I'm reading this article over two years after it was written and find it interesting to note that three of the websites in your second group no longer exist - perhaps a sign that they're sub-standard website eventually lost them so much business that they were forced to close?

 
At 9:01 AM, Anonymous Pete Williams said...

Further to your last point about looking at similar websites for design inspiration, I would also say it's a good idea to look at websites on completely different subjects because you may pick up on an idea that none of your competitors have though of, and that can give you a bit of a competitive edge.

PS In my last post I meant to say 'their' not 'they're' - I'm stickler for spelling and can't believe I let that slip by!

 
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i'll be sure to bookmark your blog

 
At 5:27 AM, Blogger Simon said...

SPAM report; the article links to CarefulParents.com which has been taken by spammers. Also the comments on this article are very spammy.

 
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At 9:47 AM, Anonymous computer screen said...

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At 11:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I find it funny cause this blog has been posted a while ago i believe and now group #2 has upgraded their websites that you cannot tell the difference in quality between 1 and 2. lol

 
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At 3:30 AM, Anonymous Flashy Interactive said...

Interesting article on creating your own custom websites. You have a nice selection of sample websites.

 
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