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Thursday, May 04, 2006

Starting an E-Biz - Part 3: Site Design and Content

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Welcome to back to the third instalment in the series of How To Start Your Own E-Business. In this issue, we will be focusing on what I think is the most important aspect if you want to succeed in your new business, the design and content of your website. In Part 1, we talked about Planning Your Business, and in Part 2, we discussed the importance of Choosing a Domain Name and Hosting. Part 3 will show you how you can optimize your design in order to attract more visitors and more sales opportunities.

The first dilemna you may come across when starting your own website, is whether you should hire a designer to do all of your work for you, or whether you should save a bit of money by doing it yourself. In my opinion, I value both options; if you want to save time and want a top notch design within a limited timetable, then it would be better to look for a designer who can do the work for you. Browse various websites, ask for quotes and check out portfolios. Once you are happy with a designer, and have agreed on a price (which can range from £100s to even £1000s for a fully equipped ecommerce site where you will be selling your products), then plan out what you would like the site to achieve, whether it be to gain income from ads or gain sales from your products.

However, if you really want to get to grips with the world of web designing, and have quite a lot of time, and not a very deep pocket (!), then I suggest that you design your site yourself. In order to do this there are a few necessities which you cannot do without:
1) You need to have a decentl computer to be able to handle the amount of information that you're going to be making for your site.
2) You may need to buy in excess of £300 of web-editing software. I will explain this in more detail in a minute.
Most websites are comprised of images, text and maybe videos, but in order to put all of this information together, the computing language of HTML is used. This basically contains a set of instructions to the Internet Browser (eg. MSN Explorer, Mozilla Firefox, or Internet Explorer) telling them how to display all of the information. Anyway, the knowledge of HTML is a must have if you are going to be designing your own site. I advise you check out www.w3schools.com, for detailed tutorials for beginners.
In order to write the HTML you need to have an HTML editor, which is where the mass of software comes into the equation. I have always used and seen Macromedia Dreamweaver as the best of all HTML editors, and think it is comprehensible but yet has a wide variety of tools and options. In order to create those stunning images and logos for your site, I suggest buying Adobe Photoshop, which has always been a leader in image creation. Once you've got all of these programs, its time to get designing.

As I said in Part 1, it is essential that you have planned out a flow diagram showing how your site progresses from the Home Page through to Product Pages and then to Shopping Basket and Credit Card entering. If you don't have one, then you may create a site that has been mashed together without any real purpose.

Start by using Dreamweaver to make a HomePage, a Products Page, an About Page, and a Contact Page. People always want to see who they are dealing with when it comes to buying a product. Then start entering the information on each page, in simple black and white writing with a simple font. Once you have done this then you can start to spruce up your pages with colours and images.
Take pictures of your products and scale them to size in Photoshop, adding any borders that may add to the appeal of the item. Then save each picture in your hosting account and add the HTML to the image source in your HTML editor: www.w3schools.com will help you to code all of your pages. Some words of advice, try not to have any broken backlinks, don't make your site overly colourful, and finally, try not to add so many images that the pages load extremely slowly!
To finish add your shopping cart and some graphics using Photoshop and you raring to go. Upload all of your pages to net and spread the good word!
Please comment if you think I've missed anything out, and good luck with creating your new site. The next article will focus more on Marketing Your New Website.
In the mean time, happy blogtrepreneuring!

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