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October 1, 2007

Tips for Getting Your Website Up and Running Smoothly

Getting a website set up is one of the most basic things any business has to do. You might think that it’s as easy as buying a domain and hiring a tech guy to throw something up there, but that’s not even the tip of the iceberg. With today’s digital society, your website may very well be people’s first introduction to your business, and you don’t want to give them the wrong impression.

Here are a few tips making a smooth entrance online, rather than throwing a page up online for all the world to see.

Look at the competition
You probably looked at the competition in your area before you set up your business. It’s important to see what the market has to offer and understand what sets you apart. Now, it’s time to check out what they’re doing online for the same reasons. See what you like and don’t like about their pages. Compile a list of things you can adapt or do differently for your own site.

Get examples together
They say when you’re decorating a house, you should go through magazines and rip out pictures that you like. It helps you find your style, and gives you something to go from when you’re actually shopping. That’s the same idea with websites. Find sites that have a setup you like, or find examples of designs that you feel would go well with a visual image for your company. Make a portfolio of ideas to show to your web designer, so that they’ll know generally what you’re looking for.

Finding a designer
Chances are you know how to use the Internet, but you’re a little fuzzy on the details about actually putting a web page together and getting it up and running. That’s where a designer comes in. When you’re looking for a web designer, ask for a portfolio or examples of previous work and make sure they mesh with your company image. If you want a mature look for your site, don’t hire somebody who primarily has a cartoony feel in their previous work.

Also, listen to designers when they make suggestions regarding the website. They’re familiar with what looks good and what will register well with customers, so lend an ear to their input.

Keep your feel consistent
All your marketing materials, from your website and blog to your ads and business cards, should have a similar feel. You don’t want to send mixed messages with your company, so keep a consistent design in mind when you’re developing your materials.

Developing content
You can’t have a website without something to put on it, right? The content you put up can include pictures, audio, video and keyword-rich copy. A mission statement and “about us” page are always good ideas, as well as a searchable list of products you offer, or a detailed list of services.

Make sure somebody goes over your written copy with a fine-toothed comb to ensure that the spelling, punctuation and grammar rules that you haven’t thought about since grade school are followed.

This is just a brief overview of things you need to consider before you start designing your website, but they’re all important. You want to give the right first impression with your site, so take the time to make sure it’s top-notch.

Author:  President and founder of Xeal Inc., Tony D. Baker is Oklahoma’s leading Internet marketing expert with more than 10 years of Internet marketing experience. You can catch Tony on the Xeal Radio Show on Sunday nights on 1170 KFAQ Tulsa. Sign up for a free 25-point website evaluation and pick up crucial tips at Xeal’s free Thursday webinar at http://www.xeal.com/webinar

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