Designing Your Web Page - The Basics

Written by Carter McNamara, MBA, PhD This presentation is located at http://managementhelp.org/misc/np_web.htm
in the Free Management Library at http://managementhelp.org

Sections of This Topic Include

· Preparation
· Naming Your Website
· Why Websites Fail
· Simple Guidelines About Page Format
· Simple Guidelines About Page Content
· Simple Guidelines About Promoting Your Site
· Useful Web Addresses About Web Basics


Designing Your Web Page -- Preparation

· Your Web page is a communications tool -- it is not a product by itself
· Therefore, plans to build a good Web page should be part of planning for client services
· Websites are easy to build -- challenge is making it logical and simple to follow
· First ask yourself some basic Web-planning questions:
1. What do you want to accomplish?
- Getting word out? (information-oriented, with “contact us” so they can e-mail you)
- Build mailing lists, etc.? (they provide information to you)
- Building relationships? (interactive between you and Web page reader)
- Earned income over the Internet? (e.g., selling books, “e-commerce”)
- A specific interface to specific services?

2. Who is your intended audience?
- “What is my reader trying to solve?”

3. Where will you get the necessary expertise?
- Designing / drawing the page
- Technically programming the page
(this is not as hard as it used to be --
use “home made” home pages)

4. Who will conduct client services?
- Updating information on the page, etc.
- Answering e-mail messages, etc.
- Testing for broken links

Naming Your Website

Pick a name (up to 24 characters?)

· Think long-term when picking a name
· Name should be descriptive of your organization’s overall services
· Pick a name that’s easy to type in ...
· To register a name, go to http://www.networksolutions.com/ -- that site will tell you if the name currently exists or not
· If you pick a name that substantially resembles someone else’s, they may sue you and have you remove the name

Suffixes

· ".com" identifies user as commercial entity
· “org" for non-commercial entities,
· "gov" for governmental bodies
· ".edu" for educational institutions, and
· ".net" for network services
· if outside the United States is usually an abbreviation for the user’s country

Why Websites Fail

· The following is based on the work of Michael Gilbert, editor of the “Nonprofit Online News”
· He identifies five types of problems that Websites have
1. Upside Down Site -- content is good but is buried under an impenetrable hierarchy
2. Dead Website -- it’s never updated. A variation is the Dead on the Outside
---- is updated, but you’d never know it
3. Disconnected Website -- all the communication is one way, from the page to you
4. Cool Website -- “Las Vegas” effect -- so enamored with technology, it says nothing
5. Stingy Website -- gives nothing of value
All of these problems are caused by focusing on the Website as a product rather than means of client services

Simple Guidelines About Page Format

· Visit many Websites -- pick which ones you like and think about why you like them
· Pay attention to their coloring scheme, placement of text and images
· Have short, simple pages
· Be consistent with images, colors and formatting of text
· Be careful (avoid?) use of scrolling text and images, and blinking images
· Be careful (avoid?) background images
· Try get all images or text on a page to fit in one screen
· Don’t overdue frames and graphics!
· Try put conclusions at the top of the page
· Have link to home page on every page
· Remember that diverse clients, countries, etc. are reading your Web page
· Always tell visitors how to contact you
· Consider a “site map” - this tells users about the overall arrangement of all of your pages
· Consider a “table of contents” or header at the top of each page
· Test your page with several browsers, e.g., Netscape, Internet Explorer, American Online and CompuServe -- try a laptop, too
- Do color, images and text appear as you
preferred?
- How long does it take to download your
page -- if more than five seconds, too long?
· Update your site regularly with new information -- announce updates
· Avoid “Under Construction”!
· Have someone review your site for you -- they get lost? any confusion?

Simple Guidelines About Page Content

Here are Some Emerging Criteria for Evaluating Web Page Information:
1. Accuracy? - is the information really
believable?
2. Authority? - sound hollow? half-hearted?
3. Objectivity? - too much hype?
4. Current? - if anything is out of date, it all is
5. Coverage? - mention all of your services?

Think about your clients -- how do they speak? what do they value? what would they want from your page? Write to that audience ...

Design for disabled client? large fonts, minimal scrolling and clicking ...

Simple Guidelines About Promoting Your Site

· Announce your site to various search engines and directories
- “SubmitIt!” at http://submit-it.com/
- “Postmaster2” at http://www.NetCreations.com/postmaster/registration/try.html
· Monitor your traffic -- find out how many “hits” you’re getting per week
· Consider link relationships with other sites -- you link to them, they link to you
· Use signature files -- mention your Website at the end of your e-mail messages
· Join online newsgroups and participate -- your signature files is spread all over
· Put your URL on all of your letterhead, invoices, business cards, etc.
· Consider issuing a free newsletter (watch copyright terms, etc.)



USEFUL WEB ADDRESSES ABOUT “WEB BASICS”
These addresses are in the web page Computers, Internet and Web
located in the Free Management Library

GETTING CONNECTED TO THE INTERNET
ComputerCurrents Advisor
Set Up Computer Networks and Connections
Getting Connected With ISPs

BASICS ABOUT THE WEB AND BROWSERS
http://www.learnthenet.com/english/html/12browser.htm
http://www.distant-star.com/issue9/jan_99_feat_web_and_net.htm
http://www.boutell.com/faq/oldfaq/index.html

DESIGNING AND EVALUATING A WEB SITE
http://www.gilbert.org/news/features/feature0014.html
http://www.useit.com/alertbox/
http://www.sun.com/styleguide/
http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/contents.html
http://www.tsbj.com/editorial/02070508.htm
http://www2.widener.edu/Wolfgram-Memorial-Library/webeval.htm
http://info.med.yale.edu/caim/manual/
http://www.killersites.com

HIRING SOMEONE DESIGN YOUR WEB SITE
http://managementhelp.org/staffing/consulting.htm

GUIDE TO THE WEB AND MANAGING YOUR SITE
http://www.cs.umsl.edu/~sanjiv/xu_proj/webmanage.html

PROMOTING A WEB SITE
http://www.promotingyoursite.com/
http://www.wilsonweb.com/articles/checklist.htm

ADDITIONAL MISCELLANEOUS INFORMATION
http://www.coyotecom.com/tips.html
http://www.metronet.lib.mn.us/libpage/links.htm


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