What do I need to build a Web page?

First, you must have most or all of the information you want to appear on your page. While I will assist you in finding images to use on your site and offer input on its content, it is up to you to supply as many pictures as you can, as well as provide the text to appear on the pages on a Word document, or simply as part of an email. Working on a Web page is a two-way street, and while it is my job to build and design the page, it is equally important that you assist in the process. You wouldn’t hire an architect to design a house and not give any input, would you? Typically, a strong paragraph describing what you offer should open the site. Use keywords that you would look for if searching for a site on any of the search engines. An “about us” page to get into more detail is also suggested. Here, you can discuss the finer points (philosophies, strategies, biographical history, etc.). If you are selling products, please have all prices, product descriptions, and shipping information ready. If you have any images that you’d like on your Web site, please have those ready as well. I can also find stock images for your site.

Some other suggestions, in case you want a Web site but don’t know what you’d like on it:

Write down any catch phrases or slogans, whether on a legal pad or a cocktail napkin — it doesn’t matter. (However, please provide longer text as a Word document, or as part of an email. A rough draft on paper, while sounding primitive, is often the best way to brainstorm ideas.

Look at other Web sites you like, and figure out what qualities catch your eye.

Select some images you think best represent what you have to offer, and write captions for each photograph.

I personally do not suggest counters whose statistics are visible to others. It will take time for visitors to reach your site at first, and a Web site with a low hit count may come across as “unpopular” and thus, no good — much like the restaurant that is always empty.

Also, if you have not secured a domain name (www.domainname.com), it is highly recommended that you do so at this time. While there are numerous Web sites that offer free web pages, they will most likely have long, complicated URL addresses, plus they will contain advertising. Your own domain name is much easier to remember by your customers and find by Web users, plus it adds a personal touch to your site.

How much does it cost to build a Web site?

It depends greatly. It’s not so much the number of pages, it’s what inside the pages. For example, will you have a lot of photos or a few? Do you want feedback forms? Will you have a shopping cart? These are all factors that play a role in the bottom line.

What do I do after I select a domain name?

Next you will need Web hosting. Web Hosting is like the billboard that you rent from a company; it is where your site will sit online. Either you can use another company or I will offer hosting (for a comparable price, and depending the company you use, maybe my hosting is better.)How do I promote my Web site?

Depending on your advertising budget, promoting a Web site can either be done through pay-per-click (Google Adwords, for example); traditional advertising (newspaper or magazine), or through online reciprocal links with other Web sites that may compliment yours. Submitting your site to the various search engines on the Web will also help get your Web site indexed.

There are many ways to promote your site, and just like a brick-and-mortar company, simply being listed in a directory is not enough. But always remember: you get what you put into your Web site.

Do you maintain and update the sites you create?

Yes I do. Many of my clients return to me on a regular basis for updates to their sites. Typically, I will make whatever changes you request within 24 hours during regular business hours (EST). My rate is our hourly fee, broken down into 15 minutes’ worth of billable time. Fifteen minutes may not sound like a lot, but I can make minor changes (add/change text or photos) in that time.

How do I Get to Top 10 on Google?

While there is no silver bullet, there are many factors involved. Among them: the site’s layout, text content, metatags, ingoing and outgoing links, and others. While I always optimize my sites, it is an ongoing process, and it takes time. So don’t get discouraged if your site does not appear on Google immediately.

Many clients of mine who have Web sites are always getting emails from companies that promise top-10 positions on Google/Yahoo/etc. (Once a domain is registered, their owner’s email address often becomes public record, and these companies solicit their services.) But the reality is that no one but the search engines can control how your site will be ranked. Or, you can pay-per-click advertise. And then, your site’s position will depend solely on much you bid vs. how much your competition is bidding for a particular search phrase. Higher bids mean higher positions. In short: Don’t expect to simply create a page, and get to No. 1 without tweaks and changes.

Why does it cost money to do what Facebook allows for free?

That’s a common question. Sure, there are many Web sites out there that allow users to post photos, blogs, or do a multitude of things. But what most people don’t realize is that these companies made a hefty investment to allow users to do these tasks. (No, these sites have actual humans working in an office; these features of theirs don’t “just happen.”) While photo galleries, message boards and blogging features won’t break the bank by any means, they require more time, and money. So expect an extra few hundreds (not thousands, in most cases) for these features. And, no, a Facebook page is not a Web page.

Can’t I build my own Web site?

While many companies offer “build-your-own-Web site” features, most only allow users to create sites using a limited number of templates, which affects layout possibilities. Plus, let’s face it, many people just don’t have the time to update their Web sites, or to learn basic Web design skills. While using these types of Web services are fine — for the most part — for personal Web sites, I don’t recommend using them to create a professional online presence.

Well, my nephew/next-door neighbor’s son/daughter…

…and we’re sure he/she can answer the phone, too. The point: just because they can do it doesn’t mean you want them to.