Building Your First Website
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If this is your first website right now you are probably on data overload or, frozen stiff, not knowing what to do next. This article will guide you thru the maze of the most common concerns that trouble all first-time online ventures.

From what kind of site you need, to how to promote your new site, this article has it all. Simplified, your goal is to get online and start generating income, yet more daunting, is the information you will need to gather to determine a budget that will lead to a successful rollout.

What you sell, how you sell it, the amount of competition you have, your popularity in social media and the quality of your message will ultimately determine if your new website will succeed.

Nine Steps to a Successful Website

01 - What Are You Selling?

Targeting The Right Audience
step-1 what are you selling

What you sell and how you will sell it determines the kind of web design you need. If you cater to a certain demographic, knowing who is in that demographic helps your designer target that group with key words and phrases that ring a bell with the target audience.

Your audience determines the web design category that best fits your business model. Listed below are the most common categories .

Choosing the Right Web Design Category

  •   Business - Products and Services
  •   Portfolio - Artists and Photography
  •   Shopping Cart - Selling Online
  •   News & Sports - Targeted Demographics
  •   Social Media - User Interaction
  •   Multimedia - Video Based Information
  •   Private Portal- Non-Public Information Services
  •   Non-Profit / Fund Raising

Business or corporate websites are typically static, stand-alone, FYI informational pages that require little to no interaction other than scrolling your content and answering the questions the viewer is looking for. While your basic content informs the viewer about services or products you sell, you want to interlace "Calls to Actions" using pricing or incentives to call or email for more answers.

Portfolio sites tend to be niche sites, often black toned to showcase images that present the best the an Artist and Photographer has to offer.

Shopping Carts, are for selling products or services online. Not all web design agencies cater to every shopping cart there is.

Some of the more popular carts are: Magento, Prestashop, Big Commerce, Shopify, Squarespace, WOO Commerce and others, or, on a smaller scale using Buy Now Buttons linked to PayPal, Apple Pay, Google Pay and others. Read More

News & Sports. There is a reason that most sites like News or Sports sites look alike. This is because back when one of the popular News sites designed a site that got favorable feedback on the data, look and feel it earned a page 1 ranking from Google.

Since Google crawls all sites looking at verbiage pertinent to the search phrases to determine an earned rank, it was a no-brainer to mimic what the site on page 1 was doing and try to do it better. This is why sites like these look alike.

Social Media sites are all the rage. So if this is the industry you want to target make sure there is room for what your social site has to offer and exactly who your competition is. Its a very crowded niche market.

Likewise, Multimedia sites like YouTube, Instagram and other video streaming sites are able to push their products by VPS Hosting (victual private server).

Private portal sites are 100% custom built and are only limited by the amount of data you want to make available to the client and what coding language your private portal APP is written in.

Knowing where you fit in the list of design categories helps your designer gather, verbiage, images and other data that are unique to your industry. It will do them no good to to waste time developing a website that sells Clothing when your business is Plumbing. 

02 - Research Your Competition

Knowing Your Competition is to Knowing What to Do
step 2 research competition

Research, Research and Research. Knowing your competition is an all-hands-on-deck search for answers to questions like, how many pages will i need? How much content? what king of images?

You will learn from your competition how to target the same customers they are. If several competitors are showcasing their popular products and services and you too, will sell similar products, you need to pay special attention to how these pages look.

 Example: Your a plumber and you want to get online to increase your business. To get the most accurate listing, you have to isolate exactly where you fit in as a plumbing company. If you are a residential plumber, researching a commercial plumbing website wont give accurate competitive data because of the differences between the two clientele.

If your business is residential plumbing and repair, you isolate your results by searching for "Residential Plumbers in San Antonio" or "San Antonio Home Plumbing Repairs". These search results should display several pages of both Organic and Paid listings. For now, research each company on the first few pages and review in detail.

 The quality of this content is why they are on pages 1, 2 or 3 of the search results. Find whose site fits your visual expectation and tell your designer "This is what I want to look like".

Remember, mimicry is the most sincere form of flattery. If it works for your competitors it will work for you.

03 - Choosing Domain Names

One Long, One Short
step 3 choosing domain names

What is a Domain Name?

There are two parts to a domain name; the actual words that make up (ABC Plumbhing) the name your are trying to use and, .COM, the Top-Level-Domain (TLD). Top-level domain (TLD) refers to the last segment of a domain name, or the part that follows immediately after the "dot" character. The most common TLD's - Commercial businesses; .org - Organizations (generally charitable and 501c); .net - Network organizations; .gov - U.S. government agencies; .mil - Military and .edu - Educational facilities like universities.

How Do I Find the Right Domain Name?

What is a domain name? Its the name you tell people to type in to a browser to find you on the web. Think of a domain name as your internet phone number, as long as you make it clear what the name is, your customers will find the right place when they type it in. In printed form, your customers can easily see what the name is and type it in correctly. The concern is when you are having a phone conversation and you're asked what your domain name is or email address is and you tell them phonetically, but what people hear phonetically isn't always the way you spelled it.

Don't Fall Into these Domain Name Traps

The .com dilemma. If you think about your browsing habits you will realize that the vast majority of websites you go to end in .COM. .COM websites are predominantly used in North America, which means that no matter how many times you might tell a customer that your domain ends in .net for example, they will instinctively think they heard .com at the end of it. The result is them never finding your website. Main rule, try as hard as you can to find a name that works that is available as a .com to cut down on this confusion.

The long domain name trap, lets say your company name is ABC Plumbing and Heating, llc and you just happen to like the domain name So imagine a phone call with a potential client and they want your domain name to check you out. They have to type in 28 characters into their browser to go to your website. If they make one typo you may have lost them.

The business card dilemma. All business cards are approx. 3.5" X 2" in width, with 1" allocated to the logo, that leaves 1" to squeeze in your contact data. You like the email format of "first Name.Last Name"@ domain name. So, on your new business card your trying to fit the email address without it wrapping, such as: Good luck with that one.

Plus, when they send you an email they enter over 45 characters with no mistakes and then press send. bottom-line, spend the extra few dollars and buy a name like, 12 characters with an email at 19 characters. Fewer letters means fewer mistakes.

04 - Picking Your Designer & Hosting

Not All Designers Care About Your Online Success
step 4 picking a designer

The first thing you have know is that not all designers offer identical services and web development on all platforms. Remember in Step 1 we talked about whether your website would be a static informational only site, sell products via a shopping cart or any of the other platforms we talked about. More importantly, not all website designers care about the effectiveness of your website. Their goal is to develop a site that meets these criteria; the fonts, colors, verbiage and images you wanted and then move on to other clients on their waiting list.

Whether this is your first website or you're redoing an existing site in order to be more competitive what you are looking for is a internet marking expert, like DVMARK. A good web design agency wants an ongoing partnership and will take the time to understand your business so that the content is maximized to attract your target audience. Internet marketing specialists that want to establish a long-lasting partnership and care about how effective your site is and will work with you to make sure you are always putting your best foot forward.

How to Find A Marketing Expert? Ask These Questions

  •    How Long Have They Been in Business?
  •    Do They Have Referrals?
  •    Do They Have a Sizable Portfolio?
  •    Do they Offer an SEO package?
  •    Do They Offer or Recommend Hosting?
  •    Do They Offer Design and Hosting Support?
  •    Do They Help With Social Media?
  •    Can They Help With Corporate Branding?

All designers you speak to will have a preference as to how they would code your website and where they would like you to host it. Web Design Agencies will typically have several designers that are skilled in the most popular coding technologies. If you feel comfortable with your designer, how your site is coded wont matter as long as it generates income and that the coding used follows a set standard where any other skilled professional can pick up where your first designer left off.

Satisfactory answers to these concerns will go a long way in determining who is qualified to take you and your company to the next level of competition. Talk to their referrals and ask them if they would use this designer again. It is very common in the internet world that your domain name might be registered with one provider but your website and email may be with another provider. Ask your designer what they recommend.

05 -What is Image Branding?

Tell Customers Who Your Are Using Colors, Fonts & Images
step 5 branding

If this is a new company start-up and its your first website, you will want to create a brand. A brand is how you want to look to potential customers. A brand is made up of several decisions such as: what is the name of your company? Will the name we use in our logo be same as the company name? What colors, font styles, font sizes and images do we want to use. Once you have the answers every piece of marketing material, whether its printed on paper, a poster, a billboard, vehicle wrap or a new website will use the same, logo, color, font, images etc. This is called brand identity.

Many web design agencies also produce this material and design logos. A logo is the start of your corporate identity branding campaign. Corporate identity logos don't have be flashy and multi-colored in order to achieve a lasting impression for the viewer. Just consider, IBM, AT&T, Nike and Coca-Cola to see the effectiveness of brand identity.

Building a corporate brand consist of several design techniques that morph together to become a consistent look-and-feel of who you are and should be applied as a standard in every piece of marketing material you design. The colors, fonts, styles and theme used in your website should be used in brochures and print related marketing material.

However, your logo is designed, it should be unique, it show tell the reader who you are and what you do. Likewise, a well-designed product logo helps enhance the popularity of your products which increases sales. And, its the focal point for the colors and font styles used in developing the your website theme.

What Do You Want Your Company To Look Like?

  •    What Colors Do You Like
  •    What Fonts Styles? (See Google Webfonts Here)
  •    Images? Your Own or Stock Photos?
  •    Do Your Need a Logo?

A Few Logos We've designed for Our Clients

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client logos

06 - What's Your Message?

Content is king. Visitors May Not Read Every Word, But Search Engines Will!
step 5 branding

While content is required to fill white space on a webpage it will have little effectiveness to the reader if its just fluff. Its OK to make the same general statements found on most web pages about exceptional customers service and lowest prices but the content also needs to be laced with highlighted headings, bullet points and keywords; "rich verbiage in order to be effective as far as Google is concerned". Good content includes:

Keyword Headings

Keyword Rich headings and titles tell Google the importance of the page

Bullet Points

Visitors tend to focus on bullet points, be detailed, specific and brief.

Details & Specifics

Paragraphs need to be readable, web savvy and interesting. Try to educate the reader.

Matched Content

Match the verbiage of your competitors sites but DO NOT plagiarize.

A good starting point for developing content for your Home, Products and Services Pages is 2 to 3 paragraphs and a good mixture of bullet points per page. It is difficult to plagiarize bullet points bullets refer to specifics that each business in the same genre would use. Paragraph text however, must be unique to you.

07 - Do I Need Social Media?

Gain Rank Position With Popularity
step 7 social media

No doubt the online marketplace is deeply intertwined with social media. Do you need to be involved with social media to have online success, if you can devote the time to it, yes. There are many social sites available and they all offer a unique purpose to why they are used and how popular they are. You can't beat the market share of social giants like, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and others and what they offer in the methods they use to provide a marketing venue to get your word out and boost the popularity of your site and your products or services.

Just look at the exponential benefit of just getting one client to like you on Facebook. While they are just one person, if they like your site using their Facebook account and they have 200 followers, all 200 got sent the same like. Imagine hundreds of people with 1000's of followers liking your site what that can do to boost your business awareness.

But where Facebook might work for some, other social vendors, like YouTube are the answer. Don't underestimate the power of video in marketing your business. By creating your own YouTube channel and populating it with videos on how to use your products or services will drive search engines wild with excitement about your business. It's methods like this that can move you to the top ranking position and keep you there.

The downside to this popularity is the manpower it takes to keep these sites up-to-date. Posting new items and answering requests can by a full-time job for popular social media pages. The upside is the payoff. A good Internet marketing company can help you pinpoint which social sites offer the greatest potential for boosting your business. And very often its more than just one vendor.

08 - What is Search Optimization?

Where the Rubber Meets the Road
step 8 seo

You have heard the phrase "You Get What You Pay For". If no SEO was conducted on your website then what you paid for wont get you the results you expected. For your website to compete and generate income, some basic search optimization needs to be conducted in order to have a chance at a page-one ranking.

SEO is a service that a good web design agency will offer as part of your design costs. SEO is typically something that as the site owner you aren't involved in implementing, but you are deeply involved with how it effects your rank position. All search engines such as Google, Bing, Yahoo and others, use what are called spiders to crawl your website and in doing so evaluate your content to determine where in the search results your site will first appear. When your new site goes live, your position may be well down the ranking pages. The initial ranking is based on several factors; how well optimized your content is; the uniqueness of your TITLE and HEADING Tags are; you popularity in social media, assuming you were on Facebook before you had a website, and how competitive your market is based on city size and location.

It takes the search engines anywhere from 30 - 120 days to determine where they feel you should rank among your competition. Assuming that your designer was good at meeting the basic search engine requirements should result in a favorable position. Remember, that the reason you see your competition on page one is because of the quality of their content, their popularity in social media, how well their content is optimized. To be placed with them on page one you'll have to meet the same criteria. bottom line is the more poorly your site is optimized results in a poor rank position.

With that said, having a good rank position is no guaranty for success. Good optimization puts you in the ballpark to compete but you cant just rely on a well-designed and well-optimized site to deliver immediate success. You will want to be proactive using techniques that are basically free to implement that can drive customers to your website. These techniques include; placing documents that enhance your product or service on a web page and then direct clients over a phone call or email campaign to visit that page to get the information; In you shipping boxes, email footers and print material, encourage people to see you online at your domain name, or Please Like Us on Facebook; Create abbreviated trifolds or brochures and direct the reader to see more online. There are many other techniques that we will cover here: Marketing Material

09 - Promote Your Business

Shouting Out, "We're Right Here"
step 9 promote your business

This, by far, is the most important step you will need to research and implement if your new website is going to produce results and generate income. If you think that having been search optimized and published live and now you can sit back and watch while Search Engines do their thing, you are overlooking the most obvious technique you need to master. You have to find the most cost effective ways to tell your potential clients "Hello, We're Here!".

Your new website is only going to succeed depending on how aggressive you are in telling potential clients where to find you online. Certainly your site should help people looking for the same products and services you offer by clicking on your link in the list of competitors. But in doing only that you are not taking advantage of your biggest group of untapped website visitors, your existing client base. All the search engine use the same criteria in determine how to rank your site against your competition and one of them is the number of times people land on your website and what pages they go to most often.

Potential clients whined up on your website and internal pages by; one, clicking your website in a generic search for products and services you have listed on your site; two, by following links to your site from marketing material and; three, existing clients going to your site to purchase again or access on needed information. But there are many ways to tell people you are online, consider these techniques:

Put Your Domain Name Everywhere You Can

  •    Business Cards and Letterhead
  •    Fax Cover Pages
  •    Labels on Shipping Boxes
  •    Email Footers
  •    Brochures and Flyers
  •    Tradeshow Booths
  •    Caps and Clothing
  •    Mouse Pads, Coffee mugs etc.,
  •    Facebook, Bing Google Ad Campaigns
  •    Put Available Documents Online
  •    Email Blasts to Existing Groups of Clients
  •    On-Hold Messaging
  •    Purchase Targeted Email Lists
  •    Vehicle Signage

Think of how many times you get phone calls from clients needing access to a hyperlink or pdf document or other forms of material, you most commonly send them what they need in an email. Instead of attaching the requested material tell them in an email what page its on, this forces the client to click on your domain name and download the documents and is a click acknowledged by the search engines.

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