Category Archives for "Uncategorized"

10 Step Plan for Business Websites

10 Step Plan for Business Websites

Today most businesses need to be found on the web and it’s not difficult to get started. Here’s a 10 step plan.

Having a website now is the norm for businesses, whether it is one or all of the following:

  • Tell the world that you exist and how to contact you.
  • Give prospective customers a catalogue of your products.
  • Sell your products on line.

Businesses can spend thousands annually for a display in the Yellow Pages, but all they need there is the basic entry with a reference to their website. On their website they have unlimited space to display many times the amount of information. They can also change it daily, weekly and monthly – not just once a year.

When your business is registered and you know your products or services you can now plan your website carefully:

  1. Register a domain name:
      Choose a name that’s relevant to your business and that will help the search engines satisfy searches for products that you sell. If your business name is Sue Smith Co. and you sell labels, www.labelsmith.com will be listed for searches for labels ahead of www.suesmith.com If you have a catchy name, register it before someone else does. Check it’s not similar to an existing name, so your website doesn’t later get confused with another. Avoid names available in your country domain, but which are already taken in the .com or .net version.
  2. Content:
    • Collect information and pictures to display on the website. There is no practical limit on the quantity of information you can provide on the web. Remember, search engines provide their visitors with websites sorted in the order of relevance to the words in a visitors search. The more relevant information you display, the higher your website will rank.
    • Write copy for your home page very rich with words that people will search for when looking for products like yours.
  3. Key words:
      Search for the key words representing your business on the internet and see how many competitors you have. E.g. If you are selling lingerie don’t be surprised that Google lists 64 million results. But a search for “french lingerie” “size 10” reduces the results to 550. Use this sort of information to decide on the text in your web pages.
  4. Balance content:
    • You need both words and pictures. Don’t fall into the trap of planning a website that looks artistic but has few words. Such websites are left behind by search engines, or rely on very large numbers of links from other website to get listed. We decline to design websites using Flash, as we don’t want disappointed clients.
    • If you want more than just your family and friends to find your website, then optimize it for search engines. Your website does need to look attractive, but if people don’t find it in search engines they won’t see how attractive it is. Research Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  5. Design:
    • Get quotes from a web designer for developing the website.
    • Help them understand what information you want in your website and how you would like it to work.
    • They need to know how many web pages, images, products.
    • If you are selling online, decide how to charge for delivery, and on payment options.
    • Don’t start an advertising campaign before you agree a completion date with a web designer. That sounds obvious, but amazingly we get approached to build websites which are already mentioned in an advertising campaign.
    • Be sure to hire a web designer good at search engine optimisation.
  6. Updating facility:
    • Be sure you can easily add / edit the product data after the website goes live. Options are:
      • Pay web designer extra for a content management system.
      • Pay web designers to update when necessary.
      • Learn how to update the website yourself using an HTML editor and FTP program. (These are available for free download).
  7. Hosting:
      Get quotes for hosting the website. You usually don’t need the highest disk space or traffic allowance available. Pay for a basic plan and upgrade when you need to. While cheap hosting may be available in a foreign country, check that you can phone them in your time-zone. Often a web designer is a reseller for a host and may save you money.
  8. Get listed:
      If preparing the data for your website is taking a long time, it’s a good idea to get at least your home page live and another listed website linked to it. The search engines robots will then find and list your website and be ready to index the content as it’s uploaded.
  9. Incoming links:
      Once you are live, get as many other websites as possible to link to you, as a website’s popularity gets points in seach engine rankings.
  10. Keep up to date:
      Always keep the information on your website up to date. If visitors guess your data is not current they go elsewhere.

Follow all these steps and succeed on the web. Above all, be search engine friendly and get found. It may sound a lot, but if you plan carefully the pay-off can be huge.

Search Engine Rankings

Search engine rankings

What do search engines want?

  • Search engines want to provide their visitors with a list of web pages relevant to the words that their visitors are searching for.
  • Search engines want to list these web pages in the order of relevance to the search words, with the most relevant at the top of the list, down to the least relevant at the bottom.

What makes a web page relevant to a search?

  • Words or phrases in the search that are displayed on the web page. (Graphics don’t count).
  • The popularity of the web page.

What factors determine the order of relevance in a list of web pages?

  • The number of times the search words appear. Naturally, if a web page contains the word three times on the page, it is three times as relevant as a page which contains the word only once.
  • The position of the words in for instance, the title tag, in a heading, in a hyperlink, in the body text.
  • The proportion of the search words to the rest of the text on the page.
  • The number of inside pages linking back to that web page. (Means the page is important).
  • The number of other websites linking to that web page. (Means the page is popular).
  • The number of articles published on the internet linking to that web page.

Why do different search engines give different rankings to the same website?

  • Each search engine may give a different weight to each of the factors above.

Why would a website lose or gain ranking position, without any change?

  • Search engines change their secret algorithms (factors and weightings) from time to time.
  • Other websites may enter the listings, or may change, or may leave the listings.

How do you keep or improve a search engine ranking?

  • Contract an experienced reliable company that knows SEO.

What Kind of Website?

What kind of website?

There are many purposes for a website and it is important that you discuss your requirements with any web design agency in detail. Between you, you should define who your target market is, the purpose of your website, what you hope it will achieve and how you are going to turn people visiting your website into customers.

Another important decision to make is whether you require a static HTML website or a content managed website. With a static website it is more difficult to alter menus, images and content, unless you know a little about coding in HTML. However, with a CMS (Content Managed System) website it is very simple indeed for you to be able to alter content, add your own pages, create new menus, add images and a whole lot more without any skills other than being able to use a word processing system similar to MS Word.

To give you an idea of what “style” of website you may be looking for we have compiled a list of examples of styles of websites that you can look through and maybe help you ascertain what you would like if you don’t know already:

  • Business or Professional
    • We are hereTell the public what you do and how to contact you
    • Product CatalogueDisplay product information
    • Technical informationSave time for you and customers with technical information on-line
    • Take orders and sell on lineeCommerce, Shopping cart, On-line store
  • Sports OrganisationPublish the year’s timetable and program on line.Enrol members on-line
  • Recreational, Cultural or CommunityPublish your eventsEnrol members on-lineRun discussions on-line
  • EducationalProvide knowledge of your subject
  • Family or PersonalDisplay photos and information for far-away family members.
  • ArtisticBe careful to leave room for text for the benefit of search engines.
  • OrganicLet it grow naturally…

Extensions

Joomla! CMS Extensions

Out of the box, Joomla! CMS does a great job of managing the content needed to make your Web site sing. But, for many people the true power of Joomla! CMS is in the application framework that makes it possible for developers all around the world to create powerful add-ons that are called Extensions. An Extension is used to add capabilities to Joomla! CMS that does not exist in the base core code. Here are just some examples of the hundreds of available Extensions:

  • Dynamic form builders
  • Business or organisational directories
  • Document management
  • Image and multimedia galleries
  • E-commerce and shopping cart engines
  • Forums and chat software
  • Calendars
  • E-mail newsletters
  • Data collection and reporting tools
  • Banner advertising systems
  • Paid subscription services
  • and many, many, more

You can find more examples over at our ever growing Joomla! Extensions Directory.

Types of Extensions

There are five types of extensions:

  • Components
  • Modules
  • Templates
  • Plugins
  • Languages

You can read more about the specifics of these using the links in the Article Index – a Table of Contents (yet another useful feature of Joomla! CMS) – at the top right or by clicking on the Next link below.


Component - Joomla! Extension Directory Components

A Component is the largest and most complex of the Extension types. Components are like mini-applications that render the main body of the page. An analogy that might make the relationship easier to understand would be that Joomla! CMS is a book and all the Components are chapters in the book. The core Article Component (com_content), for example, is the mini-application that handles all core Article rendering just as the core registration Component (com_user) is the mini-application that handles User registration.

Many of Joomla!’s core features are provided by the use of default Components such as:

  • Contacts
  • Front Page
  • News Feeds
  • Banners
  • Mass Mail
  • Polls

A Component will manage data, set displays, provide functions, and in general can perform any operation that does not fall under the general functions of the core code.

Components work hand in hand with Modules and Plugins to provide a rich variety of content display and functionality aside from the standard Article and content display. They make it possible to completely transform Joomla! CMS and greatly expand its capabilities.


Module - Joomla! Extension Directory Modules

A more lightweight and flexible Extension used for page rendering is a Module. Modules are used for small bits of the page that are generally less complex and able to be seen across different Components. To continue in our book analogy, a Module can be looked at as a footnote or header block, or perhaps an image/caption block that can be rendered on a particular page. Obviously you can have a footnote on any page but not all pages will have them. Footnotes also might appear regardless of which chapter you are reading. Simlarly Modules can be rendered regardless of which Component you have loaded.

Modules are like little mini-applets that can be placed anywhere on your site. They work in conjunction with Components in some cases and in others are complete stand alone snippets of code used to display some data from the database such as Articles (Newsflash) Modules are usually used to output data but they can also be interactive form items to input data for example the Login Module or Polls.

Modules can be assigned to Module positions which are defined in your Template and in the back-end using the Module Manager and editing the Module Position settings. For example, “left” and “right” are common for a 3 column layout.

Displaying Modules

Each Module is assigned to a Module position on your site. If you wish it to display in two different locations you must copy the Module and assign the copy to display at the new location. You can also set which Menu Items (and thus pages) a Module will display on, you can select all Menu Items or you can pick and choose by holding down the control key and selecting multiple locations one by one in the Modules [Edit] screen

Note: Your Main Menu is a Module! When you create a new Menu in the Menu Manager you are actually copying the Main Menu Module (mod_mainmenu) code and giving it the name of your new Menu. When you copy a Module you do not copy all of its parameters, you simply allow Joomla! CMS to use the same code with two separate settings.

Newsflash Example

Newsflash is a Module which will display Articles from your site in an assignable Module position. It can be used and configured to display one Category, all Categories, or to randomly choose Articles to highlight to Users. It will display as much of an Article as you set, and will show a Read more… link to take the User to the full Article.

The Newsflash Component is particularly useful for things like Site News or to show the latest Article added to your Web site.


Plugin - Joomla! Extension Directory Plugins

One of the more advanced Extensions for Joomla! CMS is the Plugin. In previous versions of Joomla! CMS Plugins were known as Mambots. Aside from changing their name their functionality has been expanded. A Plugin is a section of code that runs when a pre-defined event happens within Joomla! CMS. Editors are Plugins, for example, that execute when the Joomla! CMS event onGetEditorArea occurs. Using a Plugin allows a developer to change the way their code behaves depending upon which Plugins are installed to react to an event.


Language - Joomla! Extensions Directory Languages

New to Joomla! CMS and perhaps the most basic and critical Extension is a Language. Joomla! CMS is released with multiple Installation Languages but the base Site and Administrator are packaged in just the one Language en-GB – being English with GB spelling for example. To include all the translations currently available would bloat the core package and make it unmanageable for uploading purposes. The Language files enable all the User interfaces both Front-end and Back-end to be presented in the local preferred language. Note these packs do not have any impact on the actual content such as Articles.