You can build a site with HTML (Hyper-text markup language) using Notepad on any computer, but there are much easier ways to proceed. Content Management Systems such as WordPress, Drupal and Joomla make building and maintaining website content a much easier task. Of the three, WordPress is generally the easiest to work with. There are free templates to use, or you can purchase one. Your Host should be able to load WordPress onto the server for you.
There is a lot of information on-line about what constitutes a good website. It should be credible, current, functional, well-written, friendly, intuitive, easily found and “responsive”. Responsive means that the website will look good and be functional equally as well on a tablet, smart phone, or a large desktop computer. You will want to consider navigation, colours, fonts and what material comes up first on your site.
Your site should load quickly, and grab your viewer’s attention. Be clear about what your site is about and keep your viewers attention with your content. In 1994, there was a high percentage of viewers that didn’t scroll down a page. Today, the viewers are much more knowledgeable, but also more demanding. They scan quickly and move on. The key is to design for these people, but also provide more in depth information for those who would like to see more. You’ll want something that stands out from the crowd, but remember to keep to typical conventions for navigation, links, menus etc., as people are now familiar with these.
As we know, a photograph is worth a thousand words. All photographs, graphics and videos should be optimized to the smallest possible file size while keeping their visual integrity. They should be in .jpg, .gif or .png depending upon the graphic. Photographs can be protected with a “no right click” script, but ultimately, anything on the internet can be downloaded, or a screenshot taken. For designers and photographers, this is a challenge.
SEO stands for Search Engine Optimization. As with everything today, this is ever- evolving. There is a lot of information on-line available to help you get your site optimized on the search engines. There are also a lot of companies that will optimize your site for you. Generally if you have a well put together site optimized for your viewers and have labeled your photographs and graphics properly, you won’t have any problems. If you used methods deemed deceptive by the search engines, you may be penalized. For instance writing black text on a black background to increase the frequency of a particular word on a page is considered misleading and you may be removed from the rankings. In general, having a good accessible (to handicapped or impaired viewers) responsive (view-able from various devices) site that is current and relevant will be rewarded. One can also pay for search engine rankings.
These days it’s hard to not hear about Social Media and how influential it can be. Top Social Media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube, LinkedIn, Pinterest and Flickr can give you a good web presence. You should have a Social Media plan, and some time to devote to it. Pick a couple of sites that interest you, learn the etiquette, and concentrate on those. Feeds from these sites can be brought directly to your own website. You should always invite viewers back to your own website for more information, where you can control the content. Social Media can almost replace a website – but not quite. Remember that you own and control your own website.
Now that you’ve gotten your domain, designed and optimized your site, and are ready to launch, you’ll want to look after a few more details.
Gather some statistics to keep track of where your viewers are going, and what they like.
Keep your site up-to-date. These days, a blog or news page within your website will keep your site current, keep your customers informed, and keep the search engines happy with lots of current interesting words that people may search for.
Have your website analysed. There are various websites on-line that will look at your website for problems. Does your site function well on a Mac, different browsers, iphones and androids? Some elements such as Flash will not run on an ipad.
Now that you know what’s involved in getting your own website together. Let’s look at a few alternatives. Services like Squarespace, Weebly, and Wix will do everything for you, but generally you’ll pay more for these services. They include a domain, but you’ll want to make sure you own the domain yourself. You can always rebuild a website, but it’s difficult to start with a new domain, especially if you’ve devoted time and resources into marketing the old domain.
For photographers, another alternative is to look at sites like Smugmug, PhotoShelter, Zenfolio and others. You can create a portfolio site of your work and make your photos available for purchase. Many photographers will incorporate one of these sites into their own website.
The very last alternative is to buy in to a program similar to what the Victoria Camera Club’s new website will be. This is a specific type of service set up to solve problems for a precise need and website. There are more and more of these types of services catering to specific markets.
Websites have evolved tremendously over the past few years, and continue to do so. Going through the process of developing a website will help a person shape and define their business plans and goals.