Top-Quality Website Design and Development

   

Frequently Asked Questions About Web Sites and the Development Process

What should I have on my Web site?

From our portfolio:
Homes, lots and condos for sale in Punta Gorda, Port Charlotte, and North Port, Florida Curtis and Nancy Beard, Punta Gorda and Port Charlotte Real Estate
This custom Realtor web site for Curtis and Nancy Beard allows visitors to search the entire Charlotte Area MLS database of homes, lots, and condos for sale in the Charlotte County area.

We'll sit down with you to talk about your business, the products or services you provide, and your goals for your Web site, to help you determine what your site should consist of. You might need a full-blown e-commerce site, with the ability to sell products online and take credit card payments in real-time through a payment gateway. Or you might need a fairly simple "online brochure" with some information about your company and its products or services. You might need a membership database, or an online job application, or any number of other things.

You'll probably want at least one contact form, to make it easy for people to get in touch with you. You might want a map with driving directions, or an employee telephone and e-mail listing. See "So you think you need Web site..." for more information about what your Web site might consist of. We'll talk to you about all these things to help you determine what you need.

Can you use my existing logo, photos, brochure designs, and other material that I already have prepared?

Absolutely. We prefer to receive original digital files of your materials, because that enables us to provide you with the highest-quality images on your Web site.

What about keeping my Web site up-to-date?

Good question! To maintain their credibility and effectiveness, Web sites must be kept current. Adding fresh content on a regular basis can also help with your site's placement in search engine results. We can perform regular or occasional updates to your Web site at an hourly rate. Or we can set up a content management system that will allow you to edit and update the site yourself. The best solution will depend on the type of site you have, what kinds of updates it will need, and how often it will need to be updated, and, of course, whether you have the time and the inclination to handle it yourself. We'll work with you to determine what approach will serve your needs best.

I hear about web site design, and webhosting, and registering domains, and hosts and servers..... What should I know about all of that?

Having an online presence requires several things:

  • You need the actual Web site, of course. This consists of a collection of files — text files, images, scripts, and so forth — that make up the site. The contents of these files determines what your Web site will look like, how it will behave, and what content the pages will have when people visit your site. Tropical Web Works specializes in developing Web sites to meet the needs of local business owners.
  • Your site must be hosted on a Web site server — a computer that's permanently connected to the Internet and provides, or "serves," the pages and other elements of your Web site when people visit your site. The text files, images, and other elements of your site are transferred to the server via a process called FTP (file transfer protocol), and from there the server handles things. We prefer Unix servers running Apache, PHP and MySql, which is typically less expensive than comparable hosting on a Windows platform running Microsoft's proprietary IIS server software.

    Unix servers running Apache are also better for building search-engine friendly websites. We use common Apache directives to designate custom error pages, to do URL rewriting so that your database-driven site can use human-readable page names, to set up permanent 301 redirects for any pages that might need to be moved or removed, and other behind-the-scenes techniques to help your site perform well. Many of these techniques are either much more complex on Windows servers, or are not available at all in a shared hosting environment.
  • And you need a domain name — this site's domain name is tropicalwebworks.com. You get a domain name by registering the one you want, if it's available, with a registrar. Your domain name should be reasonably short, easy to remember, easy to type, and easy to spell out to people over the phone. Fortunately, you do not need to become an expert in these technical and arcane aspects of the Internet. Tropical Web Works can help you select a suitable domain name, and we'll handle all of these steps for you, if you prefer. We perform this service for our web design clients at no extra charge.
You can search for a domain
using this convenient form:
Find a domain name now!

What about DNS? What's that?

All Web sites are hosted on servers that have a specific numeric IP address — 4 sets of digits in the format 111.222.333.444. Domain Name Servers are computers that maintain databases of numeric IP addresses and the domains that they are associated with. This allows visitors to reach your site by entering yourdomain.com in their browser. The nameservers know the numeric address of the server where your site lives, so that they can send the request to the right place. If you have Tropical Web Works handle your domain registration and hosting, we can set up your nameservers properly.

From Our Portfolio:
Association of PreTrial Professionals of Florida Association of PreTrial Professionals of Florida

Punta Gorda Real EstatePunta Gorda Real Estate from HomeTeamChris.com
This database-driven Web site offers the complete Charlotte Area MLS, and a custom contact form with each listing, to allow visitors to reach Chris easily about a specific property.

Can you get me found in Google searches?

Beware of anyone who promises a top ranking in Google or any other search engine. Google search results are based on a complex relevancy algorithm that continues to evolve. A top ranking cannot be bought, and attempts to "trick" Google can result in your site being penalized and dropped from Google altogether. The key is a well-constructed site that is easy for search engine spiders to index, containing relevant content, and relevant inbound and outbound links. Tropical Web Works specializes in the types of sites that are found in search engines — including clean, valid code, good content for your human visitors, and menu systems that are readable by search spiders and browsers. We use recommended coding and navigation techniques to design the look of your site, to structure the underlying code, and to create a navigation system that is extremely usable by spiders and humans alike.

What are some of the things I should insist on for my Web site that I might not even know to ask about?

  • You should be absolutely sure your web designer does not simply take a Photoshop-created image and use the "export to web" feature to build the pages of your site. This practice results in a site that contains virtually nothing for the search engines to spider, making it almost impossible for your site to be found in search engines for nearly any relevant search. Additionally, it greatly increases the download time of each page, and causes accessibility problems for visually impaired users.
  • Your web site designer should be familiar with the risks of using frames for your site, or creating your site entirely in Flash or embedding your important navigation in Flash, and the problems associated with JavaScript navigation. You shouldn't need to learn all of this yourself, but it's critical that your web designer knows about these things.
  • You should make sure your Web site developer knows how to produce valid code, per the World Wide Web Consortium's validator. This helps to guarantee that the underlying code used to produce your site meets current standards and will display properly in all browsers on all computer platforms. It also makes your site easier to upgrade in the future as the standards evolve.
  • Your site should use search-engine friendly coding and menu techniques that make it easy for the search engine "spiders" to find and index all the public pages of your site.
  • Your site should have a valid "robots.txt" file to let the search engine spiders know what parts of your site you may not want indexed in search engines. Even if there are no pages you want to exclude from search engines, you should have a robots.txt file to keep your error logs from filling up with errors when the spiders look for your robots.txt file and don't find it. This makes it easier to spot real errors in your site.
  • You should have a custom "404 Not Found" page to make things friendlier and more helpful for your visitors when they try to to go a page that doesn't exist on your site. The standard server-produced "404 not found" pages (I know you've seen them) are ugly and unhelpful.
  • Every page on your site should have a custom page title and custom "meta tags" to specify appropriate keywords and description for each individual page. The title is what you see in the very top of your browser's window; on this page, the title is "Frequently Asked Questions about web site development - Tropical Web Works." The title is one of the main factors that search engines use in determining what a page is actually about, and therefore how to rank it in search engine results pages. The meta description tag is frequently used by the search engines as the "snippet" of text underneath the title of the page in search results. This tag doesn't necessarily help your site rank well, but it's an important marketing tool, because the description "snippet" that appears in the search results will affect whether or not the searcher clicks on that link. It only takes an extra few seconds per page to customize these, and you don't want to neglect anything that will give you an edge.
  • The pages on your site should generally be constructed using either a "fixed width" layout of 760 pixels or less, to avoid horizontal scrolling for your visitors with 800x600 monitors (because people hate horizontal scrolling), or they should be constructed using a "fluid width" layout that allows the page to reflow according to the width of the visitor's browser window. If you resize the window of your browser right now, you'll see that this site uses a fluid layout so that the width of the page resizes as you resize your browser window. Both methods have advantages and disadvantages, and your Web site designer should be prepared to discuss this issue with you prior to beginning your actual design.
  • Your web site designer should be familiar with at least one server-side scripting language, such as php, or work with an associate who is, so that your site can make effective use of contact forms and other dynamic server-side features.
From our portfolio:
Canvas Country: Custom marine canvas covers, bimini tops, cockpit enclosures, and upholsteryCustom marine canvas covers by Canvas Country — Designing and making custom marine canvas covers, bimini tops, cockpit enclosures, and upholstery

How soon can my new Web site be online?

It depends on a variety of factors, including how quickly you can provide your content, logo, and other materials, and how complex your site is. But in all cases, the sooner you give us a call, the sooner we can have your site online. Call us today at 941-916-5671, or via e-mail at info@tropicalwebworks.com

Okay, I'm convinced.... How do I get started on my new web site?

Call us for a complete turn-key solution! When you contact Tropical Web Works, we'll talk with you about what you need. We'll plan out a project specification for your site that will serve as a road map for the development of your site, so that no one faces any unwanted surprises. We'll find out if you need help registering a domain name; we can handle that for you or provide you with the information you need to do it yourself. We can host your site for you for a nominal fee, so you don't have to go hunting for a host for your site. And we'll let you know in advance what we'll need from you along the way as we develop your site.

 

Contact Tropical Web Works today for your free initial consultation.

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Web Site Design by Tropical Web WorksSM
39021 Washington Loop Road
Punta Gorda, Florida 33982
Phone 941-916-5671
Fax 941-639-3916
info@tropicalwebworks.com
Website design and Website hosting in Port Charlotte, Punta Gorda, Cape Coral, Naples, Fort Myers, Englewood, and throughout southwest Florida
Specializing in custom Realtor Web sites for real estate agents · Search Engine Optimization · Dynamic database sites
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