Frequently Asked Questions About Web Sites and the Development Process
What should I have on my Web site?Show Answer
We’ll talk with you 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 blog, to build relationships with customers and potential customers and position your company as an expert in your industry. 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. If you’re a Realtor, you probably need to make use of the IDX feed from your MLS to allow visitors to search and browse real estate for sale. 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 list. See “So you think you need a 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?Show Answer
What about keeping my Web site up-to-date?Show Answer
I hear about web site design, and webhosting, and registering domains, and hosts and servers….. What should I know about all of that?Show Answer
- You need the actual website, of course. This might consists of a collection of files containing your content, or it might be database-driven. This 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 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. We prefer Unix servers running Apache, PHP and MySql, which is the most popular webserver platform and typically costs less than comparable hosting on a Windows platform running Microsoft’s proprietary IIS server software.
- 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 domain 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.
What about DNS? What’s that?Show Answer
Can you get me found in Google searches?Show Answer
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 request for my Web site that I might not even know to ask about?Show Answer
- You should require that your site be mobile-friendly. With the dramatic increase in tablet and smart phone usage, Google has begun placing great emphasis on mobile-friendliness, making it doubly important: Your visitors who are using phones or tablets should be able to use your site, and your site should be constructed to give it every opportunity to perform well in Google searches.
- 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 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 useful 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 description” 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.
- 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.
How soon can my new Web site be online?Show Answer
Okay, I’m convinced…. How do I get started on my new web site?Show Answer
Contact Tropical Web Works today for your free initial consultation.