Sunday, November 15, 2009

Weaving a Website - Tutorial

I spent much of Saturday at my office with a co-worker, then on my own, working on our website!

This fall we started using an on-line appointment booking system, & wanted to add a 'buy now' button for our gift certificate sales, since our long lasting SNOW put quite a damper on GC sales last winter!
It took awhile, since I hadn't added a button to the site, & the box showed up on the page with the html code - was that right?? But when we 'previewed in browser' - there it is!! YEA :) (I've added buttons on the blog, & the process was similar)
The only button options read 'book now,' & Steph needed to disable the customer booking feature, as we're still learning the system ourselves! She set up the on-line appointment service, I'd done most of the work on our website.

A couple of years ago, 3 of us attended a Chamber of Commerce sponsered 'webinar' - why you should have a website, & some 'tips' on making it work for you & your business.
There were, of course, a few 'professionals' offering their services, for a hefty fee! & Nan (we sublet from her) wanted to hire a 'site building' group, but it would be several months before the 'star' site-builders (& most expensive) were done working on sites for the Library & a local city - & all she wanted was a SIMPLE SITE.
At that time, all we had was info on one page hidden in the Doctor's site - inc. brief bios of Therapists who'd moved on a couple of years before. (His Home page didn't even have a link to the info about us, tho we'd sublet from him for ~ 20 years at that time!) I had a link to that PAGE on my site, & grumped about getting the info updated (& maybe mention of us on his 'home' page??)

I'd had my own website for several years at that point (OK, several!), & had built one using Yahoo Sitebuilder, where I'd registered the domaine names. Sue (who attended the webinar) offered to help, Nan signed up for Yahoo sitebuilder (in process of registering the domain name) & we went to work.

Sue hadn't worked with the site & didn't like the templates, but had used office programs, so helped get it going from 'scratch' (no templates for her!) - grumbling all the way!! She had taken lovely photos of our locations for an ad, & knew how to import those, & how to use grids . . . our receptionist worked for that premier site building group for awhile, & had some ideas (& is great at proofreading!) She 'sent' us the logo, & we added it as a banner.

So for several years, we've had a 'pretty plain' site, with a rather garish green background, the logo, photos of the offices (at first 3, then 2), only 4 pages. Rather boring - but up & running, & Nan was impressed. When a phone book 'ad gal' ran some searches, she was also impressed, since I'd used the 'properties' feature to add info on each page.

Steph has done all the work getting the on-line appointment system going, (did I mention she's half my age? & that I was the first of the therapists to get my sessions into the online system?? :) Nan began talking about hiring someone to 'spruce it up' - meanwhile, could we get a link for buying Gift Certificates on the site??

So in the AM, Steph & I, working on laptops, got it done! I looked through the templates, & found one with a banner with one of our Logo elements, & put the info on how to order a GC on-line on that page, linking it into the other pages.
In the afternoon, I went back to the clinic, & worked on it some more - ta da!! [yes! It still needs some editing, lol]
In about 2 1/2 hours I'd transfered the info from the 'old' site to the 'new' pages & cleaned it up a bit. Steph, meanwhile, spent some time looking the site over, getting ideas for consolidating the info, so we'll be tweeking it more before the ads run. & I'm going to be looking at other sites, deciding what to incorporate on wesite 'round 2.'

Do you have (or want to have) a website??

If you're blogging, you already have most of the skills you'd need to build your own! Sure, it wmight not be quite as 'showy' as it might be if you hired a professional site-builder! But . . . do you really need one? Either way, you need to determine what info you want on your site - your 'who, what, when & where' info!!

I enjoyed using Yahoo - but send me your prefrences!!

Here are some 'how to begin' thoughts-
a Tutorial on Weaving your own Website:
  • Choose a name for your site, & register your 'domain' (you may have a site available thru your e-mail provider - that's how I built my first site) & sign up for a hosting service (you may need help with this part - I have 'geeky' son & former hubby as my 'tech' guys!)
  • Check out other sites! Bookmark ones you like, & jot down ideas (on paper or in your 'office' prog) Ask friends to send you to their favorite sites. Check out the sites of other bloggers
  • Go thru the tutorial (if available) on your site-host
  • Go thru the templates & pick some you like - play with putting some basic info on different ones. The one I used for our site was listed as 'charities' & came with a blue or brown banner - I wouldn't have thought to look there, so be open to checking other categories than 'your' service!
    (I use 3 different templates on my site, one for each main category - harp, (music) wedding harp (flowery) & healing (yoga)
  • Write, write, write! Write about things you think you might want on your site! Think 'who, what, when & where' - what info do you want on your site?
  • Gather pictures! Use your camera, use your phone, look online . . .
  • REGOGNITION: If you have a logo, consider putting it on your site! We use our logo on each page, & the new banner I chose has one of the logo elements prominently displayed. If there's a key phrase, use that! Use this on all your business cards, flyers, website, business facebook page, etc
  • WHO: info about yourself, your training, your background ('about us')? You can have pictures here,
  • WHAT: There are two places for this - your HOME page ('index') is the first page people (usually) see - make it pop! Give a 'who, what, when, where' overview, then get to the details on the pages.
  • & WHAT services or products do you offer? What makes you stand out as unique? What is your special training? ('services')
  • WHERE are you located? Is yours a physical location, or are you set up for on-line orders? Do you have an Etsy shop, or do you want to sell through your site? ('location') This week I intend to put 'yahoo map' links on our 'locations' page.
  • WHEN: are you open for business? (we didn't put that info on our site, as we have two offices with different hours) When did you begin? How long did you train for what you do?
  • CONTACT: How do you wish to be contacted? We have our phone numbers & our physical addresses, & I put the City & State on each page, as well as in 'properties.' How many times have you gone to a website & found no info on where they're located? It doesn't matter if you merely provide services on-line - but if you have a physical location, put the city!! ('contact-us')
  • LINKS: These are certainly optional, but fun! I love to link within the page - & do that a lot on this blog! (like this one on the bennies of magnesium, which I also put on my personal website) If you refer to colleagues, you might put links to their pages. I have links to the gents who made my harps on my own website, & links to the the clinic website. Check to be sure your links work, & update them when you need to!
  • Networking systems like Facebook - you can have a 'business' page (I am working on Nan on this one - 'we could have a blog' 'we could have a business Facebook page' . . . ) I just found a friend request from a favorite Mineral Make-up business - YES!
  • PHOTOS: You can insert photos at any point - I took some clues from scrapbooking, & play with captions & background 'paper' (text boxes that I choose a background colour for, & place behind the photos with the 'arange' button.
  • UPDATE OFTEN: This was one of the 'hints' at the webinar - play with your site, add stuff, search it yourself!! Get your friends to search it - that brings it to the 'top' of the que when others are looking for it!! I have been bored with the clinic site for awhile, & felt I didn't have the freedom to play with it that I do with my 'own' site - so it was nice to hear 'we need to update it' . . . Even if you have someone else build your site, see if you can learn how to do updates yourself!! Get in the habit of checking your site monthly, & seeing if there's something you need to change or ad!
  • Your BLOG: is one possibility for updates - I notice more & more businesses have links to their blogs on their site.
  • WHAT'S NEW?: This is another optional page - & one where you can feature what's going on. Are you volunteering for an event? (We offer massage for an annual event, & donate Gift Certificates to fundraisers) Did someone join you? Do you have new items on Etsy? You can also Blog about these things!
  • TABS: I have my tabs on the side, & when I shifted the info to new pages, brought the site up & tested them out - a few linked to the old site (I'd used names like 'local2' for the new locations (local) page - & didn't get some of the new links in! Quick to change - but you need to do it!
  • The more smoothly your website flows, & the more attractive it is, the more fun it will be to list the address on your business cards, flyers, in your ads, etc :)
Last - have fun with it!! Please send me any links to your favorite sites!


Anonymous said...

This is a great tutorial! What a nice find when I came over here to thank you do all your bean recipes!

Several of my family members/in-laws/etc. have asked me to build simple web sites for their businesses. I have the html skills, but have never registered a domain, shopped for a host, etc., so I look forward to learning from your tutorial!

Ruth said...

That's a very useful tutorial. I have been thinking about a website for my art work, but not sure if I really need it.

Dia said...

I think anyone who can blog can build a website - esp folks who put together some of the fancier ones!! (Yours is awesome - inmybox - I look forward to more journies your way! (& have a combo of rice n lentils & some rattatoui that I turned into soup by blending, then adding coconut milk as I was cooking it - yum!!)

Ruth - with your art blog, you might not need one - & I notice blogs coming up more often in my search engine :) That said, a website might draw a slightly different 'audience/clientel' - & generate more business . . .
Today I had the funniest letter from someone wanting to sell me ads for my health oriented site - for on-line gambling!! It left me laughing - who ever thought THAT was a good match?? (I don't have any ads on my site!)

Anonymous said...

Really great ideas. I like every example. Just might have to try these...
more template

Kara aka Mother Henna said...

Isn't it amazing the amount that goes into a "simple" website, Dia!! You are a love for sharing all your tutorial tips and hints here. So glad you and your partner found your way through it all! But, yes, it is amazing how you can sit down to do one thing on a site and ZAP a whole day is gone :)