Web services

(Nearly) everything you need to know about starting a website

Starting a website

We like web sites which are easy to understand and which communicate their message in a straightforward way. We think they should load quickly and be well designed, so you can see where you want to go, and how to get there easily with the minimum amount of clicking and scrolling. Web sites which are outwardly well organised tend to be the same behind the scenes, which is where a lot of important stuff happens!

Every web site has at least one purpose. Maybe promoting a business, selling actual products or services online, providing information, communicating a message, booking something or just pure entertainment! When planning yours you should keep its functions in mind and think about how well you will be fulfilling them. How often have you been put off or irritated by a web site?

Registering a domain

It’s essential for every serious business and organisation to establish its prescence on the internet. Compared to conventional forms of advertising and the cost of printing brochures and flyers etc. this is very cheap. The first stage is to choose a domain name.

A domain is a unique Internet name which you register and ‘own’ for a set length of time. The ideal domain name has an obvious connection to the name or nature of your business or organisation. Keep it as short as possible. Longer names are more difficult to remember and more susceptible to typing errors when you key them in.

Undoubtedly the best domains for use mainly within the UK are .co.uk domains, and for further afield .com can’t be beaten. To someone trying to work out or remember your domain name these are the most obvious. However, these have been around for quite a few years and many of the best ones have been taken already. There are plenty of others such as .org, .info and .net and new ones more recently introduced such as .me.uk, .uk.net, .biz etc. There are also many worldwide domains, some of which you can register. If you are really stuck it may be worth considering one of these such as .fm .tv .tc .cx.

If you are starting a new business or organisation you may want to go back a stage and think about it’s name in relation to what domains are available to register. We can help you with this.

It may be worth buying more than one domain name – the .co.uk and .com versions for instance. The main advantage of this is it prevents someone else using a similar name to yours.

Domains are fairly cheap, costing around £6 for .co.uk or £20 for .com per year. (excluding VAT).

The actual registration period can be anything from a year upwards and towards the end of this period you have the option of renewing for a further period at a similar cost to the initial registration.

We undertake to keep your registration current until such time as you tell us you no longer need it.

Web hosting

The files which make up your website need to be held on a computer called a server which has a heavy duty connection to the internet. It’s a specialised service which is not currently possible on home or office computers. This is charged for annually and although it’s possible to get free web space this usually involves complications which make it more trouble than it’s worth. Hosting with us is inexpensive – starting at around £7 per month – depending on your needs. (not including VAT)

Web design

Although it’s possible to create and upload your own web pages this does require some technical knowledge and skill, plus the right tools for the job. There is a lot to learn before you can make a truly effective web site which gets good search engine ratings.

If you let us do it for you we’ll make sure it’s well designed, efficiently coded, user friendly and optimised for search engines. And we keep up with all the latest developments so we can keep your web site functioning at its best.

Simple but effective web sites start from as little as £200. Larger or more complicated sites cost more, depending on the work needed. Talk to us… we won’t try to snatch your wallet!

For example of some of our work click the ‘Our work’ link above.

Web rescue

If your web site and email arrangements are in a mess we can help you. This is an area which can seem incomprehensible, and where it’s hard to get help from people that speak everyday English.

We’re not nerds, but we can sort things out for you stage by stage, and put you back in control.

Blogs

Blogs are popular these days and are a great way of making your own web site without having to pay a designer to do the work for you. Many web sites now are created as blogs using standard software to produce excellent results. These can be anything from modest personal diaries to extensive photographic or sales sites.

We can set a blog up for you on a new or existing domain using WordPress (an open source product) or using our own in-house blogging software which is very adaptable. And we can give you simple training to get you started. If you want to extend your existing web site or would like to create another one at low cost for a new project you should definitely talk to us about it.

Content managed websites

This is a way of creating powerful and dynamic web sites which you can update yourself. It’s ideal for dealing with large amounts of information or situations where you need to update frequently.

We can build you a system from scratch or use the simple, modular system we have developed. This lets you update parts of your own web site without needing expert help or knowledge. It’s a user-friendly system for which you need no special computer skills or software. It’s all done with the normal web browser you use to surf the net… and you can maintain your pages from any computer, anywhere in the world!

E-commerce

We offer several approaches according to what you are selling and how big your operation is.

For an existing web site displaying a simple range of products we can add a shopping basket system which will enable your customers to buy and pay online. Or we can set up a custom designed system which will handle non-standard items or complex sets of sizes, colours, styles etc. and including non-tangible products such as bookings or downloadable software.

A system using PayPal is very quick and easy to set up, and is cheap to run – often a good way to start. Alternatively we can help you through the setup of a full featured payment gateway and merchant bank account.

We are also experienced in setting up multi-lingual e-commerce systems.

Search Engine Optimisation

Reaching a high position on a google search doesn’t happen overnight, but most of our sites achieve a very respectable position after a few weeks without employing expensive third party ‘experts’.

Surfers generally only look at the first 10 to 20 results in a search so it’s important to get as high a ranking as possible. It can make a big difference to your page hits.

Early in the web’s history rankings were largely dependent on the meta information hidden within HTML documents (you may have heard of metatags), but widespread abuse soon led to more weight being given to actual page content and the strength and quality of incoming links from other sites. This gives a better indication of how useful a site is rather than how badly the owner wants you to visit it.

One of the most important things affecting your site ranking is its general organisation and construction ‘in front’ and ‘behind the scenes’. We take special care with this and use validated HTML and CSS. Working to this standard ensures your site is super ‘search engine friendly’ and also makes it load quickly and accurately on all CSS compliant browsers.

E-mail

Registering a domain enables you to to receive email addressed to that domain. If you registered countryclothes.co.uk you could have email addresses of sales@countryclothes.co.uk or jane@countryclothes.co.uk or any other name that you wanted, and any number of them. By altering the settings in the email program you use to send mail you can make it appear that you are sending mail from your domain address. For a business this looks a lot more professional and you can keep the email address(es) associated with your domain for ever, as long as you maintain the registration.

There are two ways we can deal with emails sent to you at these addresses. They can either be forwarded to an email address you are already using or we can set up one or more POP mailboxes for you.

Email forwarding
We automatically forward email to one or more of any of your current email addresses. You don’t need to do anything as the mail arrives with your normal mail. Email forwarding is free.

POP mailboxes
These are like pigeon holes in which your mail collects. You need to set up your mail program to log in and collect your mail. You’ll need a program like Outlook Express or Mac Mail to do this, but you can also view your mail using a browser and webmail from any computer anywhere in the world. We charge £10 pa for POP mailboxes. As part of this service you can also use our outgoing mailserver too. This makes you independent of your ISP for mail services which can be a good thing if they are large and their email services are sluggish!

E-mail marketing

There’s a lot more to email marketing than meets the eye. To do it properly you need to carefully manage your lists, create signup forms and welcome emails, handle double-opt-ins, set one-click unsubscribe links, and understand the ins and outs of how HTML works (and doesn’t work) in emails. With around 20 different email programs being popular and all giving different results you need to know if your content is going to stand up proudly, or fall apart embarassingly.

Oh yes, you also need a good understanding of spam filters otherwise your efforts may be instantly consigned to the big junk heap in the ether. And talking of spam, you need to be very careful your ISP doesn’t get the hump and blacklist you!

If you’re wondering if all this is more than can be achieved in a human lifetime don’t despair. We’re here to help, by connecting you up with an excellent system that takes care of all the difficult bits and gives you detailed information, training and feedback.

So that just leaves you to come up with some persuasive content!