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You Too Can Have an Amazing Website

how to build a websiteHow to Build a WebsiteIt is a well-known fact that a successful business depends greatly on how it is marketed. With an ever increasing dependence on the web, the use of a professional website is not only a necessity, but a priority. Although it is a common thought that only large businesses can have top-notch websites, with the tools available today, what seemed impractical, can now be a reality. Best of all, designing an extraordinary website can be done, without hiring expensive web developers to create your site from scratch. Usually the first comment I get from my customers is, “I have the idea, but not the tools.” In this article, I will recommend which tools are the most helpful, and where to find these tools, so that you too can have an amazing website.

So you say, “I have the idea, but not the tools. What are these tools, and where do I get them?” Let me answer that question with a question. Have you ever heard of web site templates? If not, they’re your answer to a professional website, at a very reasonable price, usually around R420.00 to R600.00. A website template is a ready-made website design, created for you to use as the foundation for quick and high-quality web development. There are thousands of templates available online, so you are virtually guaranteed to find something that suits your design, and format needs. It can be as easy as simply adding your text to the template, or rearranging photos along with your text, to produce the outcome you have been searching for.

Finding web site templates is easy, but be aware of the differences in template providers you will come across. Performing a Google or Yahoo search with the phrase “web site templates” will yield several vendor choices and not all of them offer the quality you demand. They all promise the best templates around, but that is obviously not the case. So, how do you find the right template vendor? First, visit some of the sites you come across and examine their templates. You will know you are on the right track if you answer “Yes” to the question, “Am I impressed with these templates?” Always trust your taste.

website templateswebsite templatesNext, explore how many templates the vendor offers and how often their database is updated. As a rule of thumb, the more they have the better they are. This helps assure you that your choice will be more unique than otherwise. If you choose a template from a vendor who only offers a few select quality templates then the chances are that a great deal of other customers have chosen that same template. You certainly don’t want a website that is practically identical to dozens of others online. You will also want a vendor who updates their site on a regular basis. Weekly updates are good, but daily updates are even better. This guarantees that they will have fresh templates on a regular basis for you to choose from.

Finally, you want to make sure that your template is editable. This means that your template will come with the appropriate files (PSD, HTML, SWF, and FLA) that will allow you to make the necessary changes to your template. Ask you vendor before making your selection. Most templates come with these files, but it is better to be safe than sorry. You should be able to download your selection immediately or your vendor will provide a link to do so.

web development technologyWeb Development TechnologyGreat! Now you have a really impressive template and can’t wait to make the changes that will get you a completed website that blows away your competition. Well, you’re halfway there. You have one more important choice to make. Who will do the editing? You will either have someone internally run with the project or you can hire someone and outsource the job. If you decide to handle things internally make sure you have the necessary software to edit your files and someone who is somewhat familiar with how to do the editing. This is what your template vendor probably didn’t tell you. Certainly it isn’t as easy as purchasing a template and plugging in text. If it were then there wouldn’t be a market for web design and development companies. If you’re confident about handling it yourself then great, but be careful. You might find yourself investing a lot of time and money trying to get your desired results.

Your alternate choice, hiring a development firm, will almost certainly get your site looking and functioning the way you want it, but for a fee, of course. It is easy to find a development firm to handle your needs and you can find several online. Simply search with the key phrase “web site design”. Call, or email a few of them, explaining your situation and needs, and ask for a quote to perform the editing for you. Depending on the amount of editing you will require, you should receive price quotes in the R4000.00 - R12 000.00 range. This is a very reasonable price to pay for a professional website design. Most likely, you will be glad you did.

Contact us today for a free quotation, or more information

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What’s In A (Domain) Name?

How good is your domain nameHow Good is Your Domain NameChoosing a domain name is a very important first step for anyone starting a business on the Internet. This name is the first impression that strangers are going to have about you and your business. You are going to need to give this decision some real thought.

It is very likely that you have a name in mind already. Something catchy, perhaps? Something that has meaning to you. Maybe you always wanted to name your business after your grandchild, or your favourite pet. I strongly urge you to reconsider.

In the very informative book, The Invisible Touch, Harry Beckwith has some unique ideas about naming a business. He touches on saying your proposed name out loud, slowly. How does it really sound? He cites the name Facial Aesthetics. Sounded out slowly, it becomes ‘fa shil ass thet icks’. Doesn’t sound so good now, does it? Get opinions from others, and then really listen to what they have to say, objectively.

The next thing to consider is whether or not your name says anything about your business. Some years ago, I was friends with a lady who had a business named “Heather’s Feathers”. So, what do you think that this business sold? Feathers? Birds? Bird products? Nope, it sold emu oil. And Heather was her 4 year-old daughter’s name. Consider what you would think of when you see a business name.

Business nameBusiness NameYou may love your family name. If you are thinking of naming your business after yourself, however, you really need to give it some thought. I have never forgotten these two businesses, whose names I saw on billboards years ago: Crouch Equipment and Tick Insurance. Now you may say to yourself that I remember these names after years. True, but not for their products or their service!

You also run a risk if you choose a name that is too, let me say… mystical. You may know what you mean when you name your business Mystic Blue Nights, but how many other people will?

Don’t choose a domain name that reads like a book. It is difficult for the average person to remember long domain names. It may be descriptive to get lowcostdiabeticrecipesforalloccasions.com, but it is not going to be memorable, and you run the risk of people misspelling it and not being able to find you. Watch out for the use of dashes, too. People don’t expect them, so instead of visiting your site, Pickles-R-Us, they could wander to your competitor ‘pickelsrus’ instead. Trying to be clever and tweak a competitor’s name could backfire on you.

choosing domain namechoosing domain nameIf the name that you really want is not available as a .com, go and look at the .com site before you choose .net, or one of the other extensions that are becoming available, such as .info and .tv. People think .com first, and if they are looking for you, and put .com in by mistake, you sure don’t want them to end up at some porn or hate site.

You are going to have to live with your choice of domain names for a long time. Take your time and choose wisely.

Please contact us for more information or a free quotation

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Why You Need A Web Site

Small Business1Small Business"I have a small business with just a couple of employees and I don’t think my product can really be sold online. Do I need a web site?"

In this day and time, there is very little that can’t be sold over the Internet. There are over 20 million people shopping online, buying everything from movies to cars to real estate property. Research predicts that revenues will be over $200 billion in 2004 and will grow at a rate of 30 to 50 percent over the next few years. These numbers alone should be enough to persuade you that you and your business should be online.

Regardless of whether you sell your product online, you should at the very least have an online presence so that customers, potential employees, partners and even potential investors, can easily and quickly find more information about your company, the products and services you have to offer, as well as how to contact you.

website requirementsWebsite RequirementsBut Can I Afford a Web Site?

Given the competition and current market trends, you can’t afford NOT to. Think of your web site as your new marketing tool, which, when applied correctly, will generate a return on investment. Your competition is probably already online, and you need to use every possible avenue just to keep up. You should look at having a web site as an investment, in you and your company’s future.So whatever time or money you currently spend on marketing, supplementing it with a web site is probably a good idea. Your site will help you expand geographically, and compete on a much larger scale.

Leveling the Playing Field

One of the most wonderful things about the Internet is that it has helped to level the playing field when it comes to competition with the bigger companies. With a professional looking web site, your small business can project the image, and professionalism of a much larger company. It’s also a good signal to potential customers that you take things seriously.

breaking iceBreaking the Ice into e-CommerceBreaking the Ice into e-Commerce

Taking credit card orders over the Internet is quite an investment, especially if you don’t already have a merchant account. There are several e-Commerce solutions that can be custom-built for you that use payment gateways such as PayPal, which only requires a bank account, and an email address. Customers can pay you through their credit card, or even their checking account, and it’s a great solution if you’re looking to test the waters.

your business needs a websiteYour Business Needs a WebsiteThe Bottom Line

To be taken seriously, it’s not enough that you simply have a web site, but you must have a professional looking web site. Many customers now search for information online before making a purchase; your web site may be the first chance you have at making a good impression on a potential buyer. If your site looks like it was designed by Uncle Bob, your chance of making that good first impression will be lost.

No matter what size your business is, and even if you're not planning on selling online, a well designed web site is essential for any business. If you don’t have a web site, you’re already losing business to companies that do.

For more information, or a free quotation, please do not hesitate to contact us.

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Designing your own website vs. Storm Biz designing your site for you?

what you need to knowWhat You Need to KnowYou may ask yourself, "why should I pay for designing my website, when there are so many different free website designing programs?"

Before I explain what we do for your website, let me ask you 10 important questions you need to know before designing a Search Engine Friendly, and User Friendly website? If you can answer all these questions below, then by all means you are qualified to design your site. If there is even 1 question you are unable to answer, then your site will fail, and it will be better to get a professional designer to develop your website.

  1. What is html, and how do I manipulate it for my web design?
  2. What is Photoshop / Corel?
  3. What is Search Engine Optimization (SEO)?
  4. What is Search Engine Submission (SES)?
  5. Why should I not use microsoft word to design my site?
  6. Why should I not use frontpage to design my site?
  7. What is google analytics, how will it help me?
  8. What is the difference between php, and asp?
  9. What is Meta Tags and Meta Keywords, how will my site do without it?
  10. What is a sitemap, what will it do for my site?

Google Ranking FactorHigh Google RankingsWe consider all of the above when designing a website, we use our experience in high google rankings, and implement this in every site we design... So, considering all of this, we recommend / do the following:

  • All our websites will be designed using php, and css, this will help with speed, and with search engines.
  • All websites are customized to the clients requirements.
  • All our web design packages come with the small SEO Package, ensuring all links are search engine friendly
  • Search Engine Submission is offered at a low monthly rate, which means we submit your website, meta tags and meta keywords to 150+ websites every month, getting the best possible rank for your keywords, resulting in possible clients finding your site..
  • We include a sitemap in every website we design, this helps search engines navigate, and index all your site pages.

Before considering designing your site we advise you to consult a professional, as this is what we do, and we are good at it.

You know your business, we know our business... and we would never try to run your business for you!

Contact us for a free quotation, or more information

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24 Essential Pages to include on Your Website

page layoutPage Layout Holy GrailWondering what pages to include on your website, and why? Here is a list of important information that should be included on your site.

Before you start thinking about what to write, it is important that you create a plan, which outlines what each page will contain. That way you won't repeat yourself, or forget vital information. The most common pages on successful websites include:

1. Home Page (First Page)

This is your "sales" page and should provide information about what you can do for your customers. It should also give your visitors a brief overview of what they can find on your site.

2. Products / Services

It is useful to have a separate page for each product/service, and write as much detail about each as possible. Start each page with a brief summary of the product/service, then provide whatever information you can. When people are searching for information on the internet, they want to know it NOW. They don't want to wait until tomorrow when they can speak to you on the phone.

3. Contact Us

Place contact details in as many places as possible. Make it easy for your customers to contact you. Create a special "Contact Us" page and include your details in the "About Us" page and also at the bottom of each page. Information to include: business name, physical address, mailing address, telephone, fax, email, emergency number, website address.

4. Pricing

Whenever possible include the price of your products/services. Even if you can't be specific. It is helpful to put at least a range of prices, eg. Carpet cleaning ranges between $40 - $60 per room.

client testimonials for your businessClient Testamonials for Your Business5. Testimonials / Product Reviews / Before & After

Include testimonials from your current customers to show your potential clients that you are trustworthy, reliable and that you provide great service, and/or products. Make sure the testimonials are real, and if possible, provide contact details of the person who supplied you with the testimonial. If you don't have any right now, get them! Simply email your customers and ask for their feedback on your business and service.

You could also include before and after photos. Show the problem picture and beside it show the picture of resolution, with an explanation of your product's benefits.

6. Frequently Asked Questions

This has proven to be a great time saver for many companies. Instead of having to answer the same questions over and over again, place them on your website, and keep adding to them. The more information you have on your website, the less time you will need to spend answering questions by email or phone.

Frequently Asked Questions should address your customer's concerns, that may otherwise be an obstacle to making a sale.

7. Response form such as "Subscribe" or "Enquiry" form

An absolute must if you want to build a mailing list. Most people don't like giving out too much information, so ask only the basics, such as Name and Email Address. Then keep in touch with your customers on a regular basis, by sending out information that may be of interest to them. You may even wish to develop an on-line magazine (ezine). There are many fantastic free or inexpensive programs that can handle this for you.

subscribe to newsletterSubscribe to Newslatter8. On-line Magazine or Newsletter

This is a great marketing tool. Not only does it help you keep in touch with your customers, but provides your website with fresh content. You can set up your Ezine in 2 different ways:

(a) Email subscribers on a regular basis, or

(b) Publish it on your website.

Or both. Include information about your business, industry, or anything that may be of interest to your customers.

9. Resources/Articles

Add value to your business. Provide information that is complementary to what you do. For example, if you sell wedding dresses, include information about reception venues, wedding planners, wedding cakes, flowers. By adding extra information you encourage more hits.

10. About Us

This is a very important page, as it tells your customer about who you are, and why they should buy your products, services, and/or trust your organization. It can also feature your business hours (if you have a bricks and mortar store) or when they can speak to someone on the phone. Many companies also include their mission, details of their staff, (photos, biographies, qualifications), recently completed projects, ACN or ABN, logo, directions to your store/office. It is also useful to include details of trade associations you belong to, trade and ínsurance certificates, and any awards you may have won.

11. Guarantee

Provide a money back policy. The longer the policy period, the more effective it will be. It could be 30 days, 60 days, 1 year or lifetime.

online surveyOnline Surveys12. Survey

Find out what customers think about your website, business, or product.

13. Events Calendar

This can relate to your business, or industry. If you are an artist, you can feature dates where and when your art will be displayed, or if you are a singer, where you will be performing.

14. Search My Website Feature

Some visitors to your site may not know exactly what they want, but if you include a search function on your site, they can look for it very easily. Like search engines, this feature will allow your visitors to type in a word, or phrase, and then search for it on your site. It's like having a mini search engine, only instead of it searching the world wide web, it just searches your website.

15. Return/Refund Policy

To make your customers feel more comfortable when making a transaction at your website, you should provide them with your return/refund policy. Ensure it is easy to understand and spelled out step by step.

16. Privacy Policy

Privacy continues to be a major issue for customers shopping online. Concerns about how their information is going to be used is a major barrier when making a sale. Internet shopping experience is built on trust, and privacy is the number one ingredient in trust.

17. Site Map

A site map shows visitors how the site is laid out, and which sections are where.

CopyrightCopyright18. Copyright Information

Your website should carry a copyright notice to protect its intellectual property. It is generally in the form of "Copyright (c) 2004, Your Company Name".

19. Links

Here you can place links to the manufacturers of your products, trade associations, or complementary services. When you place links to other businesses, you can request they do the same for you. This will not only bring you more visitors, but may improve your search engine ranking.

20. Media Information

Include any information, articles, photos of your products, staff etc that have appeared in the media - print, TV, radio or internet.

21. News

This can include news about your products/services, or about your industry.

22. On-line store

An on-line store allows you to sell products directly on the internet, 24 hours a day/7 days a week. When building an online store it is important to take in a number of key concepts.

• Make sure that when visitors arrive at your store the navigational mechanisms are simple and effective.

• The actual process of placing the order must be simple.

• Make sure you accept common and convenient methods of payment.

• Continually test your store so that you understand your customer's shopping experience.

blog and networkblogging23. Blog

A blog is a journal that is available on the web. The activity of updating a blog is "blogging", and someone who keeps a blog is a "blogger." Blogs are typically updated daily or weekly, using software that allows people with little or no technical background, to update and maintain the blog. Blogs are a great tool because they help with:

(a) Communicating with your customers. Blogs provide a way for you to communicate with your customers directly. And it is a two-way communication. You can post a message on your blog and your visitors can easily respond.

(b) Search Engine Marketing Blogs give you an increased presence on search engines, like Yahoo! and Google. If you use Blogger (Google's Blogging Tool), every message you post creates a new page on Google, so in a very short time you could have lots of pages pointing to your website.

(c) Stay Ahead of Your Competition. Blogs are relatively new, and chances are your competition does not use them yet. So you will be seen as an expert in your industry when you post your knowledge and expertise.

(d) Media & Public Relations Blogs are excellent PR tools. You can post your Media Releases and articles, and have them picked up by the media.

(e) Free or Low Cost

Image GalleryImage Gallery24. Photo Gallery

Even if you do not wish to sell your products on-line, you may wish to showcase your goods, or services in a special photo gallery - show how your products or services are being used by your customers. They say "a picture speaks a thousand words" and on your website it is particularly important.

Don't give your customers a reason to visit your competitor's website, and provide them with all the information they may possibly need or want.

For a free quotation, or more information, please do not hesitate to contact us

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