Sunday, April 5, 2009

7 Things Beginners Should Know About Creating a Website

7 Things Beginners Should Know About Creating a Website by Travis Garner
Google, MySpace, Facebook, YouTube, and every large website started with a simple idea. You may have the next million dollar idea, but you'll still need to know the basics...

A Few Tips to Help You Get Your New Website Off of the Ground
I have built a number of websites, as well as worked technical support for an international domain name registrar and hosting company. Throughout these experiences, I have acquired a bit of experience with the basics. If you are new to building websites, or are just kicking the idea of starting one up around, here are 7 tips you should know about creating a website.

7. Your website will not show up within Google for at least six months.

Every single webmaster out there wants to be number one on Google for their desired keyword. Unfortunately we can't all be number one. It will take roughly 3-6 months for your website to be indexed by Google. Indexing is the term used when a search engines spider crawls your website and then adds it to their database of websites, or their index. MSN and Yahoo seem to be a bit faster with indexing new sites. Do not fret if you're website is not indexed after six months, it takes time.

6. Stay away from annoying 1990s trends.

Even in 2008, people are still using hit counters. Do NOT use HTML, visible, hit counters. Period. Day in and day out I see people adding hit counters to their websites. You know what the average surfer thinks about your hit counter? It's out-dated and tacky. You may be asking yourself, "Self, what am I going to do about stats if I can't use a hit counter?" That's next on the list, don't get ahead of me. Other annoying 1990s trends that you should avoid are animated GIFs, standard Times New Roman font, extremely contrasting colors (such as white on hot pink), and visible table borders.

5. Use Google Analytics

Google Analytics is a free, amazing traffic statistics program. It delivers more information about your website than most people want or need to know. It shows what browser, operating system, resolution and sexual preference of your users. It shows how they reached your website. It will also show you how long people stayed on your website, how they navigated your site, and what pages they were on and how long. It'll also let you know the city/country that your hits are coming from.

4. Use your statistical information to refine your website.

All of the information that Google Analytics provides is useful for the designing, optimizing, and marketing of your website. For example, I have a website that does absolutely horrible in the U.S., but it gets about 8,000 hits a day from Russia. Knowing this, I have
been working to translate my website into Russian to help satisfy those crazy Russians. If you notice that a lot of people are viewing your website on an extremely low resolution, change your resolution to theirs and see how your website looks. Chances are it looks horrible, so re-examine your code. You may notice that you get a lot of users that use Opera. Download it, and see how your website looks it in. Every browser parses HTML in a slightly different manner, so what your website looks like in Internet Explorer may be different from what you'll see in Firefox.

3. You are not going to be 'the next' anything.

If your website idea or plan is to 'be the next ', then you will probably fail. I hear people talk about wanting to be the next YouTube, the next MySpace, the next Google, the next anything. These websites already exist, they're already doing successful, and they aren't going anywhere any time soon. You may be able to make a little money by emulating another website, but if you want to have a truly great website you will need to do something original. Look for a void, and fill it. This is how all the above sites got popular; by being original and filling voids. No idea is too radical or too stupid. Popular websites show up all the time, and if you're like me when you see them you think 'Why didn't I think of that!?'

2. Add content often.

Regardless of what your website is about, you can attach a blog to it. Blogs are handy because they allow for an easy and viable source of new content. Search engines, and especially Google, love content. If they notice that every time your website is crawled there is another chunk of content for them to index, then your website will receive traffic from the keywords from that article. If you are making a website, chances are it's about something that you're passionate about. Throw a blog up and write a little somethin' somethin' once a day. It doesn't have to be a fully fledged article, just a blurb about what's new in the industry, what people can get out of your product, or whatever you want to write about.

1. Use social bookmarking websites.

Look up to my dashingly handsome picture at the top of this page. Below and to the right of that mug shot you will see 'Share' with scrolling icons. Hover over that. Everything that this menu links you to is a social bookmarking website or a tool that you can use to promote your website.

I use all of those tools to promote every article I write, including this one, and for any blog entries or any website that I create. If people like your content, they might bookmark you as well. This helps you get even more traffic; it's like a snowball. Make sure you're website and content are quality, and you should get a reasonable amount of traffic from these sources.

Think of your website as a tree; it starts as a seed, or an idea. This idea is then planted in your code to grow into a baby tree. The baby tree is then transplanted to a wild untamed forest, the Internet. Your job is now to nurture and grow this baby tree. With patience, time, constantly updated content, and social bookmarking, your tree will grow in to a mighty oak!


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