More tips for newbies

July 1, 2000
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Hopefully, you’ll be way too busy processing orders to worry about keeping your page fresh, but reality being what it is, you may find that you have to try a few different approaches before generating the results you desire.

Here are a few tips for keeping your page interesting and effective:

  • Update your page on a regular basis.

    Nothing’s worse than viewing the same old thing every time. Change the background, format, anything to make it look new and improved. Add photos, graphics, or icons (many of which are available free online), create a table in place of straight text, change colors — anything!

    You can even play around varying fonts, but one warning: Don’t get too fancy or it may start working against you by distracting the reader. Remember, the message is the thing.

  • Look into special effects.

    Depending on the type of software used to create your page (and the brand of Internet browser being used by the surfer), you may be able to incorporate flashy and eye-catching special effects such as marquees (lettering that scrolls along the top or bottom of the page), blinking text, moving graphics/images, video, and more.

  • Make the graphics reader friendly.

    Keep more-than-adequate contrast between background colors, text, and graphics. On some people’s view screens, colors may not differentiate themselves as well as on the screen you use to create your page.

  • On the first page of your site, include an index of the pages that follow so the viewer has an overall idea of what’s available.

    Also remember that on a small computer screen, information on your page may not be immediately visible to the viewer. If there’s a message you really want to convey, locate it in the frame of view (generally the upper left-hand corner) as the page comes up.

  • Don’t fill the page with a lot of self-serving fluff.

    A little info is OK, but then move on. Give the client something that s/he is actually interested in, such as a special promotion, seminar, open house, etc. How about setting up a chat room, where a group of users get together online to discuss topics in an open forum? Or, how about scheduling interviews with industry experts to participate in chat sessions?

  • Locate online groups that deal with and discuss your products and/or services.

    Link their pages to yours if possible, and make sure the labels are well described. Also, if appropriate, link up to other sites such as contractors, vendors, manufacturers, construction organizations, etc.

    Once the links are created, be sure to check them regularly to ensure they’re working properly or haven’t changed. It’s quite frustrating to click onto a linked site that won’t come up or that directs them elsewhere. It makes your site look unmanaged.

  • Purchase ad space on other sites (often called banners).

    These banners will link that page to yours. One click and the customer’s on your home page!

  • Include an “if you want to know more, you can e-mail us (add link) or write to us” line to encourage contact.

    Include company information, addresses, phone/fax numbers, and key contacts.

  • In the body of your text, include key words such as the name and generic euphemisms for your product line.

    Many search engines locate the page based on matching these terms, even if they don’t appear in the site’s title or heading.

  • Once you’ve mastered the basics, explore adding sound.

    This added element, most often in .wav or .mid formats, can be something as simple as background music, or as intricate as a company biography. Again, though, make sure it’s appropriate. Don’t include it just because you can.

  • Just as you would any other important data, be sure to save your web page creations in a backup file periodically, preferably every time you freshen them up.

    Remember, ISPs can crash and lose data too.

    Even more help

    While you’re at it, check out the multitudes of building and construction addresses like www.construction net.net, a directory of builders, contractors, material suppliers, and design professionals; www.askmac.com, published by the Aberdeen Group, which claims to be the largest website for the concrete and masonry construction industries; www. buildnet.com, a great all-around site for building and construction resources and information on the construction industry; and many more.

    Links

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