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Does the prospect of building a website fill you with uncertainty -- possibly even dread?
If your answer is yes, you're not alone!
In fact, if you asked other members of the "IMC Insider" community about it, you'd discover they also thought making a website was hard -- and that you needed advanced programming skills or graphic design experience to do it.
Nonsense! The truth is, building your first website is remarkably easy. So don't let your fear overwhelm you.
Besides, your first site doesn't have to be perfect. Once you've got something up and running, you can always make it better later on.
Here's a breakdown of the steps you need to take to build your site and make it "live" -- as well as lots of FREE resources you can use to do it...
1. Choose and register a good domain name
Your domain name is your business's "address" on the Internet, so it's crucial you choose the right one. Try to find a domain that gives browsers a hint of what they'll find at your site.
Tools to help you find a domain include...
* Nameboy's "Gen" (http://www.Nameboy.com/gen.php) – to get ideas for domain names
* Wordtracker (http://imc.Wordtracker.com/) – to locate possible domain names with popular keywords
* Domain tools (http://www.Domaintools.com/) – to see if a domain name is available
* For registering domains: http://www.GoDaddy.com
2. Host your website
Your web host is responsible for ensuring your web site is always up and running at top speed. If your site is always down... or if it takes ages to load... you can be sure you're losing money!
Here's our favorite hosting solution: http://www.1and1.com/
3. Learn basic HTML
While there's plenty of software you can use to build a site without knowing any code at all, it's actually helpful if you at least understand the basics of HTML. For some good free HTML tutorials, check out these sites:
4. Building your site yourself
For some great tools and information on simple, effective design, check out these sites:
* SitePoint: http://www.Sitepoint.com/
* Builder.com: http://Builder.com/
* Useit.com: http://www.Useit.com/
5. Software for building your site
"HTML editors" are software programs that allow you to design a webpage with little knowledge of HTML -- and they're as easy to use as any basic word processor.
* Nvu (http://www.Nvu.com/): Anyone can use this free tool to create and manage a website -- even if they have no technical expertise or knowledge of HTML
* Dreamweaver (www.Dreamweaver.com): This is the tool we use at IMC. It's good if you're willing to spend some money to get additional features not available on the free versions
6. Using an "all-in-one" solution
If you're a bit intimidated by technology, you may want to consider an all-in-one website builder, where a company provides you with all the tools you need to quickly piece together a site.
Go here to find our favorite: http://www.marketingtips.com/allinone
7. Resources for designing your web site
For good articles and resources on developing effective navigation and designing a simple site that works, check out these sites:
* Webmonkey: http://www.Webmonkey.com
* AnyBrowser.com: http://www.Anybrowser.com/
* WebDeveloper.com: http://www.Webdeveloper.com/
* Web Page Analyzer: http://www.Websiteoptimization.com/services/analyze
* NetMechanic: http://www.Netmechanic.com/
8. Adding "extras" to your site
You may want your site to go beyond basic HTML, especially when it comes to automating chores and making it more interactive for visitors. You can find "extras" -- like forums, content management systems, and shopping carts -- at these websites:
9. Hiring a designer
If you can afford it, it's a good idea to hire a web designer to build the initial "template" for your website. Typically, this should include a logo, navigation menu, and the overall "look" for your homepage.
For a good, affordable designer, try: www.eLance.com
Good luck with your site,
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