Need a website? We've compiled some important tips and resources here to help you get started with some simple, free and low-cost options. Check the 'Need Help?' box on the left for ways we can further assist you.
Do-it-yourself website design has gotten much easier in the last few years--no coding skills needed and as simple as drag and drop! Here are some popular options (note there are both free and paid options depending on your needs. Most paid plans start at around $5/month):
Google Sites (Requires a Google account to view)
Book a 30-minute appointment with a librarian for one-on-one assistance with your business, research, social media, technology or other questions.
Tech Table @ Central for gadget and general technology questions (smartphones, laptops, ereaders, etc.):
Every Tuesday from 12-2pm
Your 10-Point Website Inspection (from godaddy.com)
Overview: Wondering if you’ve got an effective website? After all, your website should be more than a collection of pretty pictures and a bunch of sentences about who you think you are and what you think you do. Even a basic website should help your business grow.
Answer the questions below to see if you’ve covered the basics:
|1. Do you clearly explain who you are and what you do?||Yes||No|
|2. Does your home page have a call to action (call now, watch demo, sign up)?||Yes||No|
|3. Do you have a page that represents your passion for your business?||Yes||No|
|4. Have you included customer quotes, reviews, or testimonials?||Yes||No|
|5. Have you clearly defined your services, pricing, warranties and refunds?||Yes||No|
|6. Are you collecting email addresses through sign-up forms?||Yes||No|
|7. Is your primary contact information on every page?||Yes||No|
|8. Do you have 'trust logos' (Better Business Bureau®, awards)?||Yes||No|
|9. Can a customer LIKE you on Facebook® from your website?||Yes||No|
|10. Do you have a special offer for your website visitors?||Yes||No|
All done? Great! Now tally up the number of Yes answers you circled to get your diagnosis.
0 - 4 Sounds like you're just getting started. You might need some help.
5 - 7 You're on track. Pick one area to focus on this week. Make it happen.
8 - 10 You're a guru. It might be time to take the next step. Email marketing?
10 Rules for Building a Website (exerpt below from this article at godaddy.com)
Whether you're new to the Web or a full-fledged online expert, there are 10 rules that everyone needs to consider when launching a new website.
1. Use Simple, Clean Design
While it's tempting to put every imaginable bell and whistle on your site, your visitors would rather you didn't. Try to pare down anything that could slow down a customer's visit or obstruct your point. Too many social media icons, extra images and unnecessary information can make your site seem cluttered. Look at sites you frequent; chances are, they have a streamlined design.
2. Start with the Five Core Pages
If you’re not sure what information to include on your website, the best approach is to start with the five core pages. These pages set the right expectations for visitors and cover your basic business needs:
1. Home — Add a prominent call-to-action, and the primary way you want visitors to contact you.
2. About Us — Create trust: Share what your business is about, why you started it and include photos of you or your staff.
3. Products/Services — Include things like detailed descriptions, images, pricing, warranty and return policy.
4. Customer Testimonials — Include quotes or reviews from satisfied customers.
5. Contact Us — Phone numbers, hours of operation, location & map, email address.
3. Use Strong Calls to Action
A clear, decisive call to action helps you generate sales and capture future customers. The most effective calls to action have a clear, explicit purpose; there's no harm in telling people what you want from them, such as "call us for a quote" or even "order now!"
4. Include Sign-up Forms
Email is an invaluable tool to create loyal customers and increase sales. Stay connected with your customers and potential customers by asking them to sign up to receive your online newsletter. An email sign-up form helps you re-engage your existing customers, and promote your business to potential customers. Entice visitors to sign up by offering something of value in return for their email addresses, like exclusive VIP offers, future discounts, or expert advice.
5. Keep Information "Above the Fold"
In Web design, the "fold" refers to the bottom of a customer's window on a Web page; for visitors to see anything "below the fold," they have to scroll down. If the content above the fold isn't engaging, visitors are much less likely to bother scrolling for more, so make sure your most captivating or valuable content isn't buried on the bottom of your page.
6. Invest in Images
Even on the Web, pictures are worth a thousand words. The key is to make your visitors feel confident about in what they're buying. If your product photos are too small, or there aren't enough product views, they may look around for better images and end up purchasing from a competitor. Even if you're on a tight budget, a few product shots from a professional photographer can pay for themselves many times over.
7. Make It Easy to Contact You
Make sure your visitors know how to get in touch with you. Display your business phone number prominently on your Home page or have a dedicated Contact page in your site's primary navigation. Customers want to know that you're trustworthy and that there's a real person behind the website. Tip: Posting your email address online makes it more susceptible to spam, so consider using a contact form as a way for visitors to reach you.
8. Add Customer Reviews
92% of consumers trust word-of-mouth, so share what your satisfied customers have to say about your business.
9. Get Personal
Adding an About Us page to a website is more important than most people realize. When a new visitor comes to your site, it’s your chance to create a relationship with them and connect on a more personal level. People want to do business with people they feel they know and trust, so share who you are and your passion for the business.
10. Make Friends with Google
Your website won't do you much good if people can't find it. Search engine optimization (SEO) makes sure that search engines like Google and Yahoo! find your website and rank it high in search results. There are countless articles on SEO and how to identify and use keywords and phrases on your site, as well as some really good tools and services that can do the heavy lifting for you.
11. Social Media
There’s no avoiding social media these days. If you’re not on Facebook, you’re missing out on tons of valuable customers, and word-of-mouth referrals. Make sure your Facebook and other social media buttons are front and center. Also, make sure you actually update your Facebook page!
Doing an image search in Google isn't a good way to get free images for your website. Often, these images are copyrighted and you could be sued for using them. A much better choice is to use images from verified free-image repositories like those listed below: