You've surfed a million Web sites, but now it's your turn to jump into the fray with a site for your business. Where do you start? First know what you want to accomplish with your Web site. Will it sell product? Promote your services? Act as a gateway to other resources? With a business purpose in hand, you can move on to developing a site that will attract users and generate customers.
Start with the best practices of The Best Small-Business Web Sites in America from Inc's annual Web Awards competition. Those stories will provide you with inspiration and ideas for creating a winning Web site. Then move on to this roundup of articles, which provide advice on the nuts and bolts of building your own Web presence.
The first thing you'll need is a catchy address for your new Web site.
- Name That Domain
- Creative entrepreneurs use marketing savvy, geography, and a little imagination to get great Web addresses.
- How Secure Is Your Domain Name?
- Here are five potential security risks pertaining to domain-name ownership and tips to minimize them.
- Are the New Internet Names Right for You?
- Two new top-level domain names are now available -- .biz and .info. Are they right for your needs?
- Get a Life -- Buy a Domain Name
- Don't be wooed by free domain names. Lee Hodgson explains why they leave bad first impressions and confuse customers and why search engines shun them.
Don't trust your new site to just any Web host.
- Penny-Wise, Site-Foolish
- Don't scrimp when you pick a Web host -- unless you like greeting customers with "Site not found."
- Four Web-Host Warning Signs
- Here are the most common indicators that a Web host is in danger of folding.
- Are You Dedicated to Your Web Site?
- Perhaps you're wondering what a dedicated server is and whether you need one. Here are some guidelines to help you decide.
Attract users with a simple, straightforward site that doesn't keep them guessing.
- Hiring a Web Designer: Advice from Award-Winning Sites
- Inc Web Award winners offer advice on how to hire a Web designer.
- The Price of Ignorance
- How much should you pay for a premium Web site? If only there were a simple answer.
- Duh-sign of the Times
- Web design isn't about flashy graphics and features. The best sites appreciate the value of simplicity.
- Design Your Site for Your Users
- If you want to maximize the Web's power to recruit new customers to your business, you'd better have a crackerjack site. Here are some practical pointers for creating one.
- Five Home-Page Essentials
- Make your home page do what you intended it to do -- earn money, build community, and disseminate information.
- 10 Ways to Lose Web-Site Visitors
- Here are 10 ways to successfully drive visitors away.
- Web-Site No-No's
- Want a terrific Web site? Avoid these common site flaws that were encountered by judges for the Inc Web Awards 2000.
From search engines to E-mail lists, discover ways to get the word out about your site.
- The Golden Rule of Search-Engine Marketing
- Looking to improve your standing on search engines? Try analyzing the sites that outperform yours.
- Niche for Success
- The owner and editor of Search Engine Watch answers some questions about Web-site promotion.
- Listing with Search Engines
- Alan Klotz of Photocollect discusses the importance of listing your Web site with search engines.
- How Can I Effectively Submit My Web Site to Search Engines?
- Concerns about how often a site should be submitted to search engines and whether it's worth paying for listings prompted an Inc.com user to E-mail us. Mentor Jakob Nielsen replies.
- Viral Marketing: Worth Catching
- Viral (or word-of-mouth) marketing is an excellent way to market your Web site for very little money because it exploits preexisting communication lines between friends.
- The Flameproof Online Marketing Pitch
- Learn how to market your products subtly in online bulletin boards -- without alienating potential customers. Book publisher Russian Information Services has developed an effective cyberspace appeal.
- E-Mail PR: How to Start a Mailing List
- E-mail lists can help you generate awareness and, more important, build mutually beneficial relationships with key audiences.
- Internet PR: Get a Handle on the Medium
- Keep in mind the fundamental qualities that make PR on the Web different from traditional PR.
- Online PR Tools
- The Internet provides valuable public-relations opportunities that now equal -- or even eclipse -- standard marketing and PR tools.
Employ these tools to make sure your site doesn't welcome new users with "Page not found."
- Monitor Your Web Site's Links
- Nothing undermines the credibility of a site quite like a link that returns an error message or a blank page.
- Joe's Dot-Com Garage
- Losing customers to slow downloading and broken links? A variety of free and low-cost online repair shops will help you maintain a smooth-running site.