Website Design That Works

Before you even think about opening your favorite html editor and start designing your website there are a few things I believe you need to do first

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Article Published / Updated: Sun, 17 Apr 2011 06:30:00

Introduction
Before you even think about opening Dreamweaver or your favorite html editor and start designing your site there are a few things I believe you need to do first. I am going to describe how to increase your work flow and give you some general tips and tricks that will speed up the design of your website project and help to get it showing up in search engines quicker. In future articles I will be going into greater detail of some of the topics I describe here. Now let's get started.

Purchasing and Optimizing Your Domain Name
The first thing you need to consider is your domain name. I suggest that you don't just use your company name, i.e. if your company makes tartan paint and your company name is "Hamish Paints" don't go for the obvious choice of hamishpaints.com. I would try and come up with a keyword rich domain name. Some search engine optimizers (SEO) would say that having keywords in your domain name doesn't make any difference to your listings but I disagree. Google will highlight your keywords in the search engine results page (SERPS), which leads me to believe that keywords do hold some weight, and besides it will make it clearer to the searcher what your site is all about.

Building a Holding Page and Creating a Site Map
Now that we are sorted with our domain name and hosting the next step involves creating a holding page and submitting a sitemap to Google. First of all you need to create your holding page. It's a good idea to create a holding page so your domain can build up some respect with search engines. You don't want to wait until your website goes live before submitting it to search engines.

Designing a Holding Page
Keep it simple and describe all the services and products you may be offering in your site. Don't forget to use keyword rich text in your title tag, description tags, and body text. Use the keywords you discovered in the "how to find and choose keywords" section. This is good practice for when you design your website proper, but you have to remember it's unlikely this page will be viewed by many people. However, this isn't the purpose of your holding page.

A good idea here would be, if any visitors did visit your site, perhaps they would like to know when your website goes live or maybe they will have questions. I would therefore suggest you add a simple contact form asking for their name and email address to notify them when the site will be live or to answer any questions they may have. You could even use them to do some usability testing and describe in more detail the coming sections. Name it index.html or index.htm and put it in the root folder of your site and upload it to the server.

Creating a Sitemap for Google
A Google sitemap is a XML document that contains information of every page on your website (not to be confused with a sitemap html page on your website). You need to upload this to the root folder of your server so that Google can access it and index your website more quickly and easily. Remember to update your sitemap XML document when your website is finished and every time you make changes so that Google can index your new pages. Doing this now will save you time and effort later.

Creating a Rough Draft of Your Site
Now its time to start designing your site. Before you go ahead and start creating a website in Dreamweaver you will need to get the layout and design in place first. If you want an easier way to design your site and you are not familiar with Dreamweaver or technically minded, you can always use website builder software to create your website. I would recommend this, if you are just starting out, as this is a quick and simple way to get your website up and running. For information on using website building software visit http://www.umbrellawebsitedesign.co.uk/web_b.html. However, if you want to get your hands dirty, read on.

The Pen is Mightier Than The Mouse
The first draft of your website should be on paper. Illustrate where you are going to put everything on your final page, including images, text and links, and name them for quick reference. This will save you lots of time later on in Dreamweaver. You can even sketch out a sitemap of all the pages in your website showing what page links to what.

Creating a PNG File
Now that you have a rough copy of your layout go ahead and open fireworks or image ready and start creating your site as a PNG file. Here you can start creating your logo and the graphical elements you plan to use. You can create your navigation and add your menus and text so that you can easily refer back to them once in Dreamweaver. Layout everything as it would look like in a browser. This is a good idea as it's easy to make changes unlike in Dreamweaver where changes can be time consuming. Go ahead and save your page as a PNG file.

Well that's it folks And there is so much more to know, but for now you have a heads up. What you need to do now is find out more about cascading style sheets, usability, accessibility and validating your work to comply with W3C standards.

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Artemis Glikakis is the Managing Director of Position Front Page International Co., Ltd.. His expertise in this field of Internet Marketing and Search Engine Optimization, has lead him to write many articles on the subject and he is always in the forefront when large clients come along.

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