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Planning a Website

29. November 2009 17:05

Planning a website project

Before jumping into any project it always makes sense to do a little planning beforehand to ensure the project runs smoothly, website projects are no different.

During website planning and brainstorming sessions write down notes and questions you may have.

Follow these basic steps as a guide:

  1. Choose an appropriate domain name.
  2. In a notebook set aside a page for each web page you require on your website and make the page title the name of the web page section.
  3. Begin to jot down notes relating to each website section on its page in your notebook.
  4. Look at your competitors websites and sites you like and use these as inspiration for your website.  Make a note of:
    • Websites you like and why
    • Website you don’t like and why
    • Elements of websites you like (e.g. colours, layout, navigation and content)
  5. Start gathering materials and information you want to put on your website.
    • Company logo
    • Brochures
    • Website text
      • About your company
      • What your company does
      • Contact details
      • List of products/services
    • Photos and images
    • Testimonials

While planning your website you should consider the following:

  1. The purpose or objective of the website
  2. Target audience of the website
  3. How will we drive traffic to the site (get people to visit) – Introduction to search engine marketing
  4. How often will we update the website?  Would a content management system be beneficial?
  5. Development budget, on-going marketing/maintenance budget

Read more about the web development and design process.

Picture used under Creative Commons from aarontait

What is an RSS Feed?

21. November 2009 19:52

You may have noticed lots of blogs and websites using small buttons similar to these.

RSS feed buttons

These services use a technology called XML to allow websites to distribute their content beyond the confines of the pages of the site.  They make it possible for users to subscribe to websites to receive updates either via email or via a news reader.  They also allow the content to be bookmarked, aggregated or packaged into widgets and displayed on other websites.

What is a Podcast?

A podcast is a special type of RSS feed that contains links to audio files.  You subscribe to podcast in much the same way as you subscribe to plain RSS feeds.

The Benefits of RSS

Enabling feeds allow the readers of your website to be kept up-to-date with your latest web content without remembering to return to your site.  By subscribing to blogs and websites of interest with a news reader such as Google Reader visitors can follow as many blogs as they wish all from one place.

For the website owner it enables visitors to subscribe to your website which should encourage users to return more frequently.  Using a tool such as FeedBurner you can also give your readers the option of subscribing via email and you can begin building a subscriber list.

From the advertiser’s point of view distributing your latest content via RSS bypasses SPAM filters that usually affect email broadcast, it also enables you to display adverts on the actual feeds themselves.

How do I get a Feed for my Website?

If you own a blog already there is a chance that you already have an RSS feed enabled on your website.  Popular blogging platforms such as Typepad, Wordpress or Blogger publish feeds automatically.

There are also tools such as FeedBurner that enable website owners to gain useful information about feed subscribers as well as lots of free ways to advertise and market your feed.

How do I Start Reading Feeds from my Favourite Sites?

There are many ways to subscribe to feeds, sometimes these tools are called news aggregators, some are installed on your computer whereas others are web-based services, and the good news is lots of them are free!

Google Reader user interface

Many news readers use an interface similar to an email inbox with each blog post appearing in a reading pane.  The posts are listed in chronological order and you usually have the option of selecting all the latest content or content only from certain sites you subscribe to.

Click here to find a suitable RSS feed reader.

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Category: Blogs

What is LinkedIn and how does it Work?

19. November 2009 20:17

LinkedIn logo
LinkedIn is a social networking website aimed at business professionals, it allows you to create a personal profile where you can promote your skills, knowledge and experience while allowing you to connect with professionals in your field in order to do business.

As you build your profile you can request and receive recommendations from people who you have done business with in the past (colleagues, business acquaintances, clients etc).  These recommendations add value to your online resume just like letters of recommendation and testimonials and will help build trust in what you have to offer.

Ten Tips for a Strong Profile

  1. Create a Personal Tagline – This is shown under your name, so it needs to summarise at a glance who you are.
  2. Elevator Pitch Introduction – Create an engaging 30-second introduction that succinctly describes who you are and what you do.
  3. Don’t Cut and Paste your CV – Describe your experience and skills as you would to someone you just met and keep it short and punchy.
  4. Use Action Words – Use words that project an image of a results-driven, action-oriented achiever, such as maximised, supervised, optimised, streamlined etc.
  5. Point out your Skills – List your specialities, abilities and interests, be sure to use appropriate industry buzz words where appropriate.
  6. List your Experience – Briefly describe each company, what it does and what you did there. Again use clear succinct phrases.
  7. Distinguish yourself – Add additional information to enhance your profile, join groups of interest and list trade associations or other organisations you belong to.
  8. Build Connections – The connections you make add credibility to your profile.
  9. Get your Profile to Rank in Google – Your public profile is available to view by anyone and will appear in search engines, so think carefully about what you want to share with the world and use it to your advantage.
  10. Answer and ask Questions – Asking and answering questions in your field will help establish your expertise and raise your profile on the network.

Photo used under Creative Commons from NickStarr

Become an Authority and Increase your Search Rank

19. November 2009 11:44

Arrow pointing upwards

Authority in the business world is a powerful tool, it demands respect, trust and admiration.
Authority also plays a big part in online marketing since Google’s PageRank® algorithm determines websites’ authority and ranks them accordingly.

If people think your website is important enough to link to then so will search engines.  The more authority you gain from people linking to you from their website/blog/social bookmarking page etc the greater your rank will become in search engines such as Google.

In order to to become an authority that others link to online you need a website with indispensable content that demonstrates your expertise, rather than a website that simply claims expertise.

Become an authority by learning all you can about your niche and sharing your knowledge online.

Authority is all about perception, perceived authority can outrank actual authority because what other people say about you is more important than what you say about yourself.

Rules for Building Authority Online

  1. Define your Unique Selling Proposition (USP) – what sets you apart from everyone else?
  2. Get a professional website design and branding
  3. Make friends with influential people in your industryuse social networking sites such as Twitter and LinkedIn as well as traditional networking events
  4. Don’t sell to people… Educate them and demonstrate your knowledge to build trust and authority
  5. Create indispensable content that other people will want to share with their peers
  6. Grab people’s attention - write killer headlines and stand-firsts
  7. Build a subscriber base – get people listening to what you have to say
  8. Learn the basics of Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Picture used under Creative Commons from PaperThinSerge