Tips on Learning Website Basics

In today’s internet driven market place you need to have a website whether you are a small “Mom & Pop” trade shop or you have employees and multiple locations. Many jewelry stores have already joined the 21st century and have a website but are not sure what to do next. Here are a few learning tips for Website Basics.

First you shouldn’t get overwhelmed by the technology and the resulting techno-babble. Often just a little knowledge helps to take the mystery and the fear out of something. My goal is to help with this.

First of all we need to review definitions. If you know what the terms mean, you can understand what the talk is about.

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Acronyms

A technical term whose individual letters each stand for something. Pesky computer people must spend all day making these up for all the different computer things out there. What do they mean anyway? Acronyms are used so often many computer techs don’t remember what the stand for. If you ask them what they mean you might just get the “dear in the headlights” look.

The Internet

To put it simply… is a “Collection of Connections”. Imagine thousands of computers all across America and the world and each of the computers is connected to each other through wires similar to phone lines (no dial tone though). The computers are servers that do a variety of functions such as email, name serving or webpage hosting. Our computers connect into this mess with the use of Internet Service Providers such as AOL, EarthLink, etc.

ISP

Internet Service Provider is the company that connects us to the internet. They provide the dialup, DSL and broadband services along with other services such as email.

Website

This is a collection of pages on the internet that you, your clients or anyone else can view. Webpage – This is a specific page on your website. It could be the home page, products page or any part of a website.

Domain Name Server

This one is trickier. I can give you the technical term, but would that really help? Basically the entire internet is accessed by addresses which are 4 numbers grouped together by periods (for example: 66.52.99.251). Think of it as your street address. The computers use the internet address just like the post office uses your street to route mail to you. But you and I don’t use addresses as much as names. I can say I am going to the “Bank of the West” or I can say I am going to 251 Sycamore Lane. For humans the name is more meaningful the some address. It is the same with the internet. So Domain Name Servers (DNS) assign addresses to names so you can type google.com and the computer will know which address to follow.

Search Engine

These are website designed to help you find stuff such as Google, Yahoo, etc.

SEO

No, it does not stand for the guy who works with the CEO. This is an acronym for “Search Engine Optimization”. This is what I plan to help you with to make your websites more search engine friendly.

IP Address

This is that internet address I was talking about earlier.

Web Editor

This is a program that allows you change and create webpages without having to be technical. You simply make it look the way you want and the program will build the page for you. There are many different editors out there such as Front-Page, Dreamweaver, Adobe Suite and others.

Web Hosting

This is a company, such as an Internet Service Provider, that hosts or allows you to store your website on their server. They typically charge for this service and also charge fees to build and update your website.

Domain Name

You choose the name of your website. It has to be a unique name…in other words no one else can have it once you have registered it. They belong to you until you let the registration expire. It is just like personalized license plates.

Email

Electronic mail good for receiving tons of Spam or junk email as well as an occasional important communication.

SPAM

Junk email. No, it is not an acronym like everything else. Early pioneers of the internet were also Monte Python fans so they gave that name to unsolicited email.

Computer Virus

Everyone now knows what this is. It is a malicious program written by a prankster or criminal (or agent of a foreign government) which causes damage to your computer and the programs it runs. It can spread from computer to computer.

Spyware

These are programs designed to collect information about you to give to someone else. In the beginning it was meant to be programs collecting data that could be used for marketing purposes and to collect demographic information about people who surf the net, but it has changed into a new way to steal information from your computer. These programs don’t do damage like viruses do, but they can slow your computers performance and they can steal your user id and passwords as well as any information you store on your computer like credit card numbers, etc.

Mac vs. PC

With the advent of windows (the operating system on most computers) hackers and pranksters have built viruses and spyware to target these systems. MAC or Apple Computers are less vulnerable to spyware and viruses. I am not necessarily saying that you should buy a MAC, but I am saying they definitely have advantages…and disadvantages. The disadvantages are getting smaller all the time.

Now that we have gotten those pesky definitions out of the way, we can talk. It is not critical to know these terms, but it is good to know in case someone tries to techno-babble you into something.

I am going to give you the shortened version of 8 steps to a website. I will cover these in more detail next time.

Step 1

Pick a domain name that is meaningful for your company or business and register it. If you have only one location, choose a name with your city name or region in it. You can go to a website like godaddy.com and see what is available to register.

Step 2

Decide what you want your website to look like. If you don’t know, I suggest going to Google.com, search for similar websites and note what you like and don’t like about the sites you find.

Step 3

Find someone to host your site. It could be your ISP. I suggest you shop around. They all charge different prices and some have hidden fees.

Step 4

Remember K.I.S.S. which stands for Keep It Simple Son/Sweetie (depending on gender).

Step 5

Build your website the way casinos build their floor plans. They should be attractive and appealing to enter but the exits are hard to find.

Step 6

The greatest strength or weakness to a website is the content or the lack thereof. Some ideas to help build up content are to have a mission statement, list an about us page or even have pictures of your business and testimonials from happy customers.

Step 7

Market your website so that Search Engines will find you and promote your site.

Step 8

Keep the website fresh. Update it on a monthly basis at a minimum. One of the worst things you could do is to have a website that is 6 months out of date. Advertising last year’s specials is definitely not a good thing.
By Frank Ruiz
© Bench Magazine - 2006 Fall
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BENCH Magazine is devoted to the Bench Jeweler in retail jewelry stores and small trade shops.
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