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How to build your own web site fast and cheap - Even when you don't know a thing about HTML

by Dr. Kevin Nunley

The Internet has gone mainstream and big time! You can't turn on your TV without seeing a commercial with a web site address prominently featured right below the company's logo. When my local town hall stuck two poles in the lawn to hang a banner announcing their new web site, I knew the web page had come of age.

If you don't have a web site to market your business to your community and the world, it's time to get one. Web space is offered free everywhere, and there are super-easy HTML editors that make designing a web site just about as easy as typing a memo.

Here are two quick and easy ways to get a good-looking web site in less than a week (and that's if you take your time doing it!).

1. If you need to get your website up NOW, and you don't have time to deal with it yourself, get a web designer to build your first few pages. Keep the design simple and promise not to ask for many changes after the job is done. Many designers will knock out a professional looking starter site for a few hundred dollars. Then--when you have the time--you can add more pages to your site using the suggestions below.

2. OR - Design your web site yourself. Keep the concept simple and use time-saving aids developed especially for beginning web builders. First you need a place to put your site. Oodles of free space is offered by http://www.tripod.com, http://www.geocities.com, and http://www.angelfire.com/

These services also provide beginner directions on how to design a site. Geocities provides their web building directions at several levels of difficulty (or maybe I should say "simplicity") -start-up, basic, E-Z, and advanced. Tripod sends newbies directly to their Homepage Builder. They also provide you with places to get free graphics to spruce up your pages.

If you are a member of AOL or Prodigy, those services provide both web space and excellent HTML editors free for your use.

Even those who aren't AOL members can download a free copy of the highly acclaimed and super-easy to learn AOL Press 2.0 ( http://www.aolpress.com). In fact, if you're brand new to HTML editors, AOL Press is your fastest way to a professional look.

Common word processing and desk-top publishing programs now offer web design features, too. I've seen nice looking sites turned out with World Perfect and Microsoft Publisher. For more complete HTML editors, look into Microsoft Frontpage, Adobe Page Mill, and Claris Home Page.

Keep your web site information-packed and text intensive. Keep the graphics down to one or two per page. Many of the nifty web sites you see are done by expensive web design experts (who are often more concerned with impressing each other than communicating well to readers). There's no need to feel like you have to compete with whiz-bang site's of the week. As long as your site has good information or entertainment to offer, readers will appreciate it.

There are many on-line tutorials and books that can help you along the way. "Web Design for Dummies" puts HTML design in the easiest terms. For those in a real hurry, Lisa Schmeiser's "Web Design Template Sourcebook" provides you with a CD-ROM of web designs. Most are aimed at the corporate world including product brochure pages, guestbooks, and order forms.

One easy method I use to give a sophisticated look to my pages is to copy other sites that I like. How? It's easy (although you have to be careful not to plagiarize another person's copy or art work). Most web browsers have pull down menus that include a command like "View." Within that menu is a command "View Source." By clicking this, you can see the underlying HTML code that creates a page you like. Copy this code, replace the text and graphics with your own text and graphics, and you've got a quick way to build a nice-looking page. (To copy: Highlight the HTML page, control "c", go to a word processing page, control "v" to paste the code onto your page.)

Remember the basics of good web design. Include lots of free helpful information (that's the engine that make the Net go!). Use a title and headline that describe what your page or site is about. Be very clear about what you sell and what benefits you can bring the buyer. Tell readers who you are and why your company does what it does. Put your picture on your page to help people feel like they know you (earning trust on the Internet is always a concern).

Web sites are rapidly becoming an essential part of marketing. As millions of people discover the Internet every few weeks, you will want your business represented by your own custom web site.

About the author
Kevin Nunley provides marketing advice and copy writing for businesses and organizations. Read all his money-saving marketing tips at http://DrNunley.com/. Reach him at kevin@drnunley.com or 603-249-9519.

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