Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Q&A On Websites With Reg Charie

Every day I see dozens of questions online from people who don’t know much about websites but either have a terrible one that doesn’t work, or are thinking of getting a website and have little clue how to go about it. Unfortunately, some of the advice I’ve seen is very disturbing... much of it from self-proclaimed “web experts”.

So I thought I’d call in someone that I’ve observed to give sound and practical advice on the topic, over many months now, and ask them some of the questions that business owners need to know to demystify the website for business process. Below are some questions that people often ask me, and see what Reg Charie has to say. Reg is a regular contributer on Ryze and is well known on the network for his practical, no-nonsense approach.

Reg Charie is the owner of DotCom Productions and Zero Grief Hosting.

Many thanks for making your expertise available here for this blog, Reg.

How much do I really save by making my own website?

This really depends on how talented and knowledgeable you are.
If you understand how to do the site design, how to code for the best
results, how to optimize for the search engines and more.
Most people lose when they make their own sites as it takes
them much longer to do, and they usually make mistakes which cost
them in traffic or conversions.

How can I tell if a website would help my business?

Any business can use a website to increase sales and bring in clients.

What’s the difference between a website ... and a website that works?

It is all in the layout and coding.
It MUST answer the visitor’s first question, “What is in this site for me?”

What are the top things that really MUST be right on a website in order for it to help a business?

As I just said, It MUST answer the visitors first question, “What is in this site
for me?” The site must have straight forward navigation that leads the reader
through the process of presenting your products with a defined call to action.

The site should build trust, have well defined terms of service, privacy policies and full contact information.

How can people measure the results that they are getting from their website? Is that even possible?

Very definitely.
The site owner should have a hosting package with a good web stats program.
AwStats as an example. Other stats programs can be added that do a bit more, such as the Crazy Egg free tracker that shows where people click in a heat map.

This allows for ‘fine tuning’ of the pages to give the visitors what they need.
Sales are another method of tracking results.

What actions can a business owner see and track as a result of having a website that works?

Stats programs show the amount of visitors, the pages they visit, the length of time they stay onsite, the keywords and phrases used to find the site, and more.

If I have a local business, and I don’t sell things that I can ship
all over... why would I need a website?

To advertise to your local market.
Google has really opened up local search.
Advertising your location along with your products will
get you excellent positions in the search engine results pages. (SERPs)
People often search for local merchants.

How can I sell products on my website and what should I know about that? And will selling products on my site cost me thousands of dollars to set up?

You sell products by installing a shopping system on your website or by using "purchase" buttons supplied by a payment processor like PayPal.
Costs would be low. Using the PayPal system all you would need
to do is to copy and paste their code for their buttons.
Shopping systems are available for just about every kind of
operation and range in price from free to thousands of dollars.

I’d like to be able to add information to my site, but I don’t want to set up a website myself. Is there a way that I can do this?

All of the latest Content Management Systems make it easy to add and
edit once the basic site is set up. Everything is done in the site admin or "back end” and no knowledge of html code is required.

I’ve been told that I need a website with Flash. Is that true?

No. Flash, is not recommended as it can cause long page downloading times and search engines do not draw content from it.

How much should I have to pay for a basic website that works and what should I expect to get for that?

Pretty tough question to answer without knowing what you want to do,
how many products you have to sell and the amount of other content.
My prices start at about $300, for a full featured working site with
shopping system.

I don’t know much about websites so how do I choose someone to help me build a website, without getting taken for a ride?

Talk to the designer’s clients, look at their search engine results, and see
what they offer.

My friends have paid thousands of dollars for a website to be built, and they have never had any satisfaction to get it finished and the person they hired doesn’t return their calls (or their money!). How can I prevent this happening to me?

Again, talk to the designer’s clients and get their opinions of the designer’s business ethics.

Be prepared. Do your research.

There are scammers in every part of life from “paving” your driveway to designing website.

You can read Reg’s SEO Tips here.
Reg Charie is the owner of DotCom-Productions, RegCharie.com and Zero Grief Hosting,.

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