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Information provided by m2z ltd. From a talk given to NDA members January 2008. Updated with information from the speed skilling meeting September 2011.

Views expressed on this page are those of the contributor and do not necessarily reflect the views of North Devon Arts.

Domain name
Website content
Design considerations
Technical considerations
Search engines
Website updates
Hosting
Web sites - special offer for NDA members

For more information contact mark at mark@m2z.co.uk

Do-it-yourself web presence

If you are going to pay someone to do your website, probably easier to let them register the domain. Doing it yourself does mean you keep control of it, but it is extra work for both you and your web designer.

A domain name gives you a permanent web address and email address to use when you are promoting your business - it doesn't change when you move or change broadband companies.


Keep copies of your content, so it will be easy to move if you have to.


Social Networking Sites (Facebook/Twitter): You need to add content all the time - can you be bothered, do you have new things to say all the time? What message are you trying to convey? - Keep it focused on the business, no chit chat about X-Factor or your new glasses!


If you already have a website, make sure it is linked from the NDA site, and any other site you are a member of.

The more links to your site, the better you will do in the search engine ratings.

Take advantage of what the NDA website offers – if you can't get it together to find 7 images that represent your work, you probably won't be able to find the time to create your own site.

As with anything, get recommendations. List of members with websites

DOMAIN NAME

Make sure the domain name is registered in own name. You will have more control over it if anything goes wrong.

Most companies that offer domain names offer free email forwarding and web forwarding. You will need to use credit card to pay for them on-line. You never truly own the domain name, you have to pay the renewal every year or 2.

Go for a .co.uk or a .com domain name as these are most easily understood. Others are available .info .tv etc., but these might confuse users.

Check your domain name doesn't spell anything unfortunate when words are put together!

The cheapest provider for .co.uk domains at the moment is livetodot at £5.16 plus VAT.

.com .org and .net domain names are generally more expensive from UK providers. One of the best value is godaddy. They regularly offer promotional prices, and their full price $12.19 per year ($11.99 plus $0.20 ican fee) is excellent value. At the current exchange rate this is £7.70, with no VAT charged for 1 year.

All prices and exchange rates September 2011.

It can take a while for domain names to be registered, you can check using the Nominet of Godaddy websites

You can use the livetodot or godaddy control panel to set up web and email forwarding. Neither is particularly easy to use but with a bit of patience it is not difficult to set up. With email forwarding you need to specify the email address and where it should be forwarded to.

Web forwarding may give you a number of options. Put in a title, keywords etc. that are relevant to you. These will be used in listings in search engines. Cloaking simply means hiding the true address of the page displayed so your domain name is displayed as the address of the page.

Free Domains

If you are sure you are ready to have a website you might get a free domain name as part of the package, which will save a few pounds, but you loose some of the control. Make sure they register the domain in your name. Also, do you have a deadline, for example a show the site needs to be ready for? What happens if they don't get the site finished on time. At least try and get a holding page with your contact details up in time for the start of your advertising. Check the e-mail address works, and check it frequently.

Some cheap domain name providers do charge to release domain names to other providers, so check this when choosing a company to register your domain name.

Transferring domain names

Most large companies will have an on-line control panel to edit domain name registration details, and it is probably easiest to use this. if there is no control panel, then transfer of domain names for .com and .co.uk are handled slightly differently.

.com

Normally the name of the registered owner and all other details can be changed without charge. It is important that the registered admin email for the domain is yours, or you have cooperation of that person. I would initiate a transfer to godaddy. You have to pay for a years domain name registration extension but there isn't a charge as such.

The transfer process varies depending on the current registrar, but all send an email to the current registered admin contact email address requiring the receiver to perform some kind of confirmation procedure to confirm they want the transfer to go ahead. Once the transfer is complete, you can use the control panel to change any details you want to.

.co.uk

Transfer to a different registered owner needs to be done through nominet, and costs £12 plus VAT. All other details can be changed by the current tag holder, or using their control panel, if they have one. If you need to change to a different tag holder, the current tag holder has to do this (some allow it to be done using their control panel). If they do not cooperate, Nominet can do the transfer to a new tag holder but they will charge.

WEBSITE CONTENT

What do you want to convey to the users of your website?

  • Home

  • Gallery of current work

  • News Items

  • Exhibitions

  • Biography

  • etc.

Create a brief listing the pages sections you want your website to have. Create the copy and provide this with the brief typed in a plain text document. The web designer can then copy an paste this into the site.

Plan your content – don't have sections under construction. Think about the content – use it as part of your marketing planning. If you decide you want an exhibitions section, what exhibitions are you going to do. Make sure you have content to populate your site.

DESIGN CONSIDERATIONS

  • Logo

  • Colours

  • Typeface

  • Style

  • Layout

  • Images – sizes scale to the right size – make sure the HTML is not doing the scaling. Think about the effects you want on the images, for example borders and drop shadow

TECHNICAL CONSIDERATIONS

  • Flash – avoid flash introductions, can be useful for some interactive content.

  • Applets – execute java on the users computer, sounds like a good idea but tens to be slow - not to be very useful, there are other ways to achieve the same thing

  • Javascript – good for dynamic content can be used with CSS to achieve the same things you might be tempted to use flash or applets for.

  • HTML – The markup language used for all webpages – even if it is in Flash or an applet there is HTML as well.

  • CSS – very powerful for specifying the sytle of the pages. Define 6 styles (font, size, colour, background, borders) and decide what each should be used for (headings, links, buttons, normal text, disclaimer). Can also define styles for images (borders, spacing) and these should be used for (thumbnails, full-size, left insert, right insert)

  • CMS – The core of most sites. It is made up of 3 parts. The database used to store the content. An application to change records in the database to be changed. This application is usually web based, so can be accessed from any computer. And scripts to display the content using templates.

  • Databases – eg. MySQL. Used for CMS, recording data from forms or for shopping cart applications.

  • PHP Perl etc. Scripting language to fetch data from, or write data to database, or to process forms, format pages etc.

  • CGI Scripts – refers to PHP or perl etc. script that processes the parameters after the ? in a web address. CHI is often used as a shorthand to indicate a hosting service can execute such scripts.

SEARCH ENGINES

  • Get as many links as possible, relevant, quality

  • Get into the pages of the NDA website – well indexed in google for example Trelawney's exhibition

  • meta data, key words, description, title

WEBSITE UPDATES

Who is going to update your website?

If your website is updated by your web designer:

  • What are the costs – pay per change or contract

  • How many changes are included

  • How long will you have to wait

  • What happens when they are on holiday / Sick / Gone off to Uni

If you update your website:

  • Using an HTML editor

  • using a content management system

  • Go on a training course

If you want your web designer to do most of the updates but you want to be able to make some changes:

  • What provision is there for this

  • Does the design package they use allow updates from more than 1 computer

  • On-line updates – can be done from any browser

Microsoft FrontPage has been replaced by Microsoft Expression Web (Full version: $299.00 Upgrade from FrontPage $99.00) and Sharepoint Designer.

Various free packages – get recommendations.

Training North Devon College one day IT courses: 01271 338 189. There are various other courses on the website, but it is not clear how many weeks they are.

HOSTING

Disk space – whole NDA site is less that 30Meg

Data Transfer – 1G should be plenty unless you do something that becomes very popular

Connection speed – difficult to nail down, unless you are on a package that is restricted by connection.

WEB SITES - SPECIAL OFFER FOR NDA MEMBERS*

m2z ltd are designers of the North Devon Arts website. As such, we are able to offer some low cost web site services to North Devon Arts members. There are 3 packages available.

BASIC

£20 +VAT per annum - artist’s own domain (for example, www.yoursitename.co.uk), forwarding to their existing NDA gallery page.

STANDARD

£150 +VAT first year (£75 set up and £75 hosting, ongoing, £75 +VAT). Artist’s own domain (for example, www.yoursitename.co.uk) with upto 8 pages of content replicating their NDA content on their own domain. A ‘wrapper’ around NDA content, of their own design. Also, email address (for example, info@yoursitename.co.uk) with domain, forwarding to existing email address.

FULL SITE

£325 +VAT first year (£250 set up and £75 hosting) - ongoing £75 +VAT. Artist’s own site, separate from NDA, with as many pages as required, including gallery, with own administration system for artist to manage and update own content (with half day’s training provided in using the administration system). Own domain (for example, www.yoursitename.co.uk), and email address(es) (for example, info@yoursitename.co.uk).

FURTHER OPTIONS

Other options, such as online shopping cart are available. Please ask us for a quote.

*NDA CONTRIBUTION

To support the work of NDA, m2z ltd will make a 10% contribution to NDA for every service taken up by NDA members (10% of first year costs).