Are you a small business owner
who doesn't have a Web site? Are you
put off because of the cost it would
involve in employing a Web site designer?
I run a small business from home and knew
that if I was to expand my operations I
needed an Internet presence. I had a limited
budget and no experience of designing Web
sites but a colleague of mine, who I met
through the Internet, suggested I borrow
his manual and CD which guaranteed 'Creating
Your Web site in 24 hours'.
Admittedly, I was skeptical because from
what I had heard you needed some sort of
training. I was soon to find out this was
not the case. The instructions in the manual
were fairly easy to follow and applied
to Windows 95/NT and Mac users.
It didn't take me 24 hours, it took me 3 months but that was because
being a small business owner, I couldn't spend a large amount of time
on the project at one time because of my other commitments. The first
step of creating the Web site was to plan the information I wanted to
convey. As I am involved in the writing industry on several levels, my
Web site had to reflect this.
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My main occupation is a romantic thriller
novelist but I also assess manuscripts
for authors, and I'm books editor for The
New Zealand Writers' Web site, so I decided
what I needed first on my home page was
a warm welcome to visitors and then a blurb
about my current e-novel. Then I listed
my literary achievements and what my business,
Pen and Ink Services, could offer other
writers, both published and unpublished.
I also decided that I needed photos to
give a human touch and to promote sales
of my novel.
As a visitor to many Web sites over the
past three years, I found myself more inclined
to deal with Web site businesses if they
had a photo of the people involved. However,
as I did not own a scanner, I knew I had
two options. Either to ask a friend to
scan my photos or to pay for them to be
scanned at a local copy press shop. I chose
my friend as it was a free option, although
I had to post the photos to him and then
he would send them by attachment to me.
Building the Site
The 'Creating Your Web site in 24 hours'
CD downloaded a home page into my computer
and at the top of the home page were colored
buttons. Each button gave a basic command
according to what I wanted to display on
the home page. The first button I clicked
on resulted in inserting my photos. The
second button was used to insert text.
This was were I had my first problem.
I could not place the text beside the
photo and it would keep on reverting to
below the image. I spent a few hours on
it, nearly giving up the whole project
in disgust, so I decided to leave it for
a while and try another feature. This time
I wanted to create my second page of the
Web site where I would put details of my
business, contact addresses and links to
other Web sites. Again clicking on the
appropriate buttons enabled me to do this.
I joined up the two pages by inserting
a link at the bottom of the first page.
Some of the other command buttons enabled
you to enlarge text, change fonts and choose
A disheartening aspect was I would master
how to do something, then a week later
I would forget what I had learnt. I soon
overcame this problem by writing my own
Web site creation notes in a manner I could
logically follow. While I didn't exactly
have the Web site looking the way I wanted
it because of the text not appearing next
to the photo, I did not let it deter me
and concentrated on getting the Web site
I contacted my server who told me to choose
a password and then they gave me my Web
site URL. When I had originally loaded
my CD home page into the computer, it also
loaded another page automatically; a small
form where you insert your password every
time you upload your Web site to the Internet.
Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried,
the Web page would not upload to cyberspace.
Convinced it must be my problem because
I was such a beginner in all technical
matters, I was almost ready to give up
again. On the fifth telephone call to the
server technician, he discovered that the
fault was at their end because of where
my Web site was ending up in their system.
Once this was fixed, I tried again and
imagine my delight when I discovered I
had finally lifted my Web site into cyberspace.
I will never forget typing in my Web site
URL and my Web site coming up on the computer
screen. Also, to my surprise, the earlier
problem of not being able to put the text
right beside the photo, had rectified itself.
The Web site format was exactly how I wanted
it to be on the Internet. Why was this?
I went back to my computer home page and
saw it was still different from the online
Web site page.
It turns out the presentation and creation
of a home page isn't necessarily how it
looks in cyberspace. If I had known this
from the beginning, it would have saved
me a lot of wasted hours. Now there are
two pages on my Web site, all very basic,
but it is a start. Later, I can either
introduce more advanced features which
will mean I need to devote more time to
learning them from the manual or I can
pay a Web site designer. I know I saved
myself around NZ$600 for what I did already.
And while that may not seem a lot in the
business world of today, a small business
owner and novelist has a limited budget.
Pen and Ink Services is now into its second
year of running and, although, my Web site
has only been up for three months, I realize
I have to look at other aspects like listing
with search engines and a counter on the
Web site so I know how many hits I am getting.
As my income increases, I would be very
happy to pay a web site designer because
of my time constraints but for now I have
a presence on the Internet and a Web site
URL I can put on to my publicity leaflets
and headed note paper. For a small business
owner with no technical skills and only
a small marketing budget, creating a Web
site like this initially is definitely
worth thinking about.