Website Design Done Right
Website design can be learned by just about anyone, but not everyone has the time to learn how to do it properly. Contact Sky Valley Web Design for professional web site creation with pages that are "search engine friendly" as well as "people friendly." We charge $45 Canadian (about $34 USD) per hour for web design or for search engine optimization. We can also do proper search engine submission (done right) starting at $20 CAD for most sites.
Search Engine Optimization
If you already have a web site that just isn't working for you, contact them for a site re-design or search engine optimization and submission. Other than actually having a web site, having it search engine ready, followed up by a proper search engine submission, is just about the most important thing you can do. Even the best site is useless if no-one can find it!
Or "Do It Yourself"
If you are designing your site yourself, here are a few guidelines to keep in mind. Make sure your site looks presentable. The pages should load reasonably quickly, even with a dial-up connection. The look and feel of the site should be consistent from page to page. The use of style sheets (CSS) make it easier to manage and this also helps keep the HTML file size down a bit. If you are already very familiar with HTML code, you can design your site with any text editor. However, for most people, life is a lot easier if you use a WYSIWYG editor like FrontPage. Columns of text shouldn't run the entire width of the screen. Narrower columns are easier to read. Don't specify fonts that aren't in common use. However, if you do have a favourite font that you want to use, make sure you specify several other fonts for the visitors browser to fall back on. Keep the size of your graphic files down to a reasonable size. Graphics editing programs like JASC's Paint Shop Pro allow you to resize images and to adjust the amount of compression.
So… your site looks good. You have navigation that is logical and easy to use so visitors don't get lost. What's next? Most people think that the next step is search engine submission so your site can be found. While search engine submission is important, it's surprising how many sites just aren't "search engine ready."
What can you do to get your site ready? Spend some time going over your page titles. Each page should have a unique title. If you are using FrontPage, just right-click on the page and select PAGE PROPERTIES and you can view the title. While you are there, add a META description and keywords. Using FrontPage, go to PAGE PROPERTIES and click on ADD under USER VARIABLES. Enter "description" (without the quotes) for the name and type your page description in the "value" field. Do the same for the keywords. Enter "keywords" (without the quotes) for the NAME and enter your keywords in the VALUE field. Use commas to separate words and phrases. The META description should also be unique as should the page title. While you can "re-use" some of the keywords on all pages, each page should have a few keywords that are unique to that page. Place them at the beginning of the keywords. Only about half of the search engines use the keywords, but they should be used on every page for the ones that do. While going over your site, enter "alternate text" for all or most of the visible graphics. In FrontPage, just right click on an image and select PICTURE PROPERTIES and type the "alt-text" in the TEXT field on the GENERAL tab. Take the opportunity to check any graphical links and make sure you embed "alt-text" there also. The alternate text is indexed by most search engines and will be helpful for visually impaired visitors as well as those few people that have graphics disabled in their browser.
When you are done, these items should be in the <HEAD> of every page:
<meta name="description" content="Unique description of the page for search engines.">
<meta name="keywords" content="keywords, and phrases, etc.">
With these things out of the way, your site should be ready for search engine submission. While you can do search engine submission yourself, avoid the "submit free to 5,000 search engine" sites that exist just to harvest email address for the spammers. Search engine submission should be done carefully with attention to the requirements of each of the various search engines. If you don't want to tackle this important step yourself, we can do this for you. Our regular pricing is $30., but it is on "special" for $20 for a limited period of time.