Spotlight on Websites
Deciding What to Wear on the Web
So, last week we discussed choosing a Website Provider and a URL. Now if you are building your own website, you must select a template or theme. Different providers call them different things, but whatever terminology is used, they are the framework of your site. This selection process is kind of like choosing what you will wear to an important interview or appointment, except whatever you choose to wear, you're going to wear it everyday.
Themes determine the look and feel a website will have. Keep in mind, while you will want a template you like, the most important person you have to please is a potential customer. While themes and templates are merely a frame to hang your website on, the more the theme you choose already looks like what you want, the easier your set up job will be. In some cases, you can virtually fill in the blanks and get on to some other important task.
The Selection Process
Shopping for a theme can be as easy or as difficult as you want to make it. Most Web Providers have tons of choices and while they usually have a selection of free templates, according to what plan you choose, there are usually premium choices as well, which can be purchased for under $100. If I can, I try to use a free theme, but it is a one time purchase, so if a $69 theme is the one you want and you can afford it, then don't fret about it.
And now a word of warning, beware of themes not supported by your Web Provider. There are companies selling beautiful themes which can be used on a variety of platforms. These themes look fantastic, but unless you're a whole lot more tech-savvy than I am, beware of the tech support chasm. If everything goes smoothly installing the theme and you never need tech support, then you are golden. But if you run into any problems, the theme company will blame the Web Provider and the Web Provider will blame the theme.
Customizing Your Theme
This is the meat of the project. Once you have installed your theme - usually just the click of a button, you have to make the theme yours. There are usually built-in set-up steps to take you through the initial tasks involved. You will be asked for your basic information, like the name of your site, your logo and your tagline. Then you put your pictures and text on the various pages of the site.
Don't stop there. I recommend going through every button and page on your Web Provider's dashboard before hitting the publish button. If they are asking you for something you don't understand, online support documentation is usually easily accessible. If the documentation is as clear as mud, try searching the Web for the terms you don't understand. You may even find videos by toher users that demonstrate exactly what you need.
If you just need your site to be an on-line business card, you can be through at this point, but if you are hoping for more, then come back next week and we will talk about tools and plug-ins. Or if all this technical talk is making you cross-eyed. Give me a call and I can help.