Welcome to Alice's WebStart

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ARTICLE: How to do your own web site or choose someone else to do it

[First published in Women Unlimited Magazine, April 1998]

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The time has come for you to create a web site for your business or organization. You want a web site you are proud to call your own and one that satisfies your audience. What’s next?

Before you start, you need to have at least the following three things in place:

  1. You are ready in all ways to take ownership of your web site
  2. You have identified a potential "web advisor" and a web team
  3. You need to be competent with the basics of the Internet and using a web browser

"Taking ownership" of a web site means that you are emotionally and intellectually engaged in its creation and continued growth and health. When you take ownership, you ensure that you will be proud of the web site. You want "no surprises".

To ensure a successful web site, you need a "web advisor". This is a web professional who is knowledgeable about what is involved in developing a web site. It is important that you can comfortably communicate with your web advisor and are comfortable with her way of doing business. Your web team is at least one other person who is committed to your successful web site. The team serves as a sounding board, idea generator, and devil’s advocate. Often, the team will not be paid but you can offer refreshments or other rewards.

You should become a competent user of the Internet so that you know the "culture" of the Internet and can understand your audience, your web advisor, and your web team.

Now that you have the commitments and structure in place, there are at least three sets of questions that you, as owner, have to answer fully if the web site is to be successful:

Questions from your point of view: Why do I want a web? What are my motives? What are my reasons? What are my hidden dreams for the web? What are my business principles? Will I allow advertising? What sites will I link to?

Questions about your audience: Who is my audience? Who do I envision as visitors to my web? What are they like? Why would they come? What do they want? What do they hate?

Questions about administration and maintenance: Will my site change a lot? Who will make changes to it? What will the exact change procedure be? How much can I afford? Do I need a domain name? How will I handle feedback from my web visitors? How do I pay? How do I advertise?

Use your own research on the web and your web team to answer these questions. Put the answers in writing. Keep generating more questions and answers. As the site is developed, the answers to these questions will guide the many decisions that need to be made. The easier the decisions are, the less time and effort creating the web will be. If you are paying someone to do your web, this will translate as saved money and satisfaction with the results.

At this point, you will probably know whether you will do your own web or choose someone to do it for you. If you are creating a business web site, you will probably want to choose someone else to do the site for you if it is bigger than one to three web pages. Your web advisor can help you choose someone to develop the site, or you might choose her to be responsible for doing the site and helping you to decide on a service provider that means your needs.

The wonderful thing about a web site is that you are not stuck with your first attempt. In fact, you will probably want to grow and change your web as you and your enterprises develop.

Alice Wertheimer is president of Alice's WebStart, which is dedicated to helping people get started with their web sites. She has been a computer professional for over 20 years and has extensive experience with life in cyberspace. She is an optimistic futurist who sees the Internet as a wonderful facilitator of social connections and a source of information and fun. Alice can be reached at +1.508.481.6776.

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Last updated 09 Apr 2001