before blog — to set up a website

  1. Get a clear idea of want you want to do on your Web site, and a good idea of your target customers. Most people come on to the Web because they can’t find want they want easily in other forms of shopping.
  2. Get hold of some Web page preparation software, and take time to get to know it. Once you’ve done that, prepare your pages. Keep things simple—you’re there to sell products, not to impress the world! When you’ve prepared your pages, test them to destruction. Test them again when you’ve put them on your web site. In particular, make sure all the links link and all the form fields returns the appropriate information.
  3. The more enquiries you generate, the more time you have to take to deal with them. A higher proportion than usual of enquiries on the Web will be from time–wasters, so be very careful about the way you set up your pages. For example, on our pages, we’ve added a number of messages saying “do not continue unless you’re committed to buying” and ask lots of questions which help customers consider the things they need to consider before buying a ticket.
  4. Once you’ve established your site, promote it—politely! Make sure it’s on all the free indexes. If there is an appropriate usenet newsgroup—ideally, one called marketplace—put monthly ads on that mentioning your web page. Ensure you’re aware of netiquette.
  5. Demon only costs 25 pounds a month for 5M of Web space. Other services offer more space for less cost, but the important thing is that most services offer slower access to your pages. The slower the access, the fewer people who will access the pages before getting fed up with the whole thing. 25 pounds a month—with the effort spent on indexing and so on—is not much money compared to most other forms of advertising—and that’s how you should regard the Web; as a means of bringing in the customers—even though you won’t convert as many as you will from those who walk into the shop.
  6. Make sure your staff know how to deal with Web enquiries. Make sure you’ve got a system set up to manage them effectively and quickly.
  7. Don’t use email to send messages to people without their permission. Apart from the fact that its illegal (such mailing lists almost always break the data protection act because of the way the addresses were acquired) it is also extremely annoying to the people who find their phone bill has gone up because someone has sent them some email they’ve had to pick up.
  8. Have fun!

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