DOs and DONíTs of
a build-your-own website
Donít underestimate the job. If you donít get a kick
out of wrestling with a new computer program and mastering it, this
probably isnít for you.
Do take some time trying out the idea. Go to Google and
search "easy websites." Click on a few and youíll get a
good idea of the prices and what the main features are.
Donít consider offers that seem too good to be true. They
are, and itís usually not worth the time it takes to check them out.
Free sites are probably bait and switch situations, and will offer
Donít go the other way, either, and pick an expensive service.
Thereís no reason to pay more than $5 or $10 per month for a simple
Do pick a major company for your first try. We favor
Godaddy.com right now. But Yahoo.com and Intuit.com also have good
starter website building tools.
Do check out available domain names. Go to www.whois.com
and see what names are available: www.drjones.com, www.stevebrown.net,
etc. But donít buy the name right away, because the site-building
company you eventually select may get it for you for free, or at a
discount -- and will handle all the set-up.
Donít make a long-term commitment at the start. Prices
are lower if you sign up for six months or a year, but thatís not a
good idea untill youíve been up and running for a few months, and
feel confident in the service.
Do experiment a bit if you want to spend an hour or two
trying out a few sites. Almost all programs let you get started
without giving them a credit card.
Do schedule a significant block of time for constructing
your site. Two hours is probably minimal--four to six hours is better.
Learning to use any site-building tool can be frustrating. You have to
work through a few problems before you see the light at the end of the
Donít start building your site without a little preparation.
Hereís what youíll need for starters:
(1) A picture of yourself in digital format.
(2) A good heading at the top of the site. Thereís no advantage
in putting your name in big bold letters at the top of the page unless
youíre already so famous that your name excites peopleís interest.
Instead, you should lead with a "benefit" or the promise of
something useful: "You can make things better" or "Life
doesnít have to hurt." If that seems too aggressive, keep it
more neutral: "Compassionate, professional therapy."
(3) A short two or three-line explanation of what you do.
(4) Three or four paragraphs of text to spell out the benefits that
clients can get when they work with you.
Do try out the programís technical support when something
stops you cold. This is both a good test of the companyís dedication
to support, and a way to overcome the start-up hurdles. Telephone
support is far better than email support for a beginner, so check the
companyís telephone hours before you get started on the project. If
they stop answering the phone at 4:00 in the afternoon, think about
Donít let "the perfect" be the enemy of "the good."
You can always make changes and improvements after your site goes
live. Nothing will motivate you like seeing your own website, up and