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  • Coopworth Breeding Stock
  • Handspinning Fleeces, Roving and Felting Batts
  • BUILDING A WEBSITE
     

    With so many people turning to the internet to search for products and services, it is very beneficial to have a website for your farm. You can do this yourself, I did!

    A website can be as simple as a one page free site on Geocities that includes a description of your farm/products for sale, or as complicated as a multi page site with a store where people can order your products online.

    I built a new site "from scratch", learning to write HTML (hypertext markup language) code. My old site had been built using a "wizard" that came with Microsoft Publisher on my computer. I decided I wanted a faster-loading site and more control over the content. You can see the finished product at-
    Deer Run Sheep Farm
    To view the " HTML code", go to a website, with your mouse, right-click on any blank portion of a page and choose "View Source." A new window with the code will open. I found this a good way to see how others had built their sites.

    I used several books to build the site, but the one I felt was easiest to use was "Web Site Design Made Easy" by Dennis Gaskill. You can also purchase his book from Amazon.com. The book was easy to understand, and didn't assume that I knew anything. He explains how to build a site using Microsoft Windows and Mac OS.

    There are several things to keep in mind when designing a site, but basically, keep it simple, fast loading, and easy to navigate.

    • Keep things simple- "flash" and music can be slow to load. Flashing graphics may look cool, but really won't add anything to your website. People are in a hurry, and want the information quickly. Give information about your farm/products on your home page, and make contact information available on every page.

    • Keep the size of files for your page small- about 10-12 KB per image, and less than 40 KB for the entire page, so that your site will be fast-loading. "Optimize" photos for the same reason. Optimizing photos means reducing the "file size" by making the resolution 72 pixels per inch and cropping and sizing the photo before adding the image to your page.

    • Easy to navigate- Using a navigation bar at the top, bottom or left side (if your site is more than one page) is standard. If you do it differently, people will have to search , may become frustrated, and leave your site. Place the navigation bar on every page. Often people enter you site from a search engine, and if they can't access the rest of your site, you will lose them.

    • If you use a background color or image, make sure visitors can read the text on the background.

    • Open links to other websites in a new window, so that your visitors can easily return to your site when they are finished browsing the external link.

    Steps to setting up a website

    1. Register a domain name
    2. Design and build a site
    3. Test that the site can be viewed on MS Internet Explorer (IE) and Netscape
    4. Find a web host
    5. Transfer the "file" of your website to the host computer
    6. Submit to search engines
    7. Up-grade or refresh your site from time to time to keep people coming back.

    1. Register a domain name;
    You can do this with your "web host", or with a different company. Shop around for the best price.

    2. Design and build a site;
    I have listed some helpful books and websites under "Resources" at the end of this article.
    Remember- keep it simple, fast loading, and easy to navigate! Create content. You can do that by simply writing articles or tips about your niche. Think of all the things people ask you regularly. Then answer those questions in an article.
    Some benefits of relevant content are-

    • Increased Visibility
    • More Inbound Links
    • Better Search Engine Ranking
    • More Website Visitors
    • Increased Sales

    3. Test that the site can be viewed with different browser programs, such as Internet Explorer and Netscape;
    When I first built the site, it seems I forgot to "close" some code. IE displayed the page, but Netscape didn't! Luckily, a friend who used Netscape, and is computer savvy alerted me to the problem. I went ahead and downloaded Netscape for free, and now I try to check that my page works OK with both browser programs.

    4. Find a web host;
    I found a site that compares different web hosts very helpful in selecting my host. I wanted a good, low cost site, with little "down time". Web Hosting Ratings is an independent guide to selecting domain web hosting services, featuring a searchable database of web hosting plans with all their features, user reviews, uptime monitoring of web hosts, and educational web hosting guides. See also: Cheap Hosting

    5. Transfer the "file";
    You will need to transfer the file of your website from your computer to the "host" computer using an FTP (File Transfer Protocol) program or "client". WS_FTP LE was free, but they have discontinued it. You might be able to find a free FTP client, or you can try several clients with free trial periods, such as WS_FTP Home
    For a good explanation of how this works, see-
    FTP 101

    6. Submit to search engines;
    Get recommendations directly from Google's site at Google Webmasters. Other search engines also have pages where you can submit your page to their sites.
    Make sure your site is properly "optimized" with the right keywords for your niche market.

    7. Get listed on other sites, and join Webrings-
    I did a search for "sheep" and "Fleece" and found some sites that would link to mine for free, such as:
    Fiber Sources
    E-Wool
    U.S. Sheep Breeders Directory

    Webrings are another good place to get attention. Webrings are sites of similar content that are linked together.
    I am a member of several "webrings" which link similar sites together. To see my webrings, and learn how to join,
    see Deer Run Webrings

    8. Up-grade or refresh your site from time to time to keep people coming back;
    I assume that you have something to sell- fleeces and breeding stock, for instance, if you continue to add and update information on your site, you will attract people, and perhaps get some new customers.

    Resources:

    Books-

    • "Web Site Design Made Easy" by Dennis Gaskill (my favorite!)
    • "Create your First Web Page in a Weekend" w/CD By Steven E. Callihan
    • "HTML for the World Wide Web, 4th Edition" by Elizabeth Castro.
    • "Absolute Beginner's Guide to Creating Web Pages" by Todd Stauffer

    Helpful Web Sites-
    Basic Web Design from Gleason's Fine Woolies Great site! Written with a sense of humor and easy to understand.

    A Beginner's Guide to HTML A good website for understanding how to build a site.

    HTML Help- Build Your Own Web Site

    Basic HTML Formatting Tags

    About.com Web Design has lots of information and links, and free e-mail lessons that you can sign up for.

    XHTML 101 - Free HTML Course

    Free Web Design Course

    Basic Web Design Tips

    Web Color Chart

    Beyond the Basics-
    The World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) sets the standards for the "Web"



    Jim and Martha McGrath
    HC 72 Box 14D
    Franklin, WV, 26807
    304-358-2239
    E-Mail Us