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PDM Business Services

Information Centre

FAQ and customer Information

Creative Online Solutions!

PDM Business Services Web Design has put together this Customer Information Help File that will guide you through the process of setting up your business on the web. There is a lot of information here and it has been placed into topics where possible. If there is a question you have or a topic that is not addressed please e-mail your inquiry to PDM Business Services Web Design at info@pdmbusiness.co.uk or send a fax or letter (See contact page).

All inquiries are confidential and certainly do not obligate you to sign up for services!!

Please note that some of the definitions given here are not high-tech. They are meant to give newcomers a basic understanding of some of the things that are involved when setting up a web site. So lets get started!!

Why Do I Need A Web Site?

A web site is a cost effective way to make your business accessible to your customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week! A visit to your site can give all the information you want your customers to have, whenever they want it! A very convenient way to advertise...your information is always available and can be updated in an instant. Customers will know they are getting exactly what they want by doing business with you just by visiting your site. You can free up some of your employees time by including frequently asked questions about your business.

How To Get Started

The most difficult thing for a small business owner may be finding out how to get this web site "thing" started. First you need to take a look at your business and decide what purpose your web site will serve. Take a look at other sites in the same industry. How are they using their web space? What services do you offer that they do not? What kind of information do they have? What is your target audience? Do you want to sell things from your site?

Gather information you already have for your business like brochures, yellowpage ads, newspaper ads, price and product lists, photos of your building, you and your staff, logos, trade certification information etc...

PDM Business Services Web Design will look at sites in your industry right along with you so if you would like to recommend sites for review just send the URL, (web address).

Get a notepad and start jotting down ideas. Eventually you can start organising your ideas into what you visualise your web site to be. After you order your site, we will go over it together to get the look and layout you desire.

What Should My Site Look Like?

Your site should reflect you and your business' personality and be clean, clear and easy to navigate. While you visit others in your industry, take note of the types of sites that you like and those you didn't like. There are many guidelines to what makes a good site. PDM Business Services Web Design will provide guidance as the look of your site takes shape.

Can I use pictures of my products/service on the site?

Absolutely! Graphics should be used to supplement the text content, however they should not be the primary focus of the site, unless of course you are selling things like art! The use of a lot of images can slow the loading time (the time it takes for customers to see everything) of a page. Some visitors may not wait for the page to appear completely. They usually move on. If you have ever been to a site that has taken a long time to appear and became impatient, you know what this means.

You can include pictures of your storefront, your staff, your products, YOU! PDM Business Services Web Design will work with you and help you decide how to best use the images you have.

Choosing A Designer/Developer

After you have decided the purpose of your site and have some idea of what you want it to look like, if you haven't already found a designer/developer, now is the time. Be sure whomever you choose can provide exactly what you need. Do you want custom graphics or a pre-made template? Do you need an on-line store with a secure order form? How will your site be marketed (search engine submission)? Are there hidden fees? How much does maintenance cost? Will anyone from the company be available to answer questions?

If PDM Business Services Web Design cannot meet your needs, we will be more than happy to help you find someone who can. Through market research, many different design and development companies can be found out there and it is certain there is one that will suit your business needs!

You can also search the web, even by region if you would like to find a company in your area.

Choosing And Registering Your Domain Name

What is a Domain Name?

Without going into a lengthy technical discussion, a domain name is essentially a unique, easy to remember name, used to identify your web server (computer your site is stored on). Your domain name (virtual URL) is assigned a number associated with the computer your site is stored on but rather than trying to remember a string of numbers, it's much easier to use a name you recognise! . So used along with "http://www.(anynamehere)", this now becomes your URL (Uniform Resource Locator) or web site address. The domain name for PDM Business Services Web Design is PDM Business Services.co.uk. The complete URL for this site is http://www.PDM Business Services.co.uk. Putting it in the location line of your web browser brought you here! All domain names are registered with ICANN (The Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers-see below). Think of ICANN as the DMV of domain names!

Do I have to have a domain name to have a web site?

Not necessarily. There are hosts that can provide you with a non-virtual account (or subdomain hosting) which means the URL of your site would be http://www.yourhostingcompany/yourbusinessname, Your hosting company will give you a subdirectory on their servers to store your site's files. If you decide to move your site, you cannot take this name with you. Your URL will be different as well as any e-mail addresses that you may have signed up with the hosting company.

The advantage of having a domain name is that you will have your own URL and you can take it wherever you want. If you decide to switch to a different hosting company, a virtual URL and any associated e-mail addresses, can go with you and will always remain the same (provided you renew your registration each year).

What should my domain name be?

Choosing your domain name can be a simple as the name of your business. For example, if the name of your business is ABC Car Repairs, you may want http://www.abccarrepairs.com to be your web site address. That means, abccarrepairs.com is your domain name. Use only letters, numbers and/or hyphens. (Although the name cannot begin or end with a hyphen). There is a 67 character limit on the length of your name and domain names are not case sensitive. XYZAutoRepair.com is the same as xyzautorepair.com .

But, what if someone already has my name?

It is possible that the name you choose is already taken. In that case the registrar (companies that process domain name registrations) you use may suggest others. Try using abc-carrepairs.com or abccar-repair.com or a-b-ccarrepairs.com. Chances are that one of the variations you come up with will work.

How do I register my name?

There are two ways you can register your domain name. One is doing it yourself through an accredited registrar. ICANN list. If you are not sure where your site will be hosted, it may be a good idea to "reserve" your name before someone else gets it!

The other way is to have your hosting company (see below) do it for you. When you sign up to put your web site on-line with a hosting company, many offer to take care of the registration process for you. If your site is not ready, you can park your domain with your host. In other words, reserving your name and space before your site is ready to go live.

How much does it cost to register a domain name?

The cost of a domain name can run on average between ?12.00 and ?90.00 per year, depending on with whom you register and the type of domain you choose (.com, .co.uk, .org, etc). Many registrars offer sales and promotions and some hosting companies will include your domain name registration in with their hosting packages.

How long does the process take?

Depending on how you register, 24-72 hours.

Where Will Your Site Be Hosted

What is a hosting company?

A hosting company provides a place on their servers for your site to be stored. There are virtual hosting companies that allow your site to be on their servers with it's own domain name. Non-virtual hosting companies lease you space on someone elses server and allow you to have a sub-directory of your files using their domain. Non-virtual hosts tend to be less expensive than virtual hosts.

What is a server?

A host computer that stores information like web pages and is connected to the Internet all the time is considered a server.

How much does it cost?

That completely depends on the hosting company that you choose and how many options you need. A basic package that has 40MBs of storage space for your files, a couple of e-mail accounts and cgi-bin (a program designed to accept and return data, such as a form) access can cost an average of ?30.00 per month. (This is just an estimate based on comparison shopping!) Some require a set-up fee. The more features you are looking for, the more you will pay. For example, an on-line store with a shopping cart and a secure server order form will most likely cost more than a storefront site. Billing from your hosting company is separate from your domain name registration and web site developer, unless your hosting company builds your site for you.

Your Internet Service Provider (ISP) may offer free space to it's customers. Check out how much space they allow and if commercial, business or for-profit pages are allowed. This may be the ideal set up if you only require a page or two!

What about Yahoo! GeoCities and companies like that? Don't they offer free space?

Hosting companies such as Yahoo! GeoCities and Angelfire offer free space to personal homepages but NOT to commercial sites.

What should I look for in a hosting company?

After you determine the purpose of your business site, look for a host that will meet your needs. Things to take into consideration are space allotment, technical support availability, bandwidth capacity (the amount of data that can be transmitted in a fixed amount of time), type of lines the company has their computers hooked up to for reliability of a connection... Yes, there is a lot to consider when choosing a hosting company. If you need help finding a hosting company, PDM Business Services will give you a hand.

How Your Site Is Promoted

Submission to search engines

After your site is up and running you will want your site to be submitted to search engines (a program that searches for documents based on keywords) so people can find you. This can be done in a number of ways. Your hosting company may offer search engine submission. There are companies that, for a fee, will submit your site. Or you can also do it yourself. Search engines use keywords that are placed on your page (but hidden from visitors) to find you. Keywords are placed on your site by your developer and would include things like the type of business you are in, your region etc. For example, keywords for an auto repair shop may include "auto repair, your town, your county, automobile, car repair, truck repair, brakes, inspections, ASE certified, vehicle repair, engine repair, motor home repair...." PDM Business Services will work with you and your hosting company to ensure that your site is efficiently submitted!!!

Industry Directories

With the Internet growing every day, there seems to be a directory for every possible business industry! Directories work a little differently than search engines. If you searched for auto repair shops in your search engine, you may find directories listed. Click on the directory for a list of auto repair shops. When your site is submitted to a directory, an actual person takes your information, visits your site for review and places it in the listing along with a description.

Banner exchange

A banner exchange program such as Microsoft's bCentral LinkExchange Banner Network, offer you a chance to promote your site simply by putting a banner on your page and submitting your banner to the exchange. Your banner will be rotated on the sites of all the members in the exchange.

Local Business Directory or Chamber of Commerce

Find out if your community has a web site and add your link.

Link from your own or friends personal home pages

If you or your friends have a personal home page, that is a great place to put a link to your business site!!

Put A Link In Your E-Mail Signature

Most e-mail programs have the option of putting a "signature" line at the bottom of your e-mail. That means that you can put a link to your business site in your signature and EVERYONE you send e-mail to will get it!!

Business cards, letterhead, invoices, print ads, yellow page ad, business checks...

Be sure to include your URL (web site address) on all your marketing tools!

Your Answering Machine

If you turn your answering machine on after hours, add the URL to your message. That way customers can go to your site and find the information they were looking for!

Link From

A link to your site will be placed on the design page of PDM Business Services. A chance for more visitors and potential customers!!!!

Word of Mouth

Definitely one of the most cost effective ways to promote your site!

Sign Guestbooks

While you are out surfing, if you visit a site with a guestbook, sign it!!!

Miscellaneous Information

Why do sites look different on different computers?

Every attempt is made to be sure your site looks good in all browsers. However, the same site can look very different from one computer to the next. This is because not everyone will have their own computer set the same. You can modify the appearance of text (size and font, for example) on your computer by changing the preferences in your browser. Different browsers do not necessarily "read" each web page the same either so the same page could look different in Netscape than it looks in Internet Explorer, even on the same computer.

PDM Business Services does not use the same templates over and over. All designs are original work and once you purchase your site, the graphics are yours. No other site will use the same design.

Privacy Policy:

PDM Business Services is committed to honoring the privacy of our clients and visitors requesting information. Only information that the Client specifies, will be used on the Client's web site. Information that is collected that will not be used on the Client's web site is held in strict confidence. This information will not be released or sold to any third party for any reason unless permission is granted by the client. The release of certain information, as required to submit the client's site to search engines and directories, will be done only after permission is granted from the Client.

Disclaimer: This information is being provided to you in good faith as a customer service. PDM Business Services will not be held liable for any actions resulting from the use of any of the services provided by these links. PDM Business Services Web Design does not necessarily endorse the business practices of any of the companies mentioned here