7 Website Tips to Help You Get Started Right

7 Top Website Tips - Good ideas for your business website

Creating a business website can be an intimidating prospect. You want everything to be perfect … but don’t have the expertise to be confident you’ll get it right.

That’s one reason we offer professional website design. Our experts can take all that stress off you and ensure you get a business website you can be proud of.

But you definitely can do it yourself. In fact, we offer three DIY website hosting packages that include an easy-to-use website builder and plenty of other tools to help you out.

Today we’ll offer you some basic website tips to help you get started with your business website.

Even before the list of tips, our first advice would be not to stress out about making your website perfect right off the bat. It won’t be perfect. But if you get the basics right, it will work well for you and you can easily update and optimize your site over time.

When Building Your Business Website, Don’t Forget…

  1. Contact information: Make it as easy as possible for website visitors to contact you and find you if you have a local, real-world presence. Create an easy-to-find Contact Us page and think about adding your phone number and address to the top header (or at least bottom footer) of all pages. An address can also help with your local SEO efforts.
  2. Business information: Make it as clear as possible who you are and what you provide. Keep in mind, people will be visiting your site who don’t know anything about your business or maybe even the category of products and services you are offering. Don’t rely on industry jargon that people may not understand or on vague marketing language that doesn’t answer people’s questions. Your business information can be on your homepage or an About Us page. One technique is to have some abbreviated introductory information on the homepage so people are sure to see it and then have more detailed information about your company on an About page, Product or Services pages, Pricing page, etc.
  3. Logo/Branding: If you already have an established logo or other brand elements, try to have them incorporated into your website so your customers will feel at home on your website. Doing this will also help customers trust you online, which can help translate into sales. If you do have a logo, make sure it is prominently displayed at the top of all website pages: upper-left is the standard position. (Our professional website design services offer logo design as an add-on service if you don’t already have a logo.)
  4. Easy navigation: Take some time to plan out all your pages and link to them using easy-to-understand keywords in your navigation. If you have lots of pages, group them into logical, well-understood categories in your navigation. If you are having trouble deciding on category names, look around the web at similar websites. Using common online terminology is a good strategy; you don’t want to rely on customers relearning terminology that’s unique to you if they are used to seeing it another way.
  5. Site map: Ideally your website navigation makes it simple for visitors to get to all your website pages, but having a sitemap that lists all your pages in one place is a good backup plan. Site maps are often linked to from the header or footer of all pages.
  6. Easy to read: While you do want to use your brand’s colors on your website, that doesn’t mean if your logo is red and green you want to have red pages with green text on them (or visa versa). You want to make sure all your pages are easy to read. So pick page and text colors that contrast well for readability (good ol’ black text on white pages is the most readable) and make sure the font size is big enough for most people (larger if you specialize in products/services for seniors or people with vision issues). Of course, you should also make an effort to keep your writing clear, focused and easy to read.
  7. Easy to find: Take advantage of the free SEO tools that come with EarthLink Web Hosting and Ecommerce Hosting plans. They can help you optimize your website and get ranked on search engine sites, making it easier for your customers to find you. There are also free tools so you can submit your business information to more than 60 online business directories and search engines at once. Just be patient; new websites always take a while to move up the search engine rankings.

Bonus Tip: Go Mobile! A mobile website is becoming a more and more important addition to your regular website. Five of our six web hosting plans include a free mobile website with an easy to use mobile website builder. But don’t worry if you have a plan that doesn’t include the mobile site; you can upgrade any time you’re ready.

How to Add a Website Photo Gallery

photo gallery demo - coppermine website photo gallery

Want to add a photo gallery to your website? How about a slideshow?

If you’re an EarthLink Web Hosting customer, it’s simple with the Coppermine Photo Gallery. Coppermine is integrated into your Web Hosting Control Center, which makes it easy to use with your EarthLink-hosted website.

Here’s how to get started with Coppermine Photo Gallery:

  1. Sign into your Web Hosting Control Center at https://control.earthlink.net with your web hosting domain nameusername and password.
  2. From the Build tab, click on the Coppermine Gallery icon.
  3. Click Install Coppermine Gallery.
  4. Fill in any required fields listed under Application Configuration (Database user and Database Name may be filled in already), enter your Administrator details, and select a directory for installation or create a new directory then click the bottom button to install Coppermine.
  5. After the installation finishes, click the Go to Coppermine Gallery link to open your new gallery page in a new browser window and get started customizing it.
  6. Click the Config button to get access to all your photo gallery settings and preferences. You’ll want to adjust many of these before you start uploading pictures. You can add a gallery name and description, change the gallery theme, define the width of the main table for your images, choose the number of albums to display and the number of columns for the album list, set the size of thumbnails (in pixels), choose to show a caption below thumbnails, set the maximum length for an image description, choose to create intermediate pictures and set how big they should be, specify allowed file types, and much more.
  7. Click the Categories button to set up categories for your photo albums.
  8. Click the Albums button to create Albums within your categories.
  9. Click Groups if you want to change permissions for the default groups: Administrators (you, for now), Registered, Guests, and Banned.
  10. Click Users to add users; at this point, you or whoever you designated as your administrator will be the only user.
  11. Now you should be ready to add your photos. Simply click the Upload file link at the top of the gallery page. You can upload up to five photos at a time. Click the Choose File button to find photos on your computer to upload. Or enter the full URL pointing to an image online that you wish to use. Click Continue when you have selected all the images.
  12. You should now see a confirmation that files were uploaded. Click Continue to add those files to the albums you have created. Use the menu to choose an album name, then title the file/photo, enter a description, and choose keywords. Click continue until you’ve done this for all files you are uploading. Click the Upload file link again if you need to upload more photos.
  13. When you are logged in as an administrator, you can click on any of the photos to crop or rotate them, edit the file information (change the title, change or add a description, add keywords, delete comments, etc.), or delete the files. Other visitors can click on images to rate them.

There are many, many ways to customize and modify your website photo gallery over time, but the instructions above should point you in the right direction. Good luck.

Restoring Your Website

EarthLink Web Hosting is easy to use. And as we’ve written about before, our free EasySiteWizard Pro tool is a fast and simple way to build a website, even if you have absolutely no technical experience and know nothing about building a website.web hosting - website file restore complete

But, as with any web hosting service, it is also possible to make mistakes when you’re working on your website.

Sometimes the mistakes are serious: you accidentally deleted important files or pages, or you inadvertently wrote over some content you needed to save. (This is especially likely if you are working on your website manually and uploading files via FTP rather than using the EasySiteWizard Pro tool.)

That’s why we strongly recommend that you alwayshave a local backup (i.e., on your computer) of your site and all its content.

Here are the backup strategies we recommend to help you safeguard your essential website files.

  1. Use your favorite FTP client to download a complete backup of all your website’s content. The File Manager Pro tool (in the Manage Site section of your Web Hosting Control Center) can be used to download individual files to y our computer, but not whole directories or multiple files.
  2. Keep your website backup stored locally on your work or home computer, or at an off-site storage location.
  3. Create a backup schedule and keep backing up your website regularly according to your schedule (how often you should backup varies depending on how often you make changes to your website). Rapidly changing data should be backed up more frequently.

If you’ve kept up on your local website backups and you make a mistake, the fix is as simple as FTPing the files you need from your computer back to your website.

Using the File Restore Tool

If you don’t have a backup, all may not be lost. Your EarthLink Web Hosting Control Center has an easy-to-use File Restore tool that can help you restore your website content from pre-defined time periods (6 hours ago, 24 hours ago, 48 hours ago, etc.).

Please note: it is not possible to ensure that all your files will be recoverable. And you should also be aware that, if you are using File Restore to restore your website, it will overwrite existing files if they have the same filenames as the restored content.

Here’s how to use File Restore:

  1. Sign into your Web Hosting Control Center at with your EarthLink Web Hosting domain name, username, and password.
  2. On the Manage Site tab, click the File Restore button.website file restore tool in web hosting control center
  3. At the bottom of the page, use the drop-down menu to select a time-based backup of your site that you think will have the file you wish to restore (your most recent choice may be from a few minutes to 6 hours ago).
  4. Click the Next button.
  5. From the list on the left, select the file that you want to restore and click on the gray dot (the dot will turn green when the file is selected). You can repeat this process for other files you wish to restore.
  6. Click the Restore button.
  7. You’ll see a message letting you know that you are restoring a file and warning you about overwriting other files. Click the Next button to continue restoring your files.
  8. You’ll see a final confirmation (big green checkmark) that your file restore is complete and a list of files restored. At this point, you can click a link to view your File Restore history or to go back and restore additional files.

We hope you never need it, but it’s good to know File Restore is there to back you up.

Now, what are you waiting for? Get started backing up your website.

Affordable Web Design is at your Fingertips

Building a website for your business can be daunting. Is it better to risk a lot of money on a designer or a lot of time on a built-it-yourself option? Too often, designers are prohibitively expensive, and website builders can look unprofessional.

EarthLink Web Hosting makes your choice easy with two solutions: an affordable, professional-grade do-it-yourself design tool, or an affordable professional designer. Let’s compare them…

Independent Designer / Design Firm

PROS:

  • Design is their only product (so it’s likely good!)

CONS:

  • It could be difficult to get one-on-one time
  • Turn-around may be slow
  • This is the highest-priced option
  • Designers may have an esthetic they don’t like to deviate from

Designers Within Your Web Hosting Company

PROS:

  • They are invested in your business (for example, EarthLink offers web design services to compliment their web hosting plans, and prefer to support you in all areas instead of only supporting hosting)
  • They have incentive to keep you as a client (ex. If a designer loses your business, he only loses your deign business; if a hosting company loses your design business, they will probably also lose your hosting business!)
  • Pricing is lower than design-only options
  • Other services (such as internet marketing) can also be added to your account (and costs are cheaper bundled!)

CONS:

  • Turn around time may be slower than desired

Yourself, With Easy-to-Use Tools

PROS:

  • EarthLink offers tools (ex.Net Objects Fusion) that let you to create your own website on your own time with no design experience required
  • Turn around time is up to you (and you can alter it at your discretion)
  • This is the most affordable of your options

CONS:

  • You will spend a little bit of time learning how to use your chosen tool(s)