Volume 12, Issue 1 - January/February 2008

Open 24/7
Developing a Website

In the September-October 2007 issue of Window Film, editor Drew Vass explained how window film dealers can benefit from having their own website (see page 26). After discovering that I consulted for the majority of the websites covered in his “Open 24/7” article he asked if I would continue the discussion by contributing a regular column on the subject.

According to a recent Pew Internet and American Life survey, 71 percent of American adults use the Internet. Of that 71 percent, 78 percent use the Internet to research a product or service before making a purchase. The necessity of a dealer website has never been stronger. If you don’t yet have one and are sufficiently convinced you should, just follow this column along, from issue to issue, as I hope to show you the way to a professional website.

  1. Choose a domain name: A domain name is the address you enter in the address bar of your internet browser and is usually preceded by the letters “www.”Choose a domain name with a “.com” extension, as they are the most popular and most easily remembered. Also, try to choose a domain name that is reflective of your company name or indicative of the product or service that you offer. For example, if your company’s name is ABC Window Film, consider choosing www.abcwindowfilm.com. But be aware, there is a chance your desired domain name is already taken, so have a few backup choices in mind.
  2. Register your domain name: You need to register your desired domain name, or, in simpler terms, to buy it for an annual fee so that no one else can use it. Various companies provide domain name registration; for instance, GoDaddy.com provides registration with an easy-to-use interface at an inexpensive annual rate. Also, if you register a domain name such as www.abcwindowfilm.com, consider registering www.abcwindowfilms.com. This ensures that your website will not be overlooked by a prospective visitor who forgets whether your domain name is singular or plural.
  3. Purchase a hosting account: Registering a domain name is only half of the equation. A hosting account provides you with a place to store your website, so it can be viewed by the public. It’s a good idea to use the same company through which you registered your domain name for hosting. A sophisticated hosting plan will cost around $7 per month.
  4. Develop your website content: Gather all of the relevant images, both from manufacturers’ stock and your own, determine the organization of your site (otherwise known as a site map) and begin writing content in a word processor. Basic categories to consider include: About Us, Products, Services, FAQs, Contact Form, Picture Gallery and Warranty Information.
  5. Select a web designer: A web designer is someone who will develop the look and feel of your website and incorporate your content into that design. A web designer may do his own design work, or choose to use a template. Be sure to discuss how many rounds of initial designs you will receive, as well as how many rounds of revisions.
  6. Proofread your website: After your web designer has created your website, proofread it as there are bound to be errors in content and functionality. Submit the requested changes to your web designer. 

Helpful Tips
Be sure that you register your own domain name and hosting account, and keep the user names and passwords on file. This way, ownership of both components is assigned to your organization. Too often I hear from window film dealers that allowed their web designer to handle their domain name and hosting account, only to find out that the web designer owns the rights to that domain name and refuses to assign ownership to the paying dealer.

After you choose a hosting plan you can eliminate those AOL/MSN/Comcast e-mail addresses such as abcwindowfilm@aol.com in favor of john@abcwindowfilm.com. The general public too often associates infant or unprofessional businesses with those types of addresses.

Manny Hondroulis is marketing manager for Energy Products Distribution in Baltimore, Md. Mr. Hondroulis’ opinions are solely his own and not necessarily those of this magazine. If you have questions, e-mail Manny at mhondroulis@epdwindowfilm.com.

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