Don't you just hate it when you click on a link in a website and you get a big, fat 404 Error page?   I used to buy a program to check for broken links, but found there are some online services that will do the same thing for free.  One of my favorites is the following:

FREE ONLINE LINK CHECKER - http://www.brokenlinkcheck.com/broken-links.php

You can only run a check on one website at a time.   I use the setting to give me Distinct Broken Links Only.   When it is finished (you will see a counter which shows how many pages have been checked), click on the URL link, look at the source, and correct the problem.   Your visitors will thank you.

There are a few simple rules to consider when choosing a name for your site. It should be:

  • Keep it short and simple if at all possible.  Try typing a long domain name, and then about how your visitors will feel about it.
  • Easy to remember, spell and pronounce.
  • Use keywords but be aware of the stigma.
  • Make it intuitive.
  • Don't infringe on trademarks, like ToysRUs.  This particular company will search the internet for domains using this, and threaten you with a lawsuit if you don't cease using it.  I know!  It happened to me!  This Chinese company had much deeper pockets than I did, so I had to find another domain name.  
  • If you can't get a certain domain, try modifying it with words like verbs or descriptors.

If you meet all of these requirements, the viewers will be able to find you easier. If it is a word that's often misspelled, consider getting that domain name as well, and put a forward on it to the real domain name.

Keywords in the domain name are good, but not essential. My site name is "patvb.com", but I rank in the search engines for a lot of other key words. While the search engines give more weight to a ".com" site, it is not essential. You may want to acquire the *.net and *.org domain names to prevent someone "stealing" some of your thunder.

Be careful where you go to check on the availability of a domain. Some websites will put a lock on the domain name after you check on it so you are forced to get the domain from there or wait several weeks until the domain name is released. This could mean a higher cost.

You can even choose hosting accounts where the domain name registration is included in the price of the hosting fee. Be forewarned of big offers for multiple domains at a greatly reduced price, only to find out when they are up for renewal the price has skyrocketed.

You will want to look at the template clubs. A lot of them even offer free templates, but the best are the commercial templates. You can purchase a subscription to a club and get a taste of what they offer, with various types of membership available. These are available not only for Joomla, but Muse template clubs exist too.

What is Muse? An Adobe product. Need I say more?

A lot of times I hear "I don't want my site to look like everyone else's by using a template!" A template is what Joomla uses, that's the framework of Joomla by definition. It's what is done with that template that makes it uniquely yours by modifying the CSS style sheets. Most club templates have an easy version tool to modify CSS settings to customize a site.

PatVB.com can offer a template of your choice from a number of different club sites, and you can choose the style that best conveys your site, all included in the design fee. Color choices can be altered, and images of your choosing will customize the site just for you. New templates come out every month with the latest bells and whistles.

Don't go into "template overload." Contact PatVB for suggestions for your business website.

I recommend WorldICS.com to all my clients. Their hosting packages start as low as $6.95/mo. when paid on an annual basis and includes cPanel backend where you can manage your email accounts, database installation, and other site hosting settings.   Not all hosting companies can host a Joomla website.   The security standards are much higher, and standards must be maintained to manage a database site.

WorldICS understands the importance of keeping the host server current which makes my job easier when a security upgrade is available. The service is the best I've ever had. No site is too big for them to handle. So whether it is a small "billboard" style site you want, or a mega-eCommerce site with thousands of items for sale, they can take care of you.   Their hosting fees are posted on their website, as well as domain registrations.   

There are a lot of hosting companies in the world so choose carefully. Like the saying goes, "Hosting - starts at $6.95, domains - $10.95, service -- priceless!"

This is a part of the design effort, but I set it aside here as a separate topic because it is such an important part of the design effort.  There is where your branding takes place, whether it is a logo or a picture that is quickly identified with your organization.

I ask my clients to supply me with images that are as large as they can be. Contrary to what you see on television, an image can easily be reduced, but it cannot be enlarged. Allow me to be the one who cuts down the image, crops it to fit in a specific location, etc. Yes, I can come to your location and take pictures, but this adds to the expense of a website, and in this day and age everyone wants to keep costs down.   Rest assured, if I do a photo shoot, it is included in the price quoted so long as I know in advance to include it in my quote. 

If a government office wants a website, I will take the photos of administrators.  Why?  Because they need to be consistent in size and ratio.  One of the first signs of an amatuer site (you know, done by your nephew Bob), are inconsistencies in type, images, logos, colors.   This is where your branding is highlighted.  So, let's make the most of it.

If it is an ecommerce site, perhaps your manufacturers can supply you with an CD of catalog images. Yes, you could copy them off the internet and do a right mouse click to download it to your computer, but most images are created using a "lossy" process which means every time an image is downloaded, the further down in the chain you get, the less clarity the image retains. And you want the best image you can use on the web. After all, the adage "a picture is worth a thousand words" is not lost.

If I am designing a site for a community, it is imperative to use photos taken with a high quality camera.   What has worked in the past is for me to visit that community, and have someone who knows their area to take me around to take photos.   Who best knows their community than someone who lives there!   There are certain places common to each commuity, but all communities are unique.  Let's discover what those differences are and highlight them on your new website!