Building Your Website, Step-By-Step

The Story of a Guy Who Likes Pain

"I have two Dreamweaver ASP sites, one has shopping cart software. I would like
to consolidate into one and add audio, re-design, etc. How does your program
effect search engine ranking? I noticed you're #1 in Google so probably a plus
not negative. Would like to talk to someone..."

So began an inquiry about the Run Your Own Website package.

Sounds like someone who really needs the RYOW package, too, eh?

Maybe not.

Here's how it came down.

We started a phone conversation. His was a classic case. "I'm like the guy who spent $30,000 on his website," George said. (Not his real name.) "I've invested nearly a hundred thousand dollars in website design, advertising, and promotion."

He's had significant sales, too, but not when you consider his expenses.

"Every time I want to add something, or make a change, it costs me another $250 or $300," he explained.

"Now I'm sitting here with a bill for another years hosting, a Verisign security certificate, and who knows what I'm going to have to pay for updates. It's eating me up."

He was excited about the great experiences we've had with our search engine strategy. We talked about the features of the package. He was eager to learn more.

The Partner Fouls the Deal

Then came the big stumbling block. "Let me get my partner on the line," George said.

His partner wasn't so eager. He thought our websites were ugly. "All that information," he said. "Look at these other websites. Look at George's websites."

"George's websites are eating him alive," I thought to myself. "He's looking for a solution."

A reminder, RYOW websites are information-based. Now, you can add a "little" information, or a lot. That's up to you. But they're information based, like an online newspaper.

I listened to them, mostly the partner, talk to me about what websites they liked.

"Listen," I interrupted. "I think you two guys have a lot to talk about. And you're probably better off with the expensive web designer who creates those beautiful websites. That's what you want."

And I got off the phone.

Beauty, or Function?

Is it really a choice of beauty or function? I don't think so. But the RYOW website system is designed for what we call the "online newspaper" concept. You'll find other articles here about that.

It's an efficient, functional, website.

When you "write" an article, the whole website adjusts for you:

  • The article gets a page of it's own.
  • A brief excerpt of the article is added to the top of the home page.
  • A brief excerpt of the article is added to the section index for the appropriate section.
  • An older article on the home page is moved off, to make room.
  • The additional headlines at the bottom of the home page are adjusted to the new material.
  • Buttons are added to inside pages to promote the new article.
  • The story is added to the list of articles promoted when other articles in the same section of the website are viewed.
  • The article becomes available in the special search engine that's part of your website.
  • The system automatically submits the article to search engines.
  • The article "brief" is added to your website's automated RSS feed.

In traditional web design it would take hours to do all that. With the RYOW system, it's all automated.

I call it letting your website work for you, instead of you working for your website.

It's the idea of being efficient and functional.

But can't it be beautiful?

Sure. I get lots of compliments on our websites.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder. It's all a matter of what you want.

"Do your websites all look the same?"

I love it when I get that question. You decide. Look at some of our Sample Websites. You'll see some good ones you like. You'll see some you don't like. And you'll see some that are so-so.

Since you design your own, you have a license to shoot yourself in the foot. I mean, you can really make an ugly website, if you want to. It's up to you.

So, if you see an ugly RYOW website, don't blame me. Go on and look at more, you'll see some good ones, too.

And, yes, there is a similarity.

They all have a banner at the top of the page. They all have a sidebar on the right. Or the left, if they prefer. (It's a simple switch in the RYO Design Center.) With Buttons or links to what's inside.

Many have newsletter subscription forms at the top of the sidebar. They don't have to be there, but they work better when they are at the top of the sidebar, so usually that's where you'll find it.

There are several options for home page design. So you might be surprised what you find there.

And because we tell our clients some secrets about typography, you may see similarity there, though they have "software switches" in the control panel that can change all that.

Beauty or function? It's up to you. Look around this website. If you're ready for a functional website that you can run yourself with very little ongoing expense, RYOW is for you.

If not, it's not.

As for George, well, I think he needs to pay a few more web designer bills before he's ready.

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