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What You Need to Know About Websites

We have recommended that you set up a web site to promote your business.  So, how does one  go about setting up a website?  Well, you could pay a professional web designer to develop your site.  If you chose this option, be sure to ask for references and links to sites completed by the designer.  All designers have a favorite style of design.  Be sure you like the  designer’s style.  Regardless of what they tell you, most designers are reluctant to  make major changes in their styles and designs, so be sure you pick the best person for you.

Also be sure you agree with rates.  A good, website with 3-5 basic pages costs around $500 and $30-$50 per month to maintain.  Custom graphics can increase your bill substantially, so provide your own , if possible. Be informed about what you are getting into and get it in writing.  Don’t get hooked into a high-end site that costs thousands to build and hundreds per month to maintain. 

Build Your Own
You can build your own site using various programs.  A good web hosting service, such as Host Gator or 1 &1  often provides various website design programs with your package.  Front Page, provided by some hosting servers, is an excellent program for new designers.
Over time, you may want to invest in a program which you can down load to your computer. While it may take an initial investment of up to $300 for a good web design program, the personal satisfaction from having direct control over designing your own site is well worth the costs. 
 

 

Static Versus Dynamic Site
There are two types of websites; static and dynamic.  Both  types have their advantages and disadvantages.  In this article we will focus on using the static site.  We will cover the use of the dynamic site in the next article.

Static sites usually display 3-8 pages with the home and about pages usually giving all the information a person will need to know about your music business. It is good for Indie artist to have a product page which provides samples and downloads of their music.
HTML Code
Static sites use html or xhtml (computer languages) to build your site. This code, called a source code, provides the rules that make your site visible on the internet.   You do not need to master html code to build your site, however you may want to become familiar with the code rules to help you design a user friendly and search engine friendly site. 

In the old days, one had to learn html code or go to a professional web designer in order to have a site made.  Fortunately for us, there are now many website design programs available that do not require that you master html coding. You simply learn to work with the particular program.  Becoming familiar with code, however, will help you to fix the bugs that always surface with any coputer program.  It will also allow you to add some of those fine touches that you see on some professionalm, high- end sites.
Web Design Programs:
Macromedia Dream Weaver 8
Dream Weaver has been the most popular web building program on the market for years.  It has good tutorials and the most computer challenged individual can learn the program.  Dream weaver comes with Macromeida Fireworks, a program which allows you to edit photos for posting on the web and design graphics.  It also comes with Macromedia Flash, a program which allows you to design flash videos.   Dream Weaver costs around $300 and used copies are available at Amazon.com for as little as $100. 

 Notepad  Notepad is a free source code editor which uses several languages including html, xml and javascript.  When you look at a site with mp3 samples and downloads, like i-Tunes, you are viewing a site that uses one or  a combination of this scripts. Noepad does not require you to learn these programs. They are written into the program .  You just need to learn the program.  Notepad  is very user friendly and is excellent for individuals new to web design.  Find out more at the Source Forge website 

Learning to Write Code
For those who want to learn more about the actual coding (recommended for those who want to create the daring websites ) we recommend you investigate the xhtml  online coding school offered by W3Schools.com.  XHTML is  a “stricter and cleaner version” of html code. This site provides instruction for both codes.  Here you can learn the keys to making good websites, how to make your site  friendly to your search engines like Google and Yahoo.

A well designed website is an invaluable asset to musicians seeking to promote their work. One  can have the site built by a professional and or create one’s own through the use of various programs available through the Internet.  We encourage you to research your programs before you buy.  Once done, the enjoyment,  control  and cost savings of creating one’s own website cannot be understated.  

Static sites are relatively easy to create and  allow for a broad range of artist expression in the site through the use of CSS style sheets.  Style sheets are like “wallpaper” for your site.  You can add photos, art work and scripts to express various “moods “for your site.  In addition, you can create numerous style sheets for your site and change them as often as you like.

If you have material that will never change; general information about your business,  or a small number of products, then you can work well with a  static site.  These sites are low maintenance and work effectively if you don’t need to add new content on a regular basis.

The disadvantage to a static site is just that:  It is  static. If you want to add new content to your site, you must take down the old material to add the new.  This results in a loss of material and a loss of continuity for your regular readers.  One way around this is to add additional pages and sub pages. Keep in mind that excessive pages and sub pages can make your site appear bulky and confusing and can result in a loss of readership.  Excessive sub-pages  can make your site more difficult for search engines to completely index and catalog your site. If you have many updates to your site or a large number of products you may want to consider using a dynamic website.

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