When you start an Internet marketing campaign to promote your products or business, you enter an arena filled with competition. Unless you are marketing a product that is extremely unique, there will be many others ahead of you promoting products similar to yours. How can you stand out?
First impressions are important so step number one is to have a website that has a polished and professional appearance. I am sure you have visited websites that had a jumbled appearance, where the text on a page didn’t wrap properly around the graphics.
That kind of display doesn’t help build confidence in your Internet marketing campaign.
Two pieces of software are required to build an attractive website:
- Web page building software- to format the HTML page
- Graphics software- to edit and customize images
A jumbled looking website can be the result of using website building software that doesn’t provide enough options to precisely position the text and graphic elements. Many of the free website building software programs are limited in that area.
A high end website building program like Dreamweaver provides plenty of options for controlling the final look of a web page, but it is not free software. Luckily the open source movement has gained momentum and there is an excellent website building program called Nvu. The name Nvu stands for “New View”. Nvu has a user interface that is very similar to Microsoft FrontPage, but is even easier to use than FrontPage in my opinion. Visit net2.com to download a copy.
Nvu is free software.
Kompozer is a slightly newer program based on Nvu, and it is also available for free.
Another necessity for building a professional looking website is a graphics editing program. You will need to resize and edit photos and other graphic elements for your website. The free paint program that comes with Windows is useful for simple graphics editing, but it is very limited in features. It is not able to do things like drop shadows behind text for making attractive logos. Adobe Photoshop is one of the industry standards for this type of work. If you buy custom graphics they are often in the proprietary Photoshop file format. These files end with the three-letter file extension of “psd”.
Not all graphics editing software programs can work with Photoshop files but an excellent free software program called Gimp can work with Photoshop files and it has most of the graphics editing features found on high priced graphics programs.
Gimp is also an open source project and can be downloaded from gimp.org. Gimp is also free software.
Many web designers are now using blogging software that resides on the website server to handle the presentation of their web sites. This is probably not necessary for a simple 5 page informational website. But if you want the Web 2.0 features of providing RSS feeds and accepting user comments then blogging software is almost a necessity.
One of the most popular blogging platforms is WordPress. The basic design elements of a WordPress website can be changed easily by applying different WordPress themes. One of the advantages of using WordPress is that there are now a large number of free themes available from independent developers.
WordPress can be downloaded for free from WordPress.org. It is also available as “click to install” option on the control panel provided by many web hosts.
Installing WordPress from the control panel of your website is a big advantage. It makes the installation easy, but more importantly it automates the process of upgrading the software when upgrades become available. Generally you can upgrade to a new version with just a couple of mouse clicks.