It was just a matter of time. Now you feel pressure to put your service operation on the World Wide Web. How do you join the on-line party? Should you write your own pages? Hire a whiz-kid? Use boilerplate that shipped with your word processor? And when the site is running, how will people find it? Read this article, Webmaster-to-be, and get your HTML cranking.

f01a.jpg (18305 bytes)Everyone knows it’s important to have a Web site these days. But establishing a presence on the World Wide Web is more than just filling in the blanks on a software template and posting a site. Your Web presence is a reflection of your company or institution, and as such, it needs to showcase your high standards in both its looks and its content.

Establishing a Web presence can fulfill one or more objectives. Many institutions find the Web efficient for in-house communications. The Web is an excellent storehouse for policy manuals, procedures, hours of operations, employee directories, and a number of other details. The Web also affords a nifty chance to improve public relations with the outside world by showcasing services, awards, credentials and kudos. Finally, e-commerce has arrived, making the Web a powerful marketing and selling tool for companies that provide products and service.

How do you establish a presence on the Web? It really is a three-step process. First, you create a user-friendly site that people will want to look at. Then you publish it on the ‘net. Third, you get your site listed with the major search engines so people will find you, and have it ranked as a site to be visited.

Web building is becoming more complex, according to Steve Lewis, owner of Shasta Marketing Consultants, and demands a high level of computer application expertise in HTML, Java, Photoshop and others. While programs like Microsoft Frontpage allow anyone to build a Web site, clients and customers are looking for professional work.

“If they recognize a template or perceive the site as amateur, they won’t stick around,” says Lewis.

At the other extreme, some designers get so carried away with the technology that they forget the purpose of the Web site. The result is a technical marvel that no one can use.

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