Before you do anything, ask yourself the following: What message do you want to communicate? How many pages will that take? How often will you update them? How much original material must you generate, or can you use pre-existing information like press releases, brochures or menus? How much interactivity (e-mail, registration, an ordering page, a guest book) do you desire? What about graphics? Will you use pictures, icons, art, animation, sounds, multimedia? "If graphics are too large, it takes several minutes to load your page. And if people get impatient, they'll click off your page," advises Dr. Anthony D. Mercando, president of Amadeus Multimedia Technologies Ltd., an electronic publishing company and Web site provider in Irvington, New York.
Consider what kinds of fonts you'll use. You want your Web pages to be readable, so don't overdo the bold and italics. Patrick Converso of Sovereign Marketing ONLINE in Schaumburg, Illinois, suggests creating as much contrast on the page as you can, yet still being judicious. So use graphics, bold type and different fonts--just don't crowd too many techniques into one page. Also, make sure that your address, telephone number and e-mail are easy to locate.
Your site should be updated every two to four weeks. "We're not talking about redoing or reinventing the wheel, but we are talking about adding some new features, and updating older material," Middleberg says. "It's like having a restaurant; the trick in a restaurant is having people come back constantly. The same is true for Web sites: you want people to come back to the site--and you want them to come back frequently. And the way to do that is to always keep it interesting, attractive and current."