Slideshow 2

Removing the Fear of the Unknown
When I started a small business years ago, I found looking at options on building a web site for my business to be mind boggling.

While I struggled through learning what I needed to know to get a web site up and running, I saw many other business owners doing the same. It seemed everywhere I turned I was only being given part of the story, the rest being hidden in extra costs.

My trials led me to learn web site design so I could help others not have to learn the hard way. Here you will find what you need to know. Before we get started, it's a good idea to be familiar with all of the tricks of the trade I share below.

Domains and Web SitesI learned the hard way that buying a Domain Name did not mean that I had a Web Site, nor did it mean that the company would Host my web site. More...

Three terms: Domain Name, Web Site, Web Host
One big problem: They all sound Greek to most people.

A Domain Name is the address someone types in to get to your site, such as While some companies will provide a free domain name registration if you host your site with them, I prefer to register my domain names with an inexpensive ($10-$15 per year) registrar that doesn't charge extra or add ads to your site if you forward your name to the place that hosts your site.

(I made huge mistakes with my first domain name, registering it at a host that charged $25/year. This host wanted about $50/month for unlimited data transfer, meaning if you wanted to be sure your site didn't get shut off for going over their "minutes," you had to pay way too much per month. I now don't use that domain name, as that host put ads on the bottom of my page to transfer it unless I pay them $49/year.)

Your web site is all of the web pages that are linked together by computer language to give you what you see on your screen.

All of these pages have to be on a computer somewhere so the internet can find them. This computer is your host.

Now that you know all of this, what do you do?
  1. Decide on a domain name for your site.
  2. Check if that domain name is available at, or a similar site.Many of the good names are registered and held by people who register the names just so they can try to make others pay exorbitant fees to get a good, held by someone trying to sell it for years, not being used because someone wants huge $ for it.
  3. If your domain name choice is not available, try something similar that is easy to
  4. Don't register yet! Read the rest of the information on this page.

Registration Beware! Registering a domain name may not mean that domain name is yours! Many web designers and some web hosts will register your domain name in their own name! You pay, you get to use for a period of time, but they own it. More...

Whenever your contract states your period of usage is up, they can charge you whatever they want to renew the name. The better your business, the more the domain holder will try to charge you, from hundreds to many thousands of dollars.

Before you buy, be sure the domain will be registered in your name. Before you go to work on any design for this site or get customers who are accustomed to coming back to your site, check on to be sure it lists you as the owner. Buy your name for as long a time period as you can afford to prevent someone else from sneaking it away from you. Be sure to renew your site long before the renewal date is due, or you may find yourself paying that exorbitant fee to get it back. Try to find a good Hosting Package with free domain registration.

Hosting Packages This is the hardest and most important step, finding the correct hosting package. You can get a side by side list of all of the services from different hosts, only to discover after your purchase that the host you chose has programs that are extremely difficult to use. More...

The best thing you can do is read as many consumer ratings as possible about hosting companies. But, beware that some review sites might be flooded with made up reviews from the hosting companies themselves. I found I need to compare many review sites, taking into account the total number of votes and reading the reviews on a company before I choose it. Some of the reviews I have used:
Best Host Ratings
Find My Hosting

Templates Why not just use a template? Templates are typically made easy to use and hard to destroy by consumers. To do this, most everything is set on a page with a few options you can change. Most have a picture or two, some lines or other graphic, a background, a menu bar, and a place for you to fill in your text for the page. So, why wouldn't you want to use them? More...

Problems I discovered when trying to find templates to use for my business:
  • The big reason is that a web host's templates are their templates, and if you leave that host, you lose your site and have to start over from scratch.
  • Your page will most likely look like a template.Look at some pages and see if you can figure out which ones are templates. I bet you can figure out most.
  • You won't get to see all of the template options a web host offers until after you buy.
  • You will probably get quite frustrated trying to make your site look like you want it to look.
  • You often can't combine custom pages with template pages.
  • You are usually limited to a specific number of pages on your site without paying extra every month.
  • You may spend hours getting everything to look just as you want it to look, only to have the software totally change the look after you make it live on the site.


Content Management Systems Using a Content Management System (CMS) is great for web site owners who like to change and update their content frequently on their own. A template (or templates) is a small part of a CMS. The difference between using a template provided by a web host and using a CMS is that with a CMS the designer has the ability to change many of the background functions to allow your web site to work more like you would like it to work. Only, many CMS' also have big problems. More...

Some CMS' do not allow the designer enough flexibility as they would like. For instance, if a designer wants to create custom buttons with pictures that change as you scroll over them, many of the background programs for a CMS will automatically strip out that function and change it to the standard menu for their program.

Some web site owners like their web site to stretch to fill the browser window with content as they make their windows bigger and smaller. Certain CMS programs do not allow this to occur in a manner that looks nice on the screen and the web page looks distorted if you make the window too large or too small.

One CMS I was required to work with on someone's existing site would allow the client to lay out their content for their page with many special features. However, when the page was rendered on the internet the page appeared with everything rearranged in a very odd order, completely differently than it looked in the design screen.

But, many clients like (and need) to update their content frequently. So, in 2011, I again did research on CMS' to see if there was one that clients really liked to use.

I was surprised at the result. The CMS that was rated highest in most of the reviews I researched was Wordpress. I had used Wordpress for many sites as a blog, but had never thought of it to be capable to create an entire web site that did not look like a blog.

A few examples of web sites created using Wordpress that do not look like a standard blog are: The reason these Wordpress web sites don't look like standard blogs is that they are not! The Wordpress software designed for use as a CMS is different than the software designed for a blog. The software designed for a CMS has to be loaded onto a server at a host site and modified by a web designer to look and function the way you want it to look...just like any standard web site.

Only, modifying the Wordpress software to fit a web design requires modifying many different files of code, in comparison to writing a single page of code for each page of a web site.

The work involved making a good Wordpress CMS web site is at least twice as complicated as designing a standard web site, therefore, we charge an additional $75 per page.

But, we think you will find it worth the extra money to make your site a CMS if you would like the flexibility to change the data on your web pages.

If you haven't used Wordpress to make a blog, and would like to try it, go to and sign up for a free blog. That will give you a good idea of how you will be able to add text, pictures, etc. to a Wordpress CMS web site.

However, if you want to get categorized so people can find your web site when they search using as search engine such as, you will need to have a real web site with it's own domain.

Browser Wars As an experienced web designer, I still find it frustrating that I can make a perfect looking web page on one browser, say Internet Explorer, only to have it look completely different on another browser, say Firefox. About one-thirds of people use Internet Explorer, one-third Google Chrome, and one-fourth Firefox, with other browsers having smaller shares. Why do you care? More...

Each browser (the computer software on your computer to make it so you can see web pages) displays the computer code we write to make up web pages differently. I designed what I think is a nice fading border around the edges of the main content on this web page, which looked great in Firefox. When I checked it in Internet Explorer, it was gone! I had to write a bunch more lines of code to get it to show up there.

Then we also have to deal with the small percentage (about 3-5%) of people using Mac's. They have a totally different font set that shows up larger on the screen than on other computers. This larger size can make one nice line of menu options turn into a jumbled mess on two lines.

We also have to think about the increasing number of people using PDA's (small, handheld devices) to search the internet. While only about 7% of computer users use PDA's for the internet, more are using them every day. The browsers for these devices are getting sophisticated enough to render most web pages well on their tiny screens.

To keep down costs, I typically design for the most commonly used Internet Explorer and Firefox only, adding $30 per page to accommodate an additional browser, per my client's request. However, I try not to overcomplicate the design to try to allow all browsers to render pages acceptably.


Resolution One final topic of interest that messes up web designs is Resolution, basically, how big everything will look on a screen. The two basic ways to design a web site to accommodate differences in sizes of screens and the way different browsers and computers display those pages is to either make everything a fixed size, or make everything flexible. Which makes more sense? More...

When I first began in web design I was taught to make everything flexible to accommodate all of the different screen sizes and settings people will use. This might make everything totally fit each person's monitors the best, and some people are stuck on the thought that everything needs to fit their monitor exactly.

However, no good graphic designer would allow a browser or computer decide their layout for them. Just because something fits does not make it asthetically pleasing to view.

Nor are things that fit a monitor easy to read. I frequently find myself changing the size of my browser window when I am looking at a site that has text that runs from one side of the monitor to the other. I can't easily read a line of text that long. That's why newspapers divide their text into columns. Imagine trying to read a newspaper where the lines in an article spanned the entire page!

If you really want a totally expandable layout, I will do it for you, but I think you'd prefer a good layout that's pleasing to your eye...and more the eyes of your viewers.
I prefer to design to the most frequently viewed layout size, approximately 1024 x 768 pixels.

Someone may choose to set their screen resolution so everything displays huge if they have vision problems, or very tiny if they see very well and like to have many different things on their screen. One of my clients had his screen resolution so small that the site I designed for him almost looked like a business card.

How do you design to accommodate all of those options and still have a site look its best? You can't. You have to design for the most used options, working hard to have your design look the best it can. You also have to be aware that certain browsers, like the version of Internet Explorer I have on my laptop, automatically resize your site to the display size it thinks will fit the screen the best. So, if I design a nice coordinating background, thinking a site looks best with some flexible background, all of a sudden it is gone, thanks to IE.

My purpose for this section is to be sure you are aware that the world of web design can never be perfect due to all of the variables of computers, browsers, software programs, and user choices. All we can do is try our best and test out our designs on many different computers to make sure things look great most of the time, and at least usable and acceptable the rest.


Copyright Copyrighting a web page correctly is very important. Many web designers will hold their clients hostage to working exclusively with their company by copyrighting your site in their name. We believe that if a customer pays for a site design, they own the design and it should be list a copyright in their name. If you so choose, you may file your copyright with the government, however, our goal in copyrighting your site is to prevent others from mistreating you in the future by claiming a copyright to your site.

PricingNext (if you haven't already) you'll probably want to check out our pricing structure.

PlanningThen, go on to learning how to plan your web site.

Back To Top

Copyright © Enticing Designs
Proprietor: Gail Baierlipp, Rochester, Southeastern Wisconsin
Service Area: United States