Web Design

Web & Graphic Design

Design & Engineering
CAD Drawing & Plotting
Prototype & Fabrication
Auto & Motospor
S&S Diversified can design and implement YOUR web page:
(Just like this one, or something completely different...)
  • Complete Web Site Design
  • HTML and Javascript Coding
  • Graphic Design of Logos, Icons, Illustations, Layout
  • 9600dpi Flatbed Scanning of Logos and Artwork
  • Digital Processing and Conversion of Picture Formats, Compression
  • Domain Name Registration
  • Hosting Arrangements, Long Term Support Services
  • Updates and Modifications to Existing Web Pages (S&S or other)
  • Evaluation and Error Correction of Existing Web Pages
  • Internet Technology and Viability Consulting

So You Want to be On The NET . . .

(A service to customers (and potential customers) of S&S Diversified)

Almost once a day somebody is asking us about web pages, the internet, HTML, modems, or electronic advertising. The explosive growth is downright scary, and the “carpet-bagger” tactics and pricing that self-proclaimed HTML (the programming language of web pages) experts are selling is even scarier. (Thousands, and even tens of thousands of dollars is not uncommon for an "expert" web page design.)

The following information will help small company that would like to establish a presence on the World Wide Web, aka "WWW", "Internet", or simply "Net". Note that the Internet is simply a collection of computers all over the world, connected in an organized fashion. It is not owned, maintained, regulated, or supported by any one group, computer, or individual. It is an electronic database of all things; and at this time is very much public domain. The Internet is not a particular "thing" in a particular "place", anymore than telephones, newspapers, or a television. The World Wide Web is a group of computer programs written in a special computer language called "HyperText Markup Language (HTML)" designed to display text and graphics. It is not unlike the conventions used in printing a Newspaper; with columns, headlines, type faces, etc. The internet and its WWW subset is simply a very powerful communication (and advertising!) medium.

Does Internet Advertising work?
Anyone who reads or watches television has certainly noticed web sites being shown as an adjunct to more traditional forms of advertising - “See us at www.toyota.com”, for example. However, the effectiveness of such advertising remains to be seen. Although internet advertising is undergoing exponential growth, one has to be concerned with the target audience - and whether that audience is willing to sit down at a computer (and kick off sons/daughters), log in, navigate the net with a program called a browser, search for your site, go to your site, and then become “sold” by the information presented. Granted, the lights, bells, and whistles - which now include speech, music, short movie clips, and graphics - are fascinating. If your product is consumable like sports or movies, or has the lure of sexually oriented material, expect thousands of new customers daily. It remains to be seen (by S&S, anyway) whether a professional, well presented, online catalog is an effective means of generating direct sales for a small technical company, compared to a 1-800 order line, or a nice 4-color brochure.

Fortunately, most of our customers are technical and/or have technical products. This infers that your target audience will be up on technology, and will have easy access to the internet, as well as a “willingness” to explore. If your target audience is non-technical, or does not have any Generation X/Y/Z folks at home to lend a hand, your web page might never be seen, no matter how impressive. We prefer to think of this as a current limitation of the audience, not the internet or your web site. Because of the explosive growth, and the immense money being invested, it makes sense to pursue some form of internet presence now. Even a small web page establishes your company as a technology leader. This lends credibility and convenience to potential customers who use internet, and has no side-effects for those that do not (yet!).

Even if you do not generate direct sales from a web page, having a URL (internet address, e.g. www.toyota.com) on your business cards and traditional advertising places you at the front. At the very least - a web site provides a conduit to send/receive electronic mail - which is rapidly replacing paper mail (aka “snail mail”) as the preferred method of communication. After all, it’s overnight, convenient, and free!

Okay, outline what advantages a web page will have for my business-

  • Convenience: Your customer may not have time during your business hours to contact you. This is especially true if you have international customers, or even customers on the West Coast. A Web Page is running for you 24 hours, 7 days a week. If designed properly, a web page should answer 90% of all customer questions.
  • Feedback Requests: A Web Page can have a form - which is the electronic equivalent of those 3x5 cards they fill magazines with. This will allow any customer at your site, if he chooses, to type in basic address or email address information, and any specific questions they might have about your product or services. This form is then sent to you electronically in email, at which point you have the best kind of lead: a customer who came to you. This contact medium allows all sorts of sales options for your business at that point: a return email, a phone call, brochures/literature sent in the mail, or any combination. In addition, the customer can specify exactly what he/she prefers and when/how it’s most convenient.
  • Cost: The costs are trivial when you compare to the cost of creating and distributing traditional advertising. For highly specialized/technical firms, it makes perfect sense. Consider that even a small photo ad in the national Thomas Register typically costs $5000 or more annually. For technical products, it’s likely that one sale as a result of, or assisted by, a web page will cover the entire cost of creating and maintaining that page for the year.
  • Distribution. There are no "cold" calls. Your web page is available all over the world, instantly, to anyone having internet access. Your web page is easily registered with electronic databases called "Search Engines" which allow keyword searches of every registered document on the internet. If your business is ashtrays, then a keyword search on ashtray or ash or tray or smoking will present the customer with an opportunity to visit you web page - even if he/she has never heard of you before. The beauty is that customers visiting your web site will come willingly, of their own volition. It’s a better lead, and far more cost-effective than sending out scores of catalogs to people who might need your product.
  • Support. 24 hours a day the web page will be available. Technical information can be placed in a file at the site for downloading by a customer at any time. A database of product specifications can be maintained. Phone numbers, contact names, maps, office hours, and payment terms can all easily be integrated into the web site. In this way, the web page will act as an adjunct to sales, or create indirect sales opportunities, or even direct leads.
  • Appearance. Again, a web page establishes your company as a technology leader. This lends credibility and garners respect from customers who use internet, and has no side-effects for those that don’t. You may find yourself (as we did) with non-internet customers asking you all sorts of internet/web page questions. Having a web page elevates you to expert status overnight - and while that is not your core business, such a thing generates interest and sales opportunities.
When I have a web page, How do they FIND it ?
Luckily, there are internet services, called “Search Engines” which are centralized lists of web sites, organized by categories and keywords. Much like the card catalog in a library, it allows potential users of your web site to electronically search for and find you without knowing your company name, domain name or even if you exist. For instance, a search on keywords ENGINEERING + NORTHEAST + CAD + PLOTTING might (we hope) return a link to S&S Diversified’s website http://www.ssdiv.com and allow the searcher immediate access to our web page. The search engine facilities are the “Yellow Pages” of the internet. An essential part of establishing a web page on the internet is to register with these services. This provides the conduit through which new customers who are searching for your product, but do not know your company, will easily locate your web page. Getting potential customers to the website is 90% of the battle.

Where IS my web page? Can I keep it my own computer?
Your web page is simply a computer file, or document, much like a word processor file. A program called a "browser" (you may have heard of Netscape(tm), which is a browser) translates the various commands in your web page file to nicely formatted pictures and text. This file can be stored anywhere, but the computer that hosts a web page much be hooked up to the internet. The hardware, software, and high-speed telephone lines necessary to connect a computer to the internet usually preclude a small company from having a internet hosting computer. The telephone charges alone can cost hundreds of dollars a month.

There are two viable places for the small company to host a web page. The first is to use an online service, such as America Online, to host the page. There are distinct advantages and disadvantages to this strategy:

The URL (internet address) of your web site will be something like http://members.aol.com/snsdiver. This is not an obvious or easy thing to remember, compared to a custom domain registration, such as www.ssdiv.com. Furthermore, such hosting arrangements do not lend the most professional appearance to your web site, as America Online is regarded as a personal/home service.

Hosting a page on America Online is free, up to 10 megabytes of information. This size is more than adequate for an effective web page. The only fees necessary is the flat-rate $19.95/month access charge, which allows page hosting plus unlimited use of internet access, email and all other AOL features.

Because of the tremendous number of new customers, the new flat-rate pricing, and the "home" oriented mission of America Online, access to web pages hosted on AOL can be dismally slow to access. This is especially true at peak hours 7pm-midnight. This problem can ruin the appeal of an otherwise fantastic web site. However, for technical customers and educational institutions, who will be accessing your page during the day, the page loading is very acceptable. In addition, if your customers are using a service other than America Online, the delay in accessing your page becomes less obvious.

The second page hosting solution viable for a small business is to contract a firm that specializes in hosting web pages. These companies have huge computers that connect to the internet at all times.

Such firms will host custom domains. While the user is responsible for the cost of obtaining and maintaining a custom domain name (e.g. www.toyota.com), the firm can host your page on their computers with this URL domain name. It will appear to anyone accessing your web page that you are running your very own internet-connected computer web server. Although this is somewhat of a vanity issue, it is becoming increasingly important in terms of name-recognition for corporate identities to be carried through onto the web.

This service is obviously not free. Typical costs range from $20-$50 a month, for a web site host that has a reasonable amount of hits (visits).

Custom domain registration is also not free, and requires an initial fee of $50-100 depending on who does the work, and a yearly maintenance fee of $50. This fee goes to InterNIC, which is an organization that supports the communications backbone of the internet.

Throughput on a web host system should be excellent (this is what you are paying for), and your web site will load faster and support more features than an AOL hosted site. In addition, the ability to support a virtual domain (custom internet address, www.toyota.com) adds the extra measure of professionalism that is not available on AOL service.

How do I make a web page? Is it painful?
Creating a web page is not only painless, it is relatively easy. Web pages are written in a language called Hyper Text Markup Language, or HTML. These instructions command the browser (the program to access the internet) to make text and pictures appear in certain places, colors, fonts, etc.

Describe the process step-by-step.

  1. Obtain a hosting site, whether through online service such as AOL or special web-hosting company.
  2. Decide if custom domain name (“www.mycompany.com”) is desired. (Cannot use AOL for this). Select a name for your domain (many are already taken, and use of trademarks is not allowed). Register this name with InterNIC, and pay $50/year to maintain this registration.
  3. Contract someone to create your web page. Be careful here, as prices for such services run from dirt cheap to grand larceny - and the quality goes from Pinto to Mercedes Benz - not always accordingly.
  4. Provide as much information as possible. Any graphics or pictures you already have can be scanned in and touched up, which is far cheaper than creating these items from scratch. Also, make certain the contractor understands any corporate "looks" such as logos, color schemes, fonts used in printed materials, layout of letterheads, etc. Have a clear idea of what you want your web page to do and what type of technical or catalog information will be available. Your contractor will take care of making the web page work, and should be able to offer suggestions as to content and scope.
  5. Review the page as to progress and changes. Approach you web page as if you were a customer. Ask a few established customers to review the work in progress and provide feedback. Your customers will be a select group, and finding what layout and information appeals to them is important. What works for sports scores will probably not be effective for selling oscilloscopes.
  6. When the page is 95% what you want, “announce” the page to the various search engines and search services on the internet. There are special programs on the internet to do this automatically with the major search engines. Your contractor can perform or assist with this process. Note that when you do this, you are now live on the WWW. Not only is your page available, but it will turn up as the result of keyword searches anywhere in the world. It is important not to announce a page too early, especially if the page is not complete or has errors.
  7. Log in and check your email and page daily. Although this may seem arduous, it is essential that any email or form responses received as a result of your web site be answered promptly - preferably by the next business day. In addition, you will want to load your page every few days to verify that everything is still in order. You may want to add or adjust a few features on the page, such as a banner with an Open House or this month’s "Special" or "Close-out". This maintenance should take no more than 10 minutes a day, unless you so fortunate as to receive large numbers of responses.
  8. Pay your monthly hosting bill or AOL bill ($20-$40), and pay your yearly InterNIC domain name registration fee ($50). You could probably contract the creator of your page to take care of the administration and page maintenance for you. This will not, however, relieve you of the burden of logging on and answering your email in a timely fashion.
Can I create my own web page? Why should I pay someone?
HTML is relatively easy, but because of the rapid growth of the internet in such a short time, HTML is understood and programmed by a select few. Prices for web page work can range from $10 to $250 an hour. While HTML is not particularly difficult or esoteric; it requires time and effort to learn and apply effectively. The graphics and pictures that are the heart of an attractive, attention-getting web site require patience, knowledge, and a fair amount of artistic ability to create. Images and photographs can be scanned, but this requires special equipment and skills. Most small companies will probably not want to make this investment, as it is not their primary business. However, the outrageous prices some firms are charging for web page development take advantage of the lack of general knowledge of HTML, graphics, and the internet. This makes the process appear magical, and correspondingly expensive - when cost-effective alternatives exist.

Okay, but why S&S Diversified ?
Web page creation is not the primary business of S&S Diversified. Realizing that an internet presence is rapidly becoming mandatory, we set out to create a low-cost page to sell our business. What we have discovered is that our new "under construction" web page sells web pages. Unwilling to pay huge web-page developer’s fees, we have spent many late night hours developing useful graphics, sound, speech, and presentation techniques. We are now offering web page creation services at what we feel is a very reasonable price.

We test our web pages on a variety of platforms and browsers. It is essential that any web page be compatible with Netscape, Microsoft’s Internet Explorer, and AOL’s browser, as well as both PC and MAC computers. This represents the largest cross-section of internet users. Creating a web page incompatible with a specific browser alienates potential customers.

We provide the document you are holding free-of-charge. We hope that you will consider employing us at whatever level to assist in your internet advertising experience. Reach us by voice or fax at (914) 627-5725, or better yet visit our new website at http://www.ssdiv.com. Those without WWW access may still email us at infoquote@ssdiv.com

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