Friday, February 03, 2012

Fussing With The WebSite

Of the many jobs I attempt to accomplish from the office at Brooks Tavern, managing the WebSite is one of my favorites.  I'm don't know why I thought this was a skill I could master, but the spring before the restaurant was scheduled to open I took two online classes through Chesapeake College for WebSite design.  I managed to handle the courses at home on our laptop at the dining room table, with dial-up as my internet connection.  Not sure now how I did that, but it was good enough apparently. And I loved it.  I found the whole process to be amazing, how a change in the html could instantly change anything on the site, from the background color to the alignment of text to the placement of pictures.  We learned how to make a favicon, how to create links, how to add sound and motion (without resorting to "flash"), how to put in surveys and comment pages.  The instructor had us build a real WebSite, as you went from lesson to lesson, and I used this process to slowly put together the one for our business. 

Five years later (Five Years!!) much has changed in the world of the web and I have not kept up with my lessons.  I know I couldn't build a page from scratch today;  I can't even remember how to do much of anything without referring to notes from the class or one of the reference books I bought to accompany the class.  Luckily, much of the work is copy and paste, and the web hosting site that we use is a big help as well. 

I understand how important a WebSite can be to a business in this digital electronic mobile age.  Ours is on the hum-drum side, no flash or UTube or music, but it tries to serve the purpose.  And I try to keep it updated.  I figure the first page - or "index" - needs to convey the most information so the viewer really doesn't have to go further into the site if they don't want to or aren't able to.  Phone number, basic hours, email address, that sort of thing is right there for the surfer to find immediately upon entering the site.  After that it's all gravy - menus, FAQ, pages that offer the viewer a picture of the business before they get to the actual brick and mortar location.  I keep all the menus current, at least within a day of changing them, and I try to maintain a seasonal view with pictures and lead page greetings.  "Happy New Year!"  "Spring is Coming!"  "Kevin is 57!" (oops, maybe not that!)  Not everything on the site changes all that often, but "they" say it is important to keep it fresh, and since I maintain it myself, it is not too hard to do that. 

 Last week I updated the wine list, and while I was at it I changed the message on the first page and checked the links page, to make sure all of them were in working order.  One was no longer in business, so that had to go and was replaced by another.  I still find it amazing to have the WebSite up on one tab, open the web hosting site on another, make the changes, return to the BT site, hit "refresh" and watch the updated page magically appear.  Or not.  Sometimes I've made an error in the html and that will be quite visible as well.  I'll go back, fuss with it, try to figure out what I did wrong and make the correction.  Eventually it will come right. 

I am sure it's not a perfectly correct WebSite, but hopefully it appears equally attractive in all browsers and gets the information where it needs to go.  It is certainly one of the most cost-effective marketing tools we use today and I can't imagine having a business without it.

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