Next you’ll be presented with the option of customizing your order. Skip over the hosting plans and scroll down to WebSite Tonight; this is the design tool that will enable you to build a serviceable site. By paying for a WebSite Tonight plan, you automatically get free hosting services. (Don’t choose the “free” WebSite Tonight option; although you’ll save a few bucks, it permits GoDaddy to place ads in the banner at the top of your Web site.) For your first site, the five-page option should be adequate. You can always add pages later for an additional fee.
Finish checking out and fill in the forms to set up your account. Keep your user name and password in a safe place; restoring a password to a Web services account can be a time-consuming hassle because of all the security involved. When you log into your account, WebSite Tonight and e-mail services will be available for management on the left side of the GoDaddy page, under “My Products.”
Building Your Web Site
Log into godaddy.com and click on WebSite Tonight (under “My Products” on the left side) to launch the site builder. You’ll have to create another user name, password, and PIN to access the WebSite Tonight design tools. Keep your PIN handy, as this will allow you quick access to GoDaddy’s technical support.
You’ll find dozens of page templates ready for use, complete with graphics and clip art. You can build a simple site in a few hours by selecting a template, typing in your own text, and pasting in photos or graphics, which is the method I’ll describe here. (If you want more design flexibility, you can ignore the prebuilt site templates and use one of the “custom” layouts offered, but that takes a lot longer.)
Sample templates are organized by content area or business category; click through them until you find something that suits you. Don’t get too concerned with the provided text and graphics, or even with how the five sample pages are named — all of that can be modified to fit your exact needs. You can also back up your design attempts and change templates later if you want.
To illustrate the process, I’ve set up a site to generate traffic for the handyman segment of my business, using a template designed for a property-management company. The default color of the template is navy blue, but since my corporate colors are forest green and a coppery orange, I select the orange color under the “Template” tab to change the background.
Next, I click on the “Site” tab and select “Launch Page Designer” under the “Design” tab, and the prebuilt design for my home page appears. As the mouse cursor passes over parts of the page, the dashed borders change from gray to red. The area within any red border can be edited. But before I change any of the copy on the page, I want to edit the navigation links, which appear on the left side of every page; I’ve found that it’s best to do this now, before I’ve made substantial changes to the site.
At the top of the page, under the “Page” tab, I click “Edit Navigation” and a new box appears where I can rename the page links. The template default names appear along the left side — “Home Page,” “Properties,” “Amenities,” and so forth. I highlight these one by one, changing the link name in the “Label” box and clicking the “Save and Continue” button between changes. Because I want these changes to carry through to all the pages of my site, I select “Apply navigation to all pages,” then click “OK” to close the editing window completely.
When I’ve finished with this step, my link names now read “Home Page,” “Services,” “Rates & Fees,” “About Us,” and “Contact Us”. But note that even after I’ve changed the name of a navigation menu item, the template continues to use the original page name. For example, after I change “Resources” to “About Us” in the navigation menu, the “Goes to” field still lists the page as “Resources.” This is harmless, but for my own sanity, I like to change the name of the template page — or “Filename,” as the program calls it — to match the navigation label. To do this, I pull down the “You are editing” menu at the top center of the page and select “Resources”. Then, because I want to edit the page’s properties and not its content, I click the “Show Properties” link to the right; this opens a new page where I change the Filename from “Resources.html” to “About.html.” On this screen I can also rename the Heading Title (which is what’s displayed at the top of the Web page) and the Button Title (displayed in the pulldown menu at the top of the WebSite Tonight page) so that both read “About Us.” Last, I make another change that is crucial to search-engine success: I add a concise but descriptive Browser Title, which is what the visitor’s Web browser will display in its title bar. Search engines love descriptive Browser Titles, so I try to make each title a catchy summary of the page’s content and purpose. Rather than simply “About Us,” I enter “Small Job? No Problem: Bergen County’s Most Reliable Small Job Specialist.” The added description increases the odds a search engine will choose the page. I click “OK” at the bottom of the page and the changes are saved.