Making a website or a blog now-a-days is not easy, given all the tools we have today compared to the early 90's means its not only easier for us but easier for others too. The competitive playground is just so big now a days. This is why your website not only has to be unique but has to cover a few basic things first. Here are some stats and guidelines to help you get started. As well as a look into the business aspect of making a website.
When I was a younger starting a website or a project was easy. Just come up with a name that I liked and then just purchase the relevant domain after. Today, its not the case, we name websites and projects based on domain availabilities and possibly price. Just to give you a scope there are 112,961,783 active domains currently, with 83,320,335 of that being a .com domain (1). Although the combination of words for domain is near endless, it'll be harder and harder to get the name you want.
It will eventually boils down to resorting to a longer domain name, unique play on words or purchasing pre-owned domains at a premium pricing.
Once you're ready to start designing your website you'll have to put into perspective how big or small to design it. Just because you have a 14" or a 36" monitor doesn't mean that everybody does as well. As of January 2009 57% of detectable users are displaying at higher than 1024×768 px. There are 36% users at 1024×768 and 4% less than that (2).
Understanding your target users is very important. If you cater to teenagers than a higher percentage of your user will end up in the 1024×768+ category. If you cater to an older or well aged audience then you'll probably have more users in the 1024×768 or below category. If you cater to graphic artists and designers then you most like have a much higher resolution to work with.
I tend to use a 1400×1100 canvas for my design and keep content within a 1200×1100 or 1000×1100 box, the remaining area is for the design of the background. Just like shown below:
You shouldn't have to worry too much about colors as 95% of users has 24bit or 32 bit hardware supporting up to 16,777,216 colors.
The biggest concern that you should have is how the users view your website once its made into HTML. The most recent stats indicate that 47.5% users online are using Firefox and a collective percentage of 37.5% of users are using IE6, 7 and 8 (3). As you can see a significantly outstanding of majorities use Firefox and IE.
When developing offline I like to test and view my scripts in Firefox and IE7. Once done, I like to view it in IE 6 and tweak things. This step should be the biggest tweaking stage. If everything works in Firefox and IE 6 and 7 the probability (and this is not a probability of 1) of it working on other browsers is pretty good.
When I have time I also like to test the page on different machines and different mobile devices to get a glimpse of how its working out.
With that, lets get to where some of you are truly interested in – the money. Is there money to be made making websites? Yes, but the competition as said before is high. With 112,961,783 active domains and 50 million blogs (detected in 2006) there arena is just too crowded (4). Ask yourself what you want to do and how that can be done in a unique way.
Who to Target
Defining your target market is a key to a good business and marketing plan. Which demographic do you want to be your key audience? Currently 72% of advertisers find it beneficial to target the 35-44 and 25-34 year old category with them making up 29% and 28% of users online, respectively (5). Don't let age be the only determining factor for you though, targeting a common interest amongst a group of users could be a break-through factor as well. This may be people who loves sour candies, office interiors or just residing in the same local area. A combination of criteria may make it more unique for you as well such as people aged 16-24 who likes sour candies or people of aged 35-44 living in the same city.
By detailing and being more specific about your target market may give you a bit of a competitive edge but understand that by adding more criteria to the list you are shrinking the size of your target. Ask yourself, if you have a smaller market to serve can you still sustain? If you sell a product that's $1 and you target 25-34 y/o male residents a suburban area you may not have enough potential clients to survive. Do some math and see where you want to end up, that should give you a scope of how many people you may potential need to target.
Making Money Through Advertisement
Some of you webmasters are planning to make money through advertisement, this maybe through a 3rd party company such as Google Adsense or Adbrite or just handle advertisement internally. You should know that there's still plenty of advertising dollars floating around the internet for you to make, it all just depends if you know how to get it.
Focusing on North American market here, despite the depression and economic downturn organizations are keeping a budget ready for internet advertisement. There's many factors why this is, which is slightly irrelevant here but keep in mind that this dollar amount will continue to grow proportionate to the growth of how many and how often people access the internet on a daily base.
The outlook for 2009 was an 8.9% growth in overall internet advertisement spending which equates to $25.7 billion US dollars. This is a good enough motivation for those who wishes to make a career out of websites and advertisements (6).
I am just so tire right now so I suppose I'll edit and update this article as I go.