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Published 07-Sep-2000
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webDotWiz Online: 07-Sep-2000

  Putting Your Business Online  

Think it's time you had a "Web presence", as they say? If you have a small business, let's look at how you can have a web site for your business for the least possible cost - hopefully, zero cost. That means we'll leave aside such items as organising an online credit card transaction facility; however there are links among this week's sites for more information on this topic.

Firstly let's get the easy parts out of the way. Setting up a web page is not that complicated these days because there are so many free what-you-see-is-what-you-get (WYSIWYG) web page editors. You can install Frontpage Express with Internet Explorer and Netscape has its own editor. They can be used just like your favourite wordprocessor to layout the page and enter your content.

At this stage there is one important decision you need to make: what colours best reflect your business and consequently will you use on your site? You may already have a coloured business logo and those colours may suit. In the main remember to use a light background colour so your content is easily readable. Red text on a black background might be a winning footy combination but it's not suitable for easy reading.

The second simple step is to find somewhere to host your site. You might use the space provided by your ISP but webDotWiz would suggest you use one of the many free web hosting services to allow for the likely possibility you change ISPs sometime in the future. is webDotWiz's favourite because it offers unlimited space, free email, doesn't force you to have advertising on your site, and, most importantly, lays no claim to copyright to your content. By all means look at other sites such as Geocities and Xoom. One feature of all these sites is they have online page building resources, it's easy to upload your files and you can edit your pages when you're online.

If you haven't got good content, all the design features won't bring customers. The advantage with a web site, over other media such as brochures or print advertising, is that you can more fully explain your business and go into some detail about the products and/or services you're selling without incurring extra cost. It'll take some fine-tuning to develop your content but of course it's time well-spent.

  Managing Your Online Business  

You'll be able to promote your site by adding your web site and email addresses to your stationery and incorporating them into any traditional advertising you might do. One consequence is that you may need permanent site and email addresses. If you don't want to spend money on acquiring a domain name just yet, use a free redirection service such as offered by to get yourself a catchy web address.

Obviously you'll use email for feedback and inquiries from potential customers. Consequently you or a staff member will be required to spend some time each day to reply to this email. Remember that it's the immediacy of the Internet that makes it so attractive as a means of communication and you can't wait a week or so before answering email from visitors to your site.

You can lessen the need for lengthy email replies by ensuring you give as much detail about your products and/or services on the web site itself. But you'll still need to develop policies regarding what goods you want to sell from your site, how customers will pay, how the goods will be delivered and how you'll handle returns. Then there's the matter of inquiries and/or orders from overseas. How will you authenticate an order, how difficult might delivery be and how will international customers pay?

Entering the world of e-commerce will be so much easier if you're a consistent user of the Web yourself. As you think about how your site will look, browse such sites as to see which free services might keep customers returning to your site. Look through the business directory of sites at, for example, to see how others present their online business. All in all, remember that getting your web site up and running is just half the story - its content and how you communicate with your prospective customers will require careful thought and planning.

  Aussie Internet Tools  

There are more and more sites these days using animations in the Shockwave format. Both Internet Explorer and Navigator have the necessary add-on as standard. However, the cost of the program to produce Shockwave animations and movies is prohibitive if you only have a small site. Well, Swish ( lets you create text animations in the Shockwave format to add that extra feature to your site at a small cost ($US30). If you decide to try Swish, you can only produce output in black and white.

Another useful add-on created by an Australian company is Spot On! ( This add-on, only available for Internet Explorer, uses a panel like a VCR to enable you to easily move forwards or backwards through a list of sites you provide it. So if you've got a certain number of sites you visit as soon as you connect, you can use Spot On's panel to quickly jump from site to site. Spot On would also be useful if you make presentations involving Web sites or your students are doing a research assignment from material published on a given list of sites.

  Music to Your Ears  

If you haven't much interest in the Olympics, this might be the time to make a backup copy of your precious audio CDs while everybody else is absorbed by what's happening in Sydney. CloneCD ($US49; 1.4Mb download from Elaborate Bytes at makes exact copies of audio CDs. Aside from this program, you'll need a CD-ROM drive and a CD-RW drive to cut down on the time it takes to make a copy.

Another utility for making backups of audio CDs is Nero ROM from Ahead Software ( You can download a free demo until September 30 (at time of going to press).

Note that when using either of these programs, or ones that carry out a similar job, you need to ensure you don't have other programs running so your computer can devote all its power to the copying process. If you want more information, the CNet music site has several step-by-step guides to help.

  Something New  

The Linkup project gives 10 to 17-year olds the opportunity to show their creative use of interactive media. They can share ideas with others in a number of countries, such as Australia, China, Germany, Indonesia and Thailand, and keep in touch with TV and online producers around the world. The project will culminate at the 3rd World Summit on Media for Children in Greece in March 2001. Get involved by visiting ABC Online at

Office version 10 has been available for testing for some time (Office 2000 is actually version 9) and reviews are beginning to appear. You may want to, or need to, catch up on what Microsoft have planned for the next release of its office suite.

While a number of popular MP3 music sites have a spoken word section, is completely devoted to free spoken word recordings by popular authors. It's downloads are divided into fiction, non-fiction, biography, poetry and self-help sections. There's a top twenty download list, a free newsletter and a search facility.

  webDotWiz Highlights might be the site you've been looking for! It's purpose is to give you all the steps needed to carry out day-to-day tasks. If you don't find any help there, then do some window-shopping at to take your mind off the list of jobs you've been given for the weekend!

There are several sites to visit to catch up on the latest news relating to the future of games in 2000 and comparing the latest games consoles.

The international authority in charge of Internet naming has expanded the list of available names by adding a WS (website) dot extension. To get your free life-time email address, visit - you can choose addresses such as Just note that and have been taken by you-know-who (webDotWiz, that is). Also, you can reserve a domain name such as at

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