Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Extending the Personal Website

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Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Beginner’s Guide

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Build and Customize your Microsoft Office Small Business Live Web Site with this book and eBook

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by Rahul Pitre | June 2010 | Enterprise Articles Microsoft

Office Live Small Business is Microsoft's web-presence service for small businesses. It's part software and part service. In fact, Microsoft calls this strategy Software + Services.

In the previous article we have learned How to create and Customize your Home Page

In this article byRahul Pitre, author of Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Beginner’s Guide we will learn :

  • A Contact Us page that enables visitors to contact you
  • A Privacy Policy page that tells visitors how you use their personal information, such as their names and e-mail addresses

Re-creating the About Us page

Okay, your Home page is now all set. Let's move on to the About Us page. Yes, I know:Office Live Small Business has already created an About Us page for your starter website. The trouble is, it doesn't use the same template as your Home page.

Now that's a big no-no. Remember, we agreed that all web pages on your site will use your template. So, we'll have to find a way to apply your template to the About Us page.

Unfortunately, none exists. Once you create a web page, it's married to its template; in the present version of Office Live Small Business, at least. Your only option is to create it again using a new template.

  1. Go to Page Manager.
  2. Click the New Page link or icon on the toolbar. The Create web page dialog pops up as shown.

     Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Extending the Personal Website

  3. The first step in creating a web page is to choose a template for it. The Create web page dialog lists Standard Templates, which come bundled with Office Live Small Business, and Custom Templates, which you build yourself. Notice that the template that you built on earlier, Base Template, appears as a custom template in the selection box on the left. Select Base Template and click Next. The dialog asks you to Choose page properties.
  4. Enter About Us as the Page title. This title appears in the title bar of the browser when you view it.
  5. The title About Us is appropriate when referring to companies, groups, organizations, or businesses that involve several people. If you're a magician, for example, and your website touts your services for children's birthday parties, then you may want to change the title to About Me, or About Steve, the Magician (assuming you're Steve, of course). It sounds a little less pretentious.

    For my website, I'm going to change the title to About the Author, which is more appropriate for a website that's dedicated to a book.

  6. Type aboutus in the web address text box.

    The web address of the page will now be aboutus.aspx.

    It's a good idea to match a page's title and its web address. Because my page title is About the Author, I'll enter abouttheauthor in this text box. If your page title is About Steve the Magician, you should enter aboutstevethemagician here.

  7. Select the Overwrite existing page checkbox.

    You're creating a new About Us page. But a page by that name already exists. By selecting this checkbox, you're telling Office Live Small Business to go ahead and overwrite it.

  8. Select the Show this page in the navigation bar checkbox.
  9. Notice that Office Live Small Business automatically enters About Us (or About Steve the Magician, or whatever you entered as the page's title) in the Navigation title text box.
  10. Click Finish.
  11. The Create web page dialog goes away and the About Us page you just created appears in the Page Editor as shown:

     Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Extending the Personal Website

  12. Hey! How come this picture shows both About Us and About the Author?

    Elementary, my dear Watson! Because I didn't call my page aboutus.aspx. Had I done so, Office Live Small Business would have replaced the original aboutus.aspx with my new aboutus.aspx.Because I called it abouttheauthor.aspx, the original aboutus.aspx is still intact. If you're in the same boat as I am in, you'll have to delete the About Us page. I'll show you how to do that later in this article.

  13. Select the text Page Header in Zone 2, and overwrite it with About Us (or About Steve the Magician, or whatever).
  14. Save your work and preview the page.
  15. Close the preview window and return to Page Editor.

What just happened?

You replaced the About Us page that Office live Small Business automatically created for you with a new page that uses your custom page template. As we discussed earlier, it's a good idea to use a common template for all of the pages on your website. Hence this exercise.

Have a go hero – write copy for your about us page

The About Us page is for introducing your business to visitors. Do it concisely; nobody really has the time to read a five page profile. Here's the copy that I'm using for my website:

About the Author:

Rahul Pitre has been writing software of one sort or another for twenty-five years, the last dozen or so of which he has spent developing mostly websites and web applications. He runs Acxede, a software consulting and training firm in New York, where he oversees web application and content development for a variety of clients. He holds a Masters degree in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems.

Okay, it's your turn. Here's a rule of thumb that'll serve you well as you write some copy for this page:

Write about what people will want to know about you; not what you want to tell people about yourself.

Don't know where to start? Here are some points you might want to consider:

  1. What you do.
  2. How long you've been in business.
  3. The area that you serve. I highly recommend including your area and ZIP code in the copy. People often Google for phrases like Magicians in NY 10701. If you mention your general area and ZIP code in your text, there's a better chance of people finding you through search engines.
  4. Are you an authorized dealer for some big company?

    Again, people often search for phrases such as authorized Sony service center NY 10701.

  5. Have you received awards or citations for excellence?
  6. Are you a member of the Better Business Bureau or the local merchants' association?
  7. If your services are professional in nature, do you have the necessary qualifications? Licenses? Registrations? Insurance requirements?

If you prefer writing conversational text, write it in short paragraphs. Alternatively, you can use a combination of text and bullet points. But, keep it short. And for heaven's sake, don't write a mission statement.

Remember to write the text in a plain text editor such as Notepad; not in a word processor.

Re-creating the Contact Us page

Now let us now create the Contact Us page again using your site's template.

Time for action – re-creating the Contact Us page

  1. Go to Page Manager.
  2. Click the New Page link or icon on the toolbar. The Create web page dialog pops up.
  3. Select Base Template and click Next. The dialog asks you to Choose page properties.
  4. Enter Contact Us as the Page title. This title appears in the title bar of the browser when you view it.
  5. Type contactus in the web address textbox.
  6. Select the Overwrite existing page checkbox.
  7. Select the Show this page in the navigation bar checkbox.
  8. Click Finish.
  9. The Create web page dialog goes away and the Contact Us page you just created appears in the Page Editor.
  10. Select the text Page Header in Zone 2, and overwrite it with Contact Us.
  11. Save your work and preview the page.

What just happened?

You replaced the Contact Us page that Office live Small Business automatically created for you with a new page that uses your custom page template.

The Contact Us page is kind of unique. You might have noticed that the page you just replaced had a form for visitors to contact you. Normally, you'd have to write a little program to process the information they provide. The program would extract the information from the form and e-mail it to you. Thankfully, Office Live Small Business has a built-in component that does the job admirably. All that you need to do is to set the e-mail address at which you wish to receive the e-mails.

Because you re-created the page, that form is now gone. The reason why I'm deferring it for now is that you haven't worked your way through a few prerequisites yet.

Creating the Privacy Policy page

you have to create your website's footer , you created a link to your website's "as yet non existent" privacy policy as shown:

 Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Extending the Personal Website

Let's now create a page that states your privacy policy and activate the link to it in the footer.

Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Beginner’s Guide Build and Customize your Microsoft Office Small Business Live Web Site with this book and eBook
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Time for action – creating a new page from a template

  1. Go to Page Manager.
  2. Click the New Page link or icon on the toolbar. The Create web page dialog pops up.
  3. Select Base Template under Custom Templates and click Next. The dialog asks you to Choose page properties.
  4. Enter Privacy Policy as the Page title. This title appears in the title bar of the browser when you view it.
  5. you configured the Privacy Policy link in the footer to point to a page named privacypolicy.aspx. For that link to work, you must call this page privacypolicy.aspx. Every web page built with Office Live Small Business automatically gets the extension .aspx. So, just enter privacypolicy in the Web address textbox.
  6. I've seen .htm or .html extensions. What's .aspx? Office Live Small Business runs on a web development platform called ASP.Net, which uses the .aspx extension by default.

  7. Because this page will only be accessible from the link in the footer, you don't need to include it in the page navigation. So, uncheck the Show this page in the Navigation bar checkbox.
  8. Click Finish.
  9. The Create web page dialog goes away and the Privacy Policy page that you just created appears in the Page Editor, as shown in the next screenshot:

    Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Extending the Personal Website

What just happened?

You created a brand new page for your website's privacy policy. You used the template that you built earlier in the article to create this page. Let's go ahead and write some copy for it.

Have a go hero – write copy for your Privacy Policy page

Your website will have a Contact Us page on which a visitor can provide his e-mail address and write you a short note as to what he wants. An e-mail address is considered personal information. So, it's a good idea to let people know what you plan to do with their e-mail addresses. You can declare your intentions in a Privacy Policy statement.

When you think of a Privacy Policy, a long document in verbose, understandable legalese with lots of hereinunders and thereinafters comes to mind. It doesn't have to be so. It's perfectly legal to make a legal document understandable. Here's the text that I'll use for my site:

OfficeLiveGuide.com's Privacy Policy:

The contact form on this website, should you choose to use it, sends the information that you enter, including your e-mail address, to me via e-mail.

I use the information solely for responding to your message. I treat it with the strictest confidence and do not share or sell it.

Okay, it's your turn again. But before you start banging away at your keyboard, understand that your Privacy Policy is legally binding upon you. You must abide by what you say in it. If,like me, you declare that you won't use the e-mail address for anything other than replying to the person, then you can't use it to send a mass-mailing to him every month, for example.

A good way to generate the privacy policy is to use the Direct Marketing Association's Privacy Policy Generator at http://www.dmaresponsibility.org/PPG. You simply fill in an online questionnaire and the generator generates a custom Privacy Policy for you. You can then edit it to make it simpler and easier to understand.

A Privacy Policy is a legal document. I'm not a lawyer and therefore not qualified to give you legal advice. Although DMA's Privacy Policy Generator is used widely, you should consult your lawyer in ascertaining the validity of the document that it generates.

As always, remember to write the text in a plain text editor such as Notepad; not in a word processor.

Building the Privacy Policy page

Once you are (and/or your lawyer is) happy with your copy, you can build the page.

Time for action – add copy to the Privacy Policy page

  1. Open the document that contains the text of your Privacy Policy. Select all the text and copy it to the clipboard.
  2. Open the Privacy Policy page in the Page Editor.
  3. Select the text Page Header and replace it with Privacy Policy.
  4. Position the cursor below the horizontal line under the header and paste the text from your clipboard.
  5. Format the text using Page Editor's editing features. When you have finished, your page should look something like this:

     Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Extending the Personal Website

    Feel free to format the text to your liking. For example, I added my domain name OfficeLiveGuide.com to the header and made the words "do not" red to draw attention to them. Just don't go berserk and make every word a different color.

  6. Save your work and preview your site.
  7. Click Home on the navigation bar to go to the Home page.
  8. Click the Privacy Policy link in the footer. If you've done everything right, you should be looking at your Privacy Policy page.

What just happened?

You finished building your site's Privacy Policy page using either the copy you wrote for it, or the copy that the DMA's Privacy Policy Generator generated for you.

Deleting a page

You've come a long way! You now know how to edit existing web pages and create new ones. At some point, you'll invariably want to delete a web page, either because it's no longer necessary or because you messed it up so thoroughly that the only sensible option is to delete it! Let's prepare for that eventuality. To do so, you'll need a web page on your site that acts as a guinea pig. Let's volunteer the Site Map page.

What?!!! Don't we need a site map?

In a word: NO. Site maps exist for only one reason: to help visitors find a specific web page quickly. Although site maps are ubiquitous, they only make sense on large websites that house thousands upon thousands of pages. On such massive sites, just the site navigation can often not be detailed enough for a visitor to drill down to all major sections of the site.

Your little website is likely to have just a few pages, each of which is accessible from the site navigation. So, the site map is merely a copy of your site navigation, and perhaps, an additional link or two such as the Privacy Policy link. In my opinion, it doesn't add any value to your website. I think it gives your site an aura of false grandiose. So, I recommend that you delete it.

But you might beg to differ, with all due respect, in which case you can simply read the instructions below, instead of executing them, and then come back to this part when you eventually need to delete some other web page.

Time for action – deleting a web page

  1. Sign in to your Office Live Small Business account, if you haven't done so already, and go to Page Manager.
  2. Click the Delete link under the Options column for the Site Map page.
  3. The Message form webpage dialog pops up to confirm that you're within your senses to delete the page. Click OK to affirm that you are. Office Live Small Business deletes the page and the Page Manager refreshes to show the updated list of web pages on your site. Notice that the Site Map page no longer shows up in the list.

What just happened?

We decided that the Site Map page is somewhat redundant and deleted it. Into the bargain, you learnt how to delete web pages from your site.

How to delete a page—but only temporarily

From t?i me to time, you'll want to get rid of web pages from your website, but only temporarily. Let's say, every year you run a promotion for Christmas and another for Valentine's Day. So, you build a "Promotions" page and put it up on your website in December. Come January, the page would have served its purpose and you would not want it on your site until February, that is, when your Valentine's Day promotion begins.

You can make a page go away from your site in two ways:

  • Delete the page from your website
  • Take it off the site navigation so that visitors can't access it

When you delete a page, you send it into oblivion; there's no way to get it back. When you take a page off the site navigation, on the other hand, you don't obliterate it; you just hide it from visitors. You can reinstate it if need be, simply by adding it back to the site navigation.

Naturally, taking the page off the site navigation appears to be the better option. But as it turns out, there's a catch—visitors may still be able to go to the page if they've bookmarked it. Besides, it may appear in search engine results for a few days even after you've removed it from site navigation.

The second option of deleting the page comes with its own obvious baggage: you can't quickly alter the Christmas promotion page and turn it into a Valentine's Day promotion page. You've got to start from scratch to build a new one.

You might think that you're caught between a rock and a hard place. But don't worry; there's an easy way out. If you need to get rid of a web page temporarily, you can save it as a template and then delete it. When you want to resurrect it in a new incarnation, you can use the template that you saved to build a new page quickly.

Summary

Congratulations! You have covered a lot of ground in this article. You transformed the cookie-cutter starter website into your own distinctive website. Lots more remains to be done, of course, but you have got off to a good start.

To recap:

  • The success or failure of your site depends, to a great extent, on how easily and intuitively visitors can find what they're looking for. Therefore, you should write short, but meaningful copy. Remember, content is still king.
  • Every website that collects personal information from visitors should have a privacy policy. Remember, a privacy policy statement is a legal document; so do what you say you'll do in the document. Also, you may want to consult your lawyer before you finalize your privacy policy.
  • Although it's easy to delete web pages from your site permanently, there's no way to get rid of them temporarily. But you can work around the problem by saving the page as a template before deleting it and then recreating it from the template when you want it back.
Microsoft Office Live Small Business: Beginner’s Guide Build and Customize your Microsoft Office Small Business Live Web Site with this book and eBook
Published: November 2009
eBook Price: $0.00
Book Price: $39.99
See more
Select your format and quantity:

About the Author :


Rahul Pitre

Rahul Pitre has been writing software of one sort or another for twenty-five years, the last dozen or so of which he has spent developing mostly web sites and web applications. He runs Acxede, a software consulting and training firm in New York, where he oversees web application and content development for a variety of clients. He holds masters degrees in Business Administration and Computer Information Systems.

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