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Lesson #8




In this two-part lesson, you will learn the basics of planning, designing, building, and publishing doorway pages. This lesson will cover planning and design. The next lesson will cover building and publishing.


There are many different types of Websites and Web pages used for different purposes. One category of Web pages is "doorway pages." You may recall that we introduced you to doorway pages in Lesson 4 of this course. We said there that a "doorway page" is a Web page used to lead people to another target interactive site. The doorway page contains a link to your target page. The target page is where you hope the user will take some action such as purchasing an affiliate product or opting in to your program. The target page sells. The doorway page gets people's attention and leads them to the target page. Doorway pages serve two main purposes:

1. To optimize search engine placement, and

2. To target your initial approach to different demographics.

We also said that the best doorway pages are pages that attract the targeted demographic by providing useful information or entertainment, while remaining easy to navigate. In Lesson 3, we concluded that any Web page must have valuable content and must be easy to use if it is to succeed. That is, a Web page must flow. A doorway page must flow with content and ease of use, and it must flow into the target page where the desired action can happen.

While the information in this lesson applies generally, we will focus on the SFI affiliate program to simplify our discussion. As an SFI affiliate, you already have several very effective target pages with effective opt-in programs. Your doorway pages can point to the SFI main site, the SFI Affiliate sign-up site, the Full-Circle Success site, or any of the product pages. Any and all of these are effective target sites.

You can have one or several doorway pages for each target site. You can design your doorway pages to attract specific types of prospects (demographics) or to be general in approach.

Before we begin, let me reiterate from our last lesson that you can succeed in SFI with very little technical knowledge. Following the procedures from our last lesson will get you well on your way to success. For those of you who want to learn more of the technical process, let's look now in more detail at the process of planning, designing, building, and publishing doorway pages.


It will be helpful if we start first with an outline of the process.

Planning Your Doorway Page
- Choosing the "value" you will offer
- Deciding on the demographic you will target
- Deciding whether to use a virtual domain or a subordinate URL
- Choosing a name
- Planning your "flow" from the demographic to the value to the target page
- Deciding on the level of interactivity
- Determining update needs
- Determining security needs
- Deciding whether to farm it out

Designing Your Doorway Page
- Wording your content
- Choosing your layout
- Optimizing your search engine use
- Gathering your graphics
- Choosing which editor to use

Building Your Doorway Page
- Browser compatibility issues
- Resolution compatibility issues
- Loading speed
- Language, grammer, and spelling
- Graphics refinement
- Navigation issues
- Privacy Policy and Terms of Use
- Space requirements
- Code writing

Publishing Your Doorway Page
- Choosing an ISP
- Contract issues
- Uploading your site
- Registering your site
- Maintaining your site

With this outline, we can now discuss each item in turn.


As with anything worthwhile, planning is the most important step. You should put a great deal of effort into your planning. This will save you effort later on.

The first two issues you must address in the planning stage are interdependent. They are "What demographic group will you target?" and "How will you provide value to that demographic?"

You can provide the valuable information or entertainment for your doorway page yourself, or you can obtain it from another source. There are sources on the Internet (such as YellowBrix or BraveNet) that will provide dynamic information that you can easily incorporate into your Website. They have both free and fee options. The free options may have links in the content that will divert some of your traffic to the content provider's target pages. The reason they provide free content to you is to gain that traffic. If this is all you can afford—and you can not come up with value of your own—this is far better than nothing. If you can afford it, you can purchase information from many different sources to provide on your page that will not divert traffic. Better yet, you can provide your own valuable content.

Most everyone knows something that would be of value to others. Maybe you are good at small-engine repair, gardening, canoeing, backpacking, fresh-water fishing, photography, skydiving, or fashion accessorizing. Or, maybe you just know the good restaurants in your city and the ones to avoid. You can provide value to your doorway page with well written information on any of these subjects or an infinite number of other subjects. The one catch is that you either have to be able to write fairly well . . . or you have to find someone who can write well to help you. If you have a creative streak in you, it can be worlds of fun to plan your doorway page.

The point is that you have to have valuable information or entertainment from somewhere to offer on your page. A Web page must have value. If you expect your Web page to be effective, it cannot just be a list of links and banners. Doorway pages, however, by definition, can be very short and sweet. In fact, the more focused they are, the more effective they will be. Do not try to do all things with your page—just do one thing well.

Depending on the value you have to offer, you can identify the demographic group you will be targeting with your doorway page. Or, if you will be acquiring the content from other sources, you can pick that content to match the group you want to target.

Let's look at an example. Let's say you decide to target persons approaching retirement who are worried that their retirement income will be insufficient to meet their needs. First, think of information that this group will find valuable. A lot of companies offer senior discounts. You could research and formulate a list of such companies and the discounts they offer. You could then offer this information on your doorway page. You can then easily make this content flow into your link to the SFI program by stating that savings from discounts is one way to manage your retirement budget, but increasing your income by working part-time from home is another. Then provide the link to your SFI page as the means to obtain that extra income.

When gathering content for your page, be careful to avoid violating copyrights. You cannot just copy information from someone else's page without his or her permission. Either get permission to use content created by others, find content which is in the public domain (such as certain government publications produced for free dissemination), or create your own content.

Another decision you have to make is whether you will purchase a virtual domain or just use a subordinate URL. A virtual domain is where the name you have reserved, such as "," is permanently tied to your Website through DNS (Domain Name Service) entries overseen by ICANN (Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers, the authority responsible for managing domain names for the Internet). Alternatively, you can purchase space from an ISP or even find free space from services, such as, where your URL (the address of your Website) will be a subdirectory of someone else's domain, for example, We refer to these addresses as subordinate URLs because they are a subdirectory of someone else's domain name.

If you want to have your own domain name, you have to pay a fee to register it. More importantly these days, you have to find a decent name that is not already taken. That gets more difficult to do with each passing day as millions have already been reserved. The oldest and most respected source for searching and registering domain names is Network Solutions. At the time of this writing, they charge $35 per year for registration of a domain name. Other services, such as 000domains (which charges only $13.50 per year) are now available for much less.

Having your own domain name will help your standing with the search engines and provide ease of advertising. Picking the right name is important. You can search for available names at one of the registrar's sites or at a Whois site. Most obvious names that you could think of are already taken, but with some imagination and time you may find a suitable one still available for your purposes.

Once you know what your address (whether your own domain or a subordinate URL) will be and have decided on your demographic group and content, you need to give some careful thought to making it all flow into the link to your target page. We cannot overemphasize the value of flow. Your viewers' mind must be naturally led to your link from the content of your page. If not, they will not likely click on the link regardless of how much they enjoy the content.

Any time you plan a Web page, you should give some consideration to interactivity. By interactivity, I mean that the viewer can select choices or input information, and the content will change accordingly. A quiz is a good example of interactivity. Correct answers yield a reward. Incorrect answers result in a buzzer effect. Interactivity makes your page much more interesting than a static, brochure-type page. Interactivity requires some programming beyond basic HTML, however. You will have to use a CGI scripted program, JavaScript, or VBScript, or your host will have to have an API (Application Program Interface) program available for your use. Doorway pages do not have a great need for interactivity since their sole purpose is to catch traffic and direct it to the target page. Interactivity is always a plus, however.

Another important consideration is updating your Web page. You will need to keep the content on your page current as the information changes. Design your page to make updating easy. Some of the free hosts allow you to update your pages at will. Some Web designers will design your own custom administration section to allow you to update your page at any time, even without knowledge of HTML. Both of these methods allow you to add changes to your content into Web forms, which when submitted will update the content of your Web page. The traditional way of updating your Web content, however, is to use an FTP program, such as WS_FTP Pro. This will let you upload a new version of the entire page each time you change it. You also need to plan and schedule when and how you will go about the updating process. A regular schedule and a routine of keeping your page current should be an important part of your plan.

Your plan should also take into account any security needs. There are generally two types of security. One type of security is limiting access to specific pages so that only authorized viewers can see them. The other is protecting private information as it travels across the Internet to and from your site. Will you be collecting private information from your viewers? If so, you will need to have the HTTPS protocol available. This protocol encrypts the information as it is passed to and from the site so that it cannot be read by unauthorized persons, even if it is intercepted as it travels across the Internet. To obtain this latter type of security, you have to obtain and install a Security Certificate (such as the ones available from Verisign) or use one already obtained by your ISP. Security certificates identify you as being who you say you are to those passing private information to you from forms on your Web page.

Unless you are already familiar with HTML (the code language that is used to build Web pages) and are not traumatized by the above discussions of CGI, Java, APIs, and Security Certificates, you may want to farm out the building of your Website. Many people have enjoyed the process of learning to build their own Websites, but many have found it to be extremely frustrating. If you fall into the latter category, there are many good Web design and hosting companies available at reasonable prices.

You must be very careful in choosing a Web design firm, however. Because this is all so new, there are few standards to judge who is really an expert and who just claims to be an expert. I have encountered many people who have proclaimed themselves to be Web-design experts but who are in fact dangerously ignorant. You do not become a Web-design expert just by figuring out how to build a basic template site with one of the HTML editors such as FrontPage. To be a true Web-design expert, one should be thoroughly familiar with computers, operating systems (including Internet server operating systems), Internet protocols, HTML, CGI, APIs, and some of the scripting languages such as JavaScript or VBScript. The firm you choose should also have good knowledge of graphic design and graphic file compression standards and software. Some artistic talent needs to be added to this knowledge base for a firm to produce high-quality products.

Also because this is all so new, there is tremendous variation in pricing for these services. Some not-so-expert firms will charge thousands of dollars to design a site which could have been obtained from a true expert for a fraction of the cost. Thus, you should use great care in selecting a design firm you choose to farm out the building of your site.

At the time of this writing, SFI is negotiating with expert firms to offer special deals to SFI affiliates who are members of the IAHBE. If you're not an IAHBE member yet, e-mail me at and I will direct you to suitable firms for design and temporary hosting in the interim.


Once you have a good solid plan for your doorway page, you need to begin the actual design process. Whether or not you farm out the design of your doorway page, you need to participate in the design process. At this point, it is time to turn your attention again to the content you will have on your page. Hopefully, you have decided during the planning stage the type and source of content you will use. Now you must decide how to display that content on a Web page.

The next step is to rough out a design layout on paper. Think about the most pleasing way to display the content on your Web page. This is where you begin to think seriously about the graphics you will use. You will need a background color or image for your page. The subtler, the better. You do not want to blind your visitors and overwhelm the content on your page with a busy background. You will also need a logo or similar type of "branding" graphic to give your page some identity. You may want to use photographs that you have available or can take to add a visual dimension to your written content. Consider how you will place the logo and photos in relation to the textual content on your site.

The goal, again, is to create flow. You want your visitors' attention to start at the top and flow down your page to your target link. Mentally and visually, you need to have a starting point and a flow path. Design your graphics (or have them designed) so that the eye is naturally led down the page from the top to the bottom. Remember that the focal point of the entire page is the link to your target page. Design your page so that if attention is first caught by any other part of the page, it will be led to your target link. Word your content to have the same directional effect mentally as your graphics have visually. Work to make both your graphic content and your textual content come together as a unified whole that creates a reaction in the viewer and leads him or her to your target link through a pleasant and interesting visual and mental process.

One of the most important aspects of design is to optimize your page for the search engines. Web pages contain metatags which are invisible to the visitors to your page, but are specifically read by the search engines. We will have more on this in the next lesson and even more detail in subsequent lessons, but for now you need to come up without about 25 to 30 keywords for the search engines to index that will draw people to your site. You also need to draft out a one paragraph description of your site, utilizing the most important keywords from your list. Your description should concisely state in very inviting terms what your site has to offer. Finally and most importantly you must word the content of your entire site with your keywords and description in mind. Search engines are not happy when a site has keywords and a description which has little to do with the actual page itself.

After creating the layout for your site, it's time to prepare the final wording of the content and to gather up the graphics you need. You can design your own logo with a drawing program or you can have someone else do it for you. You need a graphic file preferably in a .GIF or .JPG format that is small in terms of the bytes used in the file size so it loads fast. Using a digital camera or a scanner, you can digitize the photographs, if any, you need for your page. When you have all this together, you are almost ready to start actually building your site.

The one final issue before beginning to build your site is how you will write the code. If you have the knowledge, the prefered method is to write your own HTML code in a simple text editor. If not, you will have to rely upon an HTML editor. HTML editors are like word processors that allow you to type text, insert graphics, build tables, insert links, and do the other things necessary to build a page. The editor then writes the HTML code for you in the background. Most HTML editors provide pre-built templates which have a layout already in place for you. Many feel it is better not to use these templates because they are recognized as such when people see your page. If time is an issue and economy requires you to build your own page, however, templates can be useful.

If you are going to use an HTML editor, you want to find one that actually saves you time, rather than one that burns up your time while you try to learn how to it. If the editor is not very user friendly, your time might be better spent learning the HTML code itself, which is not really that complicated. HTML is a tag type code. You insert tags before and after content to produce the placement and effect you desire for that content. Learning HTML is not like learning a programming language, such as C++ or Visual Basic. It is much simpler.


Doorway pages can be very useful in promoting affiliate programs. They allow you to target specific audiences and lead them to your target link. Doorway pages allow you to optimize search engine acceptance and placement. Just as with any other undertaking, good planning is the key. Start with planning and designing your site as discussed in this lesson before you begin to actually build your site.



In this lesson we discussed planning and designing your doorway page. Our next lesson will continue with discussion of building and publishing your doorway page.

by George Little
Copyright (year) Panhandle On-Line, Inc.
License granted to Carson Services, Inc. for distribution to SFI affiliates. No part of this work may be republished, redistributed, or sold without written permission of the author.

For more information on the Internet Income Course and other works and courses by George Little, see

For Web Hosting services specially designed for SFI affiliates, see

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