A website offers many more possibilities than any other form of advertising. Imagine advertising in a magazine in which you control all of the content. You not only get your name out there, but you have all the space in the world to tell them about your company, why your company is better, and why they should choose you. Your website may be all of the information a waffling customer needs to make their decision.
Deploying a professional website can offer your business many other advantages, such as:
In general, the larger and more experienced the design team is, the higher their rates are. Some large design firms don't take on a project for less than $10,000. You will find others who will do it for a few hundred dollars. Unless you are a Fortune 500 company or at the other end of the spectrum and on a really tight budget, we don't recommend either. The former is too exorbitant for most, and if you go for the latter, you may end up with a fresh-faced college kid who is looking for experience. Sometimes the old adage is true-- you really do get what you pay for.
Our design services are ideal for small-to-medium sized businesses who are looking for professional, high-quality websites that won't break the bank. Most of our projects run between $2000-$3000, depending on your needs, goals and expectations.
Personal sites are fun places to experiment and develop your skills, but business websites should always be held to a much higher standard. A website's success depends on your ability to convince your customers to conduct business with you. A visitor should always leave your site with the thought that your website is worth returning to-- that your site is either an invaluable resource that no one else has, or that you have a product or service they simply can't live without. A professional website says "Hey, we're with it, we're up to date, we're technologically sophisticated." If your website looks unprofessional, then by association, you look unprofessional.
A recent study by Consumer Web Watch has shown that nearly half of all site evaluators used visual cues, such as the site's overall design or look, to assess a site's credibility. Credibility is a must if you are selling any type of product or service.
You will lose far more money by having an amateurish website and consequently losing potential sales than it will initially cost you to hire a web designer to build it for you. A professional website will produce a very good return on your investment.
1.) We maintain. We make all updates to the site for you and you pay an hourly rate for our services (as outlined above). A credit card is required to pay for all hourly updates, and you will be invoiced after they have been performed to your satisfaction. You may also purchase a pre-paid time block, which can be paid by check or credit card. After updates are performed, the time is then deducted from your time block. In both cases, you would send the updates via email and they will be performed within 48 hours.
2.) You maintain, with a Content Management System. If you would like to cut back on long-term costs by performing all site updates yourself, you will need a Content Management System (CMS). A web site with a CMS implemented allows clients with no HTML, FTP or computer knowledge to maintain and update a web site. Content Management Systems typically have WYSIWYG (What You See is What You Get) Editors, which function much like Microsoft Word. You can format paragraphs, apply bold, italics, or underlines to text, insert web links, and automatically upload and resize images directly from the hard drive on your computer. The system that we implement is ridiculously easy to use for any novice.
3.) You maintain, with no training. If you are an advanced web user that simply requires a website design but no HTML or FTP training, we can build the website design and hand everything else over to you. We can also separate the design from the content by using server side includes or PHP, so that you will not have to dig through dozens of lines of code to perform minor updates.
We strongly recommend that you plan and budget for regular website maintenance. Successful websites always have fresh content that compels the visitor to return. During our consultation, we can help you decide which maintenance plan most closely matches your needs.
Here are some tips:
Analyze their portfolio
Look at websites they have already created to get a general sense of whether their style is compatible with your ideas of a well designed website. Are the designs visually appealing to you? If you can't find anything you like in their portfolio, they probably won't like what they develop for you, either. It's also important to note "usability" of the designs. Does the designer employ good navigation techniques? How easy is it for you to find information on their site and in some of the sites in their portfolio?
Look for experience
Ask how long the designer has been in business and if possible, ask for references. Talking with past clients is a great way to find out more about the designer. Were they readily accessible? Flexible? Receptive to their ideas? Did they get the type of website they'd hoped for?
You should never choose a designer based on price alone. Remember, it's not just about getting a website-- you'll need a website that will actually perform. That old adage really is true-- you often get exactly what you pay for. Typically, designers who are extremely inexpensive lack experience, so they won't have a grasp of good web design techniques.
Experienced designers will not only ask about your design preferences, they will ask what your primary goal is, who your target audience is, what sets you apart from your competition, and then give suggestions that will enhance your internet presence.
They will also perform numerous behind-the-scenes tests that novices typically ignore, such as cross-platform and cross-browser compatibility, usability, etc. You do not want to end up with a website that will only work on Internet Explorer on PCs or you will alienate a large portion of your visitors. A designer should also rigorously test in Netscape, Mozilla, Opera, Firefox, Safari, AOL, and others on both the Macintosh and the PC.
Customer service is key
Do not judge a web designer solely by their portfolio-- over the long haul, customer service is far more important to the success of your project. We feel that effective communication is one of the most important aspects of the website design process. Can you contact the web designer quickly and easily? Do they provide a toll-free telephone number for you to reach them, or do they only provide email support? How long does it take them to respond to your inquiries? Are they friendly? Helpful? Do they explain things in a manner that you find easily understandable, or do you find yourself struggling with the terminology they use? You do not want to be left guessing or assuming anything. Are they a full-time web designer by trade, or do they just develop websites in their spare time? Finding out these questions before you do business with a web designer could save you time, money, and effort.
Look for a full-service design team
For ease of use, look for a designer that also provides domain registrations, web hosting, logo development, online marketing techniques, website maintenance or content management solutions, and e-commerce solutions (such as secure server certificates, merchant accounts and shopping carts). It is also important to hire someone who can install scripts and back-end databases-- you would be surprised at how many designers cannot perform these basic tasks. These types of skills are absolutely necessary for dynamic, interactive websites. A script could be anything from a content management system that lets you maintain every page on your website to a simple contact form mailer which allows your visitors to email you directly from your website. Experience in this area is especially important if you are selling products or services and wish to accept credit cards online!
Get it in writing
Make sure the design company you chooses clearly outlines the work to be performed, their pricing structure, an agreed-upon deadline, and their terms of service, all before you begin the project. A contract protects both you and the web designer-- it will clearly define what you are paying for and what the designer is expected to do.