|Web Design Quotes, Part I
There are a lot of questions that need to be asked in order to give you a firm
quote over the phone. The number of pages you want to build, in most cases, doesn't
play too much into the cost because of today's web design tools. What you put
into your site has more of an impact on the costs than the number of pages. This
month we will talk about the look and feel, and your logo designs.
Template Design Tips:
Look & Feel - Do you have a look and feel in mind, or would you like the
web designer to come up with one?
If you have your web designer come up with how this will look, always offer
your input. This is your website and YOU should always be happy with the results.
Don't be forced to put in things that aren't needed, or that will break the budget.
Logo - Do you have a logo already designed, or will one be created? Not all
web design companies are great at designing logos. Some web design companies will
use a graphic designer from another company to design your logo. Find out how
they do this before you choose a web designer.
Which is better, a web design company that can do everything under the sun,
or a web design company that uses other companies to design and build their graphics?
The answer is simple. Both are more than acceptable. You don't have to have one
company do everything. What you want is the right logo design, not one you have
to settle for. Ask for the name of the graphic design house being used so you
can check them out as well. Remember, this is YOUR site.
Do you need a specialty font for your logo? If so, please include the font
name with your request as the web designer may need to go out and buy the font.
Often times you will be charged for this. In those cases just make sure you get
a receipt from the font company itself. The web designer can forward this to you
after they buy the font.
Web Design Quote, Part II
This month we will be talking about whether you need a text based site, or a graphical
one. We will also discuss your site's navigation. Where there are so many options
out there to choose from, we will try and help you make an informed choice.
Text Based or Graphical Based - Will you need a site designed that is more
of a text based, graphical
based, or a good mix between the two?
This really despends on what your target audience is. Just 5 years ago you
had to worry about how large images, flash and videos were because of dial-up
users. With DSL now being the low end standard used by web designers, this isn't
as much of an issue.
But if you are publishing information, studies, reports on the government
(grin), then you really don't need to be talked into a high end graphic based
design. A simple set of graphics will suffice. A clean look and feel is all that
If your selling something on the web, then your products will definitely be
what drives the site's graphics. Flash
elements is also a possibility here. Something to spice up your site that
will be pleasing, but not overbearing to the users.
But sometimes you just want to go wild with graphics and flash. There is never
anything wrong with doing that IF your target audience is pulled in, and not driven
away from the site taking so long to load. Gamers are likely to have faster connections
to the web. So building a site with high end graphics and flash will fit the target
audience, and draw them in.
Site Navigation - When deciding on where to place your navigation, keep a
few things in mind.
If you go with a horizonal layout, you will need to take into consideration
on how long the names of your naviagtion links are. If you have too many links,
it would make sense in going with a vertical layout.
Will you need dynamic drop-down menus (mouse over links on site). This is
by far the best way to build your site if you have too many links for a horizontal
layout, and don't want to update every page when you add a new link with a vertical
layout. It also gives you the flexibility to keep building new pages, and make
one simple update to the menu system.
Web design Quote, Part III
This month we will discuss domain names, email accounts and if there is a need
for a copywriter.
Domain Names - If you're an established company, it makes sense to get a domain
name that matches the company's name. uses microsoft.com. It makes sense to do
so. But what if you're just starting out? What if you're just wanting to have
a site about you, or maybe you want something where the name itself brings in
Established Brand - If you have a brick and mortor company that is already
established, and you have an established customer base, going with the name of
the company or store makes the most sense. People will find you easier, as they
will likely remember your business name.
If you're internet based, then choosing a name that will help in the search
engines is a big plus. I will use our company as an example. Beyond Web design
is the name of the company. But we use bostonwebdesignco.com as the main domain
name. Our Google sitemaps use this as the standard, and it is what comes up in
Google. While beyondwebdesign.com will point you to the site, Google, Yahoo, MSN
and Ask.com don't see this as us, because we have marketed it that way. But we
keep the company domain name as it is just easier for people to remember.
Local tv station wcvb (channel 5 in Boston) has two domain names. They do
this because their call letters were wcvb, and that is what they used originally.
As the search engines got smarter, so did they. With a new branding as The Boston
Channel coming into play, their main domain now matches the branding they have
given themselves on air. It just makes sense.
So when is it right and when is it wrong to have two or more domain names?
The only time it is really wrong is if you lose your identity in the process.
Make it easy for both your customers and to drive business to yourself.
Who should you buy your domain names from - You need to check them out for
yourself. The leaders are Godaddy, Network Solutions and Register.com. Before
you even type the domain you are looking for, check out the prices of each one
of these. This should be the deciding factor for you. When you decide on which
to use, get the domain name yourself. If you use a web designer to choose it for
you, or a web hosting company, you could lose out in the end if they go out of
business. The domain will be in their name, unless you specify that everything
points to you.
Of course there will be times where you just don't want to go through the
process of getting a domain name. Just be careful that the price you are charged
matches what you see on the web.
.Com, Net, Org, Edu, Biz, Info, etc - What should you choose for a domain
suffix? The most common one is .com. Most people will choose that for business
or for themselves. But if you're a business it makes perfect sense to get the
.net and .org names to PREVENT others from having a company that uses the same
domain name. It would also make sense to do so if you're someone trying to establish
yourself on the market. A musician, actor, singer, professor are sopme of the
fields this plays into.
Other domain names just make sense. Universities and schools are likely to
use the .edu suffix. While non-profit and other organizations will use the .org.
But even for these types of uses it makes sense to also get the .com address as
You have probably heard that whitehouse.gov also had someone buy whitehouse.com
and made it into a porn site. Do you want that to happen to you? Now it seems
to be for John McCain. You can now really tell people you're there to read the
articles, and they will BELIEVE you! So it is important to your branding to spend
the extra money and come up with a set of domain names that will help, not hurt
Email Accounts - This is really a simple thing to talk about, but it needs
to be done in a unconventional manner. The obvious choices for what goes before
the suffix used to be as follows:
Information - email@example.com
Contact - firstname.lastname@example.org
Shipping - email@example.com
Webmaster Comments - firstname.lastname@example.org
You get the picture. If you're a person who absolutely loves getting SPAM,
then you should still continue to use these naming schemes. But if you're like
most web users, you want as little spam as possible. This is where the you need
to be unconventional. Don't go with what is easy. Spammers have auto generators
which search out your domain name, and then sends spam to each of the conventional
naming scheme listed above. Don't fall into their trap.
Copywriter - Does your site even need a copywriter? It really depends. If
the site is about you, not at all. But for a business you should have one if you
feel you can't adequately get your message across. Write down what you want to
say and send it around to some friends. If you don't do this too often, they will
remain as your friends. (grin)
But if it is lacking that punch, definitely get someone to help you with this.
You can get a copywriter from a search engine, your web design firm may also have
someone to help, or if you have a wordsmith friend that you can count on to save
Web Design Quotes IV - Special Programming
This month we will discuss whether or not you need special programming added to
your site. The subjects will be Flash and Database Development.
Flash - To help make your site look dynamic, flash elements could be added
into your front or sub pages. From simple picture transitions to the complex movement
options, today's tools you pay a fraction of the cost for that professional, artistic,
informational or dynamic look. But what is the right amount, and when is it too
Flash has really come a long way. You don't often see the loading bars come
up as often, and this is due to two major factors. One is the speed in which you
surf the web. DSL is the low end standard used today, and it is an excellent benchmark.
But speed isn't the only factor. With so many different tools out there for building
Flash, you some great ways of compressing images before they are inserted, vector
art to help keep clarity, and Flash itself has added some great compression filters.
So things load quicker, while the images themselves have become much larger. Look
at any website for a new blockbuster movie that is coming out and you will likely
see large graphic being used, movement, voice and/or music, but not the loading
Know your target audience. You will see this throughout this blog. High end
flash does not make sense if your target audience is going to have to wait before
every page comes up. Sometimes having both a html and flash version of the site
is a good alternative. But it can become costly to update two sites.
The only drawback to flash at this time is that the search engines can not
read text in the flash files. So if you rely on this alone, you will have a harder
time placing in or near the top of places like Google, Yahoo, MSN and Ask.com.
But they are working on it!
Database Development - Will your site require a database? If you need to gather
information from your users, and don't want to type it all out into a spreadsheet
later, then the answer is yes. This will allow you to have the ability to quickly
look up certain fields to sort the information you've gathered.
If you come to the conclusion that you need a database, please try to write
down your needs beforehand. What fields might be needed, how you want to sort
everything out. This will make it easier for a web designer to come up with an
estimated quote. But don't be afraid to ask about alternative methods. Sometimes
cost is a factor. Don't spend more than you can afford. The web is flexible now.
What you may not have today, you can add tomorrow when it fits into your budget.
Please Note: Some database projects can not be quoted over the phone due to
the size and complexities of your project. A face to face meeting to hammer out
the details will be required. So if you hear something like that, don't be taken
back that they are trying to force you into their offices. You want no hidden
surprises down the road. This, in many cases, makes the most sense to do.
Web Design Quotes V - Content Management
This month we will talk about whether you need a content management system, or
if just using good ole html is the correct way to go.
Content Management is something that can make your life easier when you want
to update a site yourself. You securely login to the system, select the page you
want to work on, and make the changes needed. It really can be that simple.
But there are a lot of different ways to do this. Active Server Pages (ASP)
is one method, which is now easily read by the search engines. Personal Home Pages,
or Hypertext Preprocessor (PHP) is another method of content management, but does
have some difficulty of getting the site indexed. But they are working on this
and hopefully soon, this too will change and be another method to use. Cold Fusion
is another method that for some sites it turns out to be the best option. But
when do you need a Content Management system, and when don't you.
If you're someone who wants to update their own site and don't have any web
experience or don't feel comfortable about changing html code, then this is definitely
for you. It allows you to be able to add new pages, change your navigation around
without having to pay anyone a single dime. It is a very cost effective way to
maintain your site.
But what if you have no plans on updating your site? If you plan on using
your web designer for all of your updating needs, then it would be better to go
with an html version, and not an asp, php or coldfusion type of site. That has
more to do with html being much more flexible from a design standpoint than a
content management version. Templates, which is what content management software
will create, are limited in what you can do with them. In html you have full functionality,
and can create anything your heart desires.
So the short answer is if you want to update your site yourself, a content
management system would be the best. To put them in order for how the search engines
index them, asp, php and then coldfusion. Sticking with asp as the best method
as of today.
Web Design Quote - Part VI - Ecommerce
This month we are going to talk about ecommerce websites. You can have one developed
from scratch, use Paypal, use a web hosting company product live Miva, or use
a software package developed by a ecommerce software company that can be adapted
to fit your needs.
Developed from scratch - If a web developer puts together a software package
from scratch so that it is completely customized for you, make sure that you have
a need to spend that kind of money. If your store is only going to sell a few
items, then it doesn't make sense to spend thousands of dollars for a customized
store. You could better use that money for site enhancements, advertising, or
to just keep in the bank. There is no need to over spend just for the sake of
having something customized.
Paypal - If you have just a couple of items to sell, why go through the hassle
of getting an online merchant account from your bank when you can just use PayPal.
You no longer need to have a Paypal account to use it. Also with Paypal you don't
have to purchase a site certificate as they use their own when the creditcard
information is added in. So this option makes the most sense if you don't want
to spend a lot of money.
There is a worry for some that Paypal is the poor man's version of Verisign.
But seeing Paypal owns BOTH, don't be fooled.
Web Hosting with 3rd Party Software - This is a method that will work out
great for some, but not for others. If you have a hosting company that you have
been using, and they offer you a software package, please take some serious questions
to heart. If it is a webhosting company that you have been using for quite some
time, and you are really happy with them, choosing this method can be a good option.
But find out how much more it will cost per month to use their system. If your
web hosting plan goes up a lot, then you will need to know that to plan your budget.
Another consideration is if you use this kind of system, and you go to a different
web hosting company, you need to rebuild your store from both a database and html
standpoint. Your database will be at the old web hosting company. While some will
allow you to download your store's database output, it is not always the case.
The other factor you need to think about is if the new hosting company has the
same software. If they do and it is an older version, can it adapt the output
from a newer release, or will you need to input every single product all over
again? These are serious considerations to keep in mind when you decide what method
of selling your products or services.
Out of the box adaptable solution - This is the most flexible for when you
want to build a store to sell lots of products. Everything is built in and you
can adapt the template to get a very close look and feel from your current site.
But the great thing about this is you pay one price to buy the software. They
come in different flavors to meet your needs. Some may need the high end version.
Others may not need all the bells and whistles. But the best part about it is
this. If you go to another web hosting company, you can first download the entire
store to your hard drive (especially the latest database) and just upload to the
new server. Just match servers. By that I mean if your store was running on a
Windows based server, put it on a Windows based server at the new web hosting
You will still need to tweak, and possibly pay someone to make the move. But
think about it. What costs more. Having to put in every single product again,
or pay a small fee to have it set up to a new web hosting company. A couple of
hours verses many, depending on how many products you need to have put back in.
Merchant Accounts - If you don't have one, then your only option is Paypal,
or a company like it. If you have a brick and morter merchant account already
established, it won't work for the web. You will need to jump through the same
hoops you did before.
You can go through your own bank, or check the web for other type of options
that exist. Verisign has a great set of FAQ's that will assist you with this.
Site Certificates - If you don't have one, don't expect to sell a single item.
They used to be expensive, but now you can get them below $150 per year. What
will they do for you? That little lock that appears on your site only comes up
if the website has a site certificate. Sometimes a web hosting company has a shared
one you can use. That will save you a little money, but most often your links
go from a domain name to an IP address. So if your domain name was lookatme.com,
when the certificate is in use it would change to a set of numbers like 18.104.22.168/productcode.
Not the pretiest way to go, and often times it can make a user think they are
going to give their information out to someone who will steal their identity.
That would likely mean a lost sale. Remember, most people are not going to know
an IP address is ok. All they will focus on is the change from a domain name to
an IP address. Why take the chance?
Web Quote Tips Part VII - Extras and Wish Lists
In our final segment on web design quotes, what to look for before you call a
web design company, we will discuss web design extras and wish lists.
What are extras? They come in lots of flavors. Flash Galleries and Movies
are two that come to mind.
From the sound of it, they sound expensive. But in reality they really shouldn't
be. Today's software packages do a lot of the work for the web designer than in
years past. There are even outside vendors that can help you with this.
Flash Galleries - There was a time when a Flash Gallery would cost a lot of
money if you had a lot of pictures and albums to work with. So you would have
someone make two versions of your pictures. The thumbnail and the full sized picture.
This would often take many hours to put together, depending on the quantity. But
with the Flash Gallery programs of today, most will take a folder of full sized
pictures, and resize them in seconds. Yes seconds. You end up with a thumbnail
and full sized version. No distortion with the thumbnail, and great clarity with
the larger photo.
Also within the software itself the web designer can set the parameters within
minutes for the color, music playing, album controls, how long it might take before
the next image appears, and the overall size of the album.
Think about how much you can save. Because the software itself usually costs
under $100, or higher for programs that can offer a lot more features to the player
or different transitions. So the cost to do an extra like this should be a small
price compared to what it would have cost just 5 years ago.
Flash Movies - Having movies on your site can be fun, informative, and a great
way to communicate with your potential customer before they ever pick up the phone
Utube is a great example of Flash Galleries. Flash streams better than a standard
movie would. Less starts and stops are always a better option. The Flash movie
is also compressed greater than a standard movie. Meaning something that was once
100 meg can be reduced to less than half that size, without losing the quality.
Even smaller if you only want to display low quality vids as a teaser for them
to pay a fee to view or buy a higher quality one.
Another option that the big companies seem to be going to is Brightcove. People
use their servers to store and create the Flash videos and they are just embedded
into the web page itself. This allows you the ability to upload videos, make your
own player, and really have the flexibility of your own schedule to do this in.
But you can also use a web designer to do the work with Brightcove if your schedule
doesn't always permit you to do it on your own. Places like Billboard Music Charts
and the Garden Girl use this option.
Lots of options to choose from for sure.
Wish Lists - Everyone has a wish list for the car they might want, the extra
special Christmas Gift because you were not naughty, but nice, or that dream vacation.
You are more than willing to check around to see what it would cost if you added
this feature or that, why not with web design? Come up with a list in categories.
What would enhance, what would impress, and what would just make people stand
up and say, WOW! Then when you call a web design company you can at least see
what the costs would be. The end result could be your dreams can come true!
One last note of interest. Don't go with the 1st web designer you find on
the web. Talk with at least 3 different web design firms. There are options. You're
going to spend a fair amount of money to develop your site. You should be informed.
We hope you have enjoyed our 7 part feature on how to prepare for a web design
quote. You will hear lots of different responses from the different web design
firms out there. Listen to what they are saying. Look at the work they have done.
If search engine placement is important, look past the sponsored ads and maps
to see just where the company you are looking at ranks. Compare that to how many
results are in the list. This is a good indication at what they could do for your
Database Development Management
Search Engine Optimization SEO
Flash Animation Development
Customized Content Management
||Flash Movies & Picture Galleries
Graphic & Media Design
Domain Name Registration
Secure Online Stores