Once upon a time, a business could choose not to have a web site. They reasoned that they did not need a professional web site; they could do just fine without one. Then, one of their competitors decided to get a web site and a buzz was created. Not to be outdone, another competitor decided to follow suite. Then another and then another. Pretty soon customers were asking the business if they had a web site. Finally, they realized that they needed a website in order to keep up with their competitors. And so, the Internet exploded. These days, everyone has a web site. From large corporations to small businesses; families to individuals, everyone is on the Web. A friend of mine even created one for his infant child.
This article is created to speak to the few remaining businesses that have yet to tackle the Internet beast. You want to have a web presence, but it seems a daunting task. “Where do I start?” you say. “What issues will I need to address so that I make the most of my new web site?” you continue. This brief article will cover some of the areas of the webdesign process to pay particular attention to. We have designed many web sites for clients that had no idea where to start. We firmly believe that client education is a vital part of the overall success of the web project. Most professional web design companies have published some guidelines that will help potential clients answer some of their questions. It is with that in mind that we have written this article.
Why do you want a web site?
Will your web site be for personal use (just show some photographs to your family members, for example)? Will it be to advertise a business service? Will it be an informational web site, simply to pass on knowledge to the visitor? Will it be used to sell a product? Is it important that you show up #1 in Search Engines?
These are vital questions with which to begin. The answers you come up with will determine the direction in which the overall design should go.
Do you have a business logo?
If you have been in business, you may already have a logo or a trademark that your customers recognize. If that is the case, do you have the original graphic that can be emailed? It will be important to use that on your web site.
If you do not have a logo or anything by which your customers currently know you, do you have any ideas about what you might like, a sketch, a doodle or something similar? Whatever the case, usually a professional web design company can design a professional logo for you or reuse your current one.
Do you have particular colors that you want to use?
Not all colors work well on the Internet. Generally, selecting a few colors is the best path to take. Your web designer can help you select quality colors that will come together in a design that you will be proud to show off.
Have you seen web sites that you like?
Providing an example (or examples) of a site that you like is a good way to help your web designer understand the look you are after. A good webdesign company will usually get this type of feedback from their clients. Then they will have a feel for their “taste” and can use that as a pattern for their site.
Do you have a web site domain name?
This is the actual address of the web site. It is what you will rattle off when someone asks you, “Do you have a web site?” If you do not have one registered already, your web designer can take care of that for you. Some web design companies may charge a yearly fee for this service, anywhere from $10 to $50. However, some web design companies offer this service at no charge. Make sure to ask your web design company about this upfront so that there is no confusion.
Do you know how many web pages you want for your site?
Almost all web sites have a Home page, a Contact Us page and a Links page. However, after that, you have to determine what you want features to emphasize about your business. Is it important that visitors know some history about your company? If so, you will need an “About Us” page. Do you have categories of product that you want to feature on your web site? If so, each category will have its own page. Do you want visitors to be able to fill out an order form when they are ready to buy something? If that is the case, you will need an “Order Form” page.
Your web designer will ask you about this facet of your web site, but it is good to think about this on your own before you take that step. As a rule, the more pages a web site has, the higher the cost. So choose a web design company that you are comfortable with and don’t let them talk you into more pages than you really need.
Do you have graphics and photographs to use on your site?
If you have pictures to use on your site, are they in a high-quality digital format? As a rule, a scanned photograph will not look good on your website. The best pictures are ones taken with a digital camera. These can be used on the web site and formatted so that they have a professional look.
Many web design companies are able to take pictures for you. Usually, this service is an additional charge, so make sure you discuss this option.
Will you maintain the web site yourself?
If so, do you have an understanding of the Code Languages used to create your web site. Some of these languages may include:
If you are comfortable with these languages, your web design company can probably setup the web site to allow you to maintain it yourself. However, most companies will not support sites in which the client has made changes to the original code. Make sure to discuss this during your initial consultation.
Some companies will create Content Management Systems (CMS). These allow their clients to update the website without having to touch the original code. With a custom CMS, if you can create a document in a Word Processing program, you can change your website content. This means you do not have to learn any programming languages and, at the same time, you do not have to call your web design company every time you want to update your site. Of course, the company you choose should always be available to assist if you get stuck. They should also be willing to e-mail you a link to show a demonstration of their custom CMS.
Hopefully, this article has given you some good guidance to follow on the path to your new web site. With some advanced preparation, you will tackle the Internet beast with no problem. The web design company you choose should be willing to supply you with a list of satisfied clients. Take the time to review the list. Contact the clients listed and ask them for their opinions of the company. This will give you some good information to help you make a good decision.