The Website Development Process
What are your goals for the website?
You need to decide on your goals for your website to insure that we design the best website for you. A website can sell products and services online, encourage customers to visit your store or office to make the sale, make you a trusted resource for your industry, communicate information between members of your company or organization or club, tell the world your opinion, and it can even make money for you by selling ads. You can choose one goal or multiple goals. If you have multiple goals for your website you should prioritize them so we know which is the most important.
Who is the audience for your website?
Who are your customers, and what are they like? If you want to appeal to a youth oriented market we will probably use a smaller non-serif font and make the website easier browse from a smart phone, but if you want to appeal to an older market we will probably use a larger serif font and optimize your website for a laptop or desktop computer. Urban and upper income markets are more likely to have broadband connections so we can include more pictures and larger pictures and videos in a website designed to appeal to those markets because they will be able to download the larger picture and video files in a reasonable amount of time, while customers in rural and lower income markets are more likely to still use a dialup connection that would take too long to download the larger files. If you want to sell your products worldwide we will consider having multiple versions of your website in different languages. If you sell your services to a strictly local market we will mention the areas you serve and probably include a map to your business. We all want to sell our products or services to everyone everywhere, but your website will be more effective if we can target it to a smaller audience that is most likely to buy your product or service.
How do you want your customers to feel about your company?
Banks want to appear safe, toy stores want to seem fun, and news organizations want to be viewed a serious and trustworthy. They may actually come out and say "We are a fun company" or "We are an honest company", but the style of your website will give your customers a feeling about your company. How do you want your customers to feel about you?
How will you attract customers to your website?
We can build a beautiful website for you, but it won't be successful if nobody visits it. Some website owners already know all their customers and they just tell them the name of their website. They don't need to use their website to find new customers, but most websites will have a goal of attracting new customers. The easiest and quickest way to attract new customers to your website is to buy online ads, like Google AdWords. These are the listings in the Google search results in the right column and sometimes at the top of the organic listings. Most search engines have their own online ad services, but we usually use Google AdWords because Google is the most popular search engine. We can create a Google AdWords campaign and have your ads start appearing in customers' search results in less than an hour, but paid online ads can be expensive. We have created magazine ads for some of our customers. These can be very effective if you place your ad in a magazine that caters to the audience that buys your products, but they are very expensive and they can take months to actually get to your customers. My favorite way to get customers to your website is by designing your website to rank well in the search engine organic results. These are the main unpaid search engine results. Google places the organic search results in the middle of the page. Search for your product or service and you will see how much competition you have for these organic search results. Google usually displays the number of webpages in its index at the top of the page. It will look something like "About 79,100,00 results (0.11 seconds)". You might be competing with millions of other websites for a first page listing in the search results for your product or service. This is why we have to design your website to rank well in the search engines results if you are depending on the search engines to send you customers.
What will make your website visitors buy your product or service?
You can get millions of possible customers browsing your website and still not be successful. Your website has to convert browsers to customers that actually buy your product or service to be successful. You have probably been in your business for long enough to know what makes your customers buy your product or service. It might be that you offer the lowest price, or free shipping, or the best customer service, or a convenient location, or maybe you just present your product in a very good way. We depend on you to tell us what factors will sell your product or service so we can incorporate them into your website.
Look at other websites
We need to know what you like and what you don't like in websites, because personal tastes differ and we want to create a website that you really like the first time. If you decide that you don't like the style or font or some feature that we have chosen and it will take us more time because we have to change the website, your website design will cost more. If you use the Internet all the time you probably already know what you like and don't like, but spend some time anyway looking at websites while thinking about how you want your website to look. Look for things like general styles, layouts, type of pages, colors, fonts and special features. Write down the URL of the websites that have aspects that you like or don't like and we can look at them when we meet to discuss creating your website.
Look at your competitors' websites
Look up the websites of your local competitors, and search the Internet for more online competitors' websites. What works and doesn't work in your competitors' websites? We want to design a website that works better than theirs. What can your website do better? Bring a list of your competitors' websites to our meeting and we can discuss how we can make yours better.
Decide how much you want to spend on your website
The cost of your website will depend on how much time we have to creating it. You can look over our Services page to get a rough idea of how much your website will cost. We need to have a rough idea of how much you want to spend so we don't put together a proposal for a $2000 website design when you only have a $300 budget.
Look at examples of our work
Read over our web site, and look at examples of our work on the Portfolio page. If you like what you see and our prices are acceptable then contact us (970.207.9253) to discuss what we can do for you. We can discuss your website options and answer your questions. You might want to take some time to think or talk with other website design companies before proceeding, or if everything sounds good we can schedule a meeting to discuss your website in detail face-to-face.
We meet with you to discuss your website
Together we decide on the design of your web site, including colors, layout, typography, text, and images. Then we decide which materials you will provide, usually product pictures, pictures of staff members, logos, and descriptions of services or products. We create a proposal to design your website with a schedule, detailed description of your website, list of tasks that you will perform, and a maximum project cost.
You review our proposal
Our proposal describes what we will create for you, please read over it thoroughly and tell us if we have missed anything or if there is anything you don't like in the proposal. If there is anything you don't like we will try to change it to better fit your needs, but if the terms are acceptable to you just tell us to go ahead and we will get started on your website.
You provide materials for your website
We are able to create an effective and economical website because we depend on your expertise with selling you product or service. You will provide materials for the web site as described in the proposal, which might include product and service descriptions, testimonials, and high quality photographs (prints or slides), or materials for us to photograph.
We implement the design
We build our websites using Adobe DreamWeaver, which is a powerful tool that helps us create your website quickly and enables us to efficiently maintain your website. Implementation will probably require from 1 week for a simple design, to a month or more for a large and complicated design. The completion time will also depend on our workload because your website will probably not be the only website we are working on. We will put your website on the Internet (on your server or in a test area) while we work on it so you can see what we are doing. We will probably ask you to look over pages as we complete them and tell us if you want anything changed.
You review your website
When we have finished your website we will ask you to review the full web site again. We try to catch all the problems, but sometimes we miss something, we are counting on you to double check our work. If you find anything that you want us to change we will discuss it and make any changes that are necessary to complete the final version of your web site. We give you another chance to look over the website and tell us if there are any last changes.
You pay us for the website
After you give us the final approval for your website we will send you an invoice and ask you pay for your website design. If you have added anything not covered by the proposal your final cost might be higher than the cost given by the proposal, but if you stick to the original proposal your cost will not exceed the cost given by the proposal.
Your website goes LIVE!
If your website hasn't already been uploaded to your host server we will upload it now. The search engines will eventually find your website, but we will submit your website to search engines if that is part of your proposal. Your web site will now available on the web.
More Search Engine Optimization
When your website is live on the Internet, there is still more that we have to do to improve its ranking in the search engine results. We originally designed your website to be easily understood by the search engines and follow their rules, so it is search engine friendly. Next we work on getting incoming links from related important websites to your website. You can save money by doing this yourself. This is how search engines determine the importance of your website for a specific keyword phrase. Post comments and articles on blogs and include your website URL as part of your signature. Create social networking accounts (Facebook, MySpace...) and make posts that link to your website. Upload videos to YouTube and link them back to your website. Submit articles to the business section of the newspaper, they often have an online version too, and make sure you mention your website. Ask business contacts to link to your website from their website. Take time every week to add a few more links to your website and you should see your website search engine ranking and your sales improve.
Over time you will probably want to change things on your website. Staff members, inventory, hours, prices are just a few things that will probably require changes to your website. Your proposal will define whether we explain how you can maintain your website yourself, or we if you will email us changes and we will continue to maintain it as necessary for a fee. We charge the same hourly rate for website maintenance as website design, as described on the Services page.