We make every effort to ensure that the design process is easy for you, and that the website created is exactly what you wanted. As your designers, we can assist you with getting your content together, help with the creation of the content that may be needed, and we make ourselves available to our clients during the day, evening, and weekends, so please feel free to contact us with any questions.
Initial Web Design Assessment
If you have an existing website we will perform a full assessment of it wherein we will evaluate both the strengths and areas that need improvement. This evaluation will cover all the key website considerations, which include:
- Overall look and professional appeal for your industry type
- Placement of the layout’s text and images
- Visual consistency across pages
- Type of scripting, use, and functionality
- Navigation type and ease of site access
- Optimization of pages for the search engines
- ADA (American Disabilities Act) provisions
- Social media inclusions
- Mobile friendly
If there are aspects of your website which you like an want to keep, please note this. Clients without an existing site will be asked to provide an overview of what they are seeking in their website, and provide URL samples where possible of what they are looking for in their own website.
Define the Type of Website Needed
Initially we need to know to know the purpose of your website, with an overview of the content that will be provided. This will help us define the best type of website platform for your specific needs, be it a standard HTML5 responsive website, CMS responsive website (Content Management System), HTML5 Responsive Landing Page, Mobile-only Website, or E-commerce platform.
The standard website platform is best for simpler websites and when there is a high need for customization across the pages. Since static websites are not template generated, the layout can be easily adjusted, and if dynamic content is needed it can be incorporated into a static site as individual scripting inclusions. Standard “static” websites are the most secure option since they don’t use a database to store the page content.
A CMS website is best when blogs, forums, polls, ecommerce, and other user interactive content is needed. CMS websites display the page content dynamically (upon page load) and include an administrative interface which allows for the client, or their agent, to make routine changes to the pages without developer assistance. Since CMS websites use a templating system there may be customization restrictions since each page is defined by the template page assigned to it; and since CMS websites use a database it is not as secure as as a standard website. For our CMS clients we include the best security and firewall options available, and we offer a discounted maintenance service for site monitoring and platform, theme, and plugin updates.
A landing page website is a single page responsive site that is commonly used for a new business without a lot of existing content, or as a promotional page to provide marketing benefit and inbound links for another “full” website.
All of our websites utilize the latest in development standards and practices, and are developed to be ADA compliant where possible.
Define the Pages and their Content
Once the type of website has been decided upon, we will need to know the specific pages that will be added to the website. For each page we will need to have a good idea of the content each page will have, and how the page is to be titled. If there will be sub-menu pages (pages that are linked to another top-level page) then we would prefer to have the page list provided as a site-map or storyboard format to ensure that the page relationships are provided correctly in the menu systems.
For the pages, please note if you need PDFs converted from Word Docs, need video streaming or embedded from YouTube or Vimeo, a photo gallery, newsletter sign-up form, calendar or events manager, intend to add resource links to other sites, etc. The choice of content will define, in part, the layout choices. For example a left sidebar is often used for pages with an additional menu system, and a right sidebar is often used for pages when there are links, quotes, sign-up or login forms, and contact information.
The goal here is for all content inclusions to be defined early to ensure that that the correct development platform is chosen for your needs, and that our initial estimate will be representative of the final development cost without an unexpected delay in development.
Designing the Look and Feel
The look of the website is defined primarily by the site’s colors, layout style, navigation, header design, typography, and use of images and animation. For example, you may want a simple logo at top, or a jQuery slideshow. For navigation you may want a drop-down menu that has a specific roll-over color, and a sidebar menu for links to featured pages. And for the layout, you may want to have 3 columns of bulleted text of your services below a full-width welcome paragraph, and have your client logos added as a scroller to the footer of the pages.
What we recommend is that you browse your top-ranked competition sites and take notes about what you specifically like for each. It can be helpful to provide us 3 or 4 links to sites that you find visually effective, wherein you indicate for each what you do and/or don’t like with regard to the styling elements such as the navigation (look, its placement, and functionality), the header design type/style, the use of animation, the layout (one to four columns), the type of content added to the side-bars, differentiation of content across the pages, how the footer is used, etc. From your answers we are able to better assess your own design preference and ensure that the design we create will match your vision.
Most business will have a Facebook page, and many use Twitter, LinkedIn, and Google Plus. If you intend to use these then these should be incorporated into the design of the website. As with the layout look/feel, you may decide that you want the icons as small inclusions on the header and/or footer, or you may want something larger, such a button or banner, a Facebook “Like” box, a Twitter Feed inclusion, etc. If you have a preference on how you want your social media presented please indicate this.
When you are ready please provide the resources available for your site’s design through e-mail as an attachment, through Dropbox, Google Docs, or direct mail (CD/DVD). Where possible, please group related content in folders, and title the documents and folders to be consistent with the page names.
In addition to your page text and images, we will need your:
- URL of business
- Business name as you want it displayed on the website
- Business slogan/tagline if applicable
- Current logo if applicable
- Business contact information
- Business license and other credentials, professional associations and memberships
- Social media page links used for your business
- Review websites where you business is listed
- Print marketing used for your business
We will then discuss any additional content that may be needed.
Knowing what to say on your pages can be challenging, but remember that the search engines use the text (keyword density relationship) for ranking, so there needs to ample descriptive text on most pages. Our suggestion is to get ideas from competition websites and then write something unique, using your own language and the specifics of your business.
After we have a general overview of what you need for your website we can provide you a ballpark development estimate (a “low to high” range of typical cost). This estimate is provided before all of your content has been received. Once all of your content has been received and the design specifics have been defined we will be able to provide a better expectation of the final cost, as well as timeline for site completion.
Our estimate is based upon the anticipated number of hours of a site’s development, per our hourly rate, from the initial site research through site development, and its final optimization and submission.
It is important to remember to proof your text, which means checking for completeness, spelling, grammar, and readability. We are pleased to assist you with sourcing content, copy-writing and proofing, yet this is not covered by our estimates unless you specifically request this service. We can also provide social media development assistance.
Contract, Deposit, and Proof of Concept
Before we begin development we ask our clients to read and agree by email to the terms of our client contract. This basically notes that all content you provided is yours by legal right of use, that you agree to pay us per the terms provided, and that you understand that until full payment is made you do not own the website, and have only been granted temporary usage rights. For larger development projects we request a signed client contract.
Once we have a good sense of the styling and layout needs for your business we will provide you a few of the best of the current layout options available for assessment. After you have agreed upon a layout a 20% deposit of the estimate amount will be invoice for.
Upon receipt of the deposit payment we will actively begin development, for which we will initially create the home page and all common design elements; these include the logo placement and header design, navigation system, page colors and layout styling, home page text, image inclusions, etc. We will then provide a link to this full functioning page for assessment purposes. After your feedback has been provided we will then make edits as needed. This process of initial development and assessment typically takes one to two weeks.
Website Development and SEO
Once the initial home page has been approved we will create all the additional pages using this initial page as a layout and styling model for the others. Per our Services Agreement we will request quarterly progress payments (20%, 30%, 30%, 20%).
As we develop the website we will notify you when a page is complete and provide you a link by email for assessment. Where possible we request all text change requests be provided in proofed document format. In this case, it is often best to copy the text from a page, edit it, and then e-mail it back to us.
All the site pages are optimized to be ADA (American Disabilities Act) compliant and cross-browser compatible wherever possible, and once your pages are competed we will look at each page individually from an SEO standpoint and ensure that the important “targeted” keywords are in evidence, and that there is a good keyword density relationship. These keywords are provided for in a variety of ways which include the page text copy, page titles, the headings, the keywords and description metatags, Alt (for images) and Title (for text links) tags, and the robots tag. The important thing for you to do is make a list of the keywords you want noted for each page, and then write up a unique two to three sentence description which utilizes these keywords.
Once your website is completed we will e-mail you an invoice for the 20% remainder balance. At this point we will ask you to test the entire site. It is often a good idea to ask family and friends to view the site as well to ensure that nothing was missed.
If you would like us to upload your website we will need to get FTP access to your hosting server. This information consists of the server-path, the username. and a password. In most cases the server-path is your domain name (website URL), though in a case where you have yet to get a domain name then an IP address can be used. For CMS websites we will need for you to provide us administrative access to the hosting account (control panel) since this is used to set up e-mail forwards, install databases, provide site backups, and perform other routine website functions.
Final Payment and Site Submission
Upon receipt of the final payment your website will be upload to your server and submitted to the prmary search engines. Additional services we provide for a small fee include Google Analytics for site tracking, and Google Webmaster tools for site management. If training on how to administer content is needed this is provided for at your location per our hourly rate.
Note that in most cases this first submission of a site is ample to get a quality ranking, though based upon the online competition in your market, it can take several weeks to see improved search results. In such cases we do offer an advanced SEO and marketing plan to assist our clients where we look for every viable marketing option, including niche directories for your industry type.
Deposits can be made by personal or business check, or by credit card through PayPal.
Teamwork ensures that your website will not only convey your company message effectively, but truly represent your own individual style and preferences as well. We value your input, so please communicate your ideas and preferences to us wherever possible. If you are working in a team environment please select one person to be your primary contact person.