Saturday, July 16, 2011

The Business of Web Design

Over the last five to six years, web site designs have expanded into a realm of their own, becoming more and more of an art-form, rather than merely lines of code. To create a really unique & eye-catching site, it takes both a skillful programmer and someone with an artistic eye.

Generally the first question a business owner asks when deciding if they should have their own website is "Why do I need one?" And it's a valid question to ask, but consider this. According to statistics, there are currently 266 million Internet users in America alone. 85% of those use the Internet daily and/or shop online. That's 226,000,000 potential customers. The vast majority of people no longer use the phone book to search for a business. Instead, they open up a search engine like Google or Yahoo and search for it online.

So, the question shouldn't be "Why do I need my own website?" It should be, "Can I afford not to have one?" Strengthening your company's image and expanding your market are only two of the many benefits of having a website.

A website designer should have a fair amount of experience to be considered a likely candidate to promote your business by designing your website. Someone with Information Technology knowledge alone will not be enough to create something that stands out in the crowd. A truly unique site, which is both visually appealing and meets most, if not all, of the technology standards such as W3C, HTML, XHTML, and SEO can only be accomplished by someone who is up to speed with the latest technologies and standards, and has an in-depth knowledge of how to utilize those strategies to properly promote your business in an online environment. Experience with Java or JQuery, XHTML, HTML, XML, Flash, Photoshop, and Dreamweaver is nearly a must in today's rapidly changing web designing market.

The process of getting your website online should be straight forward as well as easy for the client's behalf. The designer should take the client's knowledge, no matter how limited it may be, into consideration when they take on the project, and agree to help in whatever way they can to get the site online, and in a timely fashion.

Pricing will vary but should not contain any hidden costs or fees. The designer may charge per hour or may have a more standard, flat fee type of rate. Either way, what you're getting and what it will cost should be information given upfront by any reputable designer.

Don't be afraid to ask questions and ask to view the site in a live environment prior to accepting the completed project. A screenshot or an image is not enough to tell you if the site has met all of your requirements and needs.

As a client, you should also be prepared to offer some color scheme ideas or possibly any graphics, such as logos, banners, or even slogans so the designer can use those elements in your project. if you're not sure what colors go together, or if your business doesn't currently have any of the aforementioned graphics, let the website designer know up front so they know that they'll need to create those items as well.

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