Looking for your first web site? Congratulations!
We know you have a lot of questions and concerns. We'll try to answer the ones that we get asked most often. If you have a question that we didn't answer, feel free to email us and ask. We promise to answer and who knows – it might wind up here.
I'm not sure I need a web site.
No one needs a web site. You can do business with your phone and fax. Hmmm, now that I think about it, you don't even need your phone or fax – you can just use the postal service. And while we are regressing, you can get rid of that silly computer and use good old reliable and portable 3x5 cards and your trusty Underwood typewriter.
Sarcasm (we prefer dry wit) aside, the point is – your web site is a communications tool. And an extremely cost efficient one at that. It's the way people want to do business today.
How often have you used the web to research (like now) to learn more about someone that you are thinking about doing business with? How many people would like to look you up on the web? How many potential clients don't even know where their phone book is anymore?
Has anyone every asked you for your web site address? I know they have … and I bet you said, “I don't have one, yet”. “Yet”, being the operative word.
As of 2003, half of America's small businesses have a web site – meaning half do not. Now is the time to leave the “have nots” and join the “haves”. And if you do it right, you can have a better web site than the 50% that do.
Look around. Look at your competition. Who has a site? Who doesn't? Do the ones that have a site excite and thrill you? Are you thinking, “I can do better than that?” Well, we agree with you!
You can do better than that. You can leap-frog your competition that has a web site and totally leave the ones that don't in the 20th century.
The internet is not going away. It's the way people want to do business. You need a site.
I'd like a web site, but I think I'm too small.
No one is too small for a web site. For the price that you paid your business cards and tiny yellow-page ad, you could be on the web – telling your story – living large – and looking better than your competition. Show your prospects, clients, and the world that you are ready to do business – the way business gets done today. It's all about attitude and style. It's about thinking BIG.
I don't know what to say. (aka Cat got your tongue?)
You are not alone. Many people that we speak with feel they could not fill a single page. However when we ask them some questions about their company, their services, their staff, how they got started, etc, they speak volumes. We can't write fast enough (Dear Santa, we need a micro tape recorder).
We know you have a story inside. If you get tongue-tied when looking at a blank piece of paper, we have professional copy-writers – honed in the fine art of writing for the web – that will hear your story and convert it to compelling content. They can write your entire site, or comment, edit, enhance specific parts. Your choice.
What do I really need?
“… all I ask is a tall ship and a star to steer her by” John Masefield - Sea Fever.
Ok – you need a little more than that to get started with a web site. The good news is that we can help with all of these essentials.
First you need a plan. This entails uncovering what you really want to accomplish with marketing in general and your web site specifically. Are you looking to increase your exposure; extend your brand; garner more leads; or sell your products and services on-line? This plan is the backdrop; the framework that guides everything else.
Then you need as many pages as necessary to tell your story, showcase your services and products, and call your visitors to action. Remember, we are talking about your virtual store front and the very foundation of your marketing plan. You don't want to skimp here. This is the part you want to get right. Saving a few dollars here now may cost you clients in the future. Look at this as an investment in your business. (Ok – climbing down off the soap-box).
There are also two critical technical components.
• A domain name: your web site address. your www.somethinggoeshere.com name. Contrary to popular belief – all the good ones are not taken. It just takes some imagination and research (something we happen to be very good at). These run any where from $8 to $35 a year. There is no difference in the final product – just where you buy it. Kinda like buying the same shirt at either Wal-Mart or Sacks 5th Avenue. Same shirt … different price.
• A web host: once you have your domain name, you need a place to put your actual web site. Web hosts will rent you space on their computers and make your site available to the world. They do this for anywhere from $5/month to numbers much higher than that depending on your needs
Where / how do I start?
You basically have 3 choices.
1. You can buy a book, teach yourself and design and build your own web site. We in the biz call these “roll-your-own”. More than a few have chosen this route. It is very economical dollar-wise and very expensive time-wise. It's usually pretty easy to see which ones did this by looking at their web site.
2. Most major internet providers and some portals (Yahoo and Geocities come to mind) offer “build your own” options. You get to choose a design from hundreds of templates, add your content, and accessorize your site with counters, other exotic gizmos, and pictures from their vast image libraries. These are quick to build and usually quite serviceable. Kinda like a pre-fab house. While only slightly harder to pick out than the option 1 sites, once you've seen a couple, you've pretty much seen all of them.
3. Hire a firm to design and build your site. These good folks will design and build your web site and then copy it to the web host. There are thousands to choose from – all offering different deals, options, and level of service – kinda like buying insurance – and almost as fun. (If you were expecting a self-serving plug for our services then we are sorry to disappoint. But we do shamelessly invite you to explore our web site and compare us to anyone). As just stated, there are thousands of us … which leads us nicely to the next question.
So many choices – how do I decide and whom do I trust?
Surprisingly enough, there is no easy answer to this one. There are many very reputable firms doing excellent work. Sadly, there are also some snake-oil salesmen out there as well.
Our advice on how to decide is to do your homework, educate yourself (as in all major purchases), check references, etc. Pare your list down to a handful of likely candidates and then compare their services and offerings on a head-to-head basis and chose the best fit for you and your requirements. Hey – no one said this was gonna be easy.
Our advice on whom to trust is equally boring and straight forward – mingled of course with a touch of your gut feeling. I mean – after all – we are talking about trust here. Look at their references, their contracts, the guarantees and warrantees. These say a lot about their attitude towards you. What is the spirit and heart of the company? What is their commitment to your success? Does a change in specs or a call to them start the clock ticking?
We can't speak for the others, but to use ourselves as an example (hey – this is too good not to toot our own horn), and because of our belief and confidence in our work and our desire to have a long and mutually beneficial relationship with you – we offer the following:
• No-time limit bug fixes (the following is from our contract)
• We welcome and even encourage changes during the development process to ensure the very best site possible (the following is from our proposal)
• Non-ending support – if you have a question – even 5 years from now – we want you to call us and we want to help. We don't have a clock to start ticking. We'd rather hear from you – than not.
I'm afraid of getting locked in / I am not technical
A very real and reasonable concern. Some vendors low-ball a quote and then add-on features once you are committed. Some retain the rights to your site. Some control your domain name and web host. Some even require you to return to them for changes. The days of firms like this are numbered.
There are various web-enabled editors in existence that will allow you to update your own site. Some are so easy to use that if you can write a letter on your computer or manage your email, then you can update your own web site. We provide an editor like this with every web site we deliver.
We also put everything in your name so that you have complete control and we turn all source code and images over to you. We feel that you paid for them – they belong to you (call us old fashioned – it's ok with us).
When you call us back, we want it to be because you want to – not because you have to.