Web Design Costs: Overpaying vs. Outperforming
Few fields evolve as quickly as website design. I have been creating websites since the 1990s, back when Angelfire and MySpace pages littered email signatures and clipart was all too common. Today, website design has evolved to be much more complex and much more competitive.
In my experience, that has been largely beneficial for consumers. A simple Google search will tell you what you need to make your site succeed. With a focused approach on marketing, the right analytical tools, and by meeting the fundamental requirements of a strong site, any experienced developer can churn out great content. More often than not, a client and his or her developer simply need to have a close, one-on-one relationship. When my client is able to clearly communicate his or her needs, I am able to deliver a great site.
Competition usually makes for a great marketplace, but there is a downside for customers that has arisen from it. Many business owners feel that unless they pay top dollar, they will not receive a website that performs properly. The best, most professional business sites are still built largely of CSS, HTML, and sometimes another program. There is no “ultimate web design program” or secret dash of ingredients. When I talk with my fellow designers, I learn that, yes, we are all basically doing the same thing.
What is the difference between a site that costs $2,500 versus a designer charging $10,000? Well, not much. Major web design firms pretend there is some magical process that only they know, delivered to them from on high, something the average Joe could never possibly understand. Do not let a luxury design firm pull the wool over your eyes.
So what features do you absolutely need?
For starters, any web developer should provide you with the tools you need to manage site content. CMS, or content management systems, are software that make the process as easy as microwaving popcorn.
They should provide several options for your search engine optimization (SEO) to drive traffic, and the analytical tools to measure the effectiveness of your content.
When you hire a web designer, you enter into a complex relationship. Web design does not stop at the site itself. It continues to improve upon its successes and focuses on the important demographics that respond well to your CTAs. The support should be an ongoing endeavor, one that teaches and instructs. Transparency is how you build trust.
On the other hand, pretending you are a monolith standing at the center of an impossible-to-navigate landscape alienates customers. I cannot tell you how many people I have talked to, clients and peers, who have heard these kinds of horror stories. The most often repeated one says one such company was charging $119.99 per month to update images when the client preferred to make the changes on his own.
Our mission is to take our responsibilities further than a contract. It is a friendship. Our success is your success, and that means helping you promote your brand in an affordable way. If you want to see what it means to compete with high stakes while paying a competitive price, contact us.
What the heck is a Wizzy Wig?
OK, so I'm really going to write about WYSIWYG, not WIZZY WIG, two homophone phrases that are pronounced the same, but mean something completely different. In the world of website content management systems (CMS), WYSIWYG is an acronym for "What You See Is What You Get". In practice, WYSIWYG is a system that allows you to see the content you are editing in the full context of its surrounding design. Many content management systems allow you to edit content in an editing window or frame that is detached from the page around it, so you don't actually see what your edits look like on the live website until you publish the changes and refresh the web page to see the changes. This often leads to unpredictable results in the way the web page looks after you make edits. Usually many rounds of changes are needed to get the page just how you want it.
Below is a screenshot of a web page built with a popular NON-WYSIWYG CMS called WordPress. Below the web page is a screen shot of the WordPress page that is used to edit the content for this page. You can see how the CMS editor is NOT WYSIWYG. You don't get to see what the page looks like until after you publish the changes.
Below is a page from a SiteWorks Lite website (WYSIWYG).
So - the point is that true WYSIWYG editor allows you so see the edits you're making to a web page exactly as the changes will appear on the website that the public sees. SiteWorks Lite makes WYSIWYG editing super easy. Contact us for more information on how you can get a website built on a TRUE WYSIWYG editor.
The Three Critical Characteristics of a Successful Website
In the nearly 20 years that I've been building, or managing the building of websites, I've learned that there are really only three characteristics that are CRITICAL to a successful website. If all three of these characteristics are built into the website, in some semblance of balance, the site will have a great chance of being successful. The three characteristics are:
Credibility - Usability - Findability
Credibility is how the website looks when a visitor first lays eyes on it. Just like two people meeting each other for the first time, the first impression often sets the tone for how the relationship proceeds. A credible website provides a good first impression because it is designed for the target audience. A good web designer knows that understanding the website's audience(s) is inherent in the process of designing a successful website. The design MUST resonate with the target audience; it must engage them visually so that they don't just turn around and go away. Typically, you only have a few seconds to connect with a website visitor, so you have to give it your best shot - not just on the home page, but on all other pages as well.
Usability is how the site works. Usability deals with making the website's content and calls to action easy to find, and simple to use. It means making content current and relevant. Usability is built into the design of the website, but it is also very dependent on how the site is managed. A highly usable website is built on an easy to use content management system that makes it easy for non-technical users to make changes to the website. Our SiteWorks Lite package provides one of the best, easiest to use content management systems I've seen in the last 20 years.
Findability is how easily the website is found. Having a beautiful, super usable website is pointless if people can't find the website. Findability can be broken down into two sets of factors that impact how findable your website is: 1) onsite factors and 2) offsite factors. Onsite factors deal with the website itself - is it built using "search engine friendly" technologies? Can the site be updated easily so content can be managed, changed and updated? Is the site's content relevant, properly structured and made accessible to search engines? The SiteWorks Lite content management system makes working with onsite factors very easy, so time and effort is spent by SEO consultants on thoughtful SEO strategy, not writing code to manage onsite factors.
Off-site factors are everything else that can drive traffic to your website. They include links from other websites, linked ads on Facebook, search engine results, even traditional media like television, radio or print. Finding the right mix of onsite and offsite factors and channels can be a daunting task, but it can be done with experience and metrics. In the long run, findabilty can be the most expensive component of a successful website, but it's perhaps the most important of the Big Three.
We've worked hard over the years to build a team of specialists that work together to create credible, usable, findable websites. Let us show you how we do it. CONTACT US to see how we can create a great website that combines the three critical characteristics of a great website - credibility, usability and findability.
Andy Meng was the founder of Infront Webworks and got started building websites in 1994. Under Andy's guidance, well over 1200 websites have been built for businesses and organizations across the country.