Affordable Web Design for Small to Mid-Sized Businesses
No two leaves are exactly the same.  Neither are web designers.

Hiring a Web Designer

Hiring a web designer requires some research, just like any other business decision. The purpose of this page is to make the research process easier by offering some basic questions you should ask yourself before you start searching.

If you only plan to provide some basic contact information, your web designer does not need any in-depth technical (as in programming) skills. However, they should have a firm grasp on how to create clean, professional looking sites. Each designer has different styles, so visit the sites of multiple designers to get a feel for what you like.

  1. What is the purpose of your site?
    • Is your goal to inform site visitors about what you do and contact info so they can come to your brick-and-mortar business?
    • Do you expect to gather information from the user? What do you plan to use this information for? (feedback, surveys, future marketing?)
    • Are you planning to sell goods or services online?

    If you plan to sell goods or services online, your web designer should have some programming skills such as Perl, ASP, PHP, Javascript, or Java. They should also have some database experience, typically in MySql.

  2. Who is your audience?
    Many people have a "build it and they will come" kind of mentality. The reality is much different. It is imperative to target a specific group of people and offer those customers a product suited to their needs. A good example of this principle would be Old Navy (http://www.oldnavy.com) and Tiffany's (http://www.tiffany.com). Old Navy's web site is colorful with moving graphics - this site targets young, cost-conscious people. The prices scream from the front page to lure customers in. Tiffany's web site, on the other hand, is stark white, relying on the beauty of diamonds and portraying elegance and affluence. To display prices for their merchandise online would be gauche….after all, if you can afford Tiffany you probably don't have to worry about how much it costs. Both of these businesses know who their target audience is and aim their marketing towards those groups.

  3. How many pages do you expect your site will have?
    A basic informational site (known as a brochure or brochureware site) is typically 3 pages - just enough space to offer basic information about who you are, what you do, and how to contact you. This kind of site is suitable for many small businesses. However, many companies find 3 pages do not offer enough detailed information.

  4. Do you already have a business logo, or will you need one designed?
    A common misconception is that a web designer will automatically design a logo as well. While some web designers offer those services, not all do. If you already have a business logo, do you have it in an electronic format?

     

  5. Do you have any pictures you would like to use on your site?
    Pictures add visual interest to a web site. Good candidates are pictures of the building where your business resides and pictures of products/services you sell.

     

Avoid Sticker Shock

It's easy to miss the additional costs of setting up a web site. Here is an outline of costs you should be aware of to avoid last minute surprises. Please understand we are professionals offering skilled services and you get what you pay for, just like with your car mechanic, plumber, or contractor. You may be able to change your spark plugs in your car, but when the brakes need changed or the head gasket goes, you need someone with training and experience. We are internet mechanics with the skills to get your web site back on the road.

CategoryDescriptionEstimated Cost
Graphic Designbusiness logo (if you don't have one, or if it must be converted to electronic format)avg cost $150
$0-$20,000
Domain Registrationwww.your-name.com $6.95-120 per year
Web Hosting Serviceswhere your site livesavg cost $20 per month
$0-$350
Secure Certificatesencrypts site visitor's private information
typcially used for ecommerce
$14.95-900/yr,
depending on the vendor.
Payment Processorallows you to receive online payments via credit card or e-check, typcially used for ecommerceusually a percentage per transaction
may include a monthly fee

Other tips to remember:

  • Less is more
    Many people who are inexperienced with web design want lots of "flash and dash" such as flashing banners or mail box graphics that open and close. While animation can be interesting for the first time you see it, if you visit a site often the animation quickly becomes very annoying. You can use animation, but remember - less is better.

  • Plan for site maintenance
    That means periodically (once a month or so) making small changes to the site to keep it fresh and interesting. Frequently updated, relevant content will also help increase your search engine rankings, making it easier for customers to find your site.

  • Organization counts
    Visitors will leave your site very quickly if they can't find the information they are looking for. You should strive to give clients the content they want in three clicks or less. Consistent navigation throughout your site and "Quick Links" to frequently viewed information will keep customers coming back.

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