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Web Design

Ready for a Website or Site Makeover?
A website that looks better, performs better, and gets your message across.

The information below may be more than you ever wanted to know, or stuff you already know but I've tried to cover common questions and concerns with this trivia that lives in my head! Reading it will help simplify the process of creating or upgrading your website!

Getting Started Whether you need a new site or a site makeover, the initial considerations are budget, what you strive to achieve, and what you want on the website. (Duh!)

Who is your target market or audience, what will appeal to them, what will help you stand out among your peers, and what image do you want to present? If you have a marketing team that has done this legwork or you've already come this far yourself, great! I can build your site based on their/your guidelines and specs. If not, I can help you.

Quite often an existing website already includes all or most of the necessary elements; good text and images, but the site just needs minor styling, layout tweaks, or image enhancement to make a major difference; taking it from tacky to classy. Or any combination of the core elements (design, flow, text copy, images) need attention to give your site a professional and tasteful presentation. An effective and pleasing site makeover may be relatively inexpensive!

We can help organize ideas and formulate a plan.
After discussing what is involved with building your site, I will send you a quote which with your signature will become our contract.

We will discuss every aspect of what building your site involves, including:

  • Market research

  • Site design - see section below

  • Who will provide/create/enhance and approve the design and content elements - Logo, look & feel, graphics/artwork, photos, text content, layout.

  • Special presentational features - as desired.
    Flash, fancy menus, javascript, photo galleries, featured content, etc. There's an abundance of ways to creatively utilize relatively simple java or php scripting.

  • Special functional features - as needed.
    E-commerce, newsletter mail lists, blogs, forums, etc..

  • Budget - I will provide you with a professional website that you can be proud of and gets the job done. Pricing is largely determined by who does the most homework. Preparation for building a site (research, choosing the elements) and later marketing the site are most often more time consuming than actually building the site!
Where applicable, we can also discuss the potential merits of:
  • WordPress - WordPress was originally developed as a blog but it's become a great CMS (content management system). In other words it works for most any website. With WordPress you can update your site and/or blog in an easy-to-use admin panel. Many of my clients love this!

  • Social Networking/Viral Marketing - Facebook, Youtube, Twitter, email campaigns, blogs, forums and more.

  • BuddyPress - Your own private or public social site! Very much like Facebook. Share discussions, notes, comments, images, and public or private messages within your own community.
Domain Name
& Web Hosting
You'll need to purchase a domain name from a domain registrar. I've found Netfirms to be cheap, reliable and they have a simple user-interface. No hidden charges or buy this or that shoved in your face. Whois privacy and other perks are included.

...and server space for your site on a website host server.
Artistpages.net is a reseller for Site5 which means that I pay for space on their server that becomes in effect the artistpages.net server. When a web designer or web host says “my” or “our” server, most often it means they, like me, are a reseller for a large hosting company. I use Site5 because of their reliability and quick, personalized response to any issues.

You may choose any web hosting company you wish.

ArtistPages Web Hosting

Hosting: $120/yr - for hosting on artistpages.net which includes all backups, server maintenance and handling any issues that may arise.

A Site5 hosted Individual account is $4.95/mo., or $8.95/mo. if you need a database (necessary for Wordpress, forums, blogs, some photo galleries, or an E-Commerce store - not necessary for simple Paypal buttons).

I charge $40/hr for the same maintenance services for a site hosted on another server, which may range anywhere from $10/yr to $200+/yr depending on snags or no snags. No one can ever guarantee no snags.

Fee for Domain, Web Host and Email setup is $50.

Site Design Some clients have a very clear vision for their site and know exactly what they want. Some have a general idea. Some are open to just about anything and it's my job to get a feel for what would best please and represent my client. A website project is most often a collaborative effort (some minimal, some fully!). Communication and participation are encouraged.

It is commonly said that sites can be custom-designed or built on a template. In reality all sites are built on a template. Generally a site theme is consistent throughout, with variations on that theme for the front page or different sections of the site.

Popular site layouts are popular because they work. Composition (placement of elements) is based on basic human nature and perception.

The best way to choose a "template" is find sites that appeal to you or have features or a look you like. I can mimic any site design, simple or elaborate, and tailor it to become your own.

We want the site visitor to see right away what the site offers, get the message, and be able to easily navigate to areas/pages of interest.

My personal taste is minimal design and graphics that set the tone or mood and let great photos and well-placed, readily assimilated text tell the story; in effect becoming an integral part of the look and feel of the site, while capturing my client's taste, personality, and mission.

Having 20 years of accounting under my belt, I have an eye for details and take special care to see that your website has a positive impact on your growth and profitability and/or visibility. I will not sell you something you don't need. If you're on a tight budget, I'll work within your current comfort zone. A site can be set up to grow as company or fiscal growth warrants.

I also work with others that have different or specialized design sensibilities and strengths. We can discuss whether one of them may be a better fit for your project. Should that be the case--they design it, I build it or we work hand-in-hand.

If you already have artwork prepared and ready to be converted to html, it's a simple process for me to do that.

In summary: We all want a site that grabs our visitor's attention, inspiring confidence and interest in whatever it is that we have to offer!

SEO Search Engine Optimization

I hear lots of talk about the importance of SEO. Largelybut not entirely, hogwash, imho. Search engines will like a site that is properly constructed and structurally sound with careful attention given to all the details you don't see on the surface. Keywords aren't just meta tags but should be peppered behind the scenes throughout the site.

Here are some of little things that matter in search engine rankings:

  • Search engine friendly page urls and titles
  • Clever title & alt tags, and h1, h2, etc. tags wherever possible
  • Use of text as straight text, not as part of an image
  • Text that includes prominently placed, but not awkwardly so, significant keywords
  • Clean code. W3C Compliant HTML or XHTML and valid CSS. My sites are usually built as XHTML Transitional, and W3C Validated whenever possible. Some scripting does not validate, such as embedded video, but that is insignificant as far as SEO.
  • Regular site updates
  • More links on a page the better but no need to go overboard!
  • Incoming and outgoing links from/to other sites when possible
  • # of site visitors
  • Cross-browser compatibility--it ensures that a site is viewable by all visitors.
Tools I use: Adobe Creative Suite (Photoshop, Dreamweaver, Acrobat, etc.), HTML, XHTML, PHP, javacript, open source software
Pricing Domain, Web Host and Email setup: $50

Basic Wordpress Setup: $300
Includes a single header, basic site design and features, instruction on how to manage content, pages and posts (if a blog is included).

I charge $60/hour for all services below, breaking it down by the minute. No minimum. This includes phone calls or Skype collaboration beyond 15 minutes. Consultation is free. Quotes are estimates.

A Customized Wordpress Site
We can discuss what features you'd like and decide what fits into your budget.

A Wordpress Site Makeover
We will look at streamlining and tightening up the design, flow and presentation of content, navigation, and quality of content and images. I'll give you an estimate when we discuss your needs. It may be your site only needs a few simple design tweaks (colors, fonts, placement, etc.) and it's possible that won't be more than 2-4 hours of work on my part.

Basic Website with All Content Provided: Generally $50-200/page, depends on complexity. It will vary depending on the design required and things like the quality of images you provide and how much text needs to be written or edited.

A Site Makeover
We will look at streamlining and tightening up the design, flow and presentation of content, navigation, and quality of content and images. I'll give you an estimate when we discuss your needs. It may be your site only needs a few simple design tweaks (colors, fonts, placement, etc.) Time involved depends not just on the changes you wish to make but also on the quality of the current site construction and use of css.

A New Website: Price will be quoted after evaluation of your needs.

Revisions: I account for a certain amount of revisions including phone time in my quotes. Anything over that is billed

E-Commerce, Blogs, Forums: Price will be quoted after evaluation of your needs.

Additional Training & Consultation

Photography is quoted and billed separately.

I work fast and if you are prepared to go ahead and I have the time available there's a good chance you can be up and running with a live site within a day or two!

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