The main reason is that we combine deep care for you as a client needing to reach your target audience with our deep knowledge of how people find and respond to websites and other digital marketing platforms.
We make time to listen to you very carefully before you even decide to work with us. That process is partly to find out what you do know about what you need but also to identify options and features you may not have thought of.
We also at this early stage take care to discuss and design a visual look that will express your message to the world with memorable impact. A creative design may be noticeably unusual or it may be subtle; our priority is to support your work and brand in alignment with your aspirations.
Our ongoing work for you is always an open conversation, ensuring that you are making informed choices and that we deliver a website with marketing that expands your reach in the world.
People sometimes think the way to begin finding a website designer is to describe the number of pages they want their website to have and ask what the price would be. If you want to find your solution based on providing that little information, the chances are very high that you’ll end up with a website that won’t serve you well.
The reason we request a full consultation is that people considering our services—not being website designers themselves, don’t know what they don’t know about website design. And that’s why a consultation will help you.
Once we understand what your work is about, who you are trying to reach, and what needs to change for you, then we can help you think of strategies and features that will serve you well and we can also help you see that some features you might have thought you needed are actually not in your best interests.
There’s no need to worry about possibly wasting our time if you end up not choosing to work with us. The fact that we are frequently talking to people about what they need in the way of website design and digital marketing is part of what keeps us thinking creatively. Enough people choose us to design their website to keep us busy—and those who don’t choose us are welcome to whatever insights a consultation might give them.
Working with us on a custom design means you get all the expertise of years of designing focused on your website so that every page and every feature is tailored to achieving engagement with your target audience/market. We do much more than just create a unique and memorable look for your website. We also design a user journey into the structure of the website so that your target audience/market will enjoy engaging with you and your work.
A template-based website builder offers a limited structure and leaves it up to the non-designer you to make minor style adjustments within that structure (color, spacing, etc). They will not give you options for every feature you might think of. They will not give you the design guidance on how to create pages that have the exact right kind and amount of information to guide a user through your site. They will not teach you how to optimize your content for search engines. They will not teach you to think like a designer and they will not stop you from making bad design decisions.
People who choose ready-made templates and DIY website builders often go through a steep learning curve and then still end up with an under-performing website that visitors can’t be bothered exploring (even if they find it).
We tailor each web design so specifically to the client’s requirements that it is impossible to to give one price as an answer to this question.
We need to fully understand your requirements before we can give you a quote.
When you request a quote, it is good to provide as much information as you can—including:
For large projects like designing and developing a website we work to a fixed quote.
Once we are clear about what you want, we will create a document of understanding. This document will outline the work which will be covered for the fixed price before we begin work. You will have the opportunity to confirm or change details before we proceed. If you have additional requests later that you would like to add to the project, these can be accommodated with an adjusted price.
Our design process begins with a discussion with you about what you need for your site and also your preferences about website look and functionality.
It’s not the need to be able to visualize what you want that matters most to get started but the need to know what you want your website to do for you.
Once we’ve got the idea of what you want and need, we go through a process of design research and playful experimentation.
We will prepare a first draft (which we will send as jpegs) for your feedback.
Depending on your feedback, we may need to do a second (and occasionally a third) draft but at some point the feedback/revision process becomes one of tweaking a design that is working well but needs adjustments. Even people who think they have no idea what they want find they can interact with this process.
If you change your mind once initial design decisions have been coded up, things can still be changed. Major changes (like “I need a whole new section”) will incur additional cost, but fine-tuning adjustments are covered in your quote.
Once your website is published, you may find you want to add or change features later or you may need help with digital marketing. We will be happy to work with you again.
Yes. All our new design is fully responsive so that your site will look good on every device people use to view it.
We can also optimize older sites for mobile devices without having to do a complete re-design if you like. This can usually be done for less than 1/3 of the cost of a full re-design, even if the current design gets a bit of a lift in the process.
We use a combination of responsive design techniques, usually opting to re-dimension or re-style elements on the page in a fluid fashion (such that you can see the changes happening as you reduce your desktop browser’s window size) but sometimes (especially when adapting older sites) re-dimensioning and re-styling elements only when a specific device requires it.
Some of the older sites in our own portfolio have been optimized this way (keep in mind that our work goes back to 1997 and many of the older sites are still live on the web and have not been optimized for mobile devices).
We will build your site in a way that Google and other search engines can easily index the content and they will include it in their search results. You will not immediately appear on the first page of results for every search query for which you’d like to be found (there is competition for all search terms) but we can work with you to gain increasingly better search results over time. Your best bet is to focus on what is most unique about you and what you offer — and to compete hard for that niche. If you think about what you would write in the search field if you were looking for someone just like you and optimize for that, it will help.
Bear in mind that search engines want to match people’s searches with websites with highly relevant content and they rely on websites having text that they can match to the search queries (preferably lots of text — and definitely unique text that you have written yourself, not copied).
If you are planning a media-heavy website, consider including a small description (even a few sentences) about each image or video — or possibly including a blog or news section where you can post related stories.
Over time, if other sites link to yours and if you promote your site through social media — and if your visitors engage well with your website — your results with search engines will get steadily better.
Yes. We can add social follow links to social media accounts that you maintain and this gives your users a good way to get to know your work from a less formal perspective. Integration with social media will also help improve your success in search results.
It is not a good idea to link to social accounts if you are not actively updating the content on those sites, however. Clicking a link to a Facebook page that received two posts three years ago and nothing since then can be a disappointing experience and doesn’t reflect well on your website, so keep that in mind as you plan.
There are good-looking generic social media icons that are available for use that can be styled to integrate with any website. If you particularly want social icons custom-designed for your website design, please make that clear before the design process begins.
Usually what we do is create a Dropbox folder into which you can upload your content (texts, images, mp3 files, mp4 files and pdfs) and from which we can download it.
If you prefer to use Google Docs, that works too. Please send the invitation for access to email@example.com
When you only have a little content to send, you can send it as an email attachment.
If you are having a new website designed and already have a large website with a lot of content in it, we can write a script to export the content out of your old website and import it into a new database.
NB: Unless you have made another arrangement, you will find that your contract specifies providing “web-ready content”. What this means is that you provide:
If you provide content that is not web-ready, we can work with it — but unless you have pre-arranged to have this work done for you by us, there will be an additional charge to cover it. Similarly, your contract will not cover editing your texts unless you have specifically requested editorial work.
For full website design and development, we customarily request a 1/3 payment to begin designing—but not before we have had a full consultation with you and we have provided you with a proposal that you have accepted. Second and third payments follow at approximately 1/3 and 2/3 progress points. The proportions and timing vary according to the size of project but this is the most typical arrangement.
Payments may be submitted via Zelle or Paypal (send to firstname.lastname@example.org), by check (to the parent company: PowerByte, Inc. 321 West 24th St., #5B, New York, NY 10011) or by credit card or direct electronic payment. Details will be provided in your invoice (with digital payments available by link-click).
It is quite a good idea to buy your domain registration and web hosting from the same company. That said, some hosting companies are better than others and if you have already purchased your domain registration with a not-so-great-hosting company (you’re welcome to ask us which ones these might be), it is a good idea to either leave the domain registration there and buy a hosting plan at a better company or to transfer the domain registration to the hosting company you want to work with. We can help with this.
Our top recommendation for a hosting company is dreamhost.com. They are an innovative and independent company with great tech support and they offer more options for super users if you happen to be one.
Our other top recommendation is bluehost.com. They offer one free domain name registration with each hosting account, and that is a good option (and you only need the basic hosting package). Their interface is clean and easy and their tech support is usually excellent.
Another hosting company that is very good is hostgator.com.
If you are working with us on a custom designed website, you don’t need all the pre-packaged items hosting companies offer. We will build everything you need.
The most efficient way to upload your content for a new website is to upload it all to a Dropbox folder that we will share with you (you’ll receive an invitation to the Dropbox folder by email).
The Dropbox folder will be in our Dropbox account, so you don’t have to have your own (though it’s a great resource to add). We will erase the files in the Dropbox once your project has been completed so be sure to upload copies of your files (not the originals).
If you are uploading images, please either name the images in a recognizable way or provide a spreadsheet listing the images with titles and any other data matching (eg captions or—in the case of artwork, dimensions, year, price, media, etc).
You can organize all your work for any one upload into folders and then put all the folders into one folder and compress it and upload it as one file. This is the fastest way to upload and also makes it easy for us to download.
Please title the upload with the date (eg 2022-0501-website-assets.zip) and send an email to let us know to look for the upload.
Browsers all cache the stylesheets of websites for a while once you’ve visited a site (or page) once. They do this to make the pages load faster when you visit again and for published websites that aren’t changing, it’s not a problem, as the fresh content still displays well.
However, when your website is in development and style changes are being made, it means that you can open a page that has been changed and not see the changes.
Here’s where hard-refresh comes in. This forces the browser to fetch the edited stylesheet.
On a computer:
If using Chrome or Firefox, go to the page that has changed and click CMD+SHIFT+R
If using Safari, go to the page that has changed and click CMD+OPTION+E
Both these options enable you to clear the the browser cache without losing any history or data.
On an iPhone:
Go to Settings > Safari > Clear History & Website Data.
You’ll need to re-enter the url to get the page after this as this closes all your currently-open pages.
If you resize your images down to either the max-size at which you plan to display them (or slightly larger) before you upload them to your website, you can get better image quality than if you rely solely on the image-resizing functionality of your content management system (and definitely better image quality than if your content management system doesn’t handle image-resizing at all).
Jpegs are the best file-format for most website images and you can save them at medium quality (rather than high-resolution) without there being any noticeable difference on a web-page (unless you have offered a zoom-in option). Don’t use png files unless you need images that are partially transparent.
Further, if you take the time to reduce your images before you upload them, the uploading process will be faster—especially if you have a lot of images. 1100-1500px high is about as large as you will need any images to be and you will often be fine with images that are ≤800px high for your web content. An exception to this is if you want to provide an option for your users to zoom in to view details in your images. In this case, it is good to set up a special case for the high-resolution images (to avoid making your pages load slowly for every user). We can do this for you.
Photoshop is the best image-editor for quality resizing (and you may like to read How to Resize Images for Your Website in Photoshop about taking careful steps in the process). Alternatively, your computer’s image-editor may work for you or you could try the free software Canva (which does a lot more than resizing and is popular with Instagram users).
The most important thing is to only use images that are as large as you want or slightly larger. Don’t ever upload an image at a smaller size than that at which you want to display it.
To decide what size your images need to be displayed at, you need to think about:
For more on this subject, please read this article: Best Image Sizes for Your Website or Blog.
Yes. The simplest and least expensive method is to embed a Paypal donate button on your site.
HOW TO CREATE A PAYPAL DONATE BUTTON
We can do this for you entirely as long as you have a Paypal account and give us a user login (you can set up a special user login with limited access to protect the privacy of your financials).
To create a limited access user login for a programmer:
Go to: My Account >> Profile >> My Settings >> Manage Users (Add additional users to my account) and click “Add User”. You will need to enter a name for the programmer (eg hamiltro) and give them a user ID (eg hamiltro) and a good password — then check “Integration >> “API Activation and Authorization”. That provides just enough access (you can test the login) for a programmer to be able to set up integration of your Paypal account with your website — without having any access to your financials.
Or, you could set up the button(s) yourself and just provide us with the button code.
The steps to setting up a button yourself are:
Once the donation button is set up on your website, visitors may make donations using their Paypal accounts or credit cards; you will receive the funds in the bank account you have associated with the Paypal account and you will receive (at the email address associated with the Paypal account) a full notice of each donation as soon as they come in.
For more information, visit: Paypal
Yes. We can set up domain-based email for you as soon as you have purchased your domain name and hosting space.
Once set up, you can configure it to use Outlook if you like, you can use a web-based mail platform such as Squirrel Mail or you can have the emails sent to it forwarded to another account that you already open every day (to save opening many mailboxes). If you have the emails forwarded (eg to a gmail account), you can also open the mailbox directly through Squirrel Mail if you wish to reply using the actual domain-based email address.
It’s often the case that people will purchase their desired domain before they even begin the website design process or purchase a hosting plan. If you wish to have your website hosted with a company like bluehost.com and the domain name is registered elsewhere, you can either point the domain name to the host company’s servers (e.g. ns1.bluehost.com and ns2.bluehost.com) and keep your registration where it is — or you can transfer the domain registration to the new hosting company.
The process of transferring a domain name has many steps (to protect you from anyone other than you doing it). The steps are:
You can probably find the ways to take these steps yourself in your account control panel; if not, ask your developer or call a technical support person to make the changes for you.
The EPP authorization code will be emailed to the address associated with the account.
Generally you can go ahead without checking any optional extras, but if you don’t want to be sent scam and spam emails from people trying to get you to pay for registration again or to order overblown search engine optimization (SEO) services, you may want to check “the “privacy protection” option. New domains seem to attract a lot of scammers and every website gets SEO offers (with dire warnings and/or over-blown promises of achieving #1 position), all the time.
Within the first year of your website being published, it should be safe to click update options quite safely without making a new backup of the installation or plugins (WordPress version and plugins).
Even beyond this, because we use a lot of custom code and use as few plugins as possible (keeping the site code light and more easily maintained), it is rare that there are issues with clicking those updates.
Nevertheless, it is a good practice to make backups of your website as you update the WordPress version and/or plugins (and as you add fresh content).
You can install a plugin like Updraft which will give you the option to save the last 1 or more (your choice how many) backups to an external server (like Dropbox or Google Drive) or we can make backups for you.
You’ll also find that hosting companies have at least one backup from the last 30 days that can help you restore things if you run into trouble (and notice it in time).
Your hosting company will also upgrade the versions of PHP they support from time to time. This is the code-base on which WordPress runs. It is a good practice for both security and efficiency to switch your site to run on the highest available version of PHP when they do. Again, you should make a full backup of your website files and database before making this switch (even though you can usually switch back if problems occur).
Your website will be appearing in search results for what is unique about it (which may, at first, only be your name) shortly after publishing, but it won’t immediately be in the top results for more general descriptions of what you do.
It takes a lot of work over time to move up in the search results for phrases that relate equally to other individuals and companies whose websites are well-established.
Search engines will track users’ engagement with your website over time, however, and when their robots detect that users are interested in your content, your search engine results will improve.
Your best bet is to optimize your website for the most specific and relevant terms you can. A very good practice is to optimize your website for the kinds of questions you expect people to be entering in the search field if they are likely to be interested in what you do. To some extent you can do this by experimenting with searches but you can also use the data about what people actually search for. There are tools for this and we can help get your search engine optimization focused.
Unless you have specifically requested a static html site, we will develop your website in a content management system with a user interface that does not require knowledge of code to use. Instructions for the content management system will be provided.
One-on-one tutorials may also be arranged either in-office or via Zoom (with screen-sharing).
If you are a computer-challenged person or for any reason don’t wish to undertake the learning curve, we can update your website for you when you need it. Everybody’s needs are different, so we do not offer regular plans for such updating but bill by the hour.
Yes you can. We will set you up with a Google Analytics account and you’ll be able to see not only how many people are visiting.
Of greater value than mere numbers of visitors, however, is the information you can glean about how visitors behave on your website: which pages people are entering your website through (which is not always your homepage), how people are finding your website, what pages they tend to gravitate towards, how long they stay on your pages/website, how many pages they click through, which pages make people leave, etc.
Most people want to know about their visitors at some point (even if they don’t think of it at launch) so unless you ask us not to, we will create a Google Analytics account for your new website so you’ll be able to access all this data that gets collected. It becomes more useful the longer Google Analytics is running, as your website will gain traction over time (if you keep it updated) and patterns of visitor behavior emerge.
You will need a Google account (eg a gmail account) to be able to access the analytics.
We offer search engine optimization services to help you use the information in the Analytics to attract more visitors.
If your website disappeared completely, it is most likely that you missed a payment for domain name registration or hosting. If you set up auto-pay, check that your credit card had not expired. Unless a long time has elapsed since your website went down, it should be an easy matter to get it restored. Another possibility would be if you fail to respond to requests to keep your registration contact details up to date.
If your site has just stopped displaying properly or has error messages, there could be other issues.
Problems can occur over time as software gets changed at any point in the chain (computers, devices, browsers, server-technology at your hosting company, etc). Sometimes changes need to be made to the code on your website to deal with new incompatibilities that arise. There’s more on this subject here: Why Does My Website Break?
If your hosting account is not protected with a strong password, hackers could find their way to your website and install malware. This is not common, but when it happens, Google is pretty quick to detect the malware and issue a warning notice when anyone opens your website. It’s usually easy to find the uploaded files and remove them (and you should then change your password).
Sometimes clearing your browser’s cache as well as the content management system’s cache can clear up minor problems. Try that first and if the problem persists, send us an email.
If it’s the password to your content management system you’ve forgotten, click the “Forgot password?” link on the login window and you’ll be sent first one and then another email to get a new password. You can change it to one you prefer later.
If it’s the password to your hosting or domain registration account you’ve forgotten, the process will be similar.
As long as you’re the person who pays the bill and your email is on the billing record, you’re the only person who will get the reset password request and it should be pretty easy to follow the instructions.
That would be extremely unlikely but even if you did, websites can be restored from back-up.
You can schedule website backups on a regular basis, have them made for you manually from time to time, or you can set up a backup service that makes a backup whenever you make any changes to the website. As long as you have some backup available that is not too far behind the current version of your website, you need not worry.
You can even restore a page to an earlier version if you just messed up one page.
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