So you’re in Orange County, California, and you need a website. Maybe you need to market your business. Maybe you need to provide information on your organization. Maybe you want to sell your products online through eCommerce. Whatever the reason, having a website is one of the most important means of getting the message out about your business. But even more important than having a website is having a website that is professionally designed to be informative, easy to navigate, and aesthetically pleasing. You want your web designer to be experienced, creative, and local. You need an Orange County Web Design Company like Coalition Technologies.
Call me now to discuss your web design & SEO strategy at 310-736-2848
But deciding your Orange County business needs a website is just the beginning. There are a lot of different options out there, not only for different website designs, but also for different website designers. If you don’t know a lot about web design (and really, that’s why you’re looking for an expert in the first place) there is a chance that you could get talked into features and options that you don’t need. That’s why there are some basic questions to ask your Orange County web designer, so that you know what you’re paying for, and only pay for what your business needs.
Do you create custom designs or use templates? A template is a website that is designed using a basic, blank, pre-made structure. A custom website is built by the web designer from the ground up. On the face of it, a custom website sounds better because it will be unique, and help your business stand out from your competition. But after talking with your Orange County web design company, you may find that your needs aren’t that complicated. If your website is mostly going to feature marketing information—like an online brochure—or even offer some eCommerce functionality, there are a number of different website templates that feature these basic structures.
Template-based websites are great because they are well tested and known to be stable. They also offer a structure and layout that your customers will understand intuitively, making it easier for them to find the information they need. Besides which, template-based websites are usually less expensive. Orange County web design company Coalition Technologies can offer you a range of options both template-based and custom-designed. Just keep in mind what kind of information you want your website to convey, and what kind of layout would do that job best.
Are your designs tested for multiple browsers and platforms? Different web browsers can interpret website designs differently. What looks fine on up-to-date browsers may not render right on those that are out of date. Or new innovations can cause conflicts in different website designs. Websites that render fine on a Windows computer may have blank spots on Macs (especially since new Mac laptops are shipping without Flash). There are a wide variety of web standards, and it is important that your potential customers can see your website clearly and cleanly. Ask your Orange County web design company how extensive their compatibility tests are, and how often they conduct them if you are considering signing a longer-term contract.
Do you have sales and marketing experience? Your business website’s purpose is to grow your business by growing your brand, increasing and clarifying the information that your customers have about your products and services, making it easier for your customers get in touch with you, or even buy your products online. There are right ways and wrong ways to do each of these things. Ask your Orange County web design company if they have any sales or marketing experience, and how they keep current on the latest trends and best practices in online sales and marketing.
Do you offer any internet marketing services? Having a professionally designed business website is only part of a modern internet marketing strategy. The best website design in the world isn’t going to do you any good if no one sees it. Ask your Orange County web design company if they have a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy to improve your ranking in search engine results and drive more traffic to your site.
If you really want to connect with your customers, you will need to integrate strategies such as email and social media marketing. While everyone knows how to use these internet tools, not everyone knows how to use them effectively to market their business. Ask your Orange County website designer if they have any experience in email campaigns and social media marketing, and how they will integrate these features into your business website design.
Will you create a logo for my website? Most web designer companies have a graphic designer on staff to design a logo for your website. If your business already has a good logo, your web design company can integrate that into your website design. But if your business doesn’t have a logo, or just needs a fresh one, you can have your web design company design one to add to your website. Ask to see your Orange County web design company’s logo design portfolio to get a sense for their design skills and philosophy, to see if they match the impression you want your customers to get from your business.
Who owns the website design? Web designers and other artists are legally able to claim ownership of their work once it is created. This system is designed to protect artists from replication and theft of their work, but it is important for business owners to own the artwork (such as logos) and other design elements of their websites, in case they want to use them in future applications, or if they want to alter or update the website later. Be sure to ask your Orange County web design company their standard approach to who owns the rights to the artwork after the website is finished, and negotiate a contract that will ensure that you own the pertinent parts of the site that you may need to change or use later.
What about maintenance? Having your website professionally designed is only the first step. You will want to be able to update your website with new information, and upgrade it with new features as they become available. You have a couple of options when it comes to website maintenance. You can either learn the basic code and editing tools to update the website yourself, or you can have an expert do it. Learning how to manage your website yourself is a great option if you are technically inclined, and want to save money down the line. However, the learning curve is likely to be steep, and you will experience a lot of trial and error as you try to keep your site up to date. If you would rather have your website maintained professionally, ask your Orange County web design company about their prices for ongoing maintenance contracts, or if they can recommend a webmaster who can keep your site running and up to date.
How is your billing structured? Some web design companies charge for their services by the hour, and some of them charge for a completed project. Knowing up front how you are going to be billed is an important way to insulate yourself from painful surprises when you receive the invoice. You should try to be billed for the total cost of the completed project if at all possible. And be sure to ask for a detailed estimate up front. It will seem like a lot of money at first, but at least you will have a clear idea of what you are going to spend, whereas hourly billing can often take you by surprise.
What do I have to provide? The most important aspect of your business website is the information it provides to your customers. You want the information to be presented in an attention-grabbing and persuasive way, but that doesn’t help if it’s not accurate to begin with. You should at least give your web design company your correct contact information, hours of operation, and other pertinent details of your business, as well as a detailed overview of the products and services you offer. You can also provide photos and marketing copy if you have them. If not, your Orange County web designer can find stock photos or hire a photographer and a copywriter for additional fees. Like most aspects of website design, it is usually best to have the experts do what they do best. Not only does it make your business website the best it possible can, it also leaves you more time to manage your business.
How will we stay in touch? If you run a small business, you are probably already aware that communication is one of the most important aspects of a good business relationship. This is especially true when you hire a contractor to do a job for you, particularly if it is a complicated and detailed job like designing a business website. Most web designers prefer to communicate over e-mail, because it is easier to use precise language and use links and attachments to illustrate detailed information. If you prefer to keep in contact via phone, you should tell your web design company up front to ensure that they are comfortable with that. It is usually a good idea to have an initial meeting in person, just so you can get an idea of who your web designer is, and whether you have a good business rapport with him or her. If you want additional face-to-face meetings, you should inform your web designer of this up front as well.
How long will the website design take? Just like with the price, it is good to know ahead of time about how long a project will take. Asking for a timeline upfront will let your website designer know that you are serious about seeing the project through, and will give you a basic agreement about how long the design ought to take. On the flip side, though, emergencies and unforeseen complications can arise, so take an initial timeline for what it is: an estimate, not a set-in-stone promise.
Depending on the complexity of the structure, and the amount of information, graphics, and merchandise to be included, a small business website can take as little as two weeks or up to several months. Typical development time for a small business website is about two weeks. You should also ask your Orange County web design company if they will have someone focused exclusively on your business website, or if they will be working for multiple clients websites at the time.
Who will host my website? Hosting means providing server space and internet connectivity to your business website. Hosting is what makes your website available to view on the internet, and is an ongoing need as long as you have a site. Some web design companies offer hosting services, or referrals to web hosts that they typically work with. These web designers will often include web hosting services with the pricing package of designing and building your business website.
Having your site hosted by your web designer is usually the most convenient and cost-effective option, but you should never agree to a web design contract that requires you to host with your web designer. If you already have a relationship with a web hosting service, or if the designer’s hosting service becomes unreliable, you should retain the rights to take your website elsewhere.
Call me now to discuss your web design & SEO strategy at 310-736-2848
A business website is one of the most useful and effective ways to market your business in the 21st Century. But like any product or service you buy for your company, you should ask the right questions so that you get what you want, and never pay for more than you need. If your business is in Orange County, and you need an Orange County web design company, give Coalition Technologies a call, and see what they can do for your business.