Monday, January 28, 2008

One Page Site Designs: Cool Websites Ideas

There seems to be a trend — and maybe it’s just Web 2.0 web apps pushing this concept — of one-page web designs.

I think this concept has some real value when you think about the concept of “landing pages.”

Think about this … if you’re company or business is seeking to sell services, why not have a website specifically designed to solicit an action by your site guest.

What better than a site designed similar to a one-page design or landing page.

Here are some examples of sites with some of these concepts and ideas in mind:

- Apple
- Tumblr
- Basecamp
- FarmLogic

Friday, January 18, 2008

Top Ten Reasons You Should Avoid Cheap $500 Website Design Companies

You need a website and you just found a company advertising the cheapest rates around. This is a no-brainer, right? You’re going to save a boatload, right?

Unfortunately, more and more disaster stories like this one are surfacing: “I hired one of those $500 companies to build my website—but they did a horrible job, they never finished, nothing works properly, and now they don’t return my calls!”

If you’re thinking of cutting corners, be warned! Here’s a little preview of what to expect:

1. No Talent. A talented web designer is a prized possession. A web designer with no talent works for a $500 web design company, which lacks the artistic creativity of a professional design house like WebTech Net Solutions.

2. Poor Communication. $500 web designers have no formal education. This limits their expertise and communication skills. So be prepared to expend a much greater effort—and more time—to build your site. Some phrases you’ll soon be familiar with:

“Can you please repeat that?”
“I thought we went over this already!”
“You said you’d call last Monday!”
“This is the third time I’m telling you!”
“You said the project would be done by now!”

3. Bait & Switch. Many companies advertise $500 websites just to “pull you in.” The final bill is often many times that amount. Make sure to see a contract up front and read the fine print carefully. Most $500 websites come with an obligatory 2-year hosting fee of $39 monthly, $49 monthly, and even $59 monthly. So you end up paying for a nice website—but getting stuck with a cheap one instead! Not to mention unreliable hosting that you’re stuck with for two years.

4. Atrocious Copywriting. A website is only half graphic design, the other half is copywriting—the words used to grab your audience’s attention. Copywriting is crucial. Your website has only 6 seconds to captivate visitor interest before it’s “Asta La Vista, Baby.” And, no, they won’t “Be back.” Do you think $500 designers work hard to ensure that visitors actually stay on your site? In fact, most cheap web designers charge extra for their atrocious copywriting. But what are their writers’ qualifications? Are they university trained? Do they have real-world marketing experience like WebTech Net Solutions' copywriters?

5. Irresponsible. What separates a good work ethic from a bad one? The answer is simple—salary! Imagine you worked at a job paying $13,000 a year. Now imagine the boss asked you to stay late every night. How would you feel? But how would you feel staying late for $75,000 a year? Sure, we all like to think we’d go all out no matter what. But if we be honest with ourselves, reality is a bit different. Bottom line? Getting paid less will show in one’s work and dedication.

6. Shoddy Outsourcing. Some $500 designers outsource coding, scripting and HTML overseas to third world countries. What do you get? An outdated website that’s horribly designed, that doesn’t function properly and that is virtually worthless. It pays to buy American.

7. Boring Templates. $500 web companies use dime-a-dozen templates, giving you no control over the finished product, and making your site look like every other site out there. Ask them to change the design, and their answer will be “I can’t.” Ask them to shift the text, and their answer will be “I can’t.” Custom designers like WebTech Net Solutions know you never get a second chance to make a first impression. We distinguish your company by standing you head and shoulders above your competitors.

8. No Guarantees. $500 web designers make you sign a contract tipped in their favor. Ask to take a peek and you’ll read, “The website is complete only when the designer says it’s complete. The client has no say in the matter.” They know you won’t be 100% pleased with the finished product! We at WebTech Net Solutions write the following directly into the contract itself: “One web design mockup after another will be presented, until the client is 100% happy with the design and comfortable moving forward.” Which company would you rather work with?

9. Unreliable Resources. Ever notice how some websites download faster than others? Guess who builds the websites that take ten years to download? You guessed it! Same deal with website downtime. Ever notice how some websites you visit often suffer downtime more than others? WebTech Net Solutions relies on top quality resources like top tier servers. So if you want to ensure that your website will be there in the morning, or that your site will download at lightning speed, steer clear of those $500 designers who rely on cheap resources.

10. Can’t Deliver. Most $500 designers have limited expertise. Some don’t know flash, others don’t know how to create contact forms. Some can’t create search functions, others don’t know log ins. Make sure you ask the right questions. If not, you risk getting stuck with a company that can’t deliver what you need.

Putting things into perspective, when you hire a $500 web design company, you take on all the headaches and frustration of dealing with an inferior staff, lesser quality and questionable service. In other words—you get what you pay for. Sure we all like to save money if we can. But you shouldn’t buy a website at a rock-bottom price for the same reason you shouldn’t buy a $9 pair of shoes—because you’ll be wasting your money and getting what you pay for. Top quality web design and copywriting is a matter of price.

Sometimes your budget is limited and the $500 web design company may seem your only option. Dedicated design houses like WebTech Net Solutions usually care enough to offer payment plans. Just ask.

The moral of the story is that you get a much better value by partnering with a reasonably priced web design house like WebTech Net Solutions. You work with a dedicated team of kind and friendly professionals who always deliver what you want on time, within budget, and in a way that’s going to make your website impress prospective clients…and convert them into paying customers!

Thursday, January 17, 2008

Forget the Home Office Remodel, Add Another Bathroom

If you've ever sold a home, you're probably familiar with the real estate industry's guidelines about which home improvements will deliver the most return-on-investment.

A rule of thumb, for instance, is that remodeling a home office is a poor investment for home re-sale; however, an additional bathroom can make your house more attractive for quick sale.

As you consider which web site improvements to budget in this year, consider only those that likewise will increase your site's "sale value".

Here's a list of the do's and don'ts for companies on a limited budget (aren't we all?):

· New content: Do. Review your site's current positioning on the major search engines and create content for important terms with which your site is not performing.

· Search engine optimization: Do. If it hasn't been, have your site optimized for the keywords that your customers and prospects would use to locate you on search engines.

· Link-building program: Do. This is an important way that search engines measure your site's importance in your industry.

· Web site audit: Do. A comprehensive audit will check to make sure that internal and external links work, contact forms are operational, your site's performing on search engines, etc.

· Foreign language pages: Do. If you routinely do business outside the U.S., devote pages to the language of your other markets. It'll help position your site in foreign search engines.

· Technical data sheets: Do. Give your prospects enough information about your products to want to do business with you or contact you for more information.

· Site redesign: Do. If your site hasn't been professionally designed, it's time to ante up for the good paint.

· New site navigation: Do. If you're site looks like it has Bandaids all over with buttons and links that were added after the site was launched, it may be time to re-do the navigation to make it more user-friendly and attractive.

· Back-end applications: Do, if it improves your company's ability to serve your customers in an efficient manner. Don't, if you're trying to cut out customer service by making your clients do all the work.

· Flash: Don't, unless you've already done the do's and have money left over.

· More images: Don't, unless the graphic conveys information better than text.

· Videos: Don't, unless your video shows something that would be difficult to describe or illustrates a significant difference in how your products work or are used compared to competitors.

Wednesday, January 16, 2008

How To Get A Custom Website for FREE!

The quick answer is: You don’t. Your odds of doing this are about the same as winning the lottery.

In website design and development, just like most other things in this world, the adage of ‘You Get What You Pay For’ stands. But this adage applies ten-fold in website design and development.

With the proliferation of freelancers who call themselves website designers to the thousands of off-shore companies who work for a few dollars an hour, you can, indeed, have a very inexpensive website built for your business. Unfortunately, you will get exactly what you pay for: poor design, sloppy programming, confusing navigation, and so on. Not to mention the miserable customer experience you will have. If you think calling the toll free number for Dell customer support is bad, then sit down, because you have a whole new type of misery in store for you when you work with freelancers and cheap web development firms.

It is widely agreed that a website is a reflection of your business. If you want to appear shoddy and cheap then perhaps this is the route for you. If, however, you are serious about your business you will need an intelligently designed website. This means you hire a web design firm that has years of experience in design, website strategy, and technology.

Look for a web design firm that has that perfect blend of the three divergent capabilities it takes to produce compelling design. A great web development firm fuses art and science, solid logic and inspiration, primitive intuition and cutting-edge know-how to build fabulous websites.

Will it be expensive? That depends on the features and functions of your website. For any web design firm that is worth their weight, you can expect to pay a minimum of $3k for a basic ecommerce business website. Prices range from there on up. The bottom line is, when you want results that are both refreshingly enticing to your site visitors and exactly what you envisioned for your company’s website only a proven professional design firm can get you there.

Top 5 Common E-Commerce Mistakes

Ready to embark upon the world of e-commerce? Wait – not so fast! Make sure you avoid these pitfalls.

1. Not investing in quality design
Many new-comers to e-commerce attempt to keep their cost down by using a template shopping cart website or hiring the cheapest designers around to build their website. This may help you budget-wise but it will never help you build your business. Customers will view your website and business as unprofessional and will figure that you are not a place worthy of their spending. There couldn’t be a worse first impression if you tired! So, be smart! Invest in a web firm that can create professional looking graphics that help bolster your business and your sales.

2. Lack of Follow-Up and Auto-Responders
Whether you’re selling t-shirts or cell phones, customers want to know where to begin. When you send your product be sure to include a “Read this First” or “Getting Started” document to help them through your product step by step. In addition to this you should have an auto-responder sequence that is generated from your website that follows up with them and reiterates this information.
Whether it’s Wash and Wear or Plug in and Play…help your customers understand your product as best as possible.
After the product has shipped, get in touch with your client. Let them know you care.

3. Weak Product Line
At best, there are a couple of dozen success stories as a result of selling a single product. If you are relying on selling to new customers then your chances of long-term success are minimal. It is well known that overcoming the sales hurdle is much easier when you are dealing with an existing customer. Without additional related products you cannot upsell. Moreover, you reduce the possibility of starting a relationship with your customer if they have no reason to return to your website.

4. Living In a Virtual World
Don’t underestimate the value of human contact. As much as we love all the conveniences of technology, your customers will appreciate the ability to talk to a real person – especially when they have a problem or a question. Use e-mails, forms, and support tickets as an option but always offer a live representative for your customers. This will go a long way with building the rapport and trust that leads to long-term business relationships.

5. Inconsistent Branding
The value of brand recognition is huge! You need people to recognize your products. Give a consistent look and feel to everything you do online and off. Your website should look like it is related to your products and your customers. Think of it as keeping it all in the family.
Whatever you sell online, your offline materials and the look and feel of your website should be related. Just like with twins, people will know that they are related. It’s easier to sell a product to someone who is comfortable with you and branding is a critical aspect of increasing consumer’s comfort level.

How Much Does a Website Cost?

Fees for website design and development can range from a few thousand dollars to half a million dollars. In trying to understand what costs are right for you, it might be useful to think of your website in terms of a car. Everyone knows that cars vary widely in price. A Hyundai is a car and so is a Mercedes Benz. But there is an ocean of difference between these two vehicles. In the same way that things like engineering, features, functions, design, safety, and service factor into the cost (and appeal) of a car so, too, does design and programming for a website.

Even when you select the make and model of a car, the cost of accessories can cause the price to vary drastically. There are choices to be made: 6 Disc CD changer vs. single CD, ipod dock vs. no mp3, dual-sided climate control vs. air condition, 1-touch automatic windows vs. automatic windows, heated leather seats vs. leather seats, and the list goes on and on. Each of these decisions will be reflected in the final price of the car.

A website comes with “accessories” too. We refer to these as “features and options.” Within each feature there can be any number of variables that dictate the simplicity or complexity required to develop a feature. Just like there is an extra fee for a car with a multi-disk CD player vs. one with a single-disk CD player so too is there a premium for a website that has Flash in the header vs. one that uses basic HTML in the header.

In nearly every aspect of website development, there are design features and programming options to take into consideration. To help you better understand the individual costs, contact WebTech Net Solutions to get a FREE price list emailed to you. Typically a web design firm will bundle costs together making for a lower price, so treat these as estimates. Cost will vary depending upon complexity of each item.

You should expect no less from a website design company than for them to be able to provide you with a cost sheet of everything they offer. Any company that refuses this, isn't worth the heartache.

Choosing a Web Site Designer

Choosing a web site designer is an important decision. It's amazing how many companies have paid good money for bad web sites. A lot of people are hanging out shingles as web site designers these days. So, how do you decide which company to use?

Selecting a web site designer is like choosing any service provider: the more you know, the better off you are. Here are a few things to consider when choosing a web designer.

- Local or long distance? You can locate a lot of designers by going on line and checking out web pages. Theoretically, you could choose someone in California to design your web site and communicate with him or her by telephone, fax, email, and snail mail. However, if you're new to this, being able to see someone face to face could be important. Maintenance and upgrading are issues to consider, too.

- Experience counts. Look at the work a designer has already done. Ask for references and follow up on them. Ask about the working relationship, turn around time, pricing, follow up, and responsiveness. If you need an online store, find someone who is capable in all the technology involved. Avoid having your site be someone's learning experience. If you do want to give a brand-new company a chance, ask them to donate some or all of their time. They get experience and a demo site; you get a low cost web site. Timeliness issues can crop up with part-time web designers. Build reasonable but firm timelines into your contract.

- Ownership issues. Be sure that you own the copyright to everything on the web site. Some businesses have had problems when they wanted to give a site to another developer for changes. Have your site set up so you can easily make changes yourself, through FTP software or a Telnet shell account. Having to go through your designer every time you want to put an item on sale or change your graphics will quickly become cumbersome. Designers are very busy people. Ownership should be addressed in your contract.