My approach to website design and development comes in many well thought out steps. The development process involves strategic planning and implementation to create a website that is perfect for your company and will serve you well for many years to come.Sometimes people will say, well I can get a website for $500, or some ridiculous price they have been quoted, why does it cost more with you? Because I am not an order taker, trying to be the fast food of website design and development. Developing a client’s website in that manner does nothing for their overall long-term success and is a disservice to both the client and myself as a professional!
When someone pays me to be their website developer they are paying not just for my design and coding skills, but also for my expertise in the industry. And experts don’t work for minimum wage in any industry, which is essentially what you get with a $250, $500, or even $1000, website designer.
I know what it takes to build a structurally sound website, and the amount of hours that go into it. And, after over 25 years in the business, I don’t work for minimum wage, needless to say.
The first step in the design process is to gather information. Many things must be considered when developing a website that is customized for your company and for your industry, in order to best serve your website visitors.
This tends to be the most important phase because it involves me getting to know your company and you, learning what your goals are for your new website, understanding the purpose of your site, who your target audience is and what kind of content they will be expecting when they visit your site.
This stage includes gathering all the content for the website from the client, if they aren’t paying for me and my team to develop the content for them. As a matter of fact, I don’t begin any website project without content in hand!
If the client doesn’t know where to start with content creation, and they aren’t paying me to create it for them, I do offer consulting services to talk them through the process and give them direction on their website.
I believe that making sure we are on the same page is the key to keeping you happy with my work and avoiding unnecessary delays due to miscommunication. I conduct solid research to better understand and align what you and your end users are looking for in a website. This saves you time and money in the long run.
If you aren’t willing to work through this discovery process with me, and simply want to dictate how you want your site to look and function, then you might as well find someone on Craigslist who will do a cheap website for you.
Listen, I’m going to be frank, in order to make sure your website will yield the results you want to see, it is imperative that I get to know your company, and what your goals and expectations are, so I can develop a website that works for you.
As a boutique website design agency, I don’t take on just every client that walks through the doors. It’s imperative that my clients are willing to put in the work to help make their websites a success, just as I am willing to put in the required effort to deliver a product you will love. So this phase is very important to the development of your new site.
During this phase it is key that I keep your end user in mind when creating the site map. These are the people that you will be targeting your website to, so it is important to gear the site and navigation towards them, the end user.
I will also offer suggestions, or critical reasoning, as to why or why not something should be included in the design of your website. Often times clients want all the “bells and whistles,” without realizing that bogging their website down with all the fancy sliders and heavy scripts could actually hurt them in SEO, damage their page speed load times, or do other things that hurt their conversion rate. Just because something can be done doesn’t necessarily mean itshould be done on each and every website. The goal is to determine what your site actually needs to be functional and user friendly.
Sometimes your preconceived ideas of how the website should work aren’t necessarily the best ones to accomplish the goals you have set for your website. My years of experience in internet marketing come into play here. I can guide you through the thought process as to why a website should be built a specific way to satisfy those visiting it and, in turn, increase your sales or client acquisition rate.
I will also explore the best method of deploying your site, whether it be a static HTML website or a comprehensive CMS (content management system) that you can update yourself, what contact forms, if any, will be needed, and any additional features that you may want incorporated into your site.
Design & Development
Using the plan we have formulated above, it is now time to get down to the design and programming of your site. Again, your target audience is always my first consideration.
Generally I will develop the framework for your site, including a navigational system, a home page, a blog, if you require one, and your interior pages. This will serve as a template for the content of your website. Elements such as the CMS, forms, shopping carts, etc. are implemented at this phase, as well.
Don’t be fooled by website developers who tell you they will just take a free or $49 WordPress theme, and for a couple of hundred dollars, change it with your information and photos. While I may, at times, use themes as a base in my designs, generally they are highly customized by the time the entire site is completed, bearing very little resemblance to the original theme.
And, I never use “free” or “budget” themes as a starter framework. Only highly rated and reputable theme works are allowed in my arsenal of web tools, as I want to make sure they are updated for security by the developer, when needed, and that I have the full support from the original developer if something should go wrong, which you won’t get with a free or budget theme.
Designing a website properly involves an understanding of how to write valid HTML5, CSS (Cascading Style Sheets) and PHP, that complies to current web standards, understand what responsive design means and how to design for it, and knowing how to maximize functionality and accessibility of your site to the largest audience possible.
If your website developer doesn’t fully understand what all that means, then I suggest running as quickly as possible to someone who does. It’s not that I am trying to be “ugly” here, but anyone with a basic rudimentary knowledge of computers can change the text and pictures in a pre-made theme, but it takes someone with some skill to design a website that doesn’t look like it is a cookie cutter theme or like everyone else’s “budget” website.
Keep in mind, my background is based in graphic design, a skill that not as many website developers have in their back pocket. I have years of training in design, and understand color theory, typography, and creative thinking. I come to you with over 25 years of direct experience with these skill-sets.
I make sure all forms and scripts work, as well as test for last minute compatibility issues, which includes viewing the site on different browsers and devices, ensuring it is optimized to be viewed properly on the most recent versions of browsers.
If you have an existing website, I make sure that page redirects are in place to your new site and set things up so you have minimal, if any, loss of SEO that has already been built up with search engines.
Delivery & Deployment
Even better would be if you decide to purchase your monthly hosting from me! This means your server will already be in place and ready to receive it with minimal downtime. I can help with transferring your domain and/or requirements to get the DNS pointing to your new server, if hosting is done through me.
My hosting packages start at around $17 per month, keeping me very competitive with traditional hosting. I also have website monthly support packages, which include hosting plus lots of other useful services in one bundle. Ask me for details.
If you are tempted to go with a free or “budget” website host, please read this valuable information before doing so. Save yourself the hassle and set your website up for success from the beginning.