Frequently Asked Questions About Building A Small Business Website

How do I start the website process?

A potential website developer, who will be working for you, should ask a lot of questions about your business, the services you provide or the goods that you sell. They should try to identify your target market and functionality required to reach that market before planning artistic elements. The initial meeting should give them the information necessary to provide you an estimate for their services.

How do web design companies charge?

There is not set standard in the industry. Some designers offer “packages” that you choose from to best meet your small business website design needs. Some charge per page. Some offer a quote on the entire project. Some charge by the hour. Some bill for the services rendered upon initial completion of your new website. Some forgo the design fee for a very high monthly service fee and require a lengthy contract. While this no-money down upfront scheme may sound attractive, you will probably end up paying much more in the long term.

After a lot of consideration, we came up with the most honest, upfront, and consistent pricing we could: we charge for our time only, $50 an hour.  We are an affordable website designer, and you will still get what you want.

What does a website usually cost?

There are great differences in how much web designers from the same area with similiar talents charge.  Why?  Because they can!  Services will sell for what people are willing to pay for them.

You can often get a small starter site for a few hundred dollars. On average you can expect to pay from $600-$1,000 for a typical small business website. Whether or not the website designer has a store front can mean the difference in hundreds and even thousands of dollars since overhead is typically passed on to a client.

We run our business out of a home office and are very proficient at what we do. As a result, our customers enjoy great service, a professional website, and lower prices.

What is a content management system?

This is a database that runs behind your small business website and allows you to update and manage the site. This is a great advantage for you – giving you control of the content to your website. A good content manager is a WYSISYG (What You See Is What You Get) program that allows you to edit the website using an icon based menu (similar to Microsoft Word) and converts your information into html (the language for websites). They often limit or restrict the ability to add artistic elements, however.

Do I need a content management system (CMS)?

Without a content manager, you will need to contact your web designer whenever you want to make a change or you will have to learn FTP protocols and buy a software program like Frontpage or Dreamweaver in order to edit the pages. Neither of these solutions are very user-friendly and usually leave the customer feeling frustrated. Talk to the web designer about your needs and whether a CMS will wotk for you.

How long does it take to set up a website?

Usually only 2-4 weeks, although this depends on your needs and the schedule of the designer. There is usually a “design” phase, a “setup” phase, and a “content” phase.

  • The design phase allows time for you and the designer to work out the overall design of the website.
  • The setup phase is when the designer takes a design approved by you and creates an actual website.
  • The content phase is when all the information is entered into your website and search engine optimization takes place.

For smaller websites, these phases may be combined. For an idea of what actually happens during the web design phase of the project you can go here.

What is a domain name?

Your domain name is your website’s address on the Internet, similar to google.com or blackdogwebdesign.net. It’s how people find and reach your website.

What does a domain cost?

The cost of the domain varies per company. $15 per year is a good estimate but can often be purchased for less through GoDaddy.com. You should be aware that there are “good” domain names and there are “bad” domain names. Try to keep them short and easy to remember by your customers and always try to get either a .com or a .net domain name before any others. Non-profit organizations should opt for a .org domain name.

Who should register my domain?

All Internet domains are registered through a world-wide non-profit oversight organization called ICANN.

Ideally, your web partner will assist you in registering your domain name but you should make certain that the account set up to register the domain and the domain name itself are registered to you. I cannot emphasize this enough. There are some unethical developers out there that will register the domain in their name and, if you try to move your website away from their control, make you pay a premium for it or simply remove it from the server. Again, make certain that the domain belongs to you.

We have an affiliate relationship with GoDaddy and register domains for our customers through the GoDaddy.com domain registration interface.

What is hosting?

Hosting includes all the computer services to keep your website and email accounts up and running on the Internet. It is the leasing of space on a server that contains your website, graphics and handles the presentation of that website.

What should I look for in a hosting company?

Obviously, there are many things you can look for to match your needs. But some thing should ask your web partner…

  • Do they host the website themselves or do they outsource the service to someone else. Ideally you want someone that who provides the hosting themselves.
  • Do they backup your website? How do they do it and how often? You would prefer your site be backed up to a separate server in a different geographic region every night and viewable online, so you yourself can verify the backup. Backups are not always restorable so make sure each backup is tested – not just on occasion.
  • What is their server uptime and downtime? Ask them if their numbers include planned downtime for upgrades. If not, ask what their total downtime was over the past year, including maintenance. If they can’t generate specific dates and times, they aren’t measuring it.
  • What is their policy on emergencies? If your website goes down, and it periodically will, do you know how to contact them?

We’re here to help you select a hosting plan that works best for your business.

I already have a website but it’s not an effective marketing tool. What will help?

We have a list of the marketing tips that can assist you reach your website marketing goals.

What does web hosting cost?

As with most services, there is a broad range. You can pay anywhere from $5/month to $200/month, or more. Be careful of using the “free” hosting websites; they can cost you in other ways. You may believe you will save money, but their server uptime and performance may not be satisfactory. Or, they may charge extra for additional features that end up making your final cost higher than expected. Likewise, often the most expensive host is not necessarily the best. Again, GoDaddy.com offers several affordable and dependable options.

What is SEO – Search Engine Optimization?

SEO is an abbreviation for Search Engine Optimization. It is the use of all tools and methods available to help your website be recognized by the search engines, like Google, Yahoo and MSN, and be easily located by people using these search engines. For your website to rank highly in the search engines you must have a good website design. After the site is built and deployed, the tools and methods mentioned above must be used on an ongoing basis.

I received an email from a company saying they can make my website number one on Google for $75/month. Should I get in touch with them?

This is a common marketing ploy that is rarely successful. What phrase are they making your website #1 for, and is it a phrase that anyone is even searching for? Usually not! Be wary and talk to your web designer / web hosting partner before paying anyone claiming to make you #1 overnight!

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