Website? The Who and the What
So you've finally decided to make that leap and join the millions of other businesses on the World Wide Web. Great! Now what?
Like any other new project, creating your first web page can be confusing. Here are some steps to making the process of finding a web designer and creating a website easier:
Networking can be a great way to finding the perfect web designer. Do any of your business acquaintances or friends have great websites? Ask who designed their site.
Surf the Internet. If you find a site that has the style and flair that you're going for, look at the bottom of the index page — most web designers put their company name with a link to their site at the bottom of their client's opening web page. Although it's sometimes helpful to find someone local, you can hire anyone, anywhere; distance is not usually a factor.
Use Search Engines. If you feel more comfortable hiring a web designer who is local, go to any of the major search engines and type "web design (your city)." This should bring up quite a few choices. Any good web designer will have several examples of their work. For right now, narrow down the field to those designers who can provide examples of the structure, artistic abilities, and professional look that you want for your own site.
Ask What YOU Need rather than trying to up-sell you on expensive additions that don't serve your goals. Flash, ASP, databases and e-commerce are up-sells for basic business websites.
Help You Find a Web Host to house your website. If the designer does not offer a web hosting package, they should be more than happy to help you find something to suit your needs.
Design Fast Loading Pages that will appear, in entirety, within three seconds of being opened. Any longer than that and you risk losing potential clients.
Write Meta Tags for each and every page so search engines will be able to catalog your site. Meta tags are what search engines "read" to know what's on each page. Without this information, search engines will skip over you; in turn your web pages won't show up when clients look for your subject matter.
Include Search Engine Submission with the cost of the design. Although monthly re-submission is necessary to rise in the rankings, designers should make the initial submission of your site for you.
Include One Contact Form and Pictures. You should not be charged extra for one contact form on your site or for one to four pictures per page, though. Adding more pictures might require an additional fee, but you shouldn't need to pay for a minimal amount of pictures per page.
Provide a Bottom-Line Cost, with no hidden fees. Any reputable designer will provide a contract with a breakdown of the number of pages, what all will be included, and the total cost. Services and design work shouldn't be left up in the air.
Allow at Least One Revision for any changes you need made to the design, pictures or text. Many designers will allow you opportunities to preview your site several times for revisions, so the final site will be exactly what you want.
About the Author
Masonry, the official publication of the Mason Contractors Association of America, covers every aspect of the mason contractor profession - equipment and techniques, building codes and standards, business planning, promoting your business, legal issues and more. Read or subscribe to Masonry magazine at www.masonrymagazine.com.