Archive for the 'Website Planning' Category

How to Select the Right Domain Name

Posted by

In this episode of Ask Karyn Anything, Lori asks about how to choose the right domain name for your business and your brand. Watch the video for some great ideas!

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QH_aHqHE9f0

7 comments for now



Category: Ask Karyn Anything Videos, Website Planning

How to Choose a Website Designer

Posted by

When you’re self-employed, choosing a web designer is a crucial decision, as a good website can bring you more business and a bad one can drive away prospective customers.

Below are some important things to consider when selecting a website designer for your project.

What Types Of Web Designers Are There?

I don’t think there is an “official” definition, so I’ll give you MY definition which may help you discern the different types of website help out there:

  • Website Designer – helps you to determine the page layout, graphics, text location and colors of your site, as well as the navigation and how pages will cross-link to one another. He may also do the actual computer programming and graphic art work for the site, or may hire out that work to a programming specialist. A Website Designer is the project manager for your site design and typically has a full knowledge of “website usability” — how visitors will use your site and where your site can be a turn-off.
  • Website Programmer – takes the design from the Designer and creates the code to make the site run. She is also responsible for all the technical stuff that happens behind-the-scenes to make sure the site works properly for your visitors.
  • Graphic Designer – creates the graphics for the site, including page layout, colors, etc. Think of this person as the “visual artist” for your site.
  • Internet Marketing Consultant – helps you to determine how your website fits into your overall marketing strategy, and how to get more traffic and sales from your website.

Sometimes, if you’re lucky, you can get all four of these skills from the same person.

A Note on Copywriting

You may find a designer who can also help you with the text for your website but don’t count on it. Be prepared to write the text yourself, or hire a professional copywriter. Copywriters charge per page, sometimes up to $500 a page ($5,000 for a 10-page website.)

Consider a hybrid solution: get advice about simple website copywriting principles from an internet marketing consultant, then write the text yourself. Have the copywriter edit the text to make sure that it works on the web.

Who Is A Good Designer And How Much Do They Charge?

Much of your choice of designers depends on whether you want to work locally with someone, or whether you are willing to work remotely with them over the phone. Here are some things to think and ask about when hiring a website designer:

  1. Pay attention to how much they ask you about YOUR BUSINESS. They should want to get to know you and your business intimately. How else can they design a site that reflects you and your business, one that really speaks to your customers, unless they spend time to get to know you?
  2. Look at sites they’ve designed to see if you like their style. Is there a certain feel to ALL their sites, or are they flexible in their designs?
  3. Ask them if they did the actual graphic and layout design of the site, or if they just did the programming. If they don’t do the graphic work themselves, can they recommend a graphic artist or do they have someone they typically partner with?
  4. Do they have a structured planning process that leads you through the design phase, and if will they document all the discussions and decisions?  If they have a Website Planning Guide that you’ll work through together, that’s really helpful.
  5. Ask them what they know about internet marketing and search engine optimization (SEO, getting high rankings on the search engines). Be sure that they’re creating a site for you that meets your larger marketing and business goals. A pretty site is no good to you unless it generates revenue and prospects.
  6. Ask the designer for their fees and what is the estimated cost for the site you want. They may not be able to give you a good estimate until you discuss content and features of the site. Expect to pay between $60 – $125 an hour, depending on their skill and their location. A quality website that reflects the brand and professionalism of your business, with excellent graphic design and layout, will cost around $2,500 – $3,000 for a 10-page site. If you add a blog, newsletter, shopping cart, autoresponders, email address setup, SEO, membership site, or logo design (or if you have more than 10 pages), expect the price to be higher.
  7. Ask them how they bill you. Will they invoice you monthly, or when certain milestones are reached? Do you have to make deposits?
  8. Pay attention to whether they’ll try to stick within your budget, or whether they keep suggesting new add-ons that increase to the cost of your site. Remember, designers aren’t responsible for your budget — you are.
  9. Talk to some of their current and recent clients, to see how smooth the process was. You want someone who has good project management skills AND good communication skills. They have to listen to you, not just give advice.
  10. Ask them whether they will maintain your site after the initial design, and how much they’ll charge for that. Some designers want to create new sites but don’t want to maintain them. Someone like a virtual assistant (VA) may be able to maintain your site for a lower hourly fee, as long as the VA is skilled in website programming.
  11. If you’re going to maintain the site yourself, ask them if they’ll design your site so that it is easily maintained by a business owner.  You can have your site designed on a blog/CMS platform, like WordPress, which will allow you to edit the text and some of the graphics.
  12. Make sure that your contract states that you own the copyright to the entire website (except, of course, for stock photos and graphic…the original photographer/artist owns the copyright to stock images). All content, including graphics that you hired someone to custom-create for you, should be owned by you.
  13. Make sure you own your domain name, even if the website designer registered it for you.
  14. Ask your designer for original, editable source files. You need to be assured that you will be able to edit your website (or have another designer edit your website) with ease.
  15. You have got to enjoy talking and working with them. Do you LIKE the designer? Do you believe they’ll act ethically? Do you enjoy speaking with them? Do they stay focused to the task at hand, or do they ramble and waste your time? Do you feel you “click” with their personality and values? Do they offer you invaluable insight and advice about your site design and how your site fits into your overall marketing plan and business goals?
  16. Tell each prospective website designer what your deadline is and ask if they can meet it. Many good website designers are already booked for the next 4-6 weeks, so you may have to wait for the designer of your choice. If you don’t have a specific deadline, brainstorm with the designer to create a good working deadline that you can both meet, especially if you will be doing the job of writing the website text.

Your website is crucial to the success of your business. By doing extensive interviewing of potential website designers, you’re more likely to pick one that can do the work you want, is willing to really listen to you, can create a site that reflects you and your business, and keeps within your budget and timeframe.

4 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Website Planning

Kate Nasser’s SEO Success Story – Getting Seen on Search Engines

Posted by

Getting a Top 10 listing on Google take a bit of doing…getting a Top 3 listing is a real accomplishment! So we offer huge congratulations to Kate Nasser, who implemented our SEO suggestions on her website after we did an SEO Review of her site, and now lists as #3 on Google for the keyword phrase Professional Soft Skills, and #9 on Google for Professional Soft Skills Training!

Aly reviewed Kate’s sight and found lots of SEO ideas that could boost Kate’s search engine rankings. After producing a written report for her, we got on the phone with Kate and her web designer and brainstormed an implementation plan, which they undertook immediately. (I just love Kate’s “can do” attitude…she jumped in and made the changes even though the holidays were upon us!) That phone call was on December 21, and by January 10 Kate had emailed us with the good news – she was on Page 1 of the search results for her chosen keywords!

If you ever doubt that you can achieve high search engine rankings, or think it’s going to take six months for your site to crawl to the top of the listings, Kate’s success shows you that you can do it, too. (I’ve had situations where I’ve done a major SEO edit on a site on Friday, and by Monday I was on Page 1 of the Google results for my chosen keyword….zoom, zoom, zoom!)

Check out Kate’s website at  www.katenasser.com (and don’t forget to go to Google and type in her keywords, so you can see her rankings!).

Need more information about our Website and SEO Reviews, and how we can help you get the marketing results you want from your website? 

Visit our site:
http://www.passionforbusiness.com/website-review.htm

Comments Off on Kate Nasser’s SEO Success Story – Getting Seen on Search Engines for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Website Planning
Tags: ,

Who Owns Your Website?

Posted by

Recently I heard a story that bears repeating:

Several years ago, a well-established company had hired a website designer to create their website for them. After working with this graphic artist for several years, they decided to move to a new graphic artist (my colleague). At the same time, they decided to move to a new hosting company, so they simply copied their website files from the old hosting company and moved them to the new hosting company. After all, they owned the website, didn’t they?

The surprising answer is No. Since the previous graphic artist  and the client didn’t have a “work for hire” written agreement, many courts would say that the previous website designer (not the client) still owned the work. And “work for hire” agreements might not cover the copyright complications of both the graphics work done on behalf of the client, and the software coding work done.

It would seem to me that a fair resolution to this type of case would be to use the assumption that the website designer was doing work for you, and therefore you own the work. In the legal world, this may not be the case, as websites include both graphic work and software coding work. These two types of work are protected differently under copyright law.

You can read more about this type of situation here:

“Who Owns Your Web Site Anyway? The Surprising Truth…”

If you’ve hired a website designer to design your site, check your written contract. Make sure it clearly states that YOU own the website upon full payment to the designer. If you never had a written agreement with your designer (or if your current agreement does not have this clause in it), it’s time to re-negotiate with your designer. Get it in writing. This is no time for verbal agreements.

When we ran a website design firm, our Passion For Business website design contracts clearly stated that the client owned the copyrights to the work we did for them. There are a few places where this may not apply: if you purchase stock photography or graphics for your site, then the original artist owns the copyright, and if you purchase a theme (like a WordPress theme), the theme designer still owns the copyright to their design work. Most stock photo and theme websites will grant you a license to use the photo/artwork, but will not give you the full copyright to the work. (This is also the case if you use plugins for your site/blog. The original designer/coder of those retains the copyright.)

If you feel awkward or embarrassed to speak with your website designer and ask for this in writing, then you are putting your business success in jeopardy. Don’t delay. Take care of this immediately.

What happened to my colleague in the above situation? She had to completely re-design her client’s website to comply with copyright law. It was good news for her: a nice revenue stream and a new, ongoing graphic design relationship with the client. It was bad news for the client: they had to pay for a brand new website design or risk being sued by the previous graphic designer. In the end, the client got a better website than they had before, but at the cost of a lot of time, money and frustration.

Read the companion blog post: Has Your Website Designer Disappeared? for tips on what information you need to get from your website designer to protect your website.

14 comments for now



Category: Website Planning
Tags: , , ,

Has Your Website Designer Disappeared?

Posted by

A strange phenomena has been spreading like a virus over the past few months. In the past four weeks alone, three of my clients have told me that their website designer or virtual assistant has “disappeared.” No return phone calls, unanswered emails. Gone, gone, gone.

Kidnapping? Hardly. When the economy gets tough, many website designers and virtual assistants (small business owners themselves) simply go out of business. Some get full-time jobs in corporations, some just shut their doors. If they use a lot of sub-contractors to fulfill project demands, they find that the sub-contractor pool is drying up, so they become less responsive to your voicemails and emails.

This is a huge problem for small business owners, who rely upon their website designer or virtual assistant to maintain and upgrade their websites for them. There’s not much you can do if your website designer or VA goes out of business. But you can protect yourself and prepare yourself to move to a new website designer. You just need to have access to all your files before your website designer disappears.

When we design websites for our clients, we always give them the following information immediately after the site is complete. Use this checklist to get control of your website for the future:

  1. Login information for the hosting company control panel (CP).
  2. FTP login information.
  3. Blog login information (this may be different than 1 and 2 above).
  4. Email address login information for each email account (you may have more than one email address for your domain, such as office@domain.com or mary@domain.com or info@domain.com).
  5. Other login information to auxiliary software, like membership software, forum software, content management systems, etc.
  6. Logins for Google Analytics and Google Adwords, if you use either of these services.
  7. A copy of all your website coding, graphic, audio, video and animation files, including the original source files for all your graphics and Flash files (typically Photoshop for graphics and Flash for animation), on CD or DVD.
  8. Written confirmation that YOU own the content of the website and have the right to transfer it, edit it, submit it to Federal Copyright Office, sell it, etc.

For security purposes, if your website designer disappears, change ALL login IDs and passwords on your accounts. In addition, if you have given your website designer your credit card information, you may wish to cancel the card and have a new number re-issued.

I think we may see more of this happening in 2009. I recommend you get the above items from the person who maintains your website today so that you have full control of your website — and your internet marketing — for the future.

4 comments for now



Category: Internet & Social Media Marketing, Running a Strong & Efficient Business, Website Planning
Tags: ,

Great Copywriting Tips

Posted by


All small business owners need to learn good copywriting skills.

If you haven’t visited CopyBlogger yet, I strongly encourage you to do so…today!

CopyBlogger offers tips and tutorials on good copywriting. Their recent blog posting, Just Say No to These Three Enemies of Clear and Direct Writing, is a perfect example of what you’ll learn on this great blog. Sure, you may already know these writing tips, but the examples clarify good and bad writing habits.

(After reading CopyBlogger’s post, I feel like it’s time to re-write my entire site!)

1 comment for now



Category: Marketing, Website Planning
Tags: ,

« Prev - Next »