Website Creation – Up to the Pros?

I’ve been in this business long enough to hear the inevitable ending of two common stories when it comes to website creation…

Story 1: My Friend Will Build My Website

This story goes something like this…

“Someone I know from ____ says that they do web design for fun and that they’ll only charge me $300 to create my website.”

Or the really good friend offers it for FREE. Even better you think. I’m going to have an awesome website for free!

I’m sure you can guess what I’m going to stay next… two common phrases come to mind:

“You get exactly what you pay for”
“If it sounds too good to be true it IS too good to be true”

After working with hundreds of clients over the years I have found that approximately 95% of the time the “friend building my website” ends in serious disappointment. The website doesn’t convey the value or quality that is necessary to truly stand out or sell your services well. It ultimately looks unprofessional and does nothing to bring you business.

Your site never goes live

Guess what happens to the friend who will do it for free? They have xyz going on…but then their kid gets the flu. After that it might be “sorry work is so busy”. You might here “it’s the holiday time”.  Before you know it six months has gone by but you are not any closer to going live.

When someone is creating a website for nothing or very little to nothing your website becomes the last priority in their life. 

Story 2: I’m Going to Try to Create My Own Website

If you are very comfortable with HTML, CSS and PHP then by all means YES you can give it a try. If you don’t know what those three things are I can almost guarantee that you are not going to be able to create a professional website. I have seen lots of really bad and really good websites. 99% of the time I can tell that a client created the site on their own.

I understand how tempting it is to try and cut costs in business…

Remember that your website truly is THE MOST IMPORTANT aspect of your business. If a potential client comes to your website and it looks average, cheap, or simply doesn’t showcase your expertise, this can actually deter them from calling and therefore become a major obstacle to your growth. Yes they are judging the book by the cover, just as you do when you visit other websites.

Here is what I tell my clients. If you look at your website as it is now, would you be intrigued to pick up the phone and call? Would you fill out that consultation form or would you buy that product? Critique your own website – you know what is wrong with it!

At first, I was apprehensive in choosing an outside web designer for my new website as I was planning to design my website myself and was worried about cost. Looking back, I could have never come close to creating the site Rachel built. Her services were a great investment for my business. Not only did Rachel make my vision for the site a reality, but she was patient, responsive and professional throughout the entire process. She listened to my needs for the site and ensured I was satisfied with the end product. Additionally, I know Rachel is accessible if I have any questions in the future. It was a true pleasure working with Rachel and her team, and I highly recommend her services for anyone looking to build a personalized and professional website.
~ Joe Zagame, https://mytherapynyc.com

How much time will you waste?

I have taken over the website design for many small business owners who spent hours and hours trying to design their own site, but eventually gave up because they could not get it to look the way they want. Just recently I took over a project that someone had been working on their own for THREE years.

When I talk to business owners I cannot stress the importance of a strong professional website enough! If there is one thing you should spend money on in your business it is your website! In our “day and age” your potential clients/customers are looking for you online.

A Professional Web Designer Matters

Many web designers do not looking at the design process through the lens of marketing and client attraction. Most designers are technicians who will basically do whatever you tell them to do–no more and no less. We incorporate many elements that make your website much more effective as a marketing tool.  The bottom line is that you don’t want to cut corners when it comes to your website, as it will literally make or break your business for years to come. What may be cheaper up front may cost you MUCH more down the road!

Schedule a Consultation Here

Rachel Muraca
WordPress Web Designer
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Questions to Ask a Web Designer

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If you have gone through the “Top 7 Things to Do Before You Start Working With a Web Designer” you might be ready to contact some web designers. It can be an overwhelming decision in choosing the right web designer. Just as with any other profession, all web designers are NOT created equal.

Choosing a Web Designer

Before you get started or sign a service agreement with a web designer make sure you ask these questions (at a minimum – please ask more if you have them).

  • How long does the process take?
  • What is expected of me during the process?
  • What type of communication will there be?
  • What are the costs I can expect to pay associated with the website?
  • Do you create websites in WordPress?
  • Are you the designer who will be the one working on my website?
  • Do I have complete control and ownership of my website?
  • Do you have experience with internet marketing?
  • Do you do any search engine optimization (SEO) on my site?
  • Do you provide any training information for me to be able to update my own site?
  • What support is available after the website goes live?
  • How much does it cost?

I’d be happy to talk with you more about any of these questions in a consultation you can schedule here.

How long does the process take?

It depends on a couple of things:

  • How quickly you can get us the materials we need.
  • How quickly you respond to our emails with feedback or comments.

On average the entire process takes 2-4 weeks for our basic web package or 4-6 weeks for our comprehensive package. Learn the difference here!

What is expected of me during the process?

One big misconception that people have is that web designers are copywriters. We personally do not write copy. Therefore you are expected to provide all the content. Given our internet marketing experience we can provide feedback on the copy draft you provide in the comprehensive package. We also ask to you give us feedback on your design in a timely manner and that you are professional and courteous.

What type of communication will there be?

If you sign up to work with Virtual Design you’ll receive your designers direct phone line to call and/or text. Your main email contact would be our project manager. We usually schedule two phone calls and handle back and forth over email, however you are encourage to call or text your designer at any time you need.

What are the costs/ongoing costs I can expect to pay associated with the website?

Your domain will be about $12-$15 per year. Hosting is usually $7-$15 per month for shared hosting. Email marketing is usually $20-$30 a month. If you want stock images you may need to purchase those. We like 123rf.com and istockphoto.com. And depending on the design of your site you may need a license for a specific WordPress theme.

Do you create websites in WordPress?

Yes and at this time this is the only platform we build in. We have used many different web builders and platforms before and we believe WordPress is the best choice for entrepreneurs and small business owners.

Do you contract the website design out to a different company?

Absolutely not! This is a very common practice and usually doesn’t deliver the results you are expecting from a professional site. Oftentimes it’s putting out the project to the lowest bidder. We do not participate in this practice.

Do I have complete control and ownership of my website?

Yes! 100%! Our biggest pet peeve with other web designers is that they “hold a site hostage”. You should have 100% control of your site and ownership! This means your domain and hosting are registered in YOUR name. A theme license should be through your account. Please do not sign up with a web designer who does not believe in this practice.

Do you have experience with internet marketing?

We have extensive experience with internet marketing and have helped clients in many different industries build successful online businesses. We have been helping clients with internet marketing since 2005.

Do you do any search engine optimization (SEO) on my site?

Yes we do on-site SEO with our comprehensive website package and we take it one step further – we provide information so that YOU can maintain the on-site SEO on your own after you take over your website.

Do you provide any training information for me to be able to update my own site?

Each one of our clients receives a comprehensive closing packet which includes information about the site we have created, a big section on SEO for comprehensive website clients, and information on each plugin and widget we have used and why. We also schedule a closing call together to go over any questions after our clients review the closing packet.

What support is available after the website goes live?

We offer a VIP client package to help our clients update their websites on a monthly basis.

How much does it cost to build a website?

Depending on the size and features of your website you can expect to pay $1500-$3500 for a professional website.

I’d be happy to talk with you more about any of these questions in a consultation you can schedule here.

Rachel Muraca
WordPress Web Designer
Find me on Facebook

 

Top 7 Things to Do Before You Start Working With a Web Designer

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I’ve been creating websites for almost 16 years (wow!). In that time I have worked with MANY people who were not quite ready to get started on their new website. This usually means a longer process to complete the website. I had one client who took six months to do their “pre-homework” before we started designing it. Huge delay … thankfully my part was quick.

When I tell prospective website clients stories like that now they always ask me what should they work on before they get started. It is something that surprisingly many people don’t think about. So here are some of my suggestions…

What to do before you work with a web designer

1: Look at other sites you like and don’t like in your industry.

The best way to find out what you might want in your new website is to look at what other people in your industry are doing. I usually ask my clients to give me about 5 websites they really like. I ask them to write down what they like but also what they don’t like about the site. If they have an existing site that we are redoing I also ask them to write down what they like and don’t like about their own current website. This practice allows us to think about a framework that we will develop to achieve your unique voice.

2: Write down the most important features you want your site to have.

Do you want to have video? Are you going to be selling products? Is social media a big part of your site? Is your site going to center around a blog? Are you doing an email lead generation (such as a report, quiz, ebook etc)?

3: Write up a very specific summary of who your ideal client is.

An important part of creating a new website is figuring out who you want it to be for. You need to be really clear on who you are marketing to in order to create a website that does just that. This is often called your target market or ideal client.

4: What is the purpose of your site?

Many times I start a website and I say “what is your purpose?”. Some clients just say, “well I know I need a website”. I want them to be more specific. I recommend that you write out exactly what you want your site to achieve. Why do you have this site? Is it to sell X number of products? Is it to get ad revenue? Is it to bring in 10 new patients a week? Being very clear on your purpose for your site is important before it is designed.

5: Write out your sitemap.

Another big one is to figure out what are the most important pages you want to start with. I recommend an about page, services, FAQ, testimonials, blog, and contact as the bare minimum.

6: Look at different color schemes to narrow them down – colourlovers.com is a great place to start.

Having an idea of what colors speak to you the most (and your target market) is essential to be able to effectively represent you or your business within your site. Color is a very subjective choice. We like to get our client’s input as much as possible when it comes to color. If you are stuck on colors I recommending taking note of your design in your business office space. What types of pictures or colors are you drawn to? What represents what you are trying to accomplish? A designer can help guide you but it is helpful to have a starting point.

7: Write up all of your questions before you speak with a web designer.

The last tip I have is that you write up all of your questions before speaking with web designers. In your consultation (whether it’s over email or phone) be sure that all of your answers are covered before you get started.

If you have taken the time to go through these seven things, you are ready to reach out to a web designer.

Schedule a Consultation Here

Rachel Muraca
WordPress Web Designer
Find me on Facebook