Frequently Asked Questions

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Contents

First Steps

How do I start the web design process?

Start by thinking about why you want a website. Possible reasons include:

  • Attract new customers
  • Retain current customers
  • Use social media to boost your business's standing
  • To have more credibility
  • To be available to customers 24 hours a day, seven days a week
  • A website address is easier to remember than a phone number
  • Internet marketing is much more cost effective than traditional marketing
  • Increase the geographical range of your business
  • To network
  • To provide better customer service
  • To increase public interest and awareness of your business
  • To release time-sensitive materials
  • To sell things
  • To make pictures, sounds, and videos available
  • To answer frequently asked questions
  • To allow feedback from customers
  • To reach the media

After that, think about websites that you go to a lot. What do you like about them? How do they make your life better? What do you wish were different about them?

Make sure to visit your competitor's websites as well. What are they doing well? What are they doing poorly? What mistakes are they making that you don't want to make?

Write these things down and think about them in terms of a website. Ask yourself "what should my website have that my customers and potential customers find most useful?"

How can I compare what you offer to what others offer?

The simple answer is that you can't. In our experience, we've worked with a number of people on the web who offer a variety of services. Some people offer design services (i.e., what a site looks like), some offer development (i.e., how a site behaves), some offer hosting, some offer web design in addition to a vareity of business services, and some offer web design in addition to house-sitting and pet-sitting. (True story!) The end result is that you can't compare apples to apples or even apples to oranges. (They're both fruit, at least.) At most, you can only compare apples to bowling balls.

For a lot of people, the bottom line is money. A website should offer a good ROI (return on investment). That's one of the reasons that we put approximately yearly costs on our services. But then we take it a step further. We have a blog, a Twitter feed, and a Facebook page that all teach you how to leverage your website to increase your customer base maximize your profits. There are few, if any, web designers that offer this service, and we offer it to everyone, whether they are our client or not.

Design

Structure

Appearance

Functionality

Building Your Website

I don't know anything about coding or programming. How involved do I have to be in this process?

Most people get nervous when they start talking about a website, because it involves a lot of things they don't know about, and don't even know which questions to ask.

Think of a car as an analogy. You may not know how to change the oil or adjust the timing, but you don't need to know those things in order to drive it. When it comes to your website, think in terms of a car: what do you want it to do? Do you want a website that encourages people to come into your store? Do you want a website where people can order online. Do you want people to look at your website and then give you a phone call?

Once you figure out those things, we'll design a website you can drive away it, while we take care of what's under the hood.

Who writes the content for my website?

That's up to you. You can choose to write everything yourself, or you can make a member of your staff a user on your website so they can write content for you.

If you are worried about the quality of your writing, we also offer proofreading and copy editing service on our À la Carte Menu.

If you have an existing website, we can start with the content that you have there.

How long will it take to get my website up and running?

In general, we can have a WordPress or GetSimple site up and running in about a week. There may be a few tweaks required beyond that, but we can have 90% or 95% of your website complete at that point.

Although our basic WordPress package includes five hours of design time and our advanced WordPress package includes 12 hours of design time, we generally recommend that you hold one or two of those hours over to the next month, to address any issues that your visitors may encounter.

How easily can I update my website?

If you use a CMS such as WordPress or GetSimple, updating your website is a fairly simple matter. If you can write and format a page in Microsoft Word, you can use your CMS to easily add, delete, or edit content.

We also offer custom coded websites. Although these are generally not editable by users, we can make it possible for a user who is knowledgeable in HTML, CSS, and PHP to edit these sites. Unfortunately, these sites are not automatically backed up, and if a user messes them up, it can be either expensive or impossible to restore them to their original state.

Promotion

How do I get more people to visit my site?

Search Engine Optimization

Can you guarantee that my website will appear at the top of Google's search results?

No. And because Google (like all search engines) keeps their ranking algorithms secret, no one else can either.

SEO—search engine optimization—is certainly a hot-button topic on the web these days. But if you are serving a niche market (and if your market is local, it is certainly a niche market), you may not need to worry about it at all, because people will already know about you and your website without using a search engine.

How long until my web site appears in search engines such as Google or Yahoo?

That depends entirely on the search engines. You can generally guarantee that they will index your site within a month's of it's going live, at the very most.

We can tell the search engines to look at your site more often, which is a good thing if you are constantly updating with new content on a regular basis. But it is still up to the search engines to determine where in their search results your web site will appear.

Can you submit my website to the search engines

We can, but it won't get your web site noticed any faster, quite frankly. This is a very old-fashioned way of web site promotion that most search engines don't take notice of any more.

eCommerce

Working With a Web Designer

Why should I hire a professional? I know a high school student who designs websites and he can do it a lot cheaper.

I've known a lot of those kids. In fact, I used to be one. And on occasion, I have hired them as short term consultants.

The biggest difference is that a teenager isn't in this for the long haul. He's thinking about the cash you're going to hand over to him and how he's going to spend it. We view every website we design as the beginning of a long-term relationship. Sure, we're thinking about the short term goals as well (let's get this website up and running!), but we're also thinking about long-term goals—where do you want your business to be in a year, five years, ten years—and how we can help you get there.

Can you take over the maintenance of my website if it was created by someone else?

Often we can, but there are a lot of variables involved, such as:

  • Who actually owns the domain registration?
  • Where is the site hosted? Do you have FTP access to it?
  • Is the server running the most advanced and secure server hardware?

Generally, we have found it to be less expensive and more expedient to simply create a new website entirely from scratch.

I already have a website, but I'm unhappy with how it looks and functions. Can you redesign it for me?

Yes, but this is often little different from taking over the maintenance of an existing site. If you are unhappy with most aspect of your website, it is usually easier (and therefore cheaper) to start over from scratch. But since every web site is different, we'd need to take a look at your current website to give you some idea of costs.

WordPress

The WordPress FAQ is here.

MediaWiki

DokuWiki

SquirrelMail

Roundcube

Packages

Do you offter web site packages?

We certainly do. Just visit our Services page to find out more.

Do you offer customized packages?

Yes, we do. In our experience, one size does not fit all. We will custom tailor our packages to suit your needs and budget.

Services

What other services do you provide, besides web design, web development, and hosting?

Besides web design and hosting, we also offer proofreading and copy-editing services.

What does "proofreading" mean?

When we proofread a document, we are looking at two specific items: spelling and punctuation.

What does "copy-editing" mean?

When we copy edit a document, we examine each page at two levels:

  • The sentence level
    • Does the sentence make sense?
    • Are the antecedents clear?
    • Is there agreement between subject and verb?
    • Does the sentence say what you want it to say?
  • The paragraph level
    • Does the paragraph serve its purpose?
    • Does the paragraph have a structure that is easy for readers to follow?

Pricing

Billing

Do you accept credit cards?

Yes we do. We accept VISA, MasterCard, Discover, and American Express.

We use Square for physical cards. Otherwise, we can invoice you through PayPal, which you can pay with a variety of cards.

Why do you use PayPal for billing?

We use PayPal because it is secure, fast, and offers a number of payment options. You do not need to have a PayPal account to pay via PayPal.

Do you accept checks?

Sorry, no.

Do you offer monthly billing?

Yes, we do. We ask for a down payment of 10% or $100 (whichever is greater), with the remaining amount due in eleven payments over the next eleven months. We will send monthly invoices. We do not autodeduct from your account.

Technical Considerations

What is a content management system?

A content management system (CMS) is a program that allows you to edit your website without having any knowledge of coding.

Although a CMS is usually meant to simplify things, in reality, a CMS and become quite complicated and difficult to use. This is partly because new features get added on a regular basis, and new security measures need to be added to prevent hacking.

Do I need a content management system?

That depends, but the answer is usually yes.

The most successful websites are those that get updated on a regular basis. Unless you have the budget to hire a full-time webmaster who can add or change content on a regular basis, you'll probably want to use a CMS that will allow you to edit your website at any time and from any location, at no cost to you.

The one exception would be a website whose main purpose is to provide information that rarely, if ever changes.

What other content management systems are available?

The are, quite literally, thousands available.

We prefer to use WordPress because it has a large community behind it. As a result, it is easy to extend its capabilities and is very secure.

We also use GetSimple for the same reasons. It is not as easily customized as WordPress, however, so it is not suitable for e-commerce or membership sites.

If you need a wiki, which will allow your users to collaborate on content, we offer MediaWiki and DokuWiki.

If you need a learning management system (LMS) we recommend Moodle.

To get more information on these, please visit our Services page and click on "Additional Software Packages".

What is a domain name?

A domain name is the address or URL of a website. Our domain name is "d12webdesign.com".

How much does a domain cost?

We include a .com, .net, .org, .info, or .us domain registration free with any hosting package. Other top-level domains are also available for an additional cost.

How do I register a domain?

We can register one for you, or you can register one yourself. Contact us for more information.

What is hosting?

Hosting means maintaining the server that holds your web files and serves them to visitors from all around the world.

About d12 Web Design

What does "d12" mean?

In our youth, we liked to play a lot of role-playing games, which often required the use of a twelve-sided die, which is called a "d12", so it's an homage to our gaming past. The technical name for this figure is a dodecahedron.

Where are you located?

We are located in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

Do you have an office we can visit?

Sorry, no. But we are more than happy to come to you.

Images

Can I use the images I find on Google Images and similar sites on my website?

Probably not. Most of the images you find on Google Images are copyrighted images. They are someone else's intellectual property and you can't use them just because you found them on the internet.

So where can I find images to use on my website?

The safest bet is to take your own. If your photographs are taken in a public place, you probably don't need a model release.

We have a list of sites that offer images for use on your website here.

Miscellaneous