Below are listed some of the
questions a lot of my clients ask me regularly. It is possible
that you may find an answer or two here. If this page doesn't give
you what you need, please visit the 'contact' page and get in
touch with me directly. I'll be happy to answer anything you may
need more information on. Click on a question below:
Q: Why would I want
a web site?
A: Believe it or not, I still get this question a lot. A web site is a natural extension of any effort you may make to find
and secure new business as well as an asset to maintaining your existing
business. It can be your business card, your products and services
brochures, a ready means of direct communication with your existing customers,
a way to target new customers, an interactive presentation or a way to
constantly keep your customer base updated on the very latest developments. Your web site should work hand in hand with any
direct sales effort or advertising campaign. In today's business world
customers have come to expect a web presence as an indicator of the type
of company they have chosen to do business with. Just like with any other
sales effort, the impression you make with your web site is very important
to the image you want to present to your customer.
Take some time and look around the
internet at what your competitors and other companies within your industry
are doing. You will get an idea of what might be expected of your own web
site and it may even help you to plan what it is you should or should not want
present on the internet.
Q: What do I have to do to get
A. The first thing to do is to sit down with me and discuss exactly what
it is you want to do. Together we can determine the size and scope of your project,
your target audience, your time to completion requirements, and some
options on how best to get your message across to the site visitor. At
this meeting we will also determine your needs regarding your domain name
and site hosting arrangements.
It will help me a great deal if you have
some information and materials ready at hand when we meet. Things such as; your
company logo, a color scheme you may prefer, other web sites you may wish
to emulate or draw ideas from, at least some of the existing materials and wording that you
want utilized in your web site and any other specific items or functions you want to
see included in the project.
I will come away from our initial meeting
with some idea of the direction you want to go and the overall scope of
your project. In a few days I will then come back to you with a project
proposal that includes all of the items we discussed, a projected
completion date, and all costs to you relevant to your project. I will
want to meet with you again to go over the proposal, edit it as you may
feel is necessary, and finally arrive at a contract for services.
Upon your acceptance of the contract, I
will begin the initial design phase in which we are seeking to arrive at
an acceptable "look and feel" for the site. It may take several attempts
to get to the point where you can approve the design. Upon your approval
of the site design, I can begin to work in earnest on the project.
Throughout the entire project you will have access to a posted series of
web pages (residing behind stafforddesign.com) which will let you view the
site while it is under construction and monitor progress towards the
completion date. This way I can facilitate small changes early into the
project. However, if there are major design changes that occur
after you have approved the site design it may mean some additional
charges or a contract revision, and possibly a longer time to completion
Q: What is a 'Domain Name'? What does URL
A. Your domain name is what identifies you or your company on the
internet. Every web site has some type of domain name and you will need
one as well. Your domain name may also be referred to as your URL. This is
an acronym for 'Uniform Resource Locater' which is the internet address
for your domain name. Your
URL would look something like this: http://www.mycompany.com.
You can search for a domain name at
www.netsol.com or any
number of domain name registrars on the web. Once you find a domain name
that is available, you can usually register
it right on the site where you found it. Cost per year varies from
one registrar to another, but you should never pay more than $30.00 for a
one year name registration. Some registrars offer domains for under $10.00.
You can also register your domain name for multiple years if you choose.
It is preferable that the domain name
you choose relates in some clear manner to your company or organization.
It will be much easier for visitors to find your site if the domain name
isn't too obscure or hard to figure out. In addition, you should try to make the name
you choose easy for people to remember and to type. If your domain
name contains foreign words or phrases, unusual letters, dashes, tildes,
or anything else that makes it harder to remember or to type into a browser,
you will end up with fewer hits. Many internet viewers are not trained typists.
There are some relatively new domain name
extensions (such as .net, .info, .us, .tv, . biz, and more), but many people
still expect a .com at the end of your domain name. Domains with
the .com extension are getting much harder to find and you may be forced
to consider one of the other extensions. If at all possible, try
to find a suitable name with the .com extension. (Unless you qualify for a
.org extension which is usually reserved for non-profit organizations).
If all this is a bit too much, as your
web designer, I can search for a domain name for you and present you with
some options from which to choose. I can also get it registered and
have it forwarded to your web host. (see below).
Q: What does web site hosting mean?
A web host is the company that owns and maintains the web server computers
which contain your web site and present it to the internet. Unless you or
your company own your own web server and want to host your own site, you
will need to utilize a web host. Very often your ISP (Internet Service
Provider) also offers web site hosting services. Check their web site and
find out if they can meet your needs.
If you prefer it, I can arrange hosting
for you. The company I usually refer clients to for hosting services is:
The hosting rates at Rahsyland.net are very competitive and the service
has been outstanding.
At Rahsyland.net a small to medium sized site (under 20
meg) will only cost $10.00 per month, with a one-time $20.00 set-up fee.
Larger sites cost only a little more. Rahsyland.net can set up all of your
emails, register domain names, acquire an SSL certificate for you and
provide any other internet services you may require.
Q: What is SSL and why might I want it?
A. SSL is yet another computer acronym.
This one means 'Secure Socket Layer'. This is a protocol that allows
private information to be encrypted and sent over the internet securely.
This is important for anyone who collects a site visitor's confidential
information such as credit card numbers, financial history, contact
information or any other personal data through
their web site. Site visitors will recognize SSL pages either because
their browser will warn them that they are entering a secure pages area or
a secure page symbol will appear on their browser. Usually it is a padlock
symbol. Any secure site URL will begin with the designation: https://. If
you don't see the "s", the page is not located on a secured server.
If you are considering an online store,
you should definitely have some kind of site security in your plan. Many
web shoppers are understandably reluctant to enter their financial
information on sites that do not display an SSL symbol. SSL requires that
you purchase a yearly certificate. You can easily do this through your web
site host. SSL certificate prices can vary quite a bit, so shop around a
An alternative to SSL is to use an
outside service for online store payments. These services can save you a
lot of time and headache. One of the more common of these is PayPal. Visit
their site at:
www.paypal.com to learn more about them. Google now also provides a
secure online purchasing option on some sites.
Q: What is meant by page
content or collateral materials?
A. Page content is the written text and photo
or illustrative materials that you require for every different page of your
web site. This consists of all manner of written copy, lists,
descriptions, pricing where applicable, tag lines, catch phrases, form
content and so forth. It is difficult for many customers to acquire all of
this at once. Many companies do not have advertising people on staff or
even someone who has to time to gather all of the materials needed. As you
web designer, I can help you with this. I can make suggestions as to what
may constitute a successful page and even write some of it for you.
However, nobody knows your company, it's products and services, or it's
mission like you and your staff, so I will have to rely heavily on you for
Page content is very much more relevant today for search engine queries.
This includes the actual paragraph text you present as well as paragraph
headers, page titling, (hidden) descriptive text, and more. It is
important to make sure the text presented on your pages contains key words
and phrases that you feel necessary for any possible search engine inquiry
relating to your company, its products or services.
Collateral materials are those items you may already possess that you
currently use to promote your company. This would
include your company or corporate logo, company color scheme (if there is
one), product brochures, business cards, company letterhead or any
other printed sales materials. In addition, you should have some
photographs of products, key staff members (if desired), facilities photos
or anything else you would like to have presented on your web site.
shoot photos for you if you should need it or digitally correct or enhance
Unless you are seeking an entirely fresh
company image, I will work closely with you to make sure your web site
correctly reflects the image you may have created already with your
existing sales materials.
All page content and collateral materials
are needed promptly in order for me to finish your web site by the
projected deadline. Any materials you provide will remain your property
and will be returned to you upon completion of the project.
Q: How do people find
my web site?
A. There are three basic ways for people to locate and visit your web site: They
can type the URL directly into their browser, they can find your site
through a search engine, or they can come to your site via a link from
another web site.
1. Search engine placement: Search engine
optimization and page ranking has become a very important part of today's
business web presence.
This can be both rewarding and frustrating. Rewarding because often your
often find exactly what they are looking for in a search fairly quickly and
easily. Of course, you want them to find your company just as easily and
quickly. At the same time it is frustrating in that the web is now so vast
that you may often get millions of responses to your search query. Trying
to locate one particular company can very often take quite a while if your
web site isn't tailored to fit the most up-to-date search engine
Today's search engines utilize various mechanisms that
search out the page content of any particular web page and judge whether
or not what is found there relates to the searcher's inquiry. As your
site designer, I will work with you to make sure your page content will
be both informative to the site visitor as well as relevant to current search
engine requirements. If you are working with a Search Engine Optimizer,
I can also work carefully with them to assure that each or your pages
presents to search engines in the best possible manner.
You can try to secure premium placement on some
search engines. However, this can get very expensive and constantly has to be
maintained. There are any number of companies, software programs, or hit
generating services that
promise premium placement on search engines. Be careful with these. Some
of them work very well, others are simply come-ons. If you are really
interested in a premium placement service or program, do some research
first. Get on the web and look for reviews or comparisons of the placement
company's products or service. NOTE: Many of the Search Engine companies
have their own hit generating processes. Some of these offer premium
placement or higher hit counts on your web site. Like it often is with so
many other things, sometimes you don't get what you pay for. Be sure to
research carefully any type of pay-per-click option you may sign up for.
2. Off-line marketing: The only possible way for anyone to type
your URL directly into their browser is if they already know it (or can
guess it). You can accomplish this by making sure that your web site is
only one part of your overall marketing effort. All of your other
materials (business cards, brochures, manuals and stationary, trade show
displays, etc.) as well any
other forms of advertising like radio or television spots should have your
URL displayed or mentioned. Put it on your telephone book ads and signage.
If you have company vehicles, make sure it is visible on them as well.
Your sales and marketing staff should be willing to direct people they
come in contact with towards your web site. The more visible your URL is,
the more hits your site will receive.
3. Interlinking: Lastly, site visitors can come to your
site through a link from another site. If you have partners or affiliates,
belong to trade organizations, clubs or associations, or have any other
connections outside of your company, it can help to link to their sites
and in return have them link to yours. Reciprocating linking has been around as
long as the internet and can work very well for everybody involved.
Additionally, one of the factors that a large search engine like Google
uses in their site placement protocol is how many other sites are linked
to yours. This helps them to determine the relative importance or your
site and where it should appear in a search.
As your web designer, I can create small
banner ad links for you (and for your affiliates). I will place these on
your site in such a manner that if a visitor to your site clicks on an
outside link, it will open a new browser window instead of closing your
site. Visit either my 'personal links' or 'partners'
page to see some examples of banner links.
Q: Who will be able to visit my web site?
A. The short answer is that just about anyone with a computer and
access to the internet will be able to visit your web site. However, there
are many different web browsers in use today, different operating systems,
different levels of technical expertise among today's web viewers, and
equipment that ranges from the latest high-end systems back to computers
so old they are little more than calculators. To this we need to add a
wide range of internet access speeds from high-speed direct lines and
cable down to the old 14,400 baud dial-up modems. In short, there is no
Part of my job as your web designer is to
see to it that your site is directed towards your defined target audience
in the best possible way. For example; If you wanted to reach 18 to 35
year olds in a totally urban market, I would be safe in assuming that the
bulk of your viewers would have up-to-date computer systems, the latest
versions of today's browsers, and probably a higher than normal level of
high-speed internet access. This would allow me some leeway to add more
complex visual and functional elements to your site design. On the other
hand, if you are trying to reach a more rural market, I can be confident
that local internet service is probably spotty at best, most rural people
do not automatically purchase a new computer every eighteen months, so I
know I will probably have to build to older browser standards and
machines, and that it is even possible that I am going to have to deal with dial-up
modems as slow as 14.4K bpm.
All of these things will help to determine
how many of the latest bells and whistles your site should contain in
order for the greatest number of your targeted audience to be able to open
the site quickly and view it easily.
For my part, I will generally build a site
to the following specifics: 1024 X 768 optimum screen resolution expandable
to full screen width as desired.
No horizontal scrolling. Coded to be viewable on current versions of Microsoft Internet
Explorer and FireFox and Google Chrome
browsers. I won't build to older browser versions unless you specifically
wish me to do so as the older browsers have too many limitations and
contradictions with other browser formats.
There are some reference sites that can help
you to determine what standards you may wish to build your site to. Check
out these links:
tells what the most popular screen resolutions are)
(This tells what the most popular web browsers are)
Q: Can I update my web site myself?
A. Yes, you can. One option is that you
or someone on your staff who understands and can work with basic HTML code
can make changes to your site or update information. You can
accomplish this through any number of good HTML editing programs available
today. This is the easiest way to maintain your site but it does have some
inherent dangers. If you elect to make site changes yourself, there is a
risk that you may do some damage to the structure of the
site, upset site navigation, or otherwise cause your site to become
disrupted if you are not completely clear on what it is you should be
doing. This can get expensive for you because it often takes me just as
long to locate and repair unintentional site damage as it does to create the site in
the first place.
If you don't really want to mess with
site updates yourself, I can make site changes for you. I will charge you
an hourly rate if the changes will involve some real quantity of my time.
(such as a monthly newsletter, additional new pages, large press releases, or other things of
that nature). We will always have a mutual agreement on the time allowed
to complete these tasks prior to beginning them. However, small changes
that only need five or ten minutes to accomplish I very often don't bother
to charge for.
There is a third option you may want to
consider if your web project is large enough to sustain it. This is a
separate site administrative program that can be created just for you that
will allow you to change text or images on your site without interfering
with the underlying site structure or having to know anything about site
coding. This type of program can be installed on one or more of the
computers in your office and stands alone from your web site. The program
operator can make changes to the site in plain text and upload them in
real time to the site without having a lot of computer knowledge or
A program like this is used to make
changes in pricing or product or service lines for example, but can also
be utilized for most any of the pages on your web site. This way you can
add new photos or graphics or keep text items current and always have a
fresh presentation on your site. Bear in mind that this option can add
several thousand dollars to the price of your
Q: What will it cost to create a web site for my
A. Your cost depends entirely upon how elaborate you wish to make your web
site. The longer it takes to create what you want, the higher your cost.
Take my own site here as an example; This is a fairly small, simple site
consisting of a short Flash intro page, a home page, and five additional first level
navigation pages. There is also four second level pages (such as the page
you are on now), some simple java scripting in a couple of places, and a
small mail handler form. A site like this one could cost from just a few hundred dollars up
to about $2500.00 or so. It will depend on how much you want to place on
the site, what you want to see regarding graphic imagery such as Flash
content, other animation, video, etc., and how much of the content you can supply to help get it done.
On the other hand, if you were to want an
e-commerce site complete with databases, secure pages, administration
program and all of the other bells and whistles, you cost could easily run
into several thousand dollars. (Maybe more). Additional services like
digital photography will add to the cost.
The way to find out about cost is to meet with me and outline what you would like see on your web site and what
your expectations are with regard to finding new business and ROI. Armed
with this knowledge, I will come back to you with a proposal explaining
costs, requirements, time needed, and perhaps some options for you.
Q: How long would it take to create my web site?
A. In most cases a project will take from two to three months to complete
from our contracted start date. This would cover many of the sites you
will find on my portfolio page..
Sometimes a small project can be completed much quicker than that and
larger jobs may run out to as much as five months or even longer.
During the proposal stage of a project I
will calculate the amount of time needed to fulfill all of your
requirements as well as your requested project finish date. Rush jobs
are more expensive.
As is often the case, design changes,
alterations, additions and the like that take place after design
acceptance can add to the time required and push out the expected
completion date. Additionally, page content text and collateral materials
are needed in a timely manner in order to meet project deadline.