Whether you're starting from scratch or already have a Web site, we know you have questions. Here are some of the questions we are asked most often.
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Domain Registration and Hosting
A domain name is the official name used to locate and access your Web site. For example, rareheron.com is our domain name. Without domain names your site would be known by its IP (Internet Protocol) address, something like 184.108.40.206. Domain names are managed by large "Domain Name Servers," which keep track of your domain name and where your Web site actually resides on the Internet. We can help you get a domain name.
Domain name registrars charge a fee to register names of Web sites and update the Domain Name Servers. There are more than 500 domain name registrars out there, some less expensive than others — each with its own set of services, some of which you need and some of which you don't need.
Yes, we can help you register your domain name. Depending on which registrar you use the cost ranges from about $11 to $35 per year. We can help you with this.
Yes, we provide Web hosting services through Tundra Technologies, owned and managed by Rareheron's programmer, Tom Kerns. Hosting accounts typically cost $120/year (large sites with high band-width requirements may cost more). Tom provides reliable, fast, and convenient Web hosting services, along with top-notch customer service! All hosting accounts come with the leading site management software, cPanel. cPanel provides you with an easy interface to manage many aspects of your domain, including managing multiple email accounts, MySQL databases, and ftp accounts. If you already have a Web hosting account elsewhere, no problem. We can leave your site right where it is but you will have to supply us with some information on how to connect to your site. Your hosting company can provide you with that information.
People expect to find information about the companies they do business with on the Web. So if you're doing business you need a Web site. You can say so much more about your company on a Web site than in a hard copy yellow page ad or brochure. Not to mention that Web sites can be updated at any time. If you have a printed brochure or catalog and you wish to change your prices, how much is it going to cost you to reprint and distribute this information?
If you sell products, using ecommerce opens up your market to the world, not just your immediate locale — especially if you sell a "niche" product that may appeal only to certain people. You may find that your product doesn't need a "bricks and mortar" store and you can handle all your sales out of your home or office.
Definitely. We don't tie you to us. You paid for our designs so you own all the graphic elements and graphic source files used to develop your site.
Yes. If you host with us we will help you set up as many email boxes as you want. We can set your email to forward to another address or talk with you about how to view email using a browser and how to download email directly to your computer.
We ask for a deposit prior to starting work. Then as work progresses we invoice actual hours at the end of each month. Payments are due upon receipt of the invoice. At this time we do not take credit cards.
The short answer is "yes, depending." If you want to be able to update your site we'll discuss options available to you. This is an essential part of the conversation before we begin design, because it influences design decisions we make from the very beginning. For certain updating tasks we recommend Adobe's Contribute program. For others we might recommend a small database.
Yes. We maintain sites for many of our clients. And some of our clients do as much as they can and ask us to do what they can't or don't have time to do. We invoice actual hours at the end of each month for any updates we've done for you.
The answer is "yes, we'd be happy to help, if we can." If your site was built using older technologies, FrontPage, or a Content Management System we might have to discuss redesign.
We would be happy to help, but again, with some caveats. If you built your site using some "Web site tonight" software provided by your hosting company the results might not be satisfactory, so a redesign could be called for to get you a professional Web site.
Your biggest role will be putting together the resources we will need to build the site — text, photos, logo, other graphics — and delivering those assets to us in a form that we can easily integrate into your site. (See our file formats page.) You may have company colors or print collateral, and we would like to see those, too.
At the start of the project we also may ask you questions that will help us to decide how to build your Web site. What technologies will be the most appropriate to the information being presented, who your audience is, what kind of feeling do you want your site to invoke? (See Our Approach.)
We also need you to make timely decisions. We find it best for our creative juices, and your pocket book if the site can be built quickly, rather than have the site sit half complete for weeks waiting for more content. To that end, we prefer that you have all your material ready to go when we sign the contract, or shortly thereafter.
We usually finish new Web sites in six-eight weeks. We include an estimated start and completion date in our agreement and do our utmost to live up to those dates, providing you have provided all the content we need and make timely decisions.
As often as you can. Well... you don't want to add gratuitous material, but new content is what keeps visitors coming back and search engines happy. For that reason some people prefer a home page with lots of news and changing images. We think it is good to show fresh content on the top page, but use short teaser text, with links to full-length stories and updates deeper in the site.
If you just don't have that kind of "news" to put on your homepage, you may want to incorporate a "Last updated" statement at the bottom of your home page so people can see there is new content on the site when you update lower pages.
We're most familiar with PayPal but can work with any standard ecommerce system.
Since it's cost-prohibitive to design for any and all browsers our policy is to design for best viewing in the most current browsers from IE, Firefox, Netscape, and Safari.
There are two ways that color is printed on a printing press, either with PMS colors or CYMK colors. PMS (Pantone Matching System) is sort of like paint, where the ink is a particular color. This is great when you are doing a one- or two-color piece of artwork. When full-color is desired, such as for a magazine with full-color pictures, the ink is placed on the sheet with many very fine dots. The dots are only four colors, cyan, yellow, magenta and black — CYMK, don't ask me why black is K. It is the mixing and distribution of these dots on the page that give the impression of continuous color. Take out a magnifying glass sometime and take a look at a color picture in a magazine and you'll see these dots. PMS and CYMK colors are represented in swatch books. Graphic artists use these books to determine which colors to use in their designs. To be accurate, the designer's computer monitor needs to be calibrated to match the swatch book colors.
Online color uses the color model called RGB (Red, Blue, Green). These colors are mixed in percentages to produce the myriad of colors we see on our computer screens. To further complicate matters, monitors may only be able to display a certain number of these mixed colors. When the World Wide Web first started displaying graphics most monitors could only display 256 colors. If you chose a "Web safe" color (one of the 256 colors) it looked fine on the screen. If you used an RGB color that wasn't in the safe palette, the color was represented by dithering multiple dots of color — sort of like the CYMK model in print — but the dithering was much coarser. Today monitors can display many more colors, even millions. So as Web designers, we don't have to worry about sticking to the "Web safe" colors anymore.
But there is still a problem designers face when choosing colors for the Web. Different monitors will display the same color slightly differently. It has to do with the computer's graphic card, room lighting, how the viewer sets their monitor's contrast, etc. Generally Macs show color less saturated than PCs; laptops also tend to show color less vividly than a desktop monitor. So view your designer's work on a number of different monitors before you decide that they "got the color wrong." The PMS or CYMK swatch color you used on your print work may not translate perfectly into RGB.
Not without some thought. If this is important to you we can write custom print styles to ensure that your Web pages print nicely. These style sheets can also be customized so your readers don't have to print out meaningless content. For instance, they don't need the navigation bar in the print out. They just want the content of that page. Also, you can drop out large pictures used in banners which may just chew up people's toner cartridges.
Flash files are a great way to include lots of visual content without taking up much room. If your business lends itself to "taking a tour," a Flash presentation is ideal. If your business needs to "set a mood" or showcase many aspects of your service or product, then a Flash file with changing images on the top page might be a good idea. In these cases, the Flash file is embedded in the .html code, much like a static image. But it does not comprise the entire page. You still have regular .html titles, headings, meta-tags, etc. surrounding the Flash image.
We never recommend building an entire site in Flash for these reasons:
- Depending on how many images you intend to use and how large those images are, Flash files can get big and take a long time to download. How often have you gone to a Web site and seen the ubiquitous "loading..." symbol and waited and waited just to get to see the top page of a site? When all the pages of a Web site are compacted into one Flash file you can really wait a long time because the contents of all the pages have to download before you can start viewing the site.
- Text in Flash files can't be read by search engine robots like text presented in the .html language (regular .html pages). This means you are missing out on people finding your site with search engines. Search engines depend on more than meta-tags and titles. Having good relevant text that repeats those keywords will go a long way towards making sure your site indexes well with search engines.
- While it has improved a lot, text in Flash files still does not render as crisply as it does in regular .html pages. So text is more difficult to read, especially if it's small.
- If people want to print out your pages, they will not be able to print out a Flash file. So if it is important that people be able to print out your pages, do not do the entire page in Flash.
- If you want to do some of the site maintenance yourself, unless you purchase Flash, (a very expensive program) and spend a whole lot of time learning the program, you will not be able to update the site yourself.
- Often, Flash is used gratuitously. I guess that is why it is called "Flash" instead of "really good meaningful content."
Many people avail themselves of free "Web site tonight" or blog templates. And generally, that is what their sites look like — like they were built off a template — with little personalization or ability to add meaningful features. You're stuck with how the template is laid out. Your pictures must be this big, on the left and the text smacks up right next to them. Arrggg!
The other problem is what we think of as the "PowerPoint syndrome." When was the last time you sat through a really good, professional PowerPoint presentation? More likely what you experienced was a mishmash of clip art from multiple sources, a myriad of fonts, garish colors and way too much text per screen. It's sort of the same way with Web sites. Just because you have a tool and a template as a starting point doesn't make everyone a graphic artist, writer, or expert content organizer. It takes time to learn these skills and experience working with the tools to become proficient.
As professional Web designers we may be a little biased here, but we think that "you get what you pay for." Designing and building a user-friendly, attractive, distinctive Web site does take time and talent. Rareheron has been designing and building custom Web sites since 1998 and we think our experience, maturity, and commitment to our clients is worth your investment.
Promoting Your Web site
Having a Web site doesn't guarantee people will find it. Some things to think about:
- Consider Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
- Put your street address, zip code, phone number on every page of your Web site
- Create a free listing for your local business on Google Maps Local Business Center and Yahoo! Local
- Get links to your site from other sites — links from sites that are trusted and highly ranked are best
- Submit your site to the Open Directory Project, Google, Yahoo! Directory, and the new Bing
- If you belong to professional or trade organizations be sure your site is in their Web directory with a link
- Social media: a blog, a Facebook or LinkedIn page, Twitter
- Check out "The Web Marketing Checklist: 37 Ways to Promote Your Site" for more about promoting your new Web site
Good keywords are the words people use when they search for the kinds of services or products you offer. First, think like your customers. What words would you use to find the products or services you offer? You can use words or phrases. But if you would have a word in a couple of phrases, you can probably just have it separately as search engines will combine the words from your keywords. For instance you could use the phrase:
Or you could use the word "Web" alone and "designers" alone and then "Web" might combine with other words like "site" so you could have this list of words, separated by commas.
Web, site, designers
Now if someone looked for "Web designers" or "Web site designers" your keywords would catch both search phrases.
If you are just selling a service to your local area, you would also want the name of your town or city in the keywords. For instance, is someone were looking for an auto body shop, they probably aren't looking nationwide. So adding your town's name to your list of keywords would be appropriate.
Adding the name of your business or your personal name is always a good idea, as people may have heard about you from somebody and search for you that way. So, for instance, we have Rareheron Web Design as a keyword, since it is the name of our business.
There are various keyword checkers on the Web where you can try out keywords to see if they get many hits. Here is one from Wordtracker. You can use it free for seven days. Try different combinations of words to see which ones get the most hits. For instance, "Web designers" turned up 381 hits. "Website designers" turned up 164. So maybe Web and designers would be a better combination of keywords.
The answers to these questions will be different for each of you. That said, we can help you start a Wordpress blog or create a Facebook page. We can also build you an RSS (Really Simple Syndication) feed for your blog or Web site. Twitter — you're on your own.
Another thing to think about with any of these social networking tools is whether you will really keep up with posting to them. And if you are running a true blog, where people respond on your site, do you have the time to monitor the comments? Abuse is rampant in the blogging world. Also, if you embed a blog on your site, you are opening yourself up to virus attacks to your server. The companies that offer this kind of software usually offer security patches, but again, it will be up to you to make sure you install them. So for that reason, we think it is better to host your blog on a third party site offered by blogging providers like Wordpress, Blogger, etc. and simply link to your page on their site from your site. (Our hosting service does not allow blogs on its servers.)