How to get a great web site design and price

Apple.

Image via Wikipedia

OK, I’ve written about this topic extensively for film and video. And you know what? The principles are the same for web design.

If you ask three web designers for a price, you get what? Well, three different ideas, three different prices.

How to get a great web site design and price?

How can you get your web designers to bid on apples and apples, not apples and oranges?

  1. You start with three web designers whose work you like.
  2. You send each the same specifications (specs).
  3. You choose the bid you prefer, whether it’s based solely on price or not.

So, how to come up with the right specs?

Follow this checklist:

  1. # of pages
  2. # of forms needed (e.g., sign-up)
  3. would you like to be able to make your own changes to the web site? (This will tell your designer whether to use a content management system, or CMS)
  4. ecommerce? (e.g., are you doing to be selling items on your web site? How many?)
  5. do you need a blog?
  6. do you need photography?
  7. do you need a logo design?
  8. what’s your style? clean and spare? elegant? simple or wordy?
  9. are you including video? Does the video exist yet, or is that part of the package?
  10. do you need writing? (This is highly recommended! and not all web designers provide writing.)
  11. Do you need search engine optimization? Search engine marketing? They’re two different things, and if you’re not sure what each means, then you need an expert to help you.

Of course, this list isn’t foolproof. You may have a logo made by your son-in-law that you think is spectacular, but doesn’t work on the web. Or in print. A good logo designer will make you a set of logos good for every reason and season.

Also, your designer may recommend a different number of pages or photos. No matter. You’ve asked each of three companies to bid on the same specs, which will tell you a lot.

However, please don’t judge your bidders solely on price. Take a look at what they can do. Meet with each one. Determine whether there’s “getalongability” … you’re going to be working with this person or company for at least a few months (maybe more), so make sure you’re comfortable. Some folks select web design companies on price alone … and I can’t tell you how many really bad web sites come of that.

How to save money on web design in Virginia

The City of Williamsburg‘s Economic Development group used to offer small businesses an economic incentive to creating websites. However, this program and one like it in James City County seem to have given way to other programs, probably with the emergence of DIY and other cost-saving technology.

I’ve left this link up just to let you know, in the event you’re coming from one of our external links.

If you do hear anymore about this, please use our Contact page to tell us about it.

Keep in mind, however, that DIY opportunities such as Wix and WordPress templates don’t help with your need for content development and search engine optimization. Give us a call if you want to know more.

Thanks!

Happy Valentine’s Day to Basecamp

Google love

Robert Indiana’s Google Love

I usually run a search engine measurement tool once a day for Basecamp Productions … just to see where my key words stand compared to those of other businesses. I do this for each of my clients’ sites as well. But, thanks to a couple of weeks in California and some computer glitches, I hadn’t run my measurement software in nearly three weeks. (more…)

"Do I need a web writer?"

What ever happened to white space used well??

What ever happened to white space used well??

We get this question a lot: “Do I need a web writer?”

My answer is always, “Yes.”

  1. It takes a good web writer to write economically (i.e., not too much but not too little).
  2. A good web writer knows how to jumpstart your web site’s search engine optimization (by using words and phrases that your potential customers and qualified leads use to search for services like yours).
  3. It takes a good web writer to treat your business objectively, giving it the content that will bring your target audience(s) to your website.

Traditionally, graphic design has been orderly: a copywriter writes the copy and a graphic designer makes it visually sing.

Somehow, this orderly universe was disrupted in 1996 or so by the incredible speed with which the Internet crashed over all of us.

The geeks — the ones who knew how to program a web page — found themselves in control of this new world. Because they didn’t know anything about graphic design, their pages looked pretty bad — and they simply required their customers to provide copy, which usually wasn’t any better.

Most small- and medium-sized businesses didn’t know enough to hire their own writers, or a producer to oversee the process and a designer to ensure that what was programmed was actually any good.

And, in some pockets of this world, this is still how business is done.

We want you to be happy with your final web site, and for nothing to be left out or forgotten in the process. And even though you may not know design principles, you know what you like. Basecamp Productions gives that to you.

In short, we let designers design and writers write. Your budget won’t know the difference, but you will. We also provide a producer to oversee the process — all at no additional cost to you. Call us today. 410.404.5559.

Video 101: Review your needs before writing the script

A CD Video Disc (playing side) produced in 1987.

Image via Wikipedia

Always review your needs before writing the script

Planning a video or film for your business is just like planning anything else. The more prepared you are, the better the process will go and the happier you’ll be with the final product.

In video and film, you have an added bonus: the more prepared you and your producer are, the lower you can keep your costs. Follow the steps below and you’ll be well on your way to executive producing your next video or film. (more…)

The wave of the web future

Columbia Journalism School building; photo by ...

Columbia Journalism School

I shared a Facebook link this morning to a PBS story about a new degree program at Columbia University, Medill School of Journalism that will create journalist/programmers. To me it made perfect sense, and I said so. I immediately heard back from an old friend.

“Geeks instead of journalists?” he wrote.

“Not instead,” I said. I told him that in my opinion individuals are demanding more control over content than ever before — no longer (if ever) the realm of a programmer.

I also said that, IMHO, writers and designers have historically been separated at birth as far as the web goes. Not for all companies, of course — there are many fine examples of well-designed web sites. I’d say they’re few and far between.

But for the masses? A company generally calls a web design company, who offers a design but no copy — the web design company considers web copy the responsibility of the company. So, as in so many media tragedies, the company calls up its PR person and asks that she or he produce copy for the web site.

Why is this happening when there’s a long history of tight relationships between writers and designers as far as advertising and print collateral? Hard to say exactly, but I think part of it has to do with money and speed. The web has grown so quickly that an infrastructure to support its proper execution has never solidified. Geeks went out and got the jobs that writers and content people didn’t know how to execute themselves. And content went begging.

Not only that, but web designers aren’t always the best people to judge usability. Every time you go to a web site and can’t find the thing you came to find — someone was asleep (or missing) at the wheel.

This scenario is changing, thank goodness. WYSIWYG design programs are getting easier to use even if their users don’t fully understand HTML. Blogging software, incredibly easy for anyone to set up and use, is now fair game for designing full web sites. There are many, many templates available for non-designers and programmers to use. In other words, it’s possible for a content person to “come over to the other side.” Cost, among other factors, has made it so.

Also, web consumers are becoming savvier about what works and what doesn’t. We don’t have that much patience for web sites that don’t work as we need them to. So it makes sense that those who are better at organization, usability, and writing are taking back their birthright.

And, as time goes by, we’ll see the gap narrow even more, as software and e-learning each accelerate. Certainly there will always be a market for technicians, but there will be a larger market for content people who can create anything from an electronic newsletter to an interactive web site at a much lower cost than is now possible.

My friend wrote back, “I hope you’re right. I’m just an old newspaper guy suspicious of technocrats and J-schools on principle.”

I say he and I will both be satisfied with the outcome. The medium will always be the message, and the message needs to be controlled by the many.

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