Thursday, September 10, 2015

What Can A Web Designer Do That I Can’t?

A short article about why you may want to think about hiring a professional website designer.
So what’s the difference between a professional web designer and me?
Corrections and Fixes
One of the first things is that a  web designer will always know how to correct any problem that may incur.  For ex. recently I had a client whose site was apparently hacked. Google had sent me a notification and was going to start flagging the site if nothing was fixed. After reviewing the site, I found that it was not the site, but his domain name that was hacked. So I corrected the problem and everything was fine. 
This was a problem that could have caused real damage for my client. But if he didn’t have me, as his designer under retainer, he would have never been able to solve this on his own and could have had his site flagged.
Could you have fixed this?
Designing with SEO in Mind
Having a nice looking site is fine, but if it is not SEO friendly, the design could work against you.
Proper heading tags, bolds, font sizes, image tags, and original content, all play a role in good SEO basics. The quality and quantity of links, and layout of containers and images, could also hurt or help you.
UI = User Interface
UX = User Experience
 The user interface (UI) comprises the screen menus and icons, keyboard shortcuts, mouse and gesture movements, command language and online help, as well as physical buttons, dials and levers. Also included are all input devices, such as a mouse, keyboard, touchscreen, remote control and game controller.
Usability is also a part of the UI. By definition,  it is a quality attribute of the UI, covering whether the system is easy to learn, efficient to use, pleasant, and so forth.
If your site does not offer a nice UI, the visitor will bounce quickly, and you will lose a potential customer. Web designers know how to design incorporating a nice UI.
User experience is simply, how you feel about every interaction you have with what’s in front of you in the moment you’re using it.
There are many different aspects that influence user experience. A web designer will know how to achieve a favorable UX.
There are certain guidelines for website layouts. The parameters the structure must fit in, accessibility, functionality, visual aspects, and source code validation are a few.  Professional web designers know these topics and incorporate them into their design.  Without these, the website will not function properly across all formats, and also will not offer a good UI/UX for the visitor.
After the site is completed, there is a certain amount of testing before publishing the site. The site must be tested for functionality and responsiveness. It is tested for SEO optimization. It is also tested across different platforms, operating systems, browsers, and devices. These tests will show any issues that can easily be corrected by a professional.
These are only a few things that a professional designer is responsible for and works with on a daily basis.
So if you are reading this and are thinking about designing a site yourself, you should ask yourself a few questions:
– Did I know what all this terminology means?
– If I do know, did I know how much it all affected web design? 
– Am I able to incorporate these topics into a design while still making it look and feel like I wanted to?
– Is the platform I am using capable of letting me incorporate these practices?
As your website will represent you, and your business, and can be one of the most important marketing tools you own, shouldn’t it look and function like a professionally designed site?
If you answer yes to 1 or more of these questions, you should really consider hiring a professional web designer. In the long run, you will have a professionally designed site, that looks and functions correctly. You will also be able to concentrate on your work, rather than concentrating on learning to design for yourself.

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Sunday, September 6, 2015

What Clients Need To Know Before I Start Their Website

An uneducated client is one of my favorites to work with. Not because I can get away with not doing right by them, but because I get to teach them during the website design process. In my experience, those clients feel they have received more value for their dollar, and appreciate all the work I do for them even more.
So I decided to put together a short list about topics that a client should understand when getting into having a website designed for them.
You Should Understand What You Want
Many business owners want a website, but don’t really understand why. Different businesses require different websites. The main action a website built for a clothing or jewelry site wants performed is for the visitor to make a purchase, where as a business that provides a service such as personal training, will want their main action performed to be to make contact.
“The first step in a successful website is to understand its main function for you.”
It May Cost More And Take Longer Than You Think

One of the questions I get asked early on in discussing with a potential client is how long will it take?
There are many phases that I go through before actually getting to designing and building the website. Understanding the business, (or subject), understanding the purpose of the site, and if that’s not correct, then correcting it, and a host of other things.
Potential clients are usually surprised when I tell them I can have a mock up ready for them in three days. That is just the beginning, and then comes the longer finishing process. Most delays come because the client doesn’t realize that they will have homework to do. Bios, images, and all their content, need to be made available. This is usually where delays happen.
Website costs are all over the map depending on who you talk to. Some charge thousands, where some will work for peanuts. People looking for designers on certain search sites, are looking for website costs at $50.00! What do you think you will get for $50? Probably not much. but then again paying $5,000.00 for a simple 3 page site may also be excessive.
Your Website Needs Maintenance

Contrary to popular opinion, once your website is completed and published, it still needs to be maintained. If you just left your website as is from the day it was published, eventually search engines will start ranking it lower. Due to inactivity, a search engine may begin to see it as a dead site. By the same token, search engines will rank sites higher that have content that is constantly being updated.
Images, SEO, and content, all need to be updated regularly. Your site should also be monitored for its up-time and security as well. Your about page also should be updated with any new projects, services, or even accomplishments that have occurred.
For more on good About pages see this article:
Also by having your designer under retainer and paying them a monthly fee to maintain your site, you may be saving money. Most designers will charge an hourly fee for work. If you have a good amount of work to be performed on a monthly basis, a flat fee will be lower then paying an hourly fee. I have clients tell me they feel the amount of work I perform for them is well worth the low monthly fee I charge.
Not Anyone Can Design A Website

I sometimes come across clients who need a redesign, or who have had a friend or someone they know build them a site on a popular commercial site builder. They mostly are looking for information or testing the waters on what a professionaldesigner can offer them. The one main point that they all fail to understand is that the design is not just placing pictures and logos. It is positioning containers, choosing fonts, writing content etc… that is not only appealing to the eye, but also fit certain viewing formats. There are configurations that are proven to lead a site visitor, through your site without losing them.
Now, this all does not just have to just look appealing and then keep your viewer moving through your site, but it also needs to lead them to perform a certain action, and then has to be be SEO friendly!
All these factors get incorporated into every aspect of the design. So while you may know someone who can use a commercial platform, do they really know how to design the site with all these factors incorporated into it?
Content Is King
Since the very first website went live, one thing has not changed. That is, content is everything.
If you think about it, that’s why you visit a website in the first place. To find information. Information is content.
Without original, complete content, your website will not achieve your desired results.
These are some things that I educate my clients in preparation for their new website. As I said most are very satisfied at the end of this process feeling that not only have they learned, but that they have hired a web designer that they can trust with their business, without breaking the bank.
Website Inquiries:

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