ART OF GRAPHIX: Websites which deliver answers

By Deidre Bastian

Most business owners are aware of the benefits that come from owning a website, but perhaps do not know how to create one. They are left with no other choice but to hire a web designer, a big step in the right direction.

Many visitors will never make it past your home page due to bad design, poor navigation and confusing content. Or, more bluntly, your page just does not “float their boat”. So it is important to have some knowledge of the validity of your goods before placing the order.

It is wise to pursue this screening cautiously, as not all website designers are considered equal, especially since there are so many self-proclaimed experts. Asking a few questions is not a bad thing.

Listed below are a few questions you may wish to ask before signing a contract that you do not understand. This topic will be dealt with between two articles.

Question: What strategies will you use to generate revenue for my site?

Answer: If your site is e-commerce-based, then the company selected should be equally as concerned as you are about generating revenue for your website. However, the results-oriented strategy should be in line with your goals and appropriately positioned to grab the visitor’s attention.

Q: How will my project be managed?

A: Typically, a website design process includes four stages: (a) strategy/research; (b) design; (c) site developmen; and (e) launch and evaluate. Ask whether there will be a specific contact person, timeline stages and progress reports used to manage tasks.

Q: What are the web designer’s qualifications?

A: Feel free to ask for samples and discuss the expertise of the company.

Q: Website completion

A: The typical turnaround time for a website design is based on the scope of work required, and how quickly information is provided. Inquire about turnaround time and what happens if the target date is not met.

Q: How much input will I have?

A: During the initial consultation stages, most firms work hand-in-hand with clients so as to meet the customer’s request, which avoids settling for a site that resembles the competition.

Q: Website Expansion

A: It is critical that your website be constructed for expansion and scalability without having to pay redesign costs, especially if your company wants to add new products or services in the future.

Q: Pricing for work outside the project’s initial quote.

A: Discuss costs, whether it is a flat project price or an hourly rate, but keep in mind that prices are based on experience and expertise. In life you get what you pay for, and website design fits within this theory.

Q: Will my website be compatible with smart phones, tablets and other mobile devices?

A: Mobile websites are a must for businesses with an online presence. For example, a responsive design can be used to accommodate all visitors, whether accessing it from a desktop computer or a mobile device.

Q: Testing website design for cross-browser compatibility.

A: Visitors will view your website from a variety of browsers, so you will need to establish cross-browser compatibility testing between the three most popular – Internet Explorer, Mozilla and Netscape.

By identifying and resolving issues before your website reaches the Internet, ensures it reaches the largest audience possible.

Q: What about content?

A: Many web designers (and clients) focus on design and forget about content until later, which is a costly mistake. A successful website is one that communicates effectively and aims to convert website visitors into clients.

Q: How can I make future changes to the site?

A: This is incredibly important because if you want to make a simple change to something like a phone number, address or even pricing information, it is best to know whether it is possible to do it yourself and whether you will be charged.

Many designers will build a simple ‘content management systems’ (CMS) so that customers can make their own changes.

However, if a client is not familiar with using a live content management system to make future updates, then training may be suggested.

Q: Can you construct e-commerce services?

A: If you are thinking of selling products online, ask about other e-commerce services such as shopping carts, adding discounts ability, and support for multi-currencies and customer interaction.

Q: Social media

It is advisable to have your new website sync with Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn for media feedback.

Q: Web standards and practices

A: This may seem silly, but not every web designer understands best practices. To ensure your website works on all operating platforms and in all browsers.

Inquire whether the web design firm is on the CSS and HTML standards established by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C), thus ensuring site coding complies with its standards.

Until we meet again, fill your life with memories rather than regrets. Enjoy life and stay on top of your game!

• NB: Columnist welcomes feedback at deedee21bastian@gmail.com ABOUT COLUMNIST: Ms Bastian is a professionally-trained graphic designer/marketing coordinator with qualifications of M.Sc., B.Sc., A.Sc. She has trained at institutions such as: Miami Lakes Technical Centre, Success Training College, College of the Bahamas, Nova Southeastern University, Learning Tree International, Langevine International and Synergy Bahamas.


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