Web & Graphic Design – Get It Done Right the First Time

Most times when I introduce myself and my business, I see people cringe inwardly. A question comes to their minds and emanates like an aura: “Why should I outsource my web and graphic design when I can create my own look in Microsoft® and save money?” It’s times like these when I feel like a history teacher trying to impart the significance of the Boston Tea Party to a group of students who want to be anywhere but in school.

Web and graphic design are symbiotic entities, two different processes with differing approaches that are essential elements of a modern company’s structure, no matter how many are employed within its organization. A “corporate look,” including logos, stationery, brochures and other marketing materials, and a website, are some of the first things people see that represent your company. Consistency, artistic know-how, and careful planning are the keys to creating a “brand” that plants a positive seed in your prospective clients’ minds, impelling them to patronize your business.

In-house personnel who have no design training are forced to work within a system that dampens creativity and restricts them to the limited abilities of the software to create that corporate look. In addition, the end products of this in-house design, especially website design, can be extremely confusing to those who use them. A website created in Microsoft® FrontPage or even Word, without any alteration of the final product, will most likely only be fully utilized by someone employing Microsoft® Internet Explorer. Netscape, Mozilla, Mozilla Firefox, Opera, and Konqueror users, just to name a few, may not be able to enjoy the functionality of your website, nor may they be able to purchase products from you if your programming is not flexible enough to support their browsers.

You and your company should recognize early on the limitations of the more popular programs as well as the limitations of the person(s) who will be creating your corporate look as far as experience in graphic design techniques and the language/coding behind all of a website’s glitz, glamour, and functionality. For example, creating a website in a WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) program may give you what you want visually, but the file and graphics may not be optimized to use the least amount of bandwidth (load quickly so they don’t go to someone else’s site) and simultaneously give the viewer a pleasurable using experience. In the same vein, graphic design of stationery or a brochure without properly optimizing the graphics will produce more costly headaches for your company when the printing company charges you extra for fixing your files.

Companies that think doing web and graphic design in-house will cost them less will actually spend more time and money by creating end products that aren’t satisfactory and have to get them redesigned.

Other costs to consider include the time and effort it takes to:

o find affordable server space if you don’t have your own

Internet-accessible in-house server,

o update your website as needed,

o upload your files securely to the server, and

o train your personnel to create and maintain it all.

By outsourcing the vital corporate marketing elements of web and graphic design for your website and corporate look, your company will save money on staffing efforts, training, benefits, and full-time payroll costs and get products that best represent your company. Isn’t a higher ROI and better corporate standing just what every company looks for to stay in business?

10 Website Mistakes to Avoid for the Small Business Owner

1. Not having a website!

In this era of technology, not having a website may make your business
(and you) seem amateurish. Some people believe if you are not on the web, then you are not serious about your business.

2. Letting the kid down the street design your site

If you are going to invest in a website, get it done by a professional. A poorly designed website reflects poorly on your business.

3. Not making your website user friendly

Is your website easy to navigate? Can visitors find what they are looking for quickly? Do you have any broken links? A frustrated visitor is a potential customer who will turn elsewhere to satisfy their needs.

4. Not making the site search engine friendly

Millions of people (including you) search for products and services on popular search engines such as Google and Yahoo. If your competitor ranks #2 for “babysitting services Boston” and you rank #200, your competitor will get more traffic…and more clients.

5. Not updating your website regularly

A stale website is like a stale piece of bread, unappealing. Give your visitors a reason to come back weekly if not daily.

6. Not knowing your website statistics

You can not measure the effectiveness of your website if you do not know basic stats such as amount of visitors and page views.

7. Not promoting your website constantly

Place your website on business cards, letterhead envelopes and any company documents.

8. Not checking your competition

Check up on your competition regularly by scouring their website for anything that can benefit your business.

9. Not keeping track of web developments

User generated content, social networking, blogs, vlogs, podcasts, etc. You may not need all of these on your website but you should at least know what they are (Your competition does!)

10. Convincing yourself it’s not worth the effort

Maintaining a website requires a consistent level of work, even if you outsource its development. However when your website stands out from the competition, so will your business.

How to Select a Web Design Company

Today’s businesses have come a long way form the mom and pop stores of a few decades ago. In fact, in today’s society, many of the stores that were once able to only reach the people who lived within a reasonable driving distance are now selling their products to consumers world-wide and don’t even have a physical store set up in the local business district.

Of course, most savvy business owners know this is possible, thanks to the beauty of the Web. However, while there are many successful web businesses out there, it is not a skill that one just picks up and implements into their New Jersey business plan without a bit of work. Fortunately, there are an abundance of companies in Boston, New York City and all across America who excel at designing web pages and have teams of people who work with the business owner’s website to see the site gets plenty of guests– often far beyond the clients expectations! So if you are considering having a web page built to promote your business, then you will want to choose a web design company that you can count on. In fact, you want them to build a site for you that will keep your site guest’s attention. This is because studies show that when it comes to retaining a potential customer’s attention and interest in your website, you only have 8 to 10 seconds to make your web pitch.

As you begin looking for a company, keep these factors in mind:

  • In talking to a web design company, be sure you ask to see their portfolio. Not only will this let you know more about their work, but you want to use a company that has plenty of experience.
  • As you look through their portfolio, note what types of businesses they have created websites for. Also do all the sites look the same? Remember, you are paying them to design a custom page, not just a cookie cutter template.
  • When you contact the company, pay attention to how long it takes them to respond and by what method-phone, e-mail, fax, chat, etc. If you prefer to do business in person and the design company does not, you would probably do best to find another provider.
  • Be sure to ask about the prices-even if the first interview is free- and to understand what the cost includes. Also, if you can’t afford everything you want your website to include at the beginning, consider having the site built in stages so it can be updated over time. Do not, opt for a cheaper designer, like anything else, you get what you pay for.
  • When talking to a website development company, be sure to find out if they will help you market your company. This can be done in a variety of ways, but the two most important is the use of Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing.