Why Hire a Website Designer? Can’t I Do It Myself Cheaper?

Written by Ival on September 16th, 2012. Posted in Website Design

The cost of hiring a website designer is something that crops up regularly. Especially with all the television adverts showing you just how easy it is to build a website (even a complicated ecommerce shopping website) – if only you sign your life away with the company producing the commercial.

So why should you pay a website designer instead?

Can’t you just use WordPress or the even easier Flash based services like Moonfruit?

Won’t that work just as well?

Regardless of whether you’re talking about a startup website or a bigger one, there are pros and cons to using a website designer versus a DIY build it yourself approach.

The free or cheap services out there are good for home sites such as your personal blog where you natter about what you’ve done recently and upload photos for friends and relatives to see. But, to be honest, if that’s all you want to do then you’d get almost all the same benefit from a simple Facebook page.

But a business website is a representation of your business on the internet. Increasingly it’s the first “shop front” that customers will encounter.

Which means that if the foot of the page says something like “free website provided by… “, your potential customers will immediately know that you don’t much care about how your business is represented on the internet.

If you’re a plumber or other word-of-mouth type business, that may work fine.

But for almost anyone else, this DIY approach is likely to backfire.

Unless you don’t value your time, there will be a learning curve associated with your “free” website. The person showing you what to do on the 30 second advert practised for hours to make things look as easy as they claim. And if you’ve done ten or twenty similar sites already, it probably is that easy.

For instance, an experienced website designer can properly set up a WordPress website in under half an hour. That would include all the tweaking to sort out the stuff the default installation puts on the site, installing a variety of plugins to help stop spam, make contacting you easy, make the on-site SEO work like a dream and maybe even change the header on the default theme so that it matches your image.

Then they’ll spend quite a bit more time making sure that all the content is added to the website and is properly optimised so that Google’s robots will drool with enthusiasm when they crawl it.

You’ll spend the first few hours trawling YouTube for some decent tutorial videos, struggle to follow some of them when they skip over a vital step or something’s changed since the video was shot, and so on.

In the same way that you wouldn’t tinker with a modern car yourself apart from adding fuel and checking things like the tyre pressures, the same goes for a creating modern website.

It’s actually cheaper in the long run to pay a modest fee and get a properly installed website up and running. It will almost certainly be quicker as well – you’ve paid your website designer so they will do their job whereas if you’re creating your own site there’s a good chance that you’ll leave it until tomorrow. And the day after. And the day after that.

So the simple answer to why hire a website designer rather than do it yourself is that you’ll get a better job done, faster and less fraught than trying to do it yourself.

You can always specify that you want to do any updates to the site yourself, such as adding new blog posts on a regular basis. That’s different because the basic framework will already be there, ready for you to use.

But the initial site creation is best left to an expert so that it’s done to specification, on time and on budget.

Deep down, you know that makes sense!

How Web Developers Can Improve Front-End Performance

Written by Ival on September 16th, 2012. Posted in Website Design

Unfortunately, many web developers tend to forget about optimizing their work for improved performance, but the reality of the situation is that organized, valid code ensures the compatibility of the website. Not only should a web developer focus on preparing their code to be read by other developers, they should also be preparing it to be read by web browsers.

Use these tips to improve the front-end performance of your website:

Move JavaScript to the footer of the page – This is, by far, the easiest and quickest thing a web developer can do to improve the performance of a website. This will cause the other elements of the page to begin loading before the JavaScript, which can make the overall page load faster.

Put the CSS at the top of the page – Placing the CSS before anything else is, ultimately, just as important as placing the JavaScript at the bottom – CSS often contains background images that require another round of server requests (getting these started as soon as possible is vital to performance), and the page will render as soon as the CSS is ready.

Compile and minimize your CSS and JavaScript files – Whilst it may make sense to a web developer to use several different style sheets and files, it can be a nightmare when it comes to the front-end performance of your website. Instead, you should compile all of your CSS into one file and all of your JavaScript into another, then minimize them both. It may seem like a pain to do this, but the improvement in performance will be huge.

Watch out for third-party scripts – These days, many web developers will include third-party scripts and widgets on their websites that will load data from other servers (such as the Tweet button, the Facebook fan button, and the Share This button). Many of these widgets actually make a large number of requests and block pages from downloading, so it is always better to use them sparingly and to install asynchronous widgets wherever possible.

Measure your results – There are a number of tools on the market that are designed to help web developers measure the performance of their website. In this way, you are able to see whether the site is performing well or not and where any changes are needed to improve this.

It is highly important for web developers to take front-end performance into account when beginning work on a new or existing project. After all, you would hate to be penalized by the search engines for having a website that takes an excessive amount of time or simply refuses to load. Not to mention the reaction of your visitors who are forced to sit there and wait. Web developers need to stop and take notice, then work accordingly.

Top Seven Tips for Choosing a Professional Web Designer

Written by Ival on September 15th, 2012. Posted in Website Design

Website has become a great way to target a wider market for businesses dealing in retail or wholesale sector. Even the brick and mortar businesses are relying majorly on their websites to attract more prospective buyers. With a huge scope of enhancing business opportunities through a website, it is essential to have an attractive and unique web design.

Many businesses are taking help of professional website design studios to make it interesting, alluring and eye-catchy for prospective buyers. If you are looking for a website design company, you would be lucky to know that there are many design studios that are dealing in providing website design services. They boast of a team of designers who have the right aptitude and approach to offer innovative website design solutions.

While you are making a search, it is important for you to hire only a professional web designer so as to give a classy, commercial and wonderful look. Let’s consider the top seven tips that are mostly taken into consideration while choosing a website designer:

1. Regardless of location and proximity, a website designer must communicate all the essentials of a design for your approval.
2. They must have experience of working in your business domain and industry.
3. The expertise in using different web design tactics is also vital to make your web design possible.
4. Consult with professionals about their capabilities in presenting a simple idea into a unique way.
5. Share your budget limits with them so that they can customize a unique solution that can still has a great appeal and attraction.
6. Check if you are comfortable in talking with a web designer for sharing any new idea that can make the design of a website better.
7. Gaining knowledge about their previous work will be an added advantage to understand their capabilities and success stories.

While you are sure that a particular web design studio will be successful to provide you a web design solution that can give a boost to your presence online, you can go ahead with the deal. However, you must ensure that the company also use SEO tactics to make your site SEO and user-friendly. This will be great advantage as SEO optimized website design will have better chances of appearing on top of search engine results, and eventually gaining more traffic and sales leads towards a business. So, you can now use the above mentioned tips and make your search quicker.

Using Information Architecture and User Experience to Design Websites

Written by Ival on September 15th, 2012. Posted in Website Design

According to the instated definition of Wikipedia, Information Architecture (IA) can be defined as the “the art and science of organizing and labeling websites.” Supporting the usability factor in website designing, the information architects focus on collating the principles of design and architecture to the digital landscape. Coined by Richard Saul Wurman, the term “information architect” is completely different from the user experience. The information architecture typically constitutes of the model or concept of information that is used and applied for addressing the unambiguous details of the complex information systems. As per Jessie James Garrett, IA facilitates in effective communication. However, the same resource (Wikipedia), explains the term User Experience (UX) as “the way a person feels about a product, system or service.” The feeling also includes the person’s perceptions of the practical aspects of the product such as the ease of use, usability, and efficiency of the system. Taking the Information Architecture as the foundation of user experience, the website design is brought to a complete new level.

The term Information Architecture is an old term compared to the web. Focusing on the structure of the content and organization of structure, the websites are organized to help user navigate through seamlessly. From simple brochure formats to complex information systems, the architects create usable content infrastructure out of the complex sets of information. Using the user centered design methodologies, the Web Design And Development Companies construe usability tests, persona research and user flow diagrams to create the frameworks. However, this is only a part of the UX design.

On the other hand, the UX design takes this informational framework and considers factors of navigation and its ability to enhance engagement. Employing a user-based design, the Web Design And Development Companies are able to produce cohesive, desirable, and predictable emotional effect on their target customers.

The emotional tug ensures that the user elicits a sensitive response contextual to the website. The UX website designers make things more profound, laying emphasis on the users and their emotional content. Encompassing the whole spectrum, the UX is IA, mixed with usability, content strategy, and creativity. Or rather as Darren Northcott puts it, the love child of Information Architect and Creative Director is UX.

Difference between the IA and the UX designers

The IA designers will conduct competitive analysis to generate page flows, sitemap, and wireframes. Usability tested, refined, and revised, the workflow then proceeds to the website designer to be implemented. The UX designers consider the IA’s workflow and consider the emotional objectives of the user. The competitive analysis is based on the interactivity levels rather that layout and structures.

Building on the structure provided by the IA, the website designed takes the user experience to complete new level. It is important to connect both creatively and emotionally and this is what the website designed collating both IA and UX achieve.

Seven Types of Web Design Business Models

Written by Ival on September 15th, 2012. Posted in Website Design

Are you interested in starting an online business using a web design? Maybe you’d like to make some money online? There are the many different ways of earning money online, below are seven of the most widely used web design business models.

Creation, maintenance and management of each web design varies and ultimately so do the amounts of profit. Which website business model you choose will depend on how much time, money and effort you want to put in up-front.

1. High Traffic Advertising Website.

One of the most widely used online business models it is the sole source of profit for many companies.

Websites that use this business model aim for lots of traffic and then display some form of advertising on their site in exchange for money.

Revenue is generated in three ways:

Cost per impressionCost per clickFixed rate space

Advertising services like Google AdSense make it very easy to add all forms of advertising to almost any website. Many websites based on this model use targeted content and targeted advertising that is subject or demographically specific.

Positives: Easy to kick start.Negatives: Need lots of traffic of lots of targeted traffic.

2. Commission or Fee Based Brokerage Website.

The best example of this kind of website is eBay. The brokerage model brings sellers and buyers together by providing a service that will make their transactions easier. While the simple affiliate website model just brings buyers & sellers together, the brokerage website model adds a layer between the two. This is usually a transaction broker or a market place where potential buyers can find what they’re looking for.

Brokerage websites charge a fee or commission for each individual transaction processed. This is a very powerful model because you are simply delivering technology and don’t have to deal with actual products.

Positives: Massive potential.Negatives: Expensive & challenging to set up.

3. Product Sales or Merchant Website.

Pretty sure everyone is familiar with this website model. One of the most successful examples is Amazon.com. Merchant model websites are used by all the major online good & services retailers. In some cases the website is simply a web storefront for a traditional high street retail establishment but increasingly companies exist solely online or operate directly from a warehouse.

Overall, this website business model can yield the highest revenue. You can control the prices and also get to keep a large portion of profits as you own the products sold. The disadvantages are quite clear: Since you own the products, there is a lot more work involved. You need to provide support and worry about delivering the products in a timely manner. It also has a high level of risk because of the high investment needed to run the online store.

Positives: High revenue streamsNegatives: High investment input

4. Subscription Service Website.

With this type of website business model companies charge a daily, weekly or monthly rate. This type of business model is extensively used by magazines and newspapers and is gaining huge popularity with companies using a subscription format rather than a one-time fee.

Pay as you go subscriptions, where users sign up & pay for as long as they keep their subscription are proving to be an effective web design business model. It provides company’s with an on-going income which they can then use to improve their service and attract more customers.

Positives: Continual income streams.Negatives: Needs to be updated & improved daily.

5. Affiliate Marketing Website

This web design model needs huge volumes of targeted traffic to be a huge revenue earner. While the general web design advertising model rewards the website owner for simply advertising, this website model is based on user clicks and sales on other people’s sites that result from them. For example, if a company sells a product for £100 with an affiliate rate at 50%, buying it through the promotion on your website would earn you £50.

Owning an affiliate marketing website is a great way to earn money simply because there are no messy services or products to manage. All you need to do is simply to promote the chosen products or services and wait for the sales to come in. Many people use this website business model to earn money in their spare time.

Positives: No products or services to manage.Negatives: Can take a long time to build traffic.

6. Information Resource Website.

This kind of website earns money by charging people for information. A lot of eMarketers have made plenty of money using this simple information model. The overheads involved for individuals using this website model are virtually non-existent.

Recently this website model has been used for premium blog posts where readers are encouraged to pay a small fee to gain access to private information. To make this to work you need to be well established and have a trusted reader base. This model also makes use of the subscription website model highlighted in paragraph 4.

Positives: Continual income streams.Negatives: Needs to be updated & improved daily.

7. Community Based Website.

The Community based website model is of course as the name suggests, used to build communities of users who interact with each other.

Most of the time basic features are free with premium features coming at a cost. This website business model can be similar to the subscription business model but usually varies slightly in its functional outcomes. For example, open source communities might provide their software for free but then charge for support.

Positives: Can take off exponentially.Negatives: Takes a while to build a community.