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Estimates - Graphics, Design, Content, and Other Silly-Sounding Things

Getting the Best Value

Try us ... you'll be pleased with our cost-effective -- yet beautiful! -- designs!

If created with a focus of displaying a clean visual impression, your web site will be be an exciting way to enhance your business and convey your message. This can easily be done within even the simplest of budgets. All estimates require that we gather an understanding of your needs:

After consulting with you and obtaining an understanding of the information outlined below, we can provide you with an estimate within 3-5 business days, and likely much sooner than that.

Graphics

Pictures, graphics, photos ... any type of artwork. Do you have any graphics already created? Do you need original graphics artwork to be created? Perhaps you have images or photos that can be scanned in and added to your website? This can easily be done, and the images can be converted to web-ready format with relative ease. Additionally, if you have any brochures, flyers, or other corporate/company representations or identifiers, we can convert collateral files to Adobe Acrobat pdf ) format and enable them to be downloaded by your customers or clients.

Content

To many people, the Web seems like a scary place:

  • a peep-hole through which strangers can detect your credit card number and the state of your underwear
  • a foreign country where everyone knows the language except you
  • an evil place land where freaky people do nasty things
  • an intimidating corporate arena where rigid rules apply and you never see a live human being
  • a sea of ugliness and junk with a few small atolls of beauty.

Bear all this in mind when you write content for the Web. Just because you yourself are a happy, savvy surfer, don't assume your customers feel the same. They may be very wary and defensive in the Web environment.

The Web is not a newspaper. We're accustomed to newspaper styles. No problem! We can distinguish the Financial Times from The People's Voice at a glance.

On the Web, norms are emerging, but they're still unpredictable. A crackpot cult site may resemble a corporate site. A respectable small business may have a website like a blind granny's crochet.

Web surfers crave for signals that say 'Trust me, I'm corporate' or 'Trust me, I'm small but honest' or simply 'Trust me, I'm flesh and blood like you.'

For the content provider, this is an important challenge. Here are some ways you can make your website more friendly as well as more credible.

  • Use a consistent style of writing throughout your website.
  • In general, pitch your tone to the softer side of formal. Getting the right tone is treading a fine line. Too formal, and the website seemscold and inhuman. Too informal, and the site can seem frenetic, erratic and pushy.
  • Include frequent invitations to contact you by e-mail, and make it really easy for people to do so. And answer every e-mail within 24 hours. One line today is worth far more than 1000 words three weeks later.
  • Include real names and real photos of real people. Include your real address in an obvious place or on every page.

Maybe you yourself find the Web a scary place. If so, you may be inclined to exclude details that identify you.

But that decision can be balanced by sending many other signals that you're a genuine, approachable, friendly person.

Content  (Have I mentioned CONTENT yet?)

What are the implications for us, as writers of Web content? How can we accommodate the odd site-hopping, surfing habits of our readers? The backwards-and-forwards behavior?

We must make sure every Web page clearly signals 'You are here!' Consistent, self-explanatory context signals are required on every page.

Potential context signals are:

  • the logo at the top
  • the page title
  • the headlines
  • the page design
  • the very first text at the top of the page, and after every headline.

I say 'potential' because it ain't necessarily so.

Imagine a page where:

  • the logo is just 'XYZ'
  • the page title is 'Article, July'
  • the headline is 'About our latest product'
  • the background colour is different from other pages on that site
  • and the first text is 'We are happy to bring you news about our latest product. We are currently updating this page, so next month there will be a brand new look.'

Site-hopping visitors could scan all those items and still have no idea whose website they're on, or what the page is about.

If we sit on the couch browsing three real books simultaneously, the context is always clear:

  • Each book has a unique cover, stating the title and author.
  • Each page has either the book title or chapter title in the header.
  • Every page has a number, and the pages go in sequence 1, 2, 3. . .
  • You can feel the book physically; your hands know whether the page you are reading is near the beginning, the middle or the end.
  • You can flick to the table of contents without losing your place.
  • Each book's font and design is the same on every page.
  • The other two books are lying in full view on the table, open at the page you were reading before.
With no difficulty we can tell that we're dealing with three books, and we always know which one is we are reading at the time. (Reading three real newspapers at once would be a very messy process, but again, we know at a glance which newspaper is which.)

Try to give your visitors the same sense of security on your website.

Logo

A logo is your organization's first great identifier. Most people can actually name a company from it's logo before even reading the words. Do you have a logo? We can help you to create one!

Domain Name and Host

Have you already reserved a domain name? If not, we can do it for you. We will research the choice you have, and if it's available, we will reserve it. If it is taken, we'll do our best to locate something that's as close as possible, while still conveying the spirit of your original choice.

We can also research the best and most appropriate hosting service for your particular requirements. No web-based company is the same ... and so it is with web site hosting services.

Concept

If you have a pre-existing web site, or a specific layout in mind that you can sketch out, or even a list of site examples to imitate, this can be very helpful.

Design

Find a human designer ... one that speaks in your language (not geek-speak!). I read a horror story:

Janine looked more and more distressed as the workshop proceeded. Afterwards, she told me, "My new website is tiny but it's jam-packed with things that shine in the dark and go bang, and it's in frames, and the home page takes a whole minute to download."

When it eventually appeared on screen, the text was almost unreadable, in trendy, shadowed grey on dark brown.

Sure enough, the designer had designed something to within an inch of its life — but what? Certainly not a useable website. When suggested with certain improvements, Janine said that she found it impossible to communicate with her designer. He was consistently deaf to her requests and requirements. He never asked questions. He spoke in jargon she could not understand.

(But oh how he loved designing things!)

"If he's that bad," she was told, "you maybe should abandon this web site and start again with a new designer."

"But I've already spent $15,000, so now I feel I must see it through. If I change designers, that's just throwing my money away."

I am certain this scenario occurs often with small business people when they first enter the Web as players.

Techies talk geek-speak. Techies just want to have fun. Client lacks power, feels helpless. Client gets dropped deep into "it." There seems to be no way out.

The Moral

Find a designer or web provider who talks like a human, listens like a human, and cares like a human. In fact, choose a human, not a self-centred non-verbal power-mad brat.

There's much more at stake than your first $15,000. At this stage you have put your entire business into their hands ... or paws ... or pliers ... or dumptruck.

Choosing a non-communicative designer or web provider is one of the worst mistakes a small company can make. If you're the client, remember that you too are an expert: you know your business, and you know what you want!

They Do Exist

You can be blessed with a web designer who:

  • knows everything
  • talks to you often
  • talks in plain English
  • has great suggestions

Vision

Do you have a mission statement? What are its key points? Besides the mission statement, do you have a specific message that you wish to convey? Finally, what are the most common questions that your customers ask? The site can be designed to target these issues.

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