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5 Things to Consider When Choosing a Website Development Company

Friday, August 31st, 2018

In case you want your website to rank highly in the organic search engine, it is advisable to consider hiring the services of a professional SEO company. In addition, to ensuring your website ranks top with the search engine, they will be in a position to help you design a website that sells. The things to consider when choosing a website development company include:

· References and recommendations

The problem with published reference is that no firm will seek to advertise indifferent or bad reference. Nevertheless, you should consider working with companies that offer some form of client feedback. You may also consider getting recommendations from colleagues, business partners or friends. Word of mouth is important in determining the company’s credibility.

· Select a list of website designers

You should consider searching the internet to locate web developers which you may consider working with. Before selecting web designers determine whether you are comfortable working long distance. In case you prefer meeting with the person occasionally, then you may not be comfortable working with a long distance company.

· Skills and qualifications

Whether a company has the necessary skills depends on the aims and objectives. In case you need Flash animation, client login areas, search engine optimization or database design it is important to consider hiring the services of a web design company to produce that work. Before hiring the services of a web developer it is advisable to ask for the credentials of key members or designers. Although the qualifications do not suggest the web developer can handle the job, it offers a fair way of judging their expertise and experience.

· Web designer portfolio

As you search for a web developer, several factors need to be borne in mind when considering the websites and portfolio. Determine whether the websites are user friendly. Furthermore, determine whether the web developer favors high graphics. Determine also whether the samples look similar; this could be an indication the company uses templates and simply switches the graphics and colors to suit the clients.

· Cost

Before contacting a company for a quotation, it is advisable to perform your research. Find out how much websites cost. The price chargeable is an important consideration when choosing a web developer. However, the cost should not be the sole determining factor. In case you see price differences, you must understand that choosing the cheapest offer is not necessarily the best move particularly if you depend on your website to make money. Taking the lowest cost may fail to work out as the best decision.

Do You Really Need Web Design?

Thursday, August 30th, 2018

We all know that sales and marketing is about the numbers. When I started my internet consulting business a year ago, here are what my numbers told me. 10% of the qualified leads that I approached would spend $2,000 or more for web design. Of those 10%, less than half would spend $4,000 or more for a site with more interactivity and bells and whistles. A significantly smaller percentage would spend $6,000 – $10,000 for a decent ecommerce site. I could have developed a good business model around those numbers but my instincts have been telling me that these prospects aren’t necessarily growing.

If you are out there mingling with customers, here’s what you’ll run into every day. Small and medium sized businesses STILL don’t understand the net. Worse, they don’t have the funds or the resources to put up a highly interactive site with ecommerce even if their business warrants it. Most however do know that at some point THEY HAVE GOT TO DO IT. Don’t fault them for dragging their feet. They’re busy! They don’t live on the net like I(we) do. Still many web designers and consultants are astounded by the lack of knowledge businesses have when it comes to the internet. I personally am not so astonished, my business is to deliver the internet as a packaged, obtainable resource.

Small and medium sized business do need help. Web design however is not their first priority nor should it be. Consultants and web sales people need to educate, listen and respond with a web solution. Not every business needs a website (I know…gasp!). If internet technology is not sold with a consultative approach, it’s almost certain that the customer will get something he doesn’t know what to do with. Some customers are completely shocked by the fact that they get a website that is a shell with no content in it and their “web-guy” has left them high and dry. Or a customer gets a website with a powerful content editor that he has no clue how to use. He can’t set up his email. He can’t change the address and phone number fields. He can’t even change the prices. AND he can’t afford to pay someone $120 per hour to do it! He’s stuck and this is happening every day.

One good solution for this is site builder technology. Online site builders are getting remarkably easy to use and can produce stunning websites. Further, all the features of web marketing can be integrated into the sitebuilder tools. Because the entire web solution is contained under one umbrella, the support tools for building, promoting and changing a website are also contained in the system. Many business models now revolve around selling websites on a sitebuilding environment. That doesn’t eliminate the need for the consultant. The consultant is key to developing and promoting the clients’ businesses on the web (using the sitebuilder marketing tools). As simple and straightforward as it appears to be, clients still don’t have the time to spend on a site builder tool (no matter how simple). I would imagine that some day site builder tools will be able to even automate the marketing process.

Still, customers don’t find it difficult to add pages, change text, add articles and a myriad of other things they would never have considered before, when the motivation hits them. That motivation of course is cost. Many business owners find the choice between $120/hour and doing it themselves motivation enough.

Site builder technology does have its pitfalls. Most developers will find sitebuilder technology confining. Ultimately though, the sitebuilder technology is used to sidestep the developer. Choices for the hosting environment are limited to the servers associated with the sitebuilder technology and compared to simple hosting systems usually cost more. However, by marrying the site builder technology with the servers that host the sites, end users don’t need to know anything about server technology, ftp et al. They just need to know how to browse the web. For the average small business the positives far outweigh the negatives. Further, total cost of ownership for a sitebuilder site can be $1000’s of dollars less than custom integrated solutions and marketing support even after years of hosting simply because of the tools they put in the hands of the business owner (allowing the business to support its own web strategy).

Good site builder technology should at least support the following:

1. Customized template driven design. The more templates the better. Custom template design can lead to very fast development and deployment by eliminating the guesswork associated with color combinations and site functionality. The images in the templates should also be changeable to reflect the client’s own business. Good sitebuilders can even offer html support to grant the user more power over page design.

2. Integrated search engine marketing. Form based tools that the client fills in as he builds his web pages can help promote his business both organically and through sponsored search engine programs.

3. Support. Generally a good site builder system has terrific support because everyone is working off the same platform.

Any business serious about the internet will discover that the web site is not a project. The web site is the beginning of a new business PROCESS. It is not a stagnant piece of literature you toss in the wind and hope someone picks up. In that regard, it has to be manipulated, massaged and managed. Good sitebuilder tools will help the client do this. The consultant, the web designer, the web developer, the copywriters et al will still be there but now the 90% of small and medium sized business who can’t afford them have a way to compete!

Popular Web Browsers

Tuesday, August 28th, 2018

Today, users are given many options when choosing their web browser of choice, and it is imperative that your web site displays properly in which ever web browser your customers may be using. Many Net Shift Media clients have asked why it matters what browser they use, and shouldn’t they be able to use any browser to view their web site in the exact same way? and the answer is truly simple… YES!

Microsoft Internet Explorer is losing its hold on the browser marketplace, and with the growth in popularity of Firefox closing in on 15% of the market, you need to consider the way your web site displays in each of the many popular browsers on the web. It can be embarrassing for a client or customer to visit your web site and see that the fonts are a different color, size, or style, and it reflects poorly on your business image. You shouldn’t have to build a different version of your web site for each browser available, and there are a lot!

Web Browser

  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0
  • Microsoft Internet Explorer 5.2
  • Mozilla Firefox
  • Apple Safari
  • Camino
  • Opera

You should be able to visit your web site in any of the above browsers with absolutely minimal difference between the display of your web site in any of the browsers. You may notice some small differences where plug-ins are used, but any layout, font, color, and positioning discrepancies should be fixed by your web developer. We test our web sites in the above browsers and any web applications including content management and intranet/extranets that we develop will work in each of the above browsers.
Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 (Windows) / 5.2 (Macintosh)

Microsoft has discontinued support of IE 5.2 for Macintosh, and just last year started up development of IE 6 (probably due to the growth and popularity of Firefox). The browser is still by far the most widely used browser on the market, but because of its age, it lacks a lot of the appeal and features of the newer, younger browsers like Firefox, Safari, and even Opera. Poor CSS support, Spyware, Adware, and tab-less browsing put Internet Explorer far behind of Firefox and the many other browsers available.

Mozilla Firefox

The best web browser available for Windows computers, Firefox has many new features that make it the best choice on Windows. Tabbed browsing, better security and privacy controls, and maybe the most significant feature… no spyware or adware. What makes Firefox stand out, and far ahead of Internet Explorer is that it is an Open Source product, meaning that the source code for the browser is freely available online, as well as a strongly supported Extension system that allows developers to build their own custom add-ons to the browser to make for a custom browsing experience for any user. At a later date, we’ll list a bunch of extensions that we use at Net Shift Media.
Apple Safari

A strong web browser that comes packages with Mac OS X from Apple, Safari has a lot of the features that make Firefox a stronger browser than Internet Explorer such as tabbed browsing, and better support for CSS, and W3C technologies. It does not offer an extension system like Firefox, however there are a number of plug-ins available to customize Safari to your liking.

Camino

Camino is based off Firefox, but built for use with Mac OS X, – it is the browser of choice at Net Shift Media.

Opera

Opera has been around for a long time, and is now available for free. Opera used to have 2 versions (free with ads, and commercial without ads). The browser falls a little short of Firefox and Safari when it comes to displaying web pages, but is a good browser and definitely ahead of Internet Explorer.

Other Browsers

There are quite a few other browsers available, but most of them use the same rendering engine as the browsers mentioned above, so they will display web sites in the same manner. Some of them include Flock, Konqueror, OmniWeb, Sunrise Browser, SeaMonkey, and the text-based Lynx.

Which web browser should you use? We would recommend Firefox on Windows or Linux, and Camino on Macintosh, but the choice is yours. You should be able to use any browser to view your web site as well as any other web site on the Internet. If your web site does not show up the same in each of the above browsers, you need to take that up with your web developer and find out why.