In the past year, I have had several customers come to me because of one very specific reason - well, more than one, but the one reason that stands out the most is because their website designer was not transparent. What does that mean? It means that the designer or the company may not have been very truthful in what they were doing for their customer, which in turn, actually cost the customer way more money than what they should have been paying. Basically, they were not getting what they paid for. So, here are a few things to think about and remember.
A web host, or web hosting service provider, is a business that provides the technologies and services needed for the website or web page to be viewed in the Internet. Websites are hosted, or stored, on special computers called servers. Web hosting can range in different prices, depending on what type of website you have. In this case, I am talking about brochure sites (mostly informational, not selling items) for small businesses.
Every single customer's website I have ever done, has never cost my customers more than $150.00 per year. The tip here is that I happily explain to my customers that the hosting fees do NOT go to me - I do not have a server, I do not host their website, and I am not one to raise the prices on something that has nothing to do with me, just to make extra money. This is the transparency that I am talking about.
It is very important that your designer explains to you where the money goes, or what you are actually buying. The hosting fee, the domain name fee, app fees... those are external costs. However, there is no finite cost when it comes to the actual service and design work, as this is only specific to the designer or company. If the prices seem high, it may very likely be that you are paying for that company or designer's expertise or artistic skill, which may have taken them many years or a lot of college money to gain those skills, along with certain software or electronics that they use to provide you with the service you are paying for.
One of the most interesting things that I have learned over the years, is that there are some designers or companies who will offer their customers things that they really don't need, just to make a sale. I have heard it all before from some of my customers, about their previous designers. Some designers or designer companies are just like mechanics - they always find something wrong. In my ten years of doing websites and graphics, there were plenty of times that I had told potential customers "your site looks great, I would not change a thing" or "your logo is fantastic, I would not revamp it, just put it out there more to brand it better". Most designers will always try to get a sale no matter what, whether they say they can do better (and some may) or your site is not good enough, or it is missing some things... This is where it is important to "shop" around.
Is Your Website Being Held Hostage?
This is a HUGE thing when it comes to website design - is your site being held hostage? What do I mean - do you have full control of your own website, can you log in to it? Do you have the password? Is it actually registered under your name and your name only? Are you the only administer of your website? These questions also apply to your domain name/names as well.
This is what separates me from most. A customer's website and domain name are that customer's website and domain name, period. When I complete a website, it is registered under the customer, they are the only ones that have the login and password info, they can change them or any content within their site any time they want - they paid for it. The customer also knows who the hosting company is, how to pay that company to keep their website alive, who their domain account is through, how much the hosting and domain cost after the completion of the design.
There are some designers and companies who will keep your website and domain under their name for intentional reasons. That is how they actually do their sites but don't necessarily tell the customer until the customer needs something. Some do it just so that you have no choice but to go through them for edits or changes, which will accrue more costs. And there have literally been some that hold your site hostage, because they are using the domain name, website, and SEO (search engine optimization) under their own accounts, for extra personal incentives. They may actually be charging you a massive monthly fee and may call it "maintenance", even though nothing changes.
The reality is that it is very rare that you find a designer that is fully transparent, and whose biggest attention is that of the best interest of their customer and their business. I offer full brochure websites, logo designs and everything I do, with no hidden fees or agendas. I give out a ton of free information, and I throw in a lot of free stuff. There is literally no reason why you HAVE to pay anyone for maintenance that you can easily do for yourself, unless you simply choose not to, and have no problem paying someone else to do the service. Your website should always be under your control 100%. At JT McCabe Designs, your website is never held hostage, ever. For a FREE consultation with absolutely No Obligations - just contact me. Feel free to share your thoughts in the comments.
Are you a person or business that has tried multiple things like radio shows, coupon books, newspaper ads and more in hopes of gaining more awareness for your business and received very little or nothing in return? If you are a small business or even a medium sized business, your ROI (return on investment) is extremely important in today's economy - every dollar counts.
There are endless different small businesses just like mine, always offering great services just as I do, however, are there things that one can do that will help their business that doesn't cost money? Absolutely! If you are on the computer anyways, why not spend some of that time helping your business, FOR FREE. The following are some links and tools that can help your business, and I highly suggest:
Linked in - The world's largest professional network with more than 433 million members in 200 countries and territories around the globe. What I like about this site is that when you create a profile, it is more like an online resume and yellow pages listing all in one, for your business. While it may be a little time consuming, it is easily worth it to take the time and fill up your profile with as much information about your business as possible. Connecting with other businesses and business people can easily help spread the word about your business and can bring you more business - take a look at my page, Click Here.
Manta - This is a site that is very similar to Linked in. I have used Manta for a very long time, and I have found that utilizing the free platform for your business really boosts up your internet awareness on search engines. While just like every other site, they will offer you extra boosting services, but, we have never indulged in the extra services, and still found that they put me up on the Google search pages. If you take a look at my page by Clicking Here, you will see, and notice once you have filled in all information, that the Manta page is just like a full, one page website that can showcase not only everything that you do, but also your hours, contact information, detailed services or products, and more. Manta is in my list of top three things to do immediately when starting a business.
Yahoo - I know that most people that saw the word "Yahoo" immediately thought, "I already have an email address.". That is great, and you do not have to get rid of your existing email, we just suggest that you create another email through Yahoo, similar to your business name as much as possible, and here's why: Once you create your Yahoo email address, and even if you never plan on using it, but would still be good to open it and look in it at least once per month - being that you have a Yahoo email account, you can now register your business in Yahoo Small Business Directory. This is a great way to add all of your information to the Yahoo Directory. Remember, just because you may be noticed in Google does not necessarily mean that other search engines automatically have that same information. While this tool so to speak may be a little more complicated than Linked in or Manta, it is still very useful. Click Here for a better description and instructions.
Facebook, Facebook, Facebook! - This is THEE Leader when it comes to small businesses, period. Believe it or not, there are a lot of people that have a personal account, but still do not have a business account, or, they have a business account, but may not know some extra things that will help. I will try to go through some helpful tips. First, once you have your business page set up, make sure that your cover photo, a.k.a. your header is displaying your information correctly. Facebook recently changed the way the business page is displayed to the public. It used to be displayed where the profile picture of the business page was covering the bottom left side of your header. Now, it is off to the far top-left of the page on a computer or underneath the header on a smart phone, displaying the entire header picture. With this new change, comes the ability to have your information show complete and clear right in the center of the cover photo - ON ALL DEVICES - if you design it right. Remember, the header is the first thing that people see when they go to your page, so if the whole purpose of your business page is to attract potential customers, and have them contact you as quick as possible, then you should have all of your information in that header in the center. Take a look at mine just to give you an idea, and feel free to look at mine on your phone or computer, and you will see that I designed it to universally look good - Click Here.
Some other tips for Facebook would be to change the background of your header at least once a week, but keep your logo and information the same. Join local groups in your area that allow small business advertising, place ads in them, and make sure to add your Facebook web address. And the biggest thing I see, is that some believe that posting cute stories of cats, dogs, or food, with links will actually help their page. Actually what this does, in my opinion, is distract the reader from your page, and the link actually takes them away from your page, and makes their mind completely change their initial thoughts and intents. I don't want to help the reader who came to my page looking for graphics to suddenly get distracted by a great looking cake that can easily be made if they go shopping - which they may decide to go shopping immediately, and we are suddenly put in the back of their mind or completely forgotten (enter sad face here).
Finally, and we know this is a lot of reading, but hopefully well worth it, join and set up other social media sites, even if you would rarely use them. Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest.....The more streams that you set up with as much of your business information as possible, the more internet awareness you will have, and all it takes is a little time and No Money you have to spend. There are more tips coming soon, in a different blog, so check back soon. Have any thoughts, comments, ideas or tips that we forgot? Post your comments.
If you are a small business, new or old, and you need design work like a website, advertising, marketing, social media management, flyers, business cards, logos......how do you know which design company is going to be the best company to create the work that best represents what you want? Well, I know this can be confusing, especially with new design businesses popping up all the time, so I have some information that may help you make the best decision.
1) The design company's website says a lot! Go to the company's website - how does it look - professional? Is it attractive? Does it grab your attention immediately? Is it complete with all pages and graphics? Is it easy to read, follow and navigate? Does it tell you enough information about the company, it's workers, and it's work? Would you like a site just as good as they have? These are the questions to think about - and typically, the quality of work you can expect is shown in the company's website. If their website looks high quality, that is what kind of work you will get - this goes for the opposite too.
2) QUALIFICATIONS - Are they a "Fly-By-Night, Youtube learner? Don't get me wrong, a huge portion of my training was Youtube and other video tutorials, however, I also have a degree from a highly accredited college that specializes in the arts - The Art Institute of Pittsburg. And while one can learn an awful lot from videos, what is not necessarily taught in videos is understanding color concepts, the power of hierarchy, color schemes, trending designs, design concepts and practices, and so on. So, is a degree in graphic or web design important - we tend to say yes - if the company took the time to better learn and master their craft, you know that they will take the time to master the work they do for you as well.
3) References - Take a look at their work for other customers - what kind of work did their other customers get from this company? Is it the same kind of high quality? Are you able to actually call this company's other customers and ask them what they think of the work they received? Does the design company make it easy to contact their previous customers? A good reference from a previous customer can go a very long way.
4) Does the company have and exercise their full knowledge of graphic design on multiple platforms - You may benefit from a company that does more than just websites. Some companies make sure that they know every in and out of not just a website, but graphics, as to the many different formats of graphics, like png, pdf, psd, jpeg......If the company offers Facebook Management, take a look at their Facebook page - are they truly placing great graphics and ads on their own Facebook page, or are they just sharing cute links and videos of kittens, last night's dinner, local news gossip.......How large is their pallet of colorful skills? We believe that a company that offers multiple services in the graphic design field, will have way more experience with every aspect of design.
These are of course, just my opinions and thoughts - and by no means, would I ever claim to be the best. In fact, their are design companies that are my competitors, and I am actually envious of or inspired by them. But when you come across multiple companies that you deem good, your decision may come down to budget and style. Keep in mind, one of the biggest misconceptions, at least in this field, is you get what you pay for. Just because some companies are more expensive than others, does not necessarily mean that the more expensive, the better work, or the opposite. Some companies have a lot more overhead, so they have no choice but to charge higher prices. Some companies charge very little, because maybe they are trying to get better and build their clients.
I just suggest, that when looking for a designer, make sure you inspect everything, ask a lot of questions, and really narrow in on what it is that you want, and make sure that you are not overpaying for work you do not need. Have some opinions on this? I would love to hear them, please comment below.