My brother’s friend can do it for…

These days there seems to be a gaping chasm between reality and desire when it comes to web design. I have found that more and more people are expecting premium custom design and programming at economy prices. Well, that just doesn’t happen, but there are many reasons why potential clients think it may be possible:

First, your brother’s friend really does do web design, but he’s only been doing it for a few months. Being undercut by the client’s brother’s friend is all too common. And what people fail to realize is that effective design requires a commensurate level of pay. When you’re starting a business it makes sense to do things as economically as possible, but what those ‘economical choices’ don’t take into account is that spending less on good web design will also make you less and could possibly even deter potential sales.

Second, “There are free website builders and I could do it myself and just pay for hosting.” Well, you could do that I guess, but again, good design = good pay. We can’t blame these online resources for taking potential customers. In fact, it could be said that we owe them for driving customers our way. After a miserable experience on their own, new clients tend to be more open minded and better educated.

Third, is my version of the phrase “pump and dump” design shops. There are many of these “pump and dump” shops out there that are troubling. What I mean by “pump and dump” is that they “pump” you full of great portfolio pieces and unbelievable pricing then “dump” a sad HTML/Table design with minimal CSS, sliced images and it’s completely static. AND, after getting screwed over, they nail you to a contract for hosting that is upwards of $40/month (based on a small brochure type site).

The third and final one is the one that bothers me the most. It’s not that these shops aren’t capable of providing a decent design (though there are many that can’t), it’s that they outsource much of their work and the communication process isn’t very good. Customers are stuck with a 1990’s design and code. Sure, they only paid $300 for their site and have a monthly hosting cost of $40 – $50, but they’re almost worse off now than when they didn’t have a website.

If you’re making an investment in yourself. It should be worth it to spend the money it takes to make that happen. If it’s not possible at first, reserve your domain name and wait until you have the money to do it right the first time. There’s always financing. If your project is important to you a website is a solid investment and financing can get you a good design. It will solidify your presence and legitimize your business. You won’t regret spending the money on a solid design.

In my experience, when I navigate to a website that is outdated, old, or just plain ugly – I will usually just leave within seconds of arriving. A good design will at least give you a fighting chance on keeping potential customers on your site. However, a good design isn’t synonymous with usability. Usability is not secondary to design and design is not secondary to usability. Design and usability should be inseparable, though sadly they’re not. It could be argued that a lot of this is subjective – well, it is subjective. It’s hard to be objective when your experience wants to burst out and shower down upon all the unsuspecting people below.

We could go on and on about this subject. In fact, if you haven’t yet visited Jakob Nielsen’s site then it’s a must. If you haven’t visited Cameron Moll’s blog Authentic Boredom then it’s a must. There are a list of many others that I could give, but there’s enough to chew on with those two for now.

Why have a website?

You may be asking yourself “Do I really need a website?” and “What are the advantages to having a website?”
In this article we will discuss some of the main reasons to have a website and the advantages it can bring to your business.

Customers expect you to have a website

In 2010, 30.1 million adults in the UK (60 per cent) accessed the Internet every day or almost every day.*
Most customers nowadays expect to be able to find out about your business and the products/services you offer at a time that is convenient for them. By not having a website you are possibly missing out on potential sales.
*Source: ONS Opinions Survey

Open all hours

Unlike most businesses, a website is available 24 hours a day; 365 days a year which means customers are able to visit your site at a time that is convenient for them which can lead to more business. Many internet users shop online in the evening or at night, without a website these potential customers could be lost to competitors. If your business trades globally then it would not be affected by time differences.

Always up to date

Unlike printed materials such as brochures or catalogues, a website can be updated instantly. With a Content Management System (CMS) it is far easier, quicker and cheaper to make changes to a website than it would printed materials. You would be able to react faster to market conditions thus minimising risks and maximising business opportunities.

It saves time and money

A website can contain as much information as you like about your business and your products/services. This will allow potential customers the ability to see exactly what products/services you provide. This will reduce the amount of time you have to deal with time-wasting enquiries and phone calls, thus reducing costs.

It gives you a professional image

A well designed website can create a positive perception of your business and instil confidence in your customers.

It can help you keep up with competition

It is almost certain that your competitors already have a website. By analysing their sites you can see what they are doing well and what they are not doing well. You can then use this information to make sure your website is better.

It can increase the amount of business you do

If you do not already have a website or your existing site is out of date, not easy to navigate or not optimised for SEO then you are almost certainly losing business. A poorly designed site that is out of date can create the wrong perception and can really effect the amount of business you do.

If you are thinking of having a website built for the first time or would like some advice about updating your existing site then we can help. With prices starting from £149 it need not break the bank.

Jack of all trades, master of none

Your skills and strengths carry you.

Just a few days ago I was reading Authentic Boredom, Cameron Moll’s blog. He had just posted an entry titled, “Designer, Coder: Separate roles or one?” and I found it very interesting. The gist of his entry was asking whether Designers are as effective coding (front end coding – HTML/CSS) their own designs as a separate design/code team.

Well, I thought about it for a few minutes and came to the same conclusion that he did — designers that can code as well as they design have the edge over those who specialize in one thing.

Now, to me, this was obvious. I have been doing both for several years and have tasted both the bitter and the sweet. Because, there are however, downfalls to doing both, but I won’t go into that now. Rather I want to focus on the successes I’ve had in doing both, which far outweigh any difficulties I’ve faced. To be honest, the biggest reason is control. I used to dread handing over my designs to someone else for coding and was fearful of their interpretation. For this very reason I worked to learn the skills necessary to code my own designs. Which brings up another point…

Anyone can learn a web language whether it be PHP, Javascript, HTML, etc., but can anyone learn design? Sure, concepts can be taught and understood. Theories can be taught and comprehended, but the innate ability of a true designer to capture something special in a design is unique. Some people are born with a natural ability to create visually appealing designs. This is one thing I believe cannot be taught. You either have it or you don’t. Granted, as one practices they’ll get better, but will they ever reach the same capability as one with natural talent? Good question, right? I guess this brings me back to my point. Designers should learn HTML/CSS, but should coders try their hand at design? I believe this is a much more difficult path to forge. If the natural ability isn’t there to begin with the mountain to climb becomes much bigger.

To answer Cameron’s question: Yes. I believe without a doubt that “those who can code as well as they design will always have an edge over those who do only one.” For me it’s simple. I’ve felt that way since the beginning. When I first got into the business I was coming from the world of print design. I was a little intimidated by the other designers who could also do their own coding. I quickly learned that having coding skills was not only important, but almost necessary for a freelancer.

There are also exceptions to this thought. If you’re working in an agency setting teams of designers/coders may work out to be a quicker and more effective alternative. But, I think that’s debatable too. Especially when a coder understands why the design does what it does – troubleshooting is much easier when there’s an underlying design knowledge. Every situation is unique, for both freelancers and in-house teams. Having said that, the evidence, in my opinion, still supports Cameron’s original statement.

By the way, here’s a fun little tidbit for all three of my readers. I originally started this post to call out an unpolished chap from Canada. Let me give you the story… I had registered in a forum to give back a little to the community that helped me out when I was just getting started. I was answering a post from a young designer that wanted to get into web design. He asked if good design skills coupled with HTML/CSS was good enough. I answered, “Absolutely! There are plenty of designers out there today making a good living doing just those same things.” I told him that if he worked to become good at both that there was definitely a place for him. Then, out of nowhere I get a crazy comment from another forum member. Here’s what he said:

designers who only know html/css are at the bottom of the barrel. unless you make extremely amazing layouts, you won’t get very far without further knowledge of javascript, database and some serverside language. especially if you’re just a solo freelancer.

Are you at the bottom of the barrel if you only do design and HTML/CSS? Are there not other freelancers that do server-side work that you can outsource to when necessary? I was amazed that someone could make such an ignorant comment. So, I fibbed a bit, but I had to get his attention and make him understand that the majority of web designers out there only do those two things – Design and HTML/CSS. I know there are other designers out there that can do good design and know server-side languages, but the majority don’t and that’s probably a good thing.

I’ll take my “bottom of the barrel” skills any day. I feel design and HTML/CSS go hand in hand while many other programming languages require a completely different logic. Hence the post title, “Jack of all trades, master of none?”

How to reduce bounce rate

What is bounce rate?

Bounce rate is the number of visitors who land on a single page on your site and then leave without visiting another page.

Bounce rate is measured as a percentage of total visitors and the lower the better.

How can I determine bounce rate?

You need to add some type of monitoring software to your site, a popular one being Goolge Analytics.
Google Analytics requires you to add a chunk of code to each page on your site which sends data back to Google.
One of the things Google Analytics measures as standard is bounce rate.

How do I reduce bounce rate?

Don’t get too hung up on bounce rates as your bounce rate is heavily dependent on both your industry and your site architecture.

Blogging sites generally have a high bounce rate as visitors will usually read a post or check out the homepage and then move on – hence the higher rate.

Websites for hotels tend to have a low bounce rate – something in the 30% range, since people searching for hotels know specifically what they’re looking for when they click on the result. Furthermore, when you’re perusing a hotel’s site, you want to check out more than one page, you want to look at the rooms, check out the amenities and find out rates.

Look at your site from a user perspective. If you landed on the home page would you want to continue further into the site?

Things to consider:

Design

Does my design make visitors want to stay on my site? It is a common fact that people will decide in the first 5 seconds whether or not to stay on a website or move on.
Do some homework on your competitor’s websites to see how you could improve yours.

Content

Is content on your website up to date and relevant? Outdated or irrelevant content can really put visitors off. You homepage should provide a brief summary of who you are and what you do.

Navigation

Is navigation easy to see and on each page? Visitors may not hit your website on the home page so they need to be able to see where they are in relation to your site structure but also how they get to other parts of your site. Navigation should be in a prominent position and on every page.

Links

Do you have links on your home page that take visitors away from your site? All links on your home page should link to other pages on your site, the last thing you want to do is forward prospective clients away from your site. Any links on your home page should stand out, make them bold or a different colour so it prompts people to click on them.

Social Media

Do you have links to social media sites on your home page? This is encouraging people to leave your site for Facebook, Twitter etc where they can become distracted and forget why they visited your site in the first place.

Call to action

Do you have a clear call to action? Visitors to a website sometimes need a little encouragement to visit other pages. A call to action is something that prompts the visitor to take action whether that is clicking on a link, phoning you or filing in a form.

Calls to action should be in a prominent position on your homepage and be bright and colourful to attract your visitor’s attention.

Webdesignden offers a number of SEO services including creation of Google Analytics account, integration of analytics code and advice on some of the points raised in this article.

How to choose a web designer

Questions to ask your web designer

With so many web design companies and freelance web designers out there its hard to decide on who to choose. Many companies do the hard sell, and before you know it you have signed up for a website that is entirely unsuitable for you, or has far more features than you need at a price you really did not need to pay!

As a small business / individual you may not know much about the internet, websites or even computers, but you may desperately need a website. How do you know who to trust and what questions to ask potential website designers and even if the answers are correct? It’s all very overwhelming to someone dabbling in the world of web for the first time, so that is why I have written this article to try and help you find a designer to suit you.

First things first, before you even contact any designers ask yourself, why do I need a website? How will it save you and your company money or how will it generate income for you? Just because your competitors have a website does not mean that you have to get one. It has to benefit you and/or your business or it is entirely a waste of money.

Decide why you need a website

Before you contact anyone ask yourself these questions and contemplate them for a few days, not only will it get your needs clear in your head but that alone will help your designer understand your needs and provide you with the best solution:

• Why do I want a website?
• How will it help my business?
• Will I need to update the site myself or is it simply an online brochure?
• Will I sell products from the website? Do you want to be able to accept payments online?
• Will the website be static – a brochure for the company?

• What should my website have on it that my visitors would like? What you want the website to do, and what information you want your website to contain?

• Do you want ongoing support, or will your site be pretty much static once it has been built?
• Do you want a unique bespoke design?

Check their web site

The first step in making you shortlist of designers is to check out their website.One of the most important signs of a good web design firm is their web site. Take the time to study the site.

• Do they even have a web site? (Avoid them if they don’t)
• Do you like the design? If you don’t you may not have the same design taste, we don’t all like the same thigs and designers usually have a design style.
• Is the web site easy to use?
• Did the website load quickly, afterbrowsing a few pages does the website seem too slow?
• Is the navigation clear and simple?
• Does the site stay consistent (fonts, layout, etc.) as you browse through the pages?
• Is it easy to find the information you are looking for?
• Do they have a client list or a portfolio? (if there is no portfolio, best stay away)
• Is there a section about their company?
• Is their contact information listed clearly on the web site?
• Are there any broken links?
• Do you get a good feeling from the site? Do you think you will like person or persons behind it?

The Portfolio

This is probably one of the most important factors in choosing a web design company. Look at their work and see if you like the style. A designer always has a style, do you like their sites?

Do they know your business?

It is important that they have some knowledge of your industry. Have they completed a design for your industry before? Do they create sites that suit your industry, its no good if they produce flashy sites for bands or events when you want a classic eccomerce site for a gardening tools company.

Contact information

Make sure there is an actual address and phone number listed on their web site. You want to know where they are located. An e-mail address alone is not enough. You want to make sure you can call them and talk to them any time you need to. Beware of companies who are reluctant to share contact details or location.

Response time

One of the best tests of a web design company’s support system is how quick they reply to your initial inquiry. How long did it take them to call you back or reply to your e-mail? Was the response in a time scale you are happy with?

The home work

When the design company first called you back did they seem that they did some homework before they called you? Good design firms always go the extra step and do some research on your company and/or your current web site. Give them extra points if you didn’t give them your web site URL and they did some snooping around and searching to find it and study it or to study that of your competition or industry.

Interview your web designer

Once you have identified companies you like the look of, give them a call, ask them the following questions, after all its an interview for a web developer jobs really:

• Who owns the finished design? You should should own the final design!
• How many pages are included in the price? If you choose a static site how many pages do you get? If you choose a site you can update are there any limitations?
• What is the time scale to finish the site? They should give at least an approximate finish time and explain the reasons for that time scale at least briefly.
• Is the logo design included in the price? Most companies add logo design as a separate service, this is something you can negotiate into your package perhaps.
• Will the web pages be optimised for google search engine or other search engines (Search Engine Optimisation)? Remember that no web designer can guarantee top placement on search engines they can only do their best to optimise your site, ask them how they do this (read my SEO articles or research SEO so you understand the answers?
• What keywords are they being optimised for and why?Your perth web designer should consult you on what words you think your clients would use to search for you on search engines.
• Will the website be submitted to the search engines as part of the service? If so which search engines?
• How much will it cost for additional pages?
• Do you provide training so you can add pages yourself? All CMS (updatable websites) websites should come with some element of training whether it be a training manual, support for free for a month or a training session, it’s up to what training you will accept as part of you package!
• Do you offer any guarantees? Is there a web hosting guarantee, a money back guarantee if you are not satisfied, or a no money to pay till you are happy guarantee?
• Who will be hosting the website and how much does it cost, what are your on going costs? Domain names are renewable every X years depending on if .co.uk / .co, etc. Ask what renewal fees are. Also web hosting will be an ongoing cost, if your site only costs £100 to build but web hosting will be £300 a year then you need to look elsewhere.
• Will the domain name be registered in your name? Any web hosting company worth its salt will register a domain name in your name, it should be, you need to own it!!
• If you choose to move web hosting or your domain name at a later date, will it cost you and how much? Some companies register your domain name for £6 but then charge £100 to transfer it, some companies charge £20 a year for hosting then wont give you a back up of your website to move even if their service is terrible. A reputable company wouldn’t do any of this! There may be a small fee but thats what it would be…SMALL!
• Do you offer any support and how much does it cost?
• How much do web design changes cost and how long do they take?

Finally, you need to be able to work with your designer. Even after all the questions have been asked you should still go on gut instinct too. If you contact a designer who answers your questions brilliantly that’s all well and good, but you need to have a good working relationship with that designer too. You should choose someone who you can communicate with easily, who shows willingness, and eagerness to help you and your company. Someone who is motivated to help you and your business. Freelance designers often show these qualities, big companies don’t! Building a good working relationship with your designer is paramount to you getting a GREAT website!!!

Getting up on Google

We all Google when we’re online. The fact that Google has become a commonly used verb shows just how powerful its market position now is. Google is the most trusted and widely used search engine out there, making it the phonebook of the twenty-first century.

On the back of Google’s success has come a wave of small Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) companies that promise to ‘optimise’ your website so that it ranks higher in Google’s secrch results.

SEO is a legitimate concept, and a typical SEO campaign is made up of several different techniques. If your website has been professionally coded and is rich in useful content then you have already taken a big step towards getting into Google’s ear.

Some SEO cowboys claim they can get your site all the way to the top of Google’s search results. Of course this would be a wonderful advantage for any business. But just how genuine are these guarentees? Well, put it this way: if SEO companies really did have the magic key to get you to the top of Google, then why don’t they all share that number one spot themselves?

Of course not every relevant site can be number one on a Google search, even if they are all SEO enabled. In fact Google openly states this.

Where you appear on Google will depend on what keywords are used in the actual search itself, and how specifically it relates to your content.

And don’t be surprised if larger, more established sites that are considered to be authorities in your field are ranked ahead of yours. After all, Google is looking for ‘relevance’, i.e. whether your site is the best answer to the search enquiry. A popular website that has other quality sites referencing links back to it will appear more credible than a site with fewer incoming links and active users.

The truth is that the exact algorithms used by Google to determine the order of its search lists are a trade secret known only to Google. And this technology is subject to ongoing revision. So no one outside of Google really knows for sure how Google works or exactly how its rankings are weighted.

But Google does share guidelines to help make your site more Google friendly.

We think though that the big question for your business isn’t, “How do I jump to the top of Google searches?” Instead the more critical question should be, “Am I relying too much on Google for website traffic?”

Some see Google as a magic bullet that will do all their promotional heavy lifting, allowing them to cut back on their marketing grunt work.

Designing your website to work well with Google is important, but Google won’t make your website successful. That’s up to you.

Promote your site the same way you would any other arm of your business. Bringing users to your website requires the same planning and initiative that gets customers through your front door.

Advertise your website. Highlight it in your print ads. Print your URL address on your packaging or signage. Participate in online forums where your business gives you relevant expertise. Exchange links with other credible websites in your field. Develop an online mailing list to promote special offers or news updates that might bring users back to your site (but be careful not to drive away business through indiscriminate spamming. Remember, successful promotion is about more than making your brand recognisable. It’s about making people feel good about your business and developing trust in your professionalism).

Freelancing and Contracts

Freelancing… What a joy, what a pain! I’ve found that the biggest drawback to doing freelance work is the lack of recourse when a client doesn’t pay. Sometimes as a freelancer you take jobs that bigger firms wouldn’t take just to pay the bills. These jobs tend to be smaller and less profitable, but you take them nonetheless. That’s where the problems begin.

There are many things I’d like to talk about in this post, but I’ll keep it on point this time. There is however one point I’d like to make first – underselling yourself. Obviously, your work must be commensurate with your rates, but if you’re not charging what you’re worth, it’s a problem. Many times designers will undersell themselves because they’re trying to get work. In the beginning you may have to every once in a while, but it shouldn’t last long. Everyone does what they have to do to get by, just make sure that you’re doing it right. I’ve read countless articles about this very topic. Here’s a good one to get you started. Price Freelance Projects

Now, back to the point. The best way to ensure better success is having a good contract or statement of work. However, this doesn’t mean that you’ll collect every cent a client owes you, but your chances are much better than without one. A good rule of thumb is to include a contract at the end of every proposal or bid you put together that states your payment schedule (50% upfront, 50% on delivery – another good rule of thumb). Doing this will allow the client to sign and return the proposal if accepted. If you can get their commitment on your proposal you’re half way to a successful project. Because if they commit, they’re doing it willingly, in the beginning, with your stipulations.

Another simple thing you can do is document everything. A lot of clients prefer the phone to do business, but make sure you restate briefly your conversation in an email so you can document each conversation and interaction. Thus saving you the headache of your word vs. their word. This can be annoying and time consuming, but you’ll be glad you did it when you need to refer back.

In sum, dot your i’s and cross your t’s. Keep good records, have a solid contract (a lawyer can come in handy here), and try to be smart. Most bad clients are easy to spot. They usually dodge direct questions, have excuses about making payments, constantly change project specs, and don’t communicate their position very well. Again, it’s just a guideline and you’ll have to look out for yourself. Just be confident, demand what you’re worth even though it may be tough to walk away from money, if it’s not worth it don’t do it.

Does your website work for you?

Is your website bringing you success?

After all, what is the purpose of a website? To dominate your industry, of course. Along with that comes many great and wonderful benefits like, traffic. We all know that with traffic comes increased business. Well, if everyone thought in terms of what was possible with a website there would be a shortage of web designers and developers. To this day it is still an enigma – why people don’t want a quality website. I know I’m not the first to bring this up and most definitely won’t be the last.

I heard some very disturbing and shocking comments while meeting with a potential client. During the meeting I was told that the company was doing a revenue of over $6.1 million a year. Now, I’m no financial guru, but $6 million a year in revenue is pretty impressive for a small business with only 14 employees. Also during this meeting I was told that a website redesign wouldn’t benefit the company. I almost said what I was thinking, “Are you kidding me? You’re a successful business owner that has come out on top, but can’t see the value a website would bring to your business?”

It was alarming to say the least. I couldn’t believe what I had just heard. How could someone so seemingly intelligent ignore one of the most loyal, hardworking, and tireless of employees – the website? A website, when executed properly, can do the job of several employees. It can take orders, process orders, track shipments, inform and educate customers, market and sell products, but do it 24 hours a day without complaint. Never before have business had such an incredible opportunity. A tireless employee that can do much of the dirty work, lower overhead, and increase productivity. To me it’s a brainless decision.

If you have $6 million in revenues what’s wrong with $7 million or $8 million? A website can and most likely will make a big difference in comparison to the cost. For example, one of our sales guys sold a website to a real estate agent. This real estate agent had his hand in too many pies and the man hours he had to pay for was eating into his profit. Gas to drive out and show properties, hours spent on the phone answering questions about properties, money wasted on flyers that got ruined by weather, printing costs for a lot of the paperwork, man hours for clerical work…

The list goes on and on, but you get the point. We put together a comprehensive solution for the agent to have all his properties online complete with detailed descriptions, images, virtual tours, forms, etc. Now this agent no longer has to waste gas, time on the phone, or printing. There are no more man hours for clerical work. Again, you get the point. Now, the agent tells us he’s gained an hour or two a day, saved a salary for one full-time employee, no printing costs, no more gas to meet someone at a property last minute. Overall, he figures he saves $2500/mo. in fixed costs with a new website.

It doesn’t matter how big or small the business is. You must have a presence on the web that HELPS you. You shouldn’t put a website up just to say you have one. Careful thought and planning must go into a website so it will actually benefit the owner. There’s really no benefit to having a website if it doesn’t work for you. In some drastic cases a bad web presence will actually hurt you. So, it can no longer be said that, “Any site is better than no site.” Here’s the cold, hard truth: Current and potential customers will judge your business by your website. Fair or not, it will happen. If your site has problems, you are very likely losing customers as a direct result.

It’s unfortunate, but true. Bad websites tend to repel customers and drive away potential clients. A website should never be built if it doesn’t have a purpose to drive traffic and create leads or at least benefit the owner is one way or another. Before you rush headlong into building a website for yourself make sure you have a purpose and that the purpose is one that involves a website that works for you.

Are reciprocal links bad?

What is a reciprocal link?

A reciprocal link is a mutual link between 2 web sites.
For example, a business directory may ask you to place a reciprocal link on your web site in return for a free listing.

What is the purpose of reciprocal links?

The idea is that the more incoming links to your site, the higher pagerank you will have thus your site will appear higher in the SERP (Search Engine Results Pages).
As with anything there is a right approach and an wrong approach.

The wrong approach

You may see lots of sites on the internet offering link building services. These basically utilise link farms, a group of web sites that link to each other. These are viewed by search engines as a type of spamming as the links provide little value to the visitor.

The right approach

Search engines like Google value single incoming links higher than reciprocal links but you can still use reciprocal links if you do it the right way.

Think about visitors to your site, by providing links to other relevant sites you can enhance the user experience.
When Google indexes a site it just doesn’t check the links it also checks the pages that the links comes from. If Google determines that the linking site contains content that is totally unrelated to the content on your site then it ranks that link lower than a link from a site containing similar content.

As an example, you may be a wedding cake supplier and you may decide to contact other businesses in your are offering wedding related services such as photographers, florists and suit hire and ask them to exchange links.
As these other companies are offering related services and it is of actual benfit to the visitor then this is seen as good practice.

Placing links to just any old site is not good practice.
In conclusion, reciprocal linking can be of benefit but you must be careful about the quality and content of the sites you are linking from and to.

Tips On Finding A Professional Website Builder

When I say ‘professional website builder’ I’m talking here about web design software rather than a real person, someone you hire to design your website for you, and often at a price!

These days, you can stay in complete control and produce great quality websites yourself.

This article isn’t about building personal websites, the kind where you might want to put up some photos of your vacation, your pets or your kids’ school project. I’d like to give you some advice on what to look for if you want to create websites that mean business, in every sense of the word.

Choices

So where do you start? Search on any term related to best web site design, custom website design, best website creator software etc., and you’ll be faced with a mountain of choices.

Firstly, you can get a good idea of how good a particular product is likely to be by the sales page. Does it look professional? Does it inspire confidence in the product? Or do you get the sense that this is fly-by-night operation?
If the sales page looks cheap and tacky then there’s a good chance that the software will be too.

While you’re on the sales page, look for plenty of testimonials and demo videos showing the basics of the software. Is there a full money-back guarantee? That’s a must.

What Else To Look For

The very best website build software packages have user forums – this is a sure sign that plenty of people have bought the software, are using it and are happy with it.

There are a few other things you should be looking for. The product should have:

• A facility for adding audio and video.
• Built-in SEO (Search Engine Optimization) features.
• A comprehensive graphics library.
• A wide variety of templates you can use.

• A WYSIWYG (What You See Is What You Get) editor – this way you can customise your website and easily add content and graphics etc., without having to know any HTML code.

• An easy, one or two click upload option.

• A set of comprehensive video tutorials and support should you need it.

At the end of the day, the old saying holds true – you get what you pay for. So have a look at what’s out there and take your time making your decision. You may well end up producing many websites with the software of your choice, so it’s worth taking your time finding a quality, value for money product.