There are many who will offer to build you a "pretty" web site, but I understand that there is a big difference between a mere online brochure and a 24x7 extension of your core business infrastructure.
There also those that try to sell you "gee-whiz" technology for its own sake with complete disregard for your ability to operate and understand it, and whether it actually contributes to the website acheiving the marketing objectives set for it. Sometimes a website can just get too tricky for its own good and actually turn visitors away by being too high tech or different.
The web sites that I build are functional and efficient, professionally presented, aesthetically appropriate to their intended purpose, and with a clear focus on the concept of informing rather than entertaining the consumer. My sites get the job done and accurately reflect the 'real world' nature of a particular business.
I have deployed many successful web sites over the past 15 years, and that experience has left me in no doubt that online consumers will use your web site as a place to do business with you, and simply rehashing your brochure just doesn't cut it anymore. And that goes for retail and professional services web sites, as much as does for travel and tourism sites.
You have one chance to sell to a web site visitor. Your web site needs to be a sales office, not a sales aid like a brochure, and unless your site answer all of the questions and satisfies all of the immediate needs of a potential customer, they will move on to the next site.
Since you aren't there to deal with your customer personally, your web site needs to assume that role on your behalf and must contain the information that you would normally provide to a customer in a "face-to-face" sales encounter.
Think of my job as assembling the story you wish to tell your website visitors. I contribute my expertise to this process, but the bottom line is that these visitors are your customers assessing your product in the context of your marketplace, and you will need to provide me with answers to the following 3 questions in order for me to build something that works for you, and for them:
What are you selling?
Who are you selling it to?
How are you selling it?
These are questions that your web site visitors will be asking themselves to make sure that your web site is the right place for them to be. And the answers provided on the web site will then need to be re-enforced by the way you interact with them further along the business process.
We (you and I) need to get it exactly right, or everyone will be dissappointed, and I need your invlovement to acheive this. My most successful web sites have been where I have had a client who is as good at what they do for a living, as I am at what I do, and a web site results that is greater than the sum of its parts.
Remember: A web site should be part of a business plan, not a replacement for one.
Fundamentally I'm are creating a technical framework for the delivery of your content, and as such I reasonably expect you to provide the image, text and multimedia content for the web site. I will obviously guide you in what's required, but without the necessary content the story will only be partially told.
Good quality relevant images and punchy well developed copy are independent of site design and delivery framework, but they make such a huge difference to the effectiveness of the site and its ability to convert visitors into customers.
If you require assistance with photography, copy writing, multimedia or video production, please refer to my Client Checklist section for the contact details of specialists in these fields that I recommend.
So, What Do I Actually Do?
It would appear from the above 2 sections that I relinquish responsibility for anything to do with the "guts" of the web site. Wrong! The fact that I've highlighted these issues rather than just letting you get away with churning out a site that looks and feels like a hundred others is why my involvement in your web site development project is so critical.
Guidance. Context. Feedback. I know what a web site needs to be successful, and not because I've regurgitated some 2 year old US-based web marketing newsletter, but because I've worked with so many clients over the years.
I assist you to turn your online business and marketing plan into an internet reality, give you a starting point if you aren't sure where to begin, and guide you through the process of developing a commercially appropriate online presence.
I also do the mechanical and technical aspects of turning the individual components of your web site content (text, images, etc) into a cohesive whole that matches the needs of your customers and clients.
I don't let you avoid your responsibilities as a business owner and operator, and as an integral part of the site development process. <grin>
The internet is now a serious marketplace and your web site visitors WILL be assessing your product based on the professionality of your web site. As it becomes an increasingly important part of your marketing effort, is your web site actually letting you down?
Do your staff avoid telling customers that you have a web site because they are embarrassed by it?
Is it the same colour and design as all of your local competitors because all of you used the same local creativity-challenged web developer?
Do you have clip art and images on your site that you wouldn't dream of putting in your brochure?
Does your web site look completely different to all of your printed material?
Does it still look the same as it did in 2003?
Was it built by someone who was too young to vote? (but they were cheap!)
Do customers come back to you with questions, the answers to which you know are on the website, but can't be found because you're site navigation structure is so poor?
Do you feel you're losing out to lesser competitors because they have a better looking web site?
A professional style of presentation is important, but if your web site also doesn't "feel" like your product, you will be sending the wrong message to your potential customers in this predominantly visual medium.
For a small investment in the online future of your business, I can re-image your web site to give it a more contemporary feel, and one that is in tune with the way you want to be presented to the international consumer.
If there are no structural or content changes required, a simple web site face lift can cost as little as $500 for a site of less then 5 pages. For a bit more, I can also update your images and text, or restructure the site navigation so that the web site is easier to use.
Timeframes vary from job to job, and with seasonal changes in my workload, but you can assume that Setup will take 10-14 days from the time I have received all of the site materials from you, and Construction a further 7-14 days to first draft. Final text proofing generally takes 2-3 days once you have advised me of changes necessary. (More info...)
Whether you are planning your first web site, or looking to improve an existing web site, send me an email or give me a call on 07 4055 8470, and I would be pleased to discuss your options.
You might think that the phone is a "low-tech" way of communicating, but I don't just use technology for the sake of it. I recognise that many of my clients are not nearly as internet literate as they would like to be, and I go out of my way to make sure that the whole web site development process is as 'non-technical' as possible.
After all, when it comes down to it, a website is a sales and marketing exercise first and an IT exercice second - the technology is just there as a transparent underlay to support the business model and marketing objectives of the website.