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What can I expect to pay for my new web site?
Should my business have a web site?
Ask your web site designer these questions.
Does my web site need redesign?
How can I keep the design costs down?

What can I expect to pay for my new web site?

The price for a web site depends a great deal on what you need the site to do. A standard brochure site should cost as little as $1000, while a large e-commerce site could exceed $100,000. One of the recent incarnations of the Disney web site ran $30,000,000. (30 MILLION DOLLARS!)

The good news is that a web site is always evolving - it's never "finished," so you don't need to feel pressured to build a final, complete site for your current budget. If you plan carefully and work with a good designer, you can get the most site for your money and establish a plan for future growth.

Many design companies now offer packages - a set number of pages and images for a set price. If you're leaning toward a "package" design because you have a small budget, think again. You'll get what you pay for, and not much else. These sites look generic and don't take into account the most important part of web design - the navigation - which needs to be specifically designed for each site. If you've bought a package site and want to expand, you'll probably have to scrap it and start again.

Parker Information Resources can help you plan a site that reflects your organization's needs. More importantly, the site will be able to accommodate the changes and additions you will want to make when you have more money available.

Should my business have a web site?

Even if you have a very small business or organization, there are several reasons why you should have a web site.

People now use the internet just like the phone book when looking up local businesses. If you don't have a web site, they won't find you. And if you do have a web site, you can communicate much more than you would in a yellow pages listing or advertisement.

A web site can answer questions all day long, even when you're not in the office. It represents your company and provides information, and you can update it as often as you like.

Ask your web site designer these questions.

1. Can you view "live" samples of their work?

2. Do they use ready-made templates or design from scratch? Custom or "canned" graphics.

3. Do they ask about your target audience and competition and do they research for similar and complementary sites?

4. Do they price by the hour or by the job and exactly what is included in the base price and what is considered "extra"?

5. How long a review period is allowed to correct typos and other minor problems?

6. How much is charged after the review period?

7. Do they ask what YOU want in your site and do they encourage your participation and input?

8. Do they educate you on what they are doing or simply say "leave it all to me"?

9. Do they test the site on multiple browsers and/or platforms?

10. Do they use specialized descriptive and keyword meta tags and submit your site to search engines?

Does my web site need redesign?

Almost every web site could use a bit of help. How much or how little can vary substantially. Try asking yourself the following questions:

Can people find what they are looking for?

(You might try a test - give friends or family a list of things to find on your site. See how long it takes them to find each one.)

Does the site match other marketing materials?

If you have professional business stationery, your web site should use the same color scheme, fonts and style.

Has it been more than a few months since you updated your web site?

You should add content to your site periodically, to keep things interesting for your visitors. If a site is too static, people will not return.

Does the site use frames, animated images, busy backgrounds or other outdated technology?

Design elements like these can be very detrimental to the image your web site conveys. Look around the web at the clean, current designs that are now in vogue. If your site doesn't resemble them at all, it may be time for a redesign.

Does your web site convey the image that you would like people to have?

List some adjectives that describe the way you want people to perceive your company or organization. Now take a good, hard look at your web site. Do the adjectives fit?

Do you have typos, misspellings or poor grammar on your site?

Content is key on the web. If your site has errors in the content, it can dramatically lessen your credibility.

How can I keep the design costs down?

Prepare as much as possible before you meet with your designers. If you have a good idea of what you'd like to accomplish, it will save you a lot of time and money.

Here are some specific things you should do before you begin working with a designer:

Collect URLs of sites that you like and don't like. Look at your competitors' sites as well as sites outside your industry. Try to figure out what specifically makes you like or dislike each site. This will be a big help when you begin the design process.

Make a list of every single thing you might possibly want on your web site - just list them, in no particular order, and be as thorough as possible. Try to think of things that you don't have right now but know you might want in the future.

Collect all of your existing content, marketing materials, graphics, and photographs. If you have all of these things assembled, it will save time for the designer - and that saves you money!

Parker Information Resources
Houston, Texas

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