COMMISSIONING A SITE
WHAT TO EXPECT THROUGHOUT THE PROCESS OF BUILDING A WEB SITE
Not had a website before? Confused about where to start? Here's a quick guide to how it all works...
If you've got an idea for a business and / or website, and you haven't done it yet, you need to purchase a domain name. This is the name that people type into a search engine (such as Google) or web browser (such as FireFox, Chrome, or Internet Explorer) to get to your website. For example, this site's domain name is www.darkhousemultimedia.com.
Choosing your domain name is an important decision, is one of your first steps, and is one of the many things that should be done with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in mind. We can help you with advice about this.
It is also advisable to register all the common suffixes for your domain name if they are available, such as .co.uk, .com, etc. Otherwise, someone else might. We can help you check availability of domains for free and register your domain names through an official registrar, for a small annual or bi-annual fee. Once you have your domain name you can confidently start building your site.
Obviously, if you're going to have a website, it will need to reside somewhere where people can access it. It will usually live on a professionally maintained server, provided by a web-host. A server is specialised computer which is always connected to the internet via a highspeed high-bandwidth connection.
We provide hosting and our servers are set up with the technologies we use to build your website. We can set up and help you managing your hosting account. Costs will depend on the options chosen such as amount of storage and bandwidth available to your site. We can talk through this with you if you want, and you can see details of our hosting packages here.
Designing Your Site
The first step is to generate an outline brief for the site. Although you tend to interact with them all in similar ways, pointing, clicking and selecting things, websites are not all the same and there can be very little or an awful lot going on behind the scenes. Along with what is happening on the 'front end' of the site, you may also want us to build in our custom Content Management System (CMS) into the 'back end' of the site, that will allow you to update the site content yourself over time. Of course, the scope and complexity of the site has a direct bearing on how long it takes to create and the cost. This is why a brief is needed in order to come up with a budget, because we have to be able to estimate how much work will be involved to create the site you want. The classic question 'how much is a website?' is rather like the old 'how long is a piece of string?' enquiry.
So once we have an outline brief, it will probably need a bit of refining and fleshing out, but for a fairly simple site this will be a quick and simple process. Often a good place to start is to simply put together a list of a few relevant sites you like / don't like and say what you like / don't like about them. Then a simple list of the pages you need and the type of content (text, pictures, interactive elements such as forms, video, audio media, etc.) that they will contain. If you need part of your site to do a specific thing, such as take bookings, or you want to sell items from your site, etc, then we will need to work a bit more on the requirement with you. That's no problem though, we will work on the brief until we know exactly what you want from the site and then we can give you a realistic budget and timescale.
Once a decision is made, we can get started on the site build proper. We can design the graphics and layouts and other elements which make up the pages of your site, and populate them with your content. If you have existing branding or artwork you want to use, then we can incorporate those resources too. We usually design mock-ups of your pages in the first place - these are just pictures of how the pages will look - and on your approval we will turn them into real web pages.
Once the site is built, we will let you test it out before it goes public, and once everything is right and you are happy, we will launch the site on the hosting account mentioned earlier on.
Search Engine Optimisation
People talk a lot of nonsense about SEO - especially companies who are trying to sell you 'SEO services'. That's not to say that there are not genuine and useful SEO people out there, but there are also a lot of rather disreputable types who want to make a fast buck from you and you really don't need them! In fact, you don't really need any of them because whenever we build a website from the ground up, we build it in such a way that it is already optimised - clean, standards-compliant code, a great user experience, and we advise you all the way through about how to structure and edit your content to ensure that search engines understand exactly what each page of your site is about which will give you the best chance of ranking highly in their results for your key terms.
SEO is a large and ever-changing field, and getting good rankings depends on many factors, including but not limited to:
- Successfully submitting your pages to engines, directories, etc
- How you structure and how much you update content, and it's relevancy to your visitors
- How search-engine friendly your site is - code and content, keywords density & relevance, structure & ease of navigation, speed & performance, user experience, etc. Google changes its ranking algorithms frequently and is very focused on the user experience these days - a lot of the old ideas about SEO (the ones SEO companies try to sell to you on) are falling by the wayside...
- How many genuine, 'organic', relevant inbound links you can attract to your website - again you have to be very, very careful to avoid old-school 'link-farms' and the like - Google may penalise you heavily if it thinks you've been 'buying' links...
- How much you market your site on and off-line, and are able to generate web traffic & links from that
- Time - sites will get picked up and indexed and linked to more and more over time, so you have to be a little patient
- Whether you decide to pay for ‘sponsored ads' with search engines (Pay-Per-Click ads)
- How much competition you've got!
- And many other things besides...
It is important to realise that if you have a new site that has a lot of competition in the same field of business, there is no guarantee you will appear at the top of search engine listings without a significant amount of time and effort and possibly money! You should plan a separate and ongoing budget for marketing if rankings are important to you. However, the sites we build perform consistently well for their target keywords.
Over time you may wish to update, redesign or expand your site. You might want to add functionality like forms, databases, ecommerce, interactive media, and so on. We offer an ongoing relationship with you in terms of maintenance, and the costs for this will depend on your requirements.
We have standard hourly rates for one off alterations of content, but if you know you will be changing content on a regular basis, then we can offer you a Content Management System or a maintenance plan - whichever will be more cost effective for you. If you need major expansion/redesign work, we will generate a new proposal for you based on your requirements.
Costs for web design projects are usually by estimate based on brief. Just drop us a line to discuss your web design requirements in the first instance.