This section is to assist newcomers to the net by providing some basic guidelines when starting out. If you have a question not addressed on this page please let me know and I’ll try to add it to our list.
If you are just starting, you’re probably wondering what your site should look like, how to find a reliable web designer, and where to host your site. Do I need my own domain name? Where do I go? Who can I talk to? These are questions most of us have to answer once we decide to take advantage of the Internet. Not to worry, here are some helpful guidelines to get you through these frustrating times.
Determining your likes and requirements: Identifying what you like will help you to get a clear idea how you want your site to look and the features needed. Browse the web and look at sites in similar categories to determine how and what they are offering. Will you need multiple categories? How are they structured? Will you need an online reservation or order form? Will a single form do or will a shopping cart approach be needed? Identifying what you want will greatly improve the chances of a smooth development process. Checking out similar sites will give you a good idea how others are doing it. Although your requirements may differ from their’s, you’ll have a better idea as to what you’ll need. This information will save you the frustration of having to change your site later. Also, when viewing these sites make a note of the URL (the address of the site you are viewing) so you can return to the same site later.
Finding someone to create your site: There are many web site developers for you to choose from. Some have their own style that they use when building web pages, while others work with their clients to provide the look and feel that reflects the style of their clients. Although this may seem like one of the easiest steps in getting your site up and running it’s by far the most important. Getting the proper web designer could make your transition to the web a pleasant evolution or a total nightmare. Here are some helpful hints. ASK QUESTIONS!!! In step one you browsed the web and identified some of the sites you liked. On the bottom of most of those pages there is normally a link to the developer. The link usually starts with “Site by” or “Developed by.” Normally, those links will take you back to the home page of the developer where you’ll be able to find out more information about them. Somewhere on their site should be a list of sites they have developed. Take a look at those sites as well to get a general idea of the capability of the developer. Do you like their work? If you do, then it’s time to go back to the main sites that you identified in step one. Now compose a short email and send it to the owner of the site. An example could look something like this:
Found your site browsing the net and wanted to compliment you on its design. I’m considering putting up my own site and was wondering if you would recommend a developer for me to contact. Thank you in advance for your time. “your name”
Short, sweet and to the point. Most of the time you’ll get a response, opening up a direct dialog between you and the owner of the site and enable you to ask more detailed questions about the developer. Don’t hesitate to ask direct questions. Was the developer flexible, courteous, reliable, and easy to talk to? And my favorite question, if you were to build your site over again would you go back to the same developer? Talk about cost, but if it sounds to good to be true, it normally is. Buyer, beware! Use caution. I’ve heard some real horror stories.
After you have selected a web designer you feel comfortable with, you can really get started. There are normally two options for paying for your site to be developed, fixed cost or hourly rate. Each has its ups and downs.
Fixed Cost: The benefit to his method is you know what your development cost will be before you start. The disadvantage is that you have to identify every aspect of the site prior to starting. These requirements will normally be spelled out in writing prior to the starting of any development and will act as a formal contract. Once agreed to and work has started, any request for change to the original agreement by you will normally require additional negotiations and the cost added to the initial agreement. This method also requires a lot of time by the developer before hand when transposing the requirements into writing. They also have to take into consideration minor changes you may request and unforeseen obstacles.
Hourly Rate: This method requires a trust between you and your developer. You will be working with him, providing your input as the development of the site progresses. This method gives you the flexibility to experiment, to try various ways to get your site looking and feeling the way you want it to. If you’re the type of person who changes your mind often or do not know exactly what you want, you could keep your developer employed for some time. On the other hand, if you have a good idea as to what you want, this method is normally the cheapest way to get your site up and running.
Where to host your site: This should be your final decision, but it will normally have to be made prior to the start of any development. In most cases, your developer will have a preference, but this is your choice. Shop around and see what’s out there. Hosting fees can range from free to over $250 a month. Cheaper does not always mean a savings if people have problems accessing your site. And, in all-due fairness, paying the higher rate isn’t a guarantee that your site will get the service and maintenance needed. Again, ask questions, know what services come with your monthly hosting fees. One mistake I see over and over again is that thousands of dollars are spent on a site and then hosted on a server totally based on price just to save a few dollars a month. These people then wonder why they’re not getting the traffic they expected or were promised.
We hope this information helps you to make those very important web design and hosting decisions.
The Kaua’i Link
Howard Faria (Owner)