Consultant...even the word sounds 'expensive', but what does it really mean? Simply put, a consultant is an individual who provides advice on subjects within their area/s of expertise. The term usually indicates that the individual either has considerable education, training and/or 'hands on' professional experience of their chosen subjects, although this does not mean that they 'know it all' or is capable of providing instant answers to every question!
Hi, my name is Ms Tracey Howard-Baker, owner and designer of Affordable Website Design/AWDesign. I am a freelance entertainer and website designer with experience in a wide range of subjects including research, writing, marketing and search engine optomisation. If you want to know more about me and the type of websites I have produced, take a look around this site... there are links to clients websites in the Design Gallery and read my musical resume at Roxi's Place.
This page aims to answer some of the most common queries about websites and includes some of the questions I ask potential clients prior to accepting a commission or project.
So.. What is all the fuss about.. What use is a website?
There are distinct advantages to producing a website, regardless of wether you use it for fun or profit, but before you start designing your website or hiring the services of a website designer, it is important to consider what, if anything, you want your website to achieve and the type of person who it aims to attract.
A website can be used for several purposes:
- As an online CV or Resume
- As an online Database & Archive
- As an online Art or Photo Gallery
- As a live News or Information service
- To advertise/sell Products and Services
- To communicate with friends, relatives or associates
- To publish & distribute opinions, news, articles, books
- To promote creative activities (i.e., art, music, musicianship)
- To network and affiliate with related services, products or businesses
In other words, a website can not only contain anything you wish, but also has the potential to inform anyone worldwide with access to the internet about you, your product, service.... or even your favourite hobby! Wether you want to inform and delight loved ones who live far away or attract new customers from around the corner or around the globe, a website can act as your window to the world.
Things you need to know....
Before you embark on creating a website or hiring a designer, it is important to sit down and think about WHY you want a website and WHAT you want your website to achieve and HOW users will find the information/website. Define your goals and jot down notes on the type of content you want to publish and how you would like it to be presented.
Search the internet for competitors sites or websites that display a similar subject, theme or content. How easy are they to navigate... what do you like... and dislike about the site... is your product/service/idea unique or distinctive from the rest???
Taking Care of Users Goals
Your project, company or service are precious to you.... and of course, no-one knows the ins and outs of your project better than you do..... or do they? Well... the answer may suprise you... Your user!!! Whoever visits your site will form their own opinion of you or your company based purely on the look, feel and ease of finding the information they seek. Press releases and testimonials may make you sound grand but provide little information of use to your websites visitors, a balanced approach that takes care of users needs is required.
Content is KING!
Good websites are defined by the quantity and quality of the content it contains and the amount (and quality) of external sites who link back to it's pages.... therefore, to ensure that your website gets listed plus attracts both new and repeat visits from users you must be prepared to either regularly write and update content or use a service that can do this for you...... some are free.... others charge for the service....
At the very least, your website should contain some information about YOU or your Business/Service/Product and of course details for the visitor on how they can find further information, contact you, or order any products/services offered. Your website should also contain relevent material like photo galleries, product databases, company brochures, audio samples, etc., and be flexible enough for additional pages or sections to be added with relative ease (saves on costly re-design at a later date!)
Your site may look pretty ... but how can you be sure that your visitor will go to the information that you want them to read or product you would like them to purchase? This requires creating a 'Storyboard' or 'Map' to show the relationship between the pages in your site and outlines the flow of information between each section or page.
There are lots of legal pitfalls involved in producing a website. It is wise move to know what you can include on your website without impinging on anothers trademark or copyrights and what steps you can take to prevent other people from using or stealing your original graphics/photos/content/music without permission and/or payment.
You've completed all of the above but......Creating an online identity is just as important as creating a logo or choosing a company/band/stage name. Your websites design should be relevent to the type of content it portrays and/or to the individual/company who owns it. If you already have a 'trading name' and logo, these should be incorporated or included on your website... however, some colour combinations work better than others depending on the browser and type of equipment used by the viewer. YOU might love the broodiness of multiple dark colour schemes.... but how easy are they to read and navigate? How functional is the design...
Production and Testing
Once the elements like storyboard, content and design have been created it is then coded into a basic template for testing online and offline to check navigation, usability and correct any database/program integration bugs prior to launching the site for public viewing.
Launching the site
The fully tested site is ready to upload to your preferred hosting company's webspace and submitted to search engines/directories.... You may also wish to place announcements on your stationary, flyers or advertise it in press/media productions.
Once the site is 'live' someone needs to take care of maintaining and updating the pages. Content, external links, product news, updates etc., should be reviewed and replaced with material that reflects the individuals or companies current goals if required. Checks on the sites web visibility, along with ongoing submission to search engines, directories plus sourcing and exchanging links with related sites should be done on a regular basis to increase your ranking and attract more traffic (visitors).
Common Client Queries
Why should I hire YOU?
Simple..... I can do all of the above..... including providing advice on what options are available to fit your budget, guiding you step by step through each stage.... or if required.... doing practically everything for you including sourcing content, maintaining the site and if required sub-contracting / hiring programmers to develop dedicated applications, databases or software and for clients who reside locally, I can also provide basic one to one training in using computers, surfing the internet, or maintaining their newly designed website.
I work hard on your behalf.... and take pride in producing attractive, user and search engine friendly websites that draw in the visitor and attract repeat visits. Read testimonials from my clients and browse the design gallery.
Can I talk directly to some of your clients?
Yes! Although I manage and maintain most clients sites, you are welcome to contact them via the contact details (where available) provided in their testimonial or via their website.
What backend coding do you use?
What Consultancy Services do you provide?
I advise clients on a variety of subjects ranging from domain names, music and content copyright issues and all aspects of creating and running a website plus basic information for individuals who are considering self-employment, starting their own business or associating their site with an affiliate network with the intention of gaining an income from advertising or sales of products. I am not an 'expert' in all subjects, but have enough knowledge and practical experience to provide clients with an overview and direct them to sources of free or low cost information / help from relevant dedicated professional UK organisations and companies.
Will you work on location?
I am prepared to travel...... but this depends entirely on where the client is based, the type of project and what other obligations I have at the time of request. I am currently based in the London Borough of Enfield UK, which is bordered by Chingford, Essex, Barnet and Waltham Abbey, Herts.
Do I have to hire you for the full package?
No, I am happy to provide just a custom designed site, logo, banner or business card and will work/liase with in-house marketing/product development or other nominated staff members if required, to ensure that your website reflects your goals and is easy to use by all departments. However, I do not provide content sourcing, copy-writing/editing, search engine optomisation, website maintenance, site promotion/marketing or computer training to anyone except clients who use my custom design services..... unless it is Pre-Paid or in exchange for services as listed in the Barter section.
Can you enable my site for e-commerce?
That depends on your requirements. I can advise on and set up your site with partner advertising, affiliate network subscription, product displays, shopping cart and include online purchase / payment by credit card using PayPal or Nochex both of which use secure SSL servers. I am currently unable to cater for companies requiring Merchant Accounts & Services, payment integration with your bank or a dedicated retail e-commerce solution but would be happy to point you in the right direction if required.
Are there any restrictions?
Yes..... I will NOT design sites with adult content, warez, hacks or those that intentionally infringe on anothers copyrights or promote illegal, immoral or unsavoury products/services.
I just want a pre-designed template
No problem... There are plenty to choose from in the templates section.
I just want your cheap managed hosting
Sorry..... Managed hosting is only available to clients using my custom design services.
How much do you charge?
That depends entirely on what you want and the difficulty/time frame of your request.... my prices are both reasonable and flexible.... a basic one page site can cost as little as £50 whilst a large site complete with e-commerce and interactive elements like discussion forums, messageboards, games etc., that take more time and expertise will obviously be more expensive. If you are on a budget I am happy to discuss available options. Take a look at my prices or contact me to discuss your requirements.
How do I Pay for your services?
I accept payment by cash, cheque, credit card (via Nochex or PayPal) and will also consider bartering which for the uninitiated means an exchange of services or payment by product instead of using currency.
I require all written content to be delivered in .txt format and images in gif, jpeg, jpg, bmp or psd (photoshop). This avoids content being delivered in a format which I am unable to work with which can cause delays. These and other files like .pdf docs or audio files must be forwarded for review/addition to a specific email address which is provided after you or your company have contracted my services. This is necessary as I do not open emails with attachments at any other address.
Do you provide customer support?
Yes! Clients are provided with my contact details once they have retained my services.