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posted on March 10th, 2011

Business Website Design – An Investment in Experts and Expertise

picAs a web design and development company, we get this question volleyed to us more often than not – “What would it cost me to get my business website designed?” While we consider this as a legitimate and pertinent question, we think the real question business owners better ask should be – “What kind of return on investment can I expect once you design/redesign and market my website online?”

Investing in the design, development and marketing of a business website is similar to any other investment for a business – you need to measure the return on your investment (ROI). Building a website really costs next to nothing with free (to almost free) web templates and off the shelf content management systems available to everyone these days. But these ready for use solutions are not even a proper quick fix, let apart an investment of any sorts. This nothingness of the solutions transforms into nothingness of returns.

The end product but about the people who execute those functions

Let me start by an example. In case you need to defend yourself or your business in the court of law, would you be looking for a reputed business lawyer or a just passed out law graduate who has nothing under his belt? Or worse even, could you read some law books or chapters and fight your case yourself? Not possible, correct?

Same holds true with a website that is supposed to propel your business online. This is an investment in a team of highly qualified individuals who

  • Understand business, marketing and project management
  • Understand online user behavior, interaction metrics and information architecture
  • Understand web designing with what attracts people, elements that should be focused on, copy that sells and web analytics that works
  • Understand the intricacies of search engine optimization and search engine marketing

Since your business is crucial for your existence, we take things personally and assign a team whose members includes project managers and account directors – trying to understand what you do, what your competition does and how the companies market themselves online. We also have onboard web designers, UI developers and database developers – who work on imparting the look and feel and making sure that the functionality is supreme. Also joining them are search marketers and testers who market your site (SEOs) and look for things like cross browser rendering, forms working properly and database connections that do not output any errors.

Planning it out

Our team which includes the project manager and the account director work closely with you; the client, to make sure we understand you, your perspective, your competitors and your industry. Since we have been in web design development and marketing for more than 5 years now, we very well understand a number of industries. The time during planning is spent on asking questions (through our proprietary planning guides), finding replies collectively and ensuring that this phase ends with a clear strategy document based on your replies and our research and analysis.

Designing after prototyping

Different sites require different types of content and need to emphasize completely different things on the home page and sectional indexes. The website that we design for a service oriented business would be completely different from a website that we design for an ecommerce business. It is critical to design the navigation of the website according to priorities that were uncovered in phase one. This is where information architecture comes into play – a crucial function that can only be handled by a usability expert.

Based upon the priorities and the navigation (the site map) wireframes are designed which are like the skeleton of the website. These wireframes are like drawings or sketches done with a pen – only that these are done using image drawing tools. The wireframes determine the flow through top navigation, sectional navigation, footer navigation and element placement on the home and the most important pages.

Our web designers then add flesh to this skeleton by designing mock ups based upon the wireframes created by our information architects. These two work closely as the web designers are guided by the information architects as to how the outlining of the website has been done. The designers decide on the colors, fonts and other design elements as give the site the actual look and feel. The site is not yet programmed or coded but this “mock up” gives the exact idea of how it should look

These mock ups are then presented to our clients for approval and remarks. All the changes that the client needs can be done to these mock ups. These mock ups are not websites themselves; they just present the look and feel of the site to the client. We begin our coding process only after the client is happy with the look and feel of the website.

Programming and adding back end functionality

Everyone and their dog is supposedly a programmer these days. However, doing it with great skill is the domain of only a few. While you are on the lookout for a business website design company, it is important for you to understand how they code HTML and the overall front end? Analyze a couple of sites and see if they load fast, if they load across all major browsers without any issues, if there are any errors when trying to validate the HTML, how can the look and feel of the website be changed etc.

Also important is to understand the content management angle. Is your web design company offering a content management solution too, using which you can easily update the content like articles, blog posts, news items and product information on your website? No one likes a stale website and to succeed on search engines like Google it is critical to have fresh, relevant and regularly updated content.

Commitment towards quality

A website has hundreds of elements coming together to make your dream turn into a reality. At every step, testers, project managers and account directors need to ensure that all the pieces are fitting together well. The importance of testing during prototyping, wire framing, designing, developing and programming cannot be undermined.

It is a marketing tool

Your website is your sales person who will be up there 24 hours a day, 365 days a week. You cannot let your 20 year old son or nephew choose or train this sales person. It has to be nurtured by seasoned individuals who get it all. While it may not be inexpensive, this professional touch would definitely be highly result oriented.

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