What to Expect From Alaska Web Design and Development Alaska Web Design and SEO Articles Tyler Britton Web Design Oct 04 2016 Web design and development requires thorough detail I’ve worked with many types of clients over the years, and the only times where there has been friction is when the PROCESS of the building the website – from soup to nuts – was not explored in great detail before web development began. The basic fact is that unless you are developer yourself, or have worked with them before, you couldn’t possibly know what to expect about timelines, money, and so on. Unfortunately I have seen projects blow up in other developer’s faces because their client’s expectations were much different their own. The point is that web development is a team effort between developer and client. It’s why when I meet with clients I am sure to go over things in great detail. Here’s what my process looks like Here are when target dates are Here’s how much it will cost Here are reasons for delay And so on. Basically, we all feel better about spending our money when we are educated about exactly what we are buying. Expect regular communication from web designers First and foremost, good web developers will have clear communication schedules. After going over initial concepts of what you are going for, go over when and how things will be communicated. What are target completion dates for various phases Will you receive a weekly, bi-monthly, or monthly progress update? How often will you meet in person to go over things? What are expectations for how long requested changes will take to implement? The questions go on, but if the developer isn’t laying out what’s expected about communication, you’re probably going to want to start asking questions. Here is a great article about good communication between clients and developers. Understand basic phases of website development One thing I greatly appreciate about Alaska web design and development is that the pace and mental attitude up here makes working with customers *SO* much easier. People tend to more communicative, more available, and more accepting of practical limitations than other places I have worked, such as Seattle and California. Generally there are three, or six depending on how specific you want to be, primary phases of building a website or web application. 1 – Website Planning Goals and purpose: what are you trying to accomplish? Target audience: who are you building this site for? Content: what type of content will audience be looking for, and who will produce that content (you, developer, third party)? Time: establishing time lines and flow chart Site map: develop list of main topics for website Platform: is the site being built on Wordpress, Drupal, self hosted, etc.? Target: set goals for completion dates for various stages As you can see, before even starting simply designing the website, a lot of information and ideas needs to be established in the website planning phase. Note that depending on pricing structure, it is not uncommon for a final quote to be given somewhere mid-way through on completion of the Planning stage. 2 – Website Design & Development The web design stage is the area where regular communication becomes extremely crucial, so that when the site is coded (developed) it will fit your needs. Visual: what look and feel are you going for (should be for target audience)? Work on establishing color schemes and layout style. Perhaps build prototype “pictures” of what each page will look like – though doing this can be overkill for some sites if the visual expectations are extremely clear Approval: give a “go” to style/prototypes from web design Coding: when the functional and graphic expectations are well established, the site will begin being developed Edits: If prototypes were built, there will probably be very little changes to site as it is built; if no prototypes, the actual web development will be more collaborative 3 – Testing & Maintenance Testing is all about getting rid of bugs, inconsistencies, and making final changes if needed. Debug: make sure no bugs are present in website functionality, compatibility issues (such as in different web browsers) Live: website will be loaded to a server and will go live Upload files: Developer may do this if established ahead of time, or “train” you how to do it Training: Generally developers will train you how to make changes to your site (such as adding content) and upload new content Maintenance: decide going forward in the future if you will continue to work together for future changes and or bugs that arise on the site as new technologies are developed What to look for out of web design It would be foolish to try and cover much of “what to look for” because there are countless millions of different types of web design sites. But in general, I would address three simple things: Does the site look as good if not better than competition? Does it work perfectly across all browsers and screen sizes? Does the site feel “interactive” and “responsive” – such as buttons that light up when you hover, interesting transitions after clicking on items, etc. If you can answer yes to all three questions, then you have a great design. Web design in Alaska will take time (just like everywhere else) Time is almost always the great point of contention between web designer and developers, and clients. Coding takes a lot of time. We have to account for different browsers and all dimensions of screen sizes, make the site functional in all of them, and still make the look and feel to what was previously specified. You will have to be patient. Developers who promise extremely quick turnarounds are a major red flag, and will ALWAYS come back to bite you. Shortcuts make long delays. Most Alaska web design and development for businesses takes about 1-4 months. Keep in mind also that the more changes you require as the site is being designed and developed, the longer it will take. How much will Alaska web development cost? Again, this is a huge topic, so I will be brief. For one, I always recommend charging by the hour – this is for the web designer and developer’s benefit as well as yours. It’s common ground to build trust, and it is fair. Let me give you a word of advice from experience: set pricing for websites is a wonderful way for you and your developer to become quickly disgruntled. Different Alaskan web design and development businesses will charge money in different ways. In installments at various phases of work, for example 20% up front, 30% after design, 30% after development, 10% after testing, 10% after launch In two payments, up front and at completion A retainer is also not uncommon The different methods are endless, but paying in installments as various phases are completed by far makes the most sense to me as, again, it have the least room for contention. The web designer and developer gets paid for what work is done, and you can ensure that you too are paying ONLY for the completed work. Does web design cover photos, writing, and SEO? When it comes to written, photographic, media, imagery content, these are services that are not generally included in web design and development. Designers and developers are designers and developers. Fortunately, like myself, these services are offered by Alaska web design companies, but it will cost extra. So when you see the extra price tag for writing and photography, don’t be surprised. In a tight knit community, you really shouldn’t worry much about Alaska web designers and developers trying to pull a quick one on you, as the integrity of a business’s reputation matters so much in Alaska. Writing: one thing to note, that in general it takes approximately 2 hours per 500 words of web writing, give or take. Assessing how much you pay for writing is simply a matter of checking how many words you expect to see on your site, divided by the hours, and then check that number against the quoted price to see what is being charged per hour. Writing should not be charged at same rate as web development. Media: again, with photography and/or videography see what local businesses charge and make sure what you are being charged is in line with local prices. Search Engine Optimization: You will work with the web developer and/or content writer with a handful of keyword phrases to ensure that your website is SEO optimized. The web development team should also make sure that the technical aspects of SEO are built into the site.