First, a shout-out to last week’s winners: Send me your addresses! This is the first time in the history of Good Karma Tuesday that I didn’t hear from the winner all week, and I can’t believe I wouldn’t hear from six winners, so maybe my spam filter had a psychotic break last Tuesday. Who knows. (It lets in plenty of cialis and stock crap, though. Grrr.)
Anyhoodles, if your name is Isabel Sotelo, AngryMan, A Paperback Writer, Karen Lingefelt, Michele, or Katie Alender, email me and let me know where to send your prize!
Today’s winner is: JOSI
Josi, come on down! Or rather, email me your address. Extra credit if I get yours before last week’s
slackers winners. *g
(Kidding, last week’s winners! Love you too!)
Am still out of town and off to take a family member to the hospital for x-rays (isn’t that how everyone loves to start their morning?) and I thought I’d pull out a couple Q&As from yesterday’s comment thread just to make sure they don’t get lost.
* All About Web Sites (MM blog)
* Website Series, Day 1: Message & Image
* Website Series, Day 1: Follow-Up Q & A
* Website Series, Day 2: Marketing
* Website Series, Day 3: User Interaction & Content
* Website Series, Day 4: Aesthetics & Usability
* Website Series, Day 5: Hosting & Technology
* Website Series, Day 6: Administration
Message & Image Follow-Up Questions
Note: Some of these have little to do with Message & Image and will be covered in more detail in later posts.
Is there anything you think does or does not work for slogans?
The most important thing for slogans is to make them memorable and relevant. (Note: IF you choose to have one. As with a web site itself, you are not obligated to have one. Only maybe half of my corporate clients have slogans.)
Memorable means short (ie the Debbie Macomber example is stretching the limits) and relevant meaning that even if the only thing they know about you is your slogan, they know about your books.
Any colors you think are overdone?
I would worry less about so-called overdone colors and more about finding that happy medium between legibility and complementary branding. (Note: Complementary Branding refers to matching your web site to your blog or your book covers or your tone/genre etc. You do not have to make your web site look anything like your book covers if you don’t want to, but you also don’t want the reader to think they’ve found the wrong place.)
If you’re going for a dark tone, make sure it’s not so dark that visitors can’t easily read your content or figure out what’s going on. Easy is the name of the game.
If you’re avoiding, say, “black”, simply because you’re afraid too many other urban fantasy writers are using black, then that’s not a good enough reason. First and foremost, you have to do what’s right for your brand. And secondly, you have to keep reader expectation in mind.
Be creative, but choose your aesthetics based on that goal.
Cost. Tell us about cost. There are a lot of less than optimal people in your business, I suspect, but they probably charge the same as or more than you do (whatever that may be). How is a person to avoid getting took?
Cost. Okay. This is a tricky subject. It’s like saying, how much does laser eye surgery cost? Well, there’s some licensed doctors who do it for $400 per eye. And there’s others who do it for $4,000 per eye. And of course, there’s all the space in between.
The best way not to get taken is to make sure of two things:
1) That you get multiple proposals from multiple sources, for comparative purposes.
2) That the proposals detail exactly what you’re going to get for your money; what you have to provide, and what you’ll own when the contract is over.
EX: If the proposal says, “Website: $3000”, I have no idea if this is a gyp or a steal. If it’s for a basic no-frills design and half a dozen HTML pages, you’re getting taken. If it’s for an interactive, database-driven web site with user login features, dynamic feature-filled content and web-enabled content administration, buy buy buy! =)
So it’s hard to say. The best example I can give is if you go to a builder and say, “Hey, I’ve got this empty lot. How much will you charge to build me a house?”
The first thing the builder will (probably) say is, “Depends on what you want!”
Web sites are like that, too. You could probably find a college kid to whip up something basic for $500, or you could go to an ad agency and get one with all the bells and whistles for over $50k.
A small business or an ex-corporate freelancer would be in the middle. More experience than the college kid, and lower prices because of no physical overhead.
Do reputable designers charge by the project or by the hour?
Charging by the project or by the hour depends on multiple variables, but no matter which way your contract is written, you should have a darn good idea of both before the first check exchanges hands. So, if Designer X charges $100/hr and says your web site will take 10 hours (obviously these numbers are for ease of math *g) then your estimated total is $1000.
If the contract is a flat $1000 and something goes wrong that’s not the designer’s fault, they better have those circumstances written into the contract or they’re taking all the risk. Conversely, if it’s an hourly project and the designer doesn’t stipulate which elements are their responsibility (not charged) and which are yours (charged), you might end up paying a lot more.
For example, in all my contracts, it says I will never charge for extra work necessary due to bugs/typos/etc on the part of myself or my employees. However, if rework is necessary due to the actions of the client or the client’s emissaries (web host, etc) then I would have to charge for that.
What is a fair hourly wage for a guru such as yourself (OK, OK, we all know you are boyond price, above rubies, and all that, so let’s talk about gurus in general, not you in particular)?
Guru hourly wages can range from $50/hr to $150/hr, with some being above or below that, depending on many variables, not the least of which is what you’re contracting them for.
Also timeframe: should a good guru get you up and running in a week? A month? The twelfth of never? (Assuming you’ve done your part by filling out the survey questions.)
Timeframe totally depends, much like the “building a house” metaphor. How big is the house? Is there a basement? Will you request blueprint changes after construction has started or design changes after the wallpaper is up? Etc.
Tweaking – that fuchsia that looked so good in theory looks like hell onscreen…how much time/money should one allot for necessary improvements?
Ongoing review: should a good guru be in touch with you every so often to meet your changing/expanded/newfound needs? How often? Is this type of service a la carte or part of an ongoing arrangement?
Self-service: since most of us pump our own gas, can we also fiddle with our own websites? Or is this just a sure-fire way to throw more business to the guru when the whole thing crashes and burns?
Tweaking and maintenance should also be dealt with in advance, in the contract. Same with self-service. The programmer needs to know ahead of time if you plan to futz with the HTML (they can design accordingly) or if you need them to build a content editing wizard, or if you plan to just email them when you need updates.
I assume distance makes little or no difference, right? Does it matter if the designer lives in the same state?
Logistics don’t matter. For example, half my business comes from out-of-state, and I’ve worked on web sites while halfway around the world. The designer just needs a decent Internet connection. Well, and time, talent, skill, responsibility, responsiveness, etc. Point being, don’t choose your designer based on location, choose based on what you need, what they can offer you, and the value/ROI of contracting with her.
YOUR TURN: While we’re on the topic of web site message and image, what are some web sites you can think of that it’s obvious right from the home page what the point of the site is and the one key thing they want the visitor to do? What are some web sites you can think of that you can’t do much of anything from the home page, or have to hunt around to figure out what to do?