Frequent Design Questions
- How do I get a web site name, for example MybusinessName.com?
MSW can research name availability for you and provide suggestions on alternatives if your first choice is not available. We will also be happy to register your domain name in your business name, so that your company retains ownership of the name.
- My (niece, boyfriend, neighbor) offered to build me a web site for free. Why shouldn't I use them?
Your small business web site represents your business online to the WORLD. It is a marketing tool for your business and it is the online face of your business. Your credibility is at stake. You not only want a professional look, but highly optimized graphics for fast loading, and a design with usability principles at its core, as well as a site optimized for the search engines.
Your web site is the first impression of your business for people surfing on the web and our team makes certain it is one that reflects the quality and personality of your business, while appealing to your target audience. We bring years of experience to the table and designers with education and specialties in audience and needs assessment, usability principles, user interface design, and graphic design for the web.
Too many small businesses sell their Internet presence short, when in reality your Internet presence can be one of the best and least expensive marketing tools for your business. It deserves a professional job.
- I know exactly how I want my site to look; do I still have to pay the "design fee"? I've already designed it!
Some clients come to us having sketched out a design or with a visual layout put together by a print graphic artist. We can certainly take your layout and put it on the web for you, however dictating the visual layout of your web site, does not change the per page web design rate. It takes the same amount of time to develop the site (and sometimes longer, actually) when a client already has a "pre-determined" design.
- How long does it take?
How long it will take depends on the scope/size of your web site. Once a contract is signed and the deposit received, we begin work immediately on your site. Most of our small business web sites are live in two weeks or less. eCommerce sites can take longer, depending on the number of products. It also depends on the amount of time you take to provide feedback/inputs on the sample design we place in the staging area for you to review.
- I think a professionally designed web site is too expensive for me. Can I really afford it?
YES! Our focus is small businesses, so our pricing is very affordable. We are more than happy to build a one-page web site for you and make it scalable for future growth. We have several clients who started with a very small site due to budget constraints and have since expanded their sites as the businesses grew.
A web site is an essential form of marketing. Not having a professionally designed site (even if it's just one page) can be MUCH more expensive in the long run!
- Flash design looks so cool, I want that for my site! Can you do it that?
Yes ... but for most clients, we try to talk them out of it. While flash can create a nice visual effect, it has many negative aspects. To start with, most search engines do not read flash files. Usability studies tell us that most web users really don't like Flash intro pages or sound effects. They also tell us that many Flash sites are less usable because site visitors get confused by the navigation (e.g. the Back button doesn't always do what the user expects). In short, they are usually less effective. While some businesses may have a legitimate need for a Flash web site, we tend to recommend hybrid sites to most of our client who think they want Flash simply because it looks cool. A hybrid site uses HTML or ASP as the base, with Flash elements intermingled, where appropriate.
Frequent Web Hosting Questions
- What is web hosting and do I need it?
In order to be ON the web, you do have to pay SOME company to host your web site. Your web site files must reside on a web server in order for people to see your web site. Web hosting is like renting space on that server. You do not have to host with MSW Interactive Designs, but be sure to investigate change fees and possible hidden charges of other hosting providers.
- Are there any benefits to hosting with you?
YES! There are two IMPORTANT differences you get when hosting with us (3 if you service the wedding industry):
- We provide ongoing web site maintenance to our web design and hosting clients. Most hosting plans with other companies do not include updates to your web site You have to pay extra for that, and in most cases they don't even provide the service ... you have to do find your own designer to do it. With MSW, we take care of it ... you just send us the update and it's done!
- We provide personable support. When you call us, you are NOT calling the 19-year old techie at the huge hosting company who doesn't care a bit about your business. When call us, you will talk to the owner or one of our key staff members. We care about your web site and we care about your business. If there's a problem with your site or a change that needs to be made, it matters to us!
- If you service the wedding industry, your hosting plan include a free ad package on one of our wedding portals in your area!
- Do I NEED web maintenance?
Yes! Maintenance covers basic updates to existing content on your web site, for example: price changes, announcing sales or seasonal specials, updating products or services, changing a phone number or email address, changing out an image ... the list of possibilities goes on. You should keep your site current and relevant - this requires web site maintenance.
- Do you provide email?
Yes, the basic hosting plans include 2 email addresses @yourdomain.com. Additional email accounts are available if you need them. We also offer unlimited email forwarding (e.g. we can forward an email address @yourdomain.com to your AOL or Yahoo address). Web mail access is available, as well.
Frequent eCommerce Questions
- I want to sell items on the web—how do I do that?
MSW-ID provides custom eCommerce solutions. We own and operate two of our own online retail storefronts, so our company has hands-on experience in eCommerce, not only from the development side, but from the marketing, execution, and fulfillment side as well!
Frequent Web Site Traffic & Search Engine Questions
- How will I know if people visit my web site?
Clients that take advantage of our web hosting have web site statistics available to them 24/7. We are happy to answer any questions regarding stat reports, as well. If you host with another provider, make sure you have web site stats available as part of your contract.
- What is the difference between hits and unique visitors?
A “hit” is generate by EVERY call to the web server, including the page and calls to get images, style sheets, and other content linked to the page. For example, a page that has 5 images will generate at least 6 "hits" for every on visitor who goes to it : one hit for the html file, plus 5 additional hits, one for each image. You can see why relying on HITS as a basis of measure for web site traffic is misleading.
Unique visitors (typically a much lower number than "hits") is a better measure of traffic to your site.
- Will you promote my site in the search engines?
We do not actually "promote" your site in the search engines. What we do is design your web site to optimize it with certain keywords in mind using design techniques that the search engines "like". Once your site is designed, we will run a submission for you to the free search engines (i.e. google, MSN, etc). The Yahoo Directory and others that are Pay-for-Inclusion (meaning you have to pay to be included in their directory) you can do on your own. You can also do Pay-per-Click promotion on your own where you bid on certain search terms to achieve placement.
- So will I come up in the free engines on the top two pages? Possibly ... but no one can guarantee it. If they do, they aren't giving you the full story up front. The search engines change their algorithms all the time to keep people from trying to beat the system. So someone on page one of Google today may drop to page 10 tomorrow. It's something that is 100% out of the control of web designers and web site owners --- unless they are paying for the #1 position through a pay-per-click service that feeds results to the engines.
What web designers CAN do (and we do) is use solid design principles that optimize your chances for great placement. What web site OWNERS can do, is create quality reciprocal links for their web site with their network of professionals, and promote their web site every chance they get using other media (business cards, letterhead, print ads, etc). Good design, paired with quality reciprocal links and genuine traffic to your web site will give you a better chance of achieving great rankings than most!
Many of MSW's sites have achieved and maintained top placement in the major search engines!