There are a few topics I like to discuss with each of my clients to give them an overview of what to expect with their web design. Each job includes 3 basic areas. 1. Domain. 2. Web Design. 3. Hosting.
You will need to have your www.yourname.com registered in order for any design that is created for you can be seen on the web. There are multiple options accessible to every client, including free domains. As a designer and marketer, I do not recommend free domains because they usually come with limitations that will take the validity of your company away. Such as a domain reading www.freecompany.com/yourname. It tells the world off the bat that you do not even own your own domain.
I suggest to acquire a .com that is easily connected to your company with as few characters as possible. You may encounter someone has the .com you want but I also suggest not to acquire a domain with the same name but different extension like .net or .org. Your domain could still be associated with another company easily.
Another recommendation is that when you find that perfect .com and it is actually available, get as many other domain extensions of the same name if you can. yourname.com, yourname.net, yourname.org, yourname.biz, etc. This will eventually help you on the marketing side of your website project.
When it comes to domain ownership, Balanced Design is different than many design firms. Most firms like to acquire domains for their clients but they fail to register the client’s information correctly with the domain company, therefore blocking the client from having administrative rights to the domain. We DO NOT do this here! If a client would like to part ways from our company to work with another (which I haven’t experienced), we will be glad to hand over all domain rights to the client they belong to. So, you can come to our company already owning your domain but have no fears if you need us to help you acquire your internet address.
Web Design is a broad topic. When a client comes to us and says, “I need a website,” a designer cannot just say OK and than you have a site in 1 day. Believe me, there’s a process. Here at Balanced Design, we set a meeting, whether phone or in person, and there’s an agenda. We are prepared with a questionnaire that is presented to each client regardless the scope of the project. Once the questions are asked and the client explains their vision, we can consult the best possible course of action. Each and every design project is unique. Some clients need more than others. Clients like to call the office and say, how much to make me a website? I always give a ballpark answer but ALWAYS say, let’s discuss your project to understand the details, and than I can give you a better idea.
So, the general process is client meeting w/questionnaire. A contract is written up to discuss timelines and what tools and design will be implemented on the project. Client accepts project by signing contract and providing a 50% up front fee for the project. Design company will post design to the internet in a temporary location for client to QC the project. Client pays design company project balance. Design company will provide design to client in form specified in the contract and everyone is happy.
Unhappy clients is always something that needs to be discussed. If we get a client that says, “Well, it’s not like I thought it would be,” or “I found another company that can see my vision better.” Hey, like I said before, I don’t want to keep any client that doesn’t want to be kept. But DO NOT ask for a full refund when I’ve already shed blood, sweat and tears over your project. Your project will than be prorated by our hourly rate. And if it goes over the 50% you’ve already provided, you will be generated an invoice. It’s just the business side of this creative process. You will by far not be surprised though, all of these rates and exceptions will be printed in black and white in each contract. I encourage clients not to shy away from signing a contract. You can’t even get cable, internet or cellphone services today without one. Remember this is a legitimate business like any other.
Hosting is needed in each project because it is the place where your physical files will be located in order for the internet to read them. Some clients come with their own hosting company and that’s no problem at all. As long as you trust your design company with your username/password to “install” your site, you are good. I do tell clients that if you decide to take the files from us and try to install yourself, we are not liable if the you can’t get your pages online. Most of today’s design include database back-ends and server-side scripting that will need to be properly configured on your web servers machines. It’s up to you, the client, but I suggest you allow your designer to take care of the install if you come with your own hosting.
If you don’t have a hosting company, no problem. Balanced Design also provides hosting plans that will fit any budget which can include bi-weekly, monthly, quarterly or yearly payment plans.
In closing, I do recommend each client that I have read this article. I hope it helped clear things up. If not, I’m open for questions.