Why do I need a website?
Your customers need to find you on the web. In today’s world, a compelling website is as essential as the phone book was two decades ago. A website with up-to-date information is paramount to establishing your brand and engaging your customers. Perhaps you are starting a new venture, have a product or service to sell, run a non-profit or you want to start blogging. Whatever your reasons and whatever the size of your organization, HMA can help you get your message out in your unique style.
I don't even know where to begin. How do we start?
It can be daunting to think about all the possibilities. By asking the right questions, Kim will assist you in putting together a website that is informational and easy for your clients and customers to navigate. Speed, functionality, style, and maintenance are major priorities.
After testing many Content Management Systems, HMA embraced WordPress for many reasons. WordPress is a robust system offering excellent security, ease of use, limitless functionality with the addition of plugins, and it is built to be SEO friendly. WordPress currently runs 28% of all US domains. Some of the worlds best known WordPress websites including The New York Times, Xerox, MIT, UC Berkeley, Jay-Z, and John Grisham to name a few. WordPress empowers you to manage your own site easily. And don’t worry—for those who don’t want to modify their website with weekly or monthly updates, it takes less time for Kim to update your site.
After it’s built, who owns my new website?
Once you have paid for your site either in full or taking advantage of one of our 18 month pricing packages, you own your site. HMA works for you, and you own the site.
Are there any recurring expenses?
Yes. Like running a business or a household, there are several fixed expenses. While there is no way around these basic expenses, there are many options. HMA can roll these monthly expenses into your package, making it easy to predict what your monthly or yearly cost for your site will be. Think of it as a utility expense.
1) Your Internet domain name must be renewed each year. This is a $12 expense ($22 for private domain registration). Should it expire, it can be sold to another customer by your registrar.
2) You must also pay for “hosting”, the space on the server where your domain will live (think of it as rent for your website files), which typically runs from $5 to $40 per month, depending on your provider and your plan.
3) If you would like custom email addresses (such as firstname.lastname@example.org), this will also be a recurring expense (about $5 per month); HMA uses and recommends Google Apps for Work, and can assist you in setting this up.
My brother-in-law dabbles in web design. He is willing to design my website really cheap. Why shouldn’t I just use him?
Your brother-in-law may be able to provide just what you need. However, keep in mind that website design requires a unique combination of skills. It is part project management, part graphic design, part computer science, part marketing, and part branding. A professional website designer will have a background in several disciplines, and they will be able to assist you with overall conceptual planning, look-and-feel considerations, color, branding, usability, and editing photographs and media so they are web optimized. Behind the scenes, there is technology to consider—HTML and CSS code, WordPress set-up, and making sure that your website is “responsive”—i.e. that it can automatically scale and resize depending on what device your customer is using (87% of all websites are now viewed on mobile devices). Website designers also handle posting your site to the World Wide Web, search engine optimization, content management, software updates, and providing the training and documentation that you will need to maintain your site should you choose to take that on.
Why is there such a wide range in prices for creating a professional-looking website?
Web Design is still in its toddlerhood, and there are many ways to build a site—from custom hand-coded pages to premade templates. Website construction costs do vary, and so does quality and reliability. You can pay someone outside the United States about $650 to build a basic 4-page informational site rather quickly. In this scenario, the web standards they follow may be unknown, and there may be no flexibility in styling, no hosting provided, and no support. For some people who know just what they want, this may be a good solution. On the high end, it is not unusual to receive a bid of $25,000 or more for a highly customized site. HMA takes the middle ground, starting with a semi-custom StudioPress theme, completely customized to meet your needs. The typical 5 page site with all of the features you need starts at $1595, or $89 for 18 months. For this price you receive a customized, responsive, mobile friendly website.
I keep hearing about SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Is it really that important that my site is Search Engine Optimized?
As the World Wide Web grows, it is more important than ever to set yourself apart from the herd. While it is hard to know exactly just how many websites are on the Internet, the statistics website Pingdom.com estimates that there are about 634 million live websites on the Internet, with approximately 156,000 new domain names registered each day [February, 2015]. So, yes, with all those sites trying to get to the top of the heap, SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is very important—it will allow you to have your site recognized when customers are searching for a business like yours. Your site will contain special keywords on each page and photo tags, and a premium SEO plugin will be installed to make certain your website is found. Halvorson Media Arts knows this technology as an aspect of its work with Google search engine research. As we build the site, we think about and incorporate SEO keywords through the entire process.
I keep hearing about responsive design and mobile ready sites. Is that important?
Responsive design means that your website can be viewed on most web-ready devices currently on the market, from mobile phones to laptops to tablets to desktop computers with mega screens. Your website will be individually tested on six different devices that we have in the shop, including a Big Mac, a standard PC desktop, a PC laptop, an iPad, an iPhone running iOS 6, and a Windows Phone. A recent Google study found that 87% of websites in North America are now viewed primarily from mobile phones. Responsive, mobile ready-design is therefore imperative for new websites (including yours!), as it is now a key criterion and indicator in Google’s search algorithm. This means “mobile friendly” sites have a major preference in the search relevance rankings. There is a great deal of research being done on how people get and process information. Halvorson Media Arts is betting heavily on rich interactions with customers on the web and the future dominance of mobile computing.
When can you start my site?
Once you commit to working with me, I will schedule your site and give you a firm start date. You will have a bit of time to pull together some content, photos, and any other assets I will need to build your site.
How long will it take?
From start to finish, a good estimate is 2 weeks for most sites. The faster HMA receives content, the sooner you will be enjoying your new website and proudly sharing it with your clients and customers. Need help with the writing? We work with 3 professional writers who would be glad to assist you with your content.