Ready to build a dynamic website that communicates?
Custom Website Design
I customize Web 2.0 compliant websites using the self-hosted version of WordPress. After hand-coding websites on and off for over 18 years, I believe the power of the built-in CMS (Content Management System), as well as the flexibility due to the numerous plug-ins available, makes WordPress a user-friendly, economical option for small businesses.
The power of using CMS to build your site
Today’s website is an interactive marketing tool used not only to provide information about your company but also to actively communicate with your site’s visitors. Long gone are the days of the static, informational website.
When used to its full advantage, a company website becomes a powerful marketing tool. A well-designed, easy-to-navigate site will provide valuable information about your products/services. The ability to send your potential customers to your site vs. mailing out information can save time and money. Incorporating social media (Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, etc.) into the site improves traffic, promotes your brand, and builds relationships with potential customers.
Using a website that is built dynamically with a CMS allows you to update your site quickly using an administrative dashboard. There is no need to know any code. Content is updated using a WYSIWYG (What you see is what you get) editor. Making changes to pages and posts or adding new ones is simple, and the changes are instantly updated on your site once you hit “Publish” or “Update”. The task of keeping your site up-to-date is now quick and easy. It is possible to set up multiple “authors” so several people in your organization can contribute content to the site. Many SEO features are built-in and most include a place to easily add in page-specific meta tag information. Dynamic pages allow a visitor to select a category and see all the articles tagged with that category, so finding information is very user-friendly.
Why does everyone have a blog these days?
A blog can keep your site’s content fresh and informative. Think of it as a way to broadcast your company’s news to your existing customers and potential customers. Blogs can be used for many purposes such as:
- Informing your customers of new products/services
- Announcing awards and special recognitions the company has received
- Discussing the latest trends and advancements in your industry
- Displaying the results of a completed project in your portfolio
By the way, a blog doesn’t have to look like a blog. You are using the CMS to dynamically build pages so the site visitor can easily find the information they are looking for. Another advantage is the ability to have a list of subscribers. When you publish a new article on your site, all subscribers to your RSS feed are notified about the new content.
Before you begin…
What are the goals of your website?
- Introducing/Promoting your company – Branding
- Attracting new customers?
- Supporting existing customers with information (FAQs)?
- Giving directions to your location?
- Providing useful information/tips about your product/service/industry?
- Providing information on your products/services?
How do you want your site to look?
Research your competition and other sites to see what you like about them.
- What color palette will you use? Should it match your company colors or logo?
- Make a list of URLs of a few sites you like and a few you don’t…and why.
- What pages do you want on your site? (Home, About Us, Products, Contact Us, etc.)?
About self-hosted WordPress
Why can’t I just use the free WordPress.com site?
The free sites are limiting on both how they look and how they function.
Self-hosted sites are practically unlimited in how they can be customized. There is a constantly-growing choice of themes and plug-ins available.
What are plug-ins? They are tools that extend the functionality of WordPress so it can do just about anything imaginable. Plug-ins add functions such as: a rotating slideshow, a photo header, social media sharing, and SEO tools to name just a few. A WordPress site without plug-ins is like an iPhone without apps, so you can see the importance of using the self-hosted version. As a business, you need the versatility of this option.
What is required for a WordPress site?
Amazingly enough, WordPress is open source software, so it is free. Right up front you save the cost of purchasing an editing program and can instead invest in the technical assistance needed to get it set up.
You will need:
- a domain (www.yourcompany.com) which costs about $10-$20 per year
- a hosting account ($7-10 per month)
If you don’t have these and are a bit unsure of this step, I am happy to guide you through this process. Some hosts are more WordPress-friendly than others, and I would be glad to recommend a few.
Installing WordPress on the host server can be intimidating for some as it does require a little technical know-how. Familiarity with HTML/CSS/PHP files is necessary to customize the look and function of the site. This is where I come in. Your technical assistant is here to help. Once the site is set up, it is very easy to maintain yourself.
What I can do for you:
- Installation of WordPress on your host account.
- Installation of a premium theme as a starting point.
- Akismet plug-in installed – this prevents spam and is a standard plug-in.
- Customization of the header with your logo.
- Alteration of the color scheme of headings, menus, etc. to fit your color palette.
- Set up of the widgets in the sidebar to fit your needs.
- Social networking links to your social networking sites (Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In, etc.).
- “Share this” plug-in so visitors can share an article with their friends via social media.
- Meta tags for title, description, and keywords.
- Sitemap plug-in – this keeps an up-to-date map of your site for the Search Engines.
- Database backup – your database will be backed up and emailed to your weekly.
- Optimization of all images to reduce load time.
- Addition of other items based on your needs.
- Training so you are comfortable making changes on your site.
There is a wide range in price for my services depending on the complexity of the customization and size of the site. I would be happy to provide you with a quote after discussing the vision of the site with you. I do offer discounted prices for non-profits.
I look forward to helping you develop your interactive communication tool…your new website.