Small Website Design


For the past few years I have preached from the mountain tops about the disadvantages of having a website that is just too small. By “small” I am referring to page count, meaning a website of 2-3 pages. Try as I may to convince people that there are advantages to larger websites, most people will balk at either the work involved, or the price tag that it inherently includes. I am frugal. I understand the dilemma – you want a website, but you don't want to spend a lot of money on a website. We can work on this. I become concerned when a website is not unique, relevant or authoritative. Too much “fluff,” or not enough “relevant content” take a toll when search engines are indexing. If your website's rank is not a concern, and the idea is “simply to get something on the web,” we can move forward accordingly.


It is believed, and I only have the references and comments of people that have told me about this, that some small websites – even single-page websites – make it to Page One Google. I personally have not seen it. I'm not denying that these mysterious quirks exist on the web, just that I can not confirm their existence.


All of the above taken into account, the process of starting your website begins the same however large or small that website may be.



Getting Your Website (and intentions) Organized...

ahead of time!



The core of any website is it's “content.” This includes the words and images that will be used on your website pages. For some people/businesses gathering content is a daunting task. For others, it is a walk in the park. In either case, how much of the content for your website is available and organized ahead of time is really the main determining factor on what a website will cost.


Before getting the gears moving, take some time to figure out what you want to accomplish with your website. It makes the task easier. If your intent is simple – an online brochure, an showcase/gallery for your work or services, or you want to have a handful of items available for purchase online – look around the web at what others have done before you. Be critical. Decide what you like or dislike. And, (most importantly) take the time to actually read the content of the websites you like.


If your website is for a slightly larger business/organization, or your content will be a little more extensive, contact the web studio and we can discuss what is involved (and what you should be looking for) before you begin your research and investigation.


Once you have a conceptual or visual idea about the content you want to include on your website, start to gather the materials needed to accomplish the task. There are the basics: logos, photographs, existing brochures and pamphlets, past media advertising and the like. You may need to compose a few (or many) paragraphs/pages describing your goods, services, business background and history, or anything/everything that is pertinent to defining the actual intent of your website.


Materials that you gather should be in digital form. It is super convenient to simply work with word processing files/documents, jpegs, and digital graphics – as opposed to old 4 x 6 glossy photos and handwritten notes. If sending digital images, do not crop originals or simply “grab” images that you found in a Google search. I have access to copyright free photos, videos and graphics that can be purchased and used. I also have a wonderful list of websites where you can search out images that are legally free to use. The originality of your website is diminished whenever you do not use original materials. In most cases, the quality (resolution) of the images that you may “steal” off the web are not sufficient for use anyway. Original photograph images and graphics are always the best. To not plagiarize or simply re-word someone else's content. I run all pages through a service that actually checks for plagiarism. It is convenient. It really does help in avoiding copyright and legal issues in the future.


Overwhelmed or too busy?


New Milford Web Design and Consulting can handle all of the preliminary work if you are too busy, overwhelmed, or simply bored by the prospect of doing it. I offer a free initial consultation to review what may be involved, and we can work out a cost for my doing it. Some clients actually handle the entire task on their own once they have a good idea of what it is they need to do. They save some money. I save time. It is always a win-win when that occurs. However, have to be honest, I have had a heavy hand in most of the content of most of the websites that I've built through the years. Sometimes, even with the best of intentions, it is difficult for people to get the materials together on their own. I enjoy the work. If you want to know how it all works, simply give a call or send an email.



... almost ready to go!


Once we have all the materials ready, it's time to actually start building the website. Well... almost!


I like to have a preliminary SEO review before actually scripting and designing your website. This is an optional step in the process, and you can choose to disregard it. It involves completing a simple “Worksheet” that will give me a more solid idea of who you feel your competition is, and what we can expect once your website is launched and live.


The Worksheet Options are twofold. I ask that you complete it simply so that I/we can have a benchmark of where we are starting from. That part of it is absolutely free. And, it can be very handy to have in the future.


If you want a more in-depth report, I do a more formal Extended Review and Analytics with the information that you submit. It gives us an idea of the ranking, longevity and reach of your competitors, as well as defining additional possibilities for categories, sub-categories, keywords and phrases that we may/should be addressing while creating your website. As I mentioned, the initial Worksheet is totally free. The Extended Review and Research normally runs about $75. If you are opting for an extended maintenance or development program, the cost is simply absorbed in the monthly/quarterly fee.


An Extended Review takes a look at many features that are not readily apparent by simply visiting someone else's website. These include the use of “Best Practices” as prescribed by the search engines, history of a website, content and usage, etc. It tends to get a little complicated, and does require quite a bit of time on my part to compile. It is a valuable tool, but it is not critical. If you would rather “go live” without it, I won't argue with you. But, chances are that sometime in the future, you may want to through the process. I only ask that you keep it in mind.



Building and Launching Your Website



We have all the materials gathered, we've done a SEO Review, and we are finally ready to go. Deciding on a layout can be as simple as you looking at templates, commenting on the layouts of other websites, or simply “seeing what happens” with me just coming up with a design. I do not use templates. I do not use Wordpress (or any other CMS). All sites are “from scratch.” That does not mean that we can not, or will not, get our start by “borrowing” an idea or layout that we like from other sources. It does mean that your website will be unique, in the true sense of the word.


Smaller websites can be finished and ready to launch in a matter of days. Larger websites take more time. In either case, my workload scheduling is a determining factor as to the timing of your website launch. There are times I am heavily invested in a project that demands immediate or extended attention. And, there are times when I am simply handling the general maintenance of client websites and can juggle things around easily enough.


Once the work begins, I set a “beta-version” on the web for your review. You can monitor that website as the work progresses. You can make comments, suggestions, and – ideally – share the URL with others for their comments as well. For “naked websites” - there really isn't much “behind the scenes” for me to guide you through. If you are paying for a more in-depth website, I will explain the mechanics behind each page, paragraph and image.


I include Google Analytics with every website that I build. And, I monitor all websites because... that's what I do. I learn from it, whether people are paying me to keep track of things or not. I you prefer to use another analytics, simply let me know ahead of time. In either case, I strongly recommend that you have some sort of analytics on your website. It is a most valuable tool.


On approval of your beta-website, we move it to a regular server. I offer first-year free hosting, but do suggest that you consider establishing your own hosting thereafter. There are numerous companies out there that offer inexpensive or alternative hosting packages. I prefer GoDaddy and MacHighway almost exclusively. I have reasons for that. If you are interested in the reasons, simply let me know. If you want to go with another registrar or hosting company, we can do that as well.


After your website is launched, if you “went naked” you are pretty much on your own. I don't make unsolicited or sales motivated emails or calls. If you need additional work or revisions to the website, you need to contact the web studio and schedule the work. I normally charge on a “per project” basis rather than hourly – it's easier for you and me! I normally do not charge for updates and revisions that involve less than a half-hour of work. If you have signed into a Extended Maintenance/Growth Program, I send monthly (or quarterly) reports on the work that has been done, also including a review of previous quarter updates and accomplishments, and advance notification of work that will be accomplished during the next period. Extended Programs are billed monthly or quarterly.