Foundry Designs logo Professional Website Design and Online Marketing
professional website design
1.800.FDI.SITE (334.7483)

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

But I have a friend/neighbor/relative who can make a website for me...

We often hear people say, "I have a friend (neighbor/relative/etc.) that can make a website for me." It may be tempting to save a buck upfront and go this route. And actually, if that friend/neighbor/relative is a professional website designer, then that may be a great route for you to take. But many times the freebie or cheap site that you get is...well...not befitting of your professional image.

I have one very strong word of advice -- you get what you pay for. Truly, in this area, you do. I've seen many businesses go the cheap route and get friends or family to do their site, and it looks like it -- like someone threw together a site with Frontpage. If it's for a very small business that's just for fun (like scrapbooking for people) or something else small time, then that might be okay. But if this is for a profitable, professional business, then you definitely want your website to reflect your professionalism. I just can't stress this enough.

In addition to getting a design that you would be proud to have represent your business, a professional will be able to take care of all of the other details. A thorough developer will get to know your business process and be able to make suggestions for your site that will help to achieve your goals, whether it be to increase leads, increase sales, showcase products and services, increase employee productivity, and more.

A professional will be in tune with current design and usability standards, as well as cross-browser compatibility issues. If search engine standings are important to you (and they should be, if you have a business), then you'll want to go with someone well versed in current search engine optimization and marketing trends (it's not as simple as just plunking in some keywords in your metatags, like many people -- including many developers -- think). More importantly, the methods employed for such search engine standings should be ETHICAL. Many fly-by-night companies out there employ unethical practices, which puts you on thin ice to potentially be blacklisted from search engines. Definitely NOT what you want to happen.

There's so much more. Do you want your site to tie in with existing software that your company uses? Are you in need of any custom software or database development? What about secured areas of the site (intranet vs. extranet)? Do you want a seamless, cohesive look and feel to your site, or a hod-podge of third-party tools that are thrown together? Do you need a logo design? And if so, you will definitely want that logo to be top notch, since it will be on every printed piece of literature that your company uses. Check out any potential developer's portfolio. Are the sites visually pleasing and easy to use? Do they load quickly in the browser? Do you have to scroll more than two page lengths down? Do you have to scroll AT ALL to the right (big no no)?

Can you tell I feel very strongly about this? But seriously, that's why major companies pay to hire people full time to do this stuff. Yes, your neighbor's kid can throw something together with a free text editor and some web space from godaddy, but usually it pays to find someone with the experience and expertise, especially when it comes to your professional image.

Foundry Designs provides free, no-obligation website estimates for your projects.

(This post was a contribution from Terri, FDI Vice President)

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

How to Get the Most out of Your Website

So many business owners get a website only to let it languish and stagnate. You wouldn't neglect your building, your equipment, or your marketing budget, so why ignore your website? With traditional marketing avenues quickly losing their appeal and effectiveness, your website is the new frontier for you to reach new customers and connect with old ones. Here are some tips to make your website work hard for you:

  • Visit your website on a regular basis. If it is right in front of you, you can’t ignore it.
  • Do not neglect your content -- update it frequently.
  • Search your competition. Find out what your competitors are doing online and see if their ideas will work for you.
  • Make sure your website has the information and services that your customers are looking for. Why spend time on the phone giving a customer directions or business hours when they could save both of you time by simply finding it on your website?
  • If you have items that are of particular interest, consider placing links with short descriptions on your home page.
  • Put your website address on *everything* -- letterhead, ads, brochures, business cards, etc. Treat it like a phone number.
  • If you have a blog or a podcast (and you should), make sure to regularly schedule time to make entries or broadcasts.
  • Just like above, if you have a newsletter, make sure to regularly schedule time to compose and send them.
  • Keep your email lists current and look for ways to expand them.
  • Make use of free and low-cost tools to market your website. There are numerous industry publications and online resources that allow you to post your URL for free.
  • Make sure you are listed in online directories, such as the Yahoo Yellow Pages.

This is just a few of the many ways you can get the most out of your website. This list can get you started, but don't be afraid to try new ideas. Also, feel free to share your ideas with us.

As always, we are available to help at any time. Feel free to contact us!