What are my options to improve my website?
Whether you are going through the web design process for the first time or simply want to improve the online presence of your business, you want to be aware of the various design options available to you. We are a Houston web design & SEO company with a focus on custom design and search engine optimization and we believe that providing knowledge to our clients is the best way to earn their business. Below are some come common approaches to website design:
- Do-it-Yourself Website Builders. There are multiple platforms which will allow you to build your own website yourself, at very little cost. You will have multiple templates to choose from and you simply add your logo and content.
Very cheap and typically you can have a website online in 48 hours or less.
You are limited in the design aspect to the available templates and without web design knowledge; modifications to these templates will be severely limited. Although relatively simple to use, it will still require a learning curve in order to become familiar with the software. Also, if one of your objectives is to rank well in the search engines, this solution will not work for you.
- Semi-Custom Web Design. Typically you will have the option to choose from 5-7 designs and you get to pick your favorite one. This sounds good on the surface, but what if you don’t like any of the provided designs? Then you’re stuck in a contract working on a website that you don’t really like. Most often, this approach uses templates which are modified to fit your content, logo etc., and are marketed and sold as "custom web design", but if the process doesn’t heavily involved you, it is not fully custom.
Less expensive than a fully custom design and in most cases can be deployed more rapidly than a fully custom website.
Your input/recommendations in the design process are limited and you will have no guarantee that you will like the final product. It is rare that a heavy emphasis is applied to SEO factors.
- Custom Web Design. As the name suggests, the website will be fully customized based on your concepts/feedback. You are essentially purchasing a guarantee that you will get exactly what you want.
You will get exactly what you want and all the necessary SEO elements can be added to the design if you decide to move forward with search engine optimization.
The cost for a truly custom website can be significantly more than the other options and it frequently takes longer to complete the entire process.
What is involved in setting up a custom website for my business?
We are located in Houston, but our approach is to setup live web meetings for the actual design process. This will allow you and any other key personnel in your organization (regardless of location) to conference call into the meeting and be involved in the real-time design of the website. By taking this approach and allowing you to see and be an integral part of the creation of the website we are able to ensure your satisfaction.
We have found this to be a very efficient approach and in addition to achieving designs personally approved by our clients, we are also able to limit the time our clients need to spend on providing feedback through a 1-2 hour online meeting.
If you’ve decided a custom website is what you need, here are some key points to look for when choosing your web design company:
Houston Web Design Consultations
- Design Ability. We believe we have some of the best designers, but the key is to have a design that best fits YOUR requirements. You can look at the online portfolios for web designers, but when you do; pay attention to diversity in design. You will not like every design from any company, but diversity in design will show you the work is custom and based on their clients preferences.
- Design Process. Regardless of who you choose, you should be involved in the process.
- Guarantee. As with every web design company, we require a retainer as part of our payment terms. However, we provide a money back guarantee (less $500) if we are unable to achieve your home page design approval. (This has only happened twice in the last 7 years). This way you will limit your investment and if in the off chance the company is unable to satisfy your design expectations, you will not be stuck in a large contract.
- Programming Capabilities. In addition to the design of the website, our team has significant experience in the deployment of all types of custom web development and programming projects. Therefore we have the capability to craft a solution to fit your requirements as opposed to being limited into a canned software package.
- Cost. Our costs are typically in the middle of the industry. However, we do have a company minimum of $5k for any web design project.
If you’re considering a custom website, give our Houston office a call at 713-963-4605 for a free, no obligation consultation. We can discuss your objectives and determine if we are a fit for your requirements.
Will I have the ability to update the content on my website?
Yes. A content management system is software which will allow you to update and maintain the content on your website internally. Although it’s not a necessity, approximately 90% of the websites we have designed have some type of content management system. If you have an office in the Houston area, post delivery of your website, we will setup an onsite training session in which one of our representatives will train you and your staff on how you can make updates to your site, without needing a web designer or a webmaster on staff. However, if you don’t wish to update the website yourself, we do have packages available whereby we will perform this service for you.
- WordPress. By far our most frequently deployed content management system and also the most popular in the world. The primary benefits of WordPress are its open source (free) and it has thousands of free and paid plug-ins. A plug-in is software which can be easily added to an existing platform. This allows you to easily add functionality instead of custom building it for your particular needs. In addition, the amount of plug-ins available allow for future expansion of the functional aspects of your website, with limited cost.
- Custom CMS. When a canned solution won’t suffice, we can develop a custom content management system which will allow for much more advanced functionality. Custom solutions such as this are only limited by your ability to define the specific objectives of the website, but can become much more costly. Custom programming of this nature is only recommended when canned solutions are not available.
- Other CMS Solutions. WordPress and custom CMS’s are the most frequent deployments; however, our programming team has the ability to work with most every CMS on the market. Other solutions are typically recommended if you or your team have experience in an existing platform and are simply looking to upgrade it or expand on its functionality.
Can you get my business on the top of Google?
Our Houston SEO team is experienced, knowledgeable and most importantly will explain to you exactly what you can expect from a search engine optimization campaign. Unlike web design, in most cases SEO is an ongoing process that must be maintained and active for long periods of time in order to attain search engine dominance. But before you make a decision to move forward, you need to educate yourself on the expected outcomes. Here are some things to consider:
- How competitive is my market? We work with a number of law firms across the country. Due to the amount of money which can be generated through online contacts, law firms have become a hyper competitive online industry. We consistently attain client dominance, however, the more competitive the market, the longer it will take to rank highly and thus the longer the return on investment.
- What will I generate from my website? There are three primary factors which will affect your success; even after you attain high rankings. You need to consider these before moving forward with a search engine marketing strategy.
- Search Volume- The total number of people searching for your target search terms;
- Conversion Ratio- The proportion of people who will be converted from your website. Contingent upon your market, a conversion can be a contact, an online sale, a call, a form submission, etc.
- Profit Margin- If you’re selling a widget with a $2 profit margin or a custom home, your profit margin on a per sale basis needs to be compared to your search volumes and anticipated conversion ratio in order to make an educated decision on the viability of your market.
Upon request and at no cost we can provide a search volume analysis and will provide you with expected convertion ratio range based on your industry.
- How long will it take? There are factors, many of which are outside of our control which will affect how long it will take you to gain top search engine rankings. For example, Google has something called the “sandbox”. This has an effect of a penalty for new website domains. Why would Google penalize a new business? If you think about it, it makes sense. A business which has been around for only a few months has a higher probability of closing or not delivering a quality goods or service than a business which has been around for years. Therefore, a new domain is viewed as a new business (in most scenarios) and thus has to come out of the sandbox before performing well in search engine rankings. This penalty can last up to a year (but rarely does).
Similarly, even if a business has been around and online for years, the work which we do can often take many months to affect rankings. As a GENERAL rule of thumb, it will take at least 6 months to attain strong positions.*
*There are ways to attain higher ranking more quickly through what is called “black hat SEO”. If someone guarantees your business top rankings in just a couple months, this is what they are doing; and it is cheating. DO NOT do it. You will get a temporary boost in positions and then when Google figures it out, you will lose your listings entirely and most likely have to start over with an entirely new domain. We only perform “white hat SEO”. It takes longer, but it mitigates the risk of picking up a penalty over the long-run.
- How much does SEO cost? Search engine optimization & marketing (SEM) costs vary widely based on the nature of the business and the amount of work which is required. Currently our clients range in monthly cost from $400 per month up to $7500 per month with most around $1500- $2000 per month. Before moving forward with an SEO campaign, we will provide you a fixed cost so you can make a strategic decision based on all the relevant factors. In addition, we do not require a long-term contract. We work on a month to month basis so if our projections don’t fall in line with our results you have the option of cancelling at anytime. (The vast majority of our SEO clients stay with us for many years and most have never left.)
Upon request and at no cost we can provide you a market assessment, revenue analysis, time estimate and a fixed priced quote. Call us today at 713-963-4605 for a free consultation.
Do you work with companies outside of Houston?
Yes. In fact, the majority of our SEO clients are outside of Houston. Our design method and communication structure allows us to work with clients all over the county on both web design and SEO projects.