Specific to Dry Creek Digital:
How do you work and what can I expect?
- If you're local I can meet with you and discuss what you need. It's great if you have some web sites picked out that you really like before we get together. I can do this over the phone and on-line too.
- Before I start working on a design for you I will ask for a small desposit. Usually $100 to $200 depending on the size of the website.
- I work up a few mock designs and put them up on the web (connected to my web site) for you to see. [I email you a link to the mockups.] These would be non-functioning, full size, home page mockups.
- After you approve a design I send you an estimate for the work. (Of course I need to have a good idea of how many pages you want and what you need on them to make an accurate estimate) It has a small contract built in which I would need to have signed and sent back to me along with a second deposit for 50% (less the 1st deposit) of the estimate before the work on the actual site starts.
- After receiving the signed contract and deposit I get to work on the real site. At this point I need to have all, or most of the content; text, photos, graphics, etc... and know where you want them put on your site. I would also need to have the information to access your web host via FTP to change and upload the pages. If you don't have a domain name or web host, either you or I can set that up. I charge a small fee for setting up things like a domain, host or domain email. Along the way you'll be able to see the progress of a fully functioning version of your web site on my server. This will enable you can see exactly what it will look and act like before we put it up on your host server. Please be aware that most of my communication will be through email to send you links to pages that I will need to you comment on and approve. In order to expedite progress of the website, you may need to check your email more frequently than usual.
- After a working version of the site is approved by you, I put it up on your host server for you, provided that is set up already, and viola, you're on the web! At this point I'll send out a bill for the remaining balance due.
- If this is a brand new domain and website, I'll submit the site to Google, Yahoo! and the Open Directory Project. This will jump start your site with the search engines. However, it can still take about a month or more before you start seeing your site come up in a search.
- I also install Google Analytics into all your web pages so you can track user behavior. This is a very valuable tool.
What do I need to do on my end to get the web site made?
In order to get your site up and running as soon as possible this is what I'll need from you:
- Links to web sites (URLs) that you like the look or feel of. Maybe even some you don't like so I know what to avoid.
- A list of the pages you want to have in your site. Think of it as categories.
- Content, meaning the text you want to have, photos, logos, graphics, etc and where you want them on your site.
- Text can be sent via CD or in an email or attached to an email as a Word doc (.doc, .docx) or plain text (.txt). Please do not send text in an Excel (.xls) file.
- Information you need on any web forms for your site and where the form data is to be sent.
- List of keywords to
be used in the HTML code to help optimize your site for the
search engines. Also to be used in the HTML title (
)in the code for the same reason.
- Web Host information if you have one. This is generally in the email you got from your web host after you signed up:
- Host name: like "host.com" # (Basically the company that hosts the website)
- FTP host: like "ftp.host.com", etc...
- Host directory: like "/www/pages/", etc...
- Answers to questions along the way.
—Communication is very important during the design process. I like to use email to ask questions, show you things and get your feedback. Whatever method of communication we agree on, it is very important that I am able get a hold of you in a way that I can have questions answered in a timely manner. Any lag in our communication can slow down the process of getting your site done.
Do you design web sites using templates?
Generally no, most of my websites are custom designed. However, I do use templates when working on a Wordpress site but can customize it quite bit depending on the template used. Also, the ecommerce section, if any, of your web site will most likely be made using a template and ecommerce software. I can usually customize these in a limited way (colors, logos, buttons, formatting) depending on the ecommerce software used.
If your existing website was made using a template, chances are I can work on it for you. I can usually do some customizing to the template, if that is what you want, and I can usually made edits to it. It really depends on how it was made.
How long will it take?
It can really vary. First we have to go through the design process and agree on a final design. Then, it depends on how large the web site is going to be, If it's a responsive design, if there are any extra, more time consuming elements like ecommerce, web forms or jQuery on it. It also has a great deal to do with if I have the content from you to put into the web site. How quickly and clearly we are able to communicate along the way also makes a difference.
If I am busy, working on a lot of other projects at the same time, a site can take longer. I have gotten web sites up and running in under a month when all goes smoothly. But it can take several months for the reasons stated above. Generally the better prepared you are, the faster it will get done. (How to prepare)
How much does it cost?
That's not a question I can answer without knowing what is going to be involved with your web site. I am usually able to give you a better idea after we've discussed what you'd like and sometimes not until I've spent some time working on the initial design. After the design has been approved and before I start working on the nuts and bolts of the web site I will write up an estimate using the information I have up to that point.
I basically charge per page + my hourly rate for graphics, photo optimization, web programming, typing content (if not provided in digital form) and any other extra miscellaneous work beyond putting the pages together. The per page price can vary. The home page is generally more expensive than the 2nd level pages. The 2nd level pages can vary according to how simple or complicated they are to put together. Responsively designed pages are also more expensive as they are more labor intensive to produce and test.
What do you mean by "per page" cost?
When I say "per page" I am referring to each page I make. A page is a separate html file accessed by a link or tab in the web navigation. Included in the "per page" price is putting the elements of the pages together. That means putting the text, photos, graphics, navigation, CSS and any other elements onto the pages. It also includes optimizing the pages for search engines, testing the pages in several browser, platform and OS combinations and uploading the pages to your web host.
Testing a page means checking the pages for correct layout and function.
What types of things cost extra?
How can I send you image or text files over the internet?
Most text can be sent as an attachment in an email. (I accept .doc, .docx, .txt, .rtd, .pdf) You can try sending another type of file but I cannot guarantee I'll be able to open it. You can also just send the text as part of the email itself.
I can recommend three ways to send image or large files.
- Via Email -The easiest way for lots of people is to just send your file as an attachment in an email. Usually the email program uses a paper clip as the icon for attaching a file. There are lots of webmail and email variations so you'll need to look in the Help menu for your particular setup. This does not always work well with larger files over a couple of megabytes. If you are sending large files you may want to "zip" them first.
- Use my upload page -Upload page [click here!]. You will need to contact me for the login. I will be notified automatically upon successful upload.
- Use HighTail -https://www.hightail.com/, Dropbox -http://dropbox.com, Google Drive -http://drive.google.com or some other cloud based file sharing service. This is a very cool way to send files, especially larger files that won't go by email. You have to register but all are free for basic service, which may have some limitations, but is just fine for most of our purposes.
What do you mean by "copy & paste" and how do I do that?
When I say copy and paste I mean taking something from one document and copying it into another one. Lots of times I need you to tell me a specific web address (URL). A web address is like "http://www.somedomain.com". It is found in the address box near the top of your browser window. Lots of times I'll need you to email that to me.
Coolest way: This is one of the first things I learned to do on a computer and I use it all the time. First select the text you would like to copy by clicking and dragging your mouse over it. This will "highlight" the text. Then use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl + C (Cmd + C on the Mac) (The Cmd key is also known as the "Apple" key). This will copy the highlighted text. Then click in the new document you want to transfer this to. That will give the "focus" to this document. Then use the keyboard shortcut, Ctrl + V (Cmd + V on the Mac) and viola, this will "paste" the copied text into the new document.
Alternative way: If keyboard shortcuts are too confusing for you you can also do this by going to the top of the window and going to the "Edit" menu. (in the bar where it says "File Edit View", etc...) Select the text, go to Edit >Copy. (If you have not made a selection, "Copy" will be "grayed out" because it won't know what you want to copy) Then click in the body of the document you want to transfer the text to. Go to the "Edit" menu in the new document and select Edit >Paste. There you go!
Hint: When copying a web address sometimes if you click once in the browser address bar it will highlight the entire address for you. If it doesn't, try clicking someplace on the page (not on a link!) and then click once in the address bar again.
Some other cool keyboard shortcuts are:
Undo: Ctrl + Z (Cmd + Z on the Mac), undoes your last action.
Cut: Cntrl + X (Cmd + X on the Mac), deletes the selection but also copies it so you can paste it someplace else.
Print: Ctrl + P (Cmd + P on the Mac), prints the active page.
Save: Ctrl + S (Cmd + S on the Mac), saves the document.
There's lots of computer stuff I don't know how to do. Where can I go for help?
There is a great website with short video tutorials for lots of basic stuff that you do on your computer. It's made for techy people to send instructions to their friends or relatives but you can click on any of the tutorial links to see one. Just go here: www.teachparentstech.org. Click on "View all Videos" on the top right of the third section to see all the videos you can choose from.
If you are pretty computer savvy and want to learn more about a program or how to use say, your iPad— or Twitter, WordPress or Google Analytics, I highly recommend Lynda.com. For a monthly fee of as little as $25 a month you have access to their extensive video tutorial library. What is really great about these courses is that they are broken up into bite sized bits (5-10 minutes on average) so you only have to watch what you need. They also give you access to a few video chunks in each course for free. If you want to you can join for a month and quit after that, easily.
General Web Developer Terminology
What's a Browser?
A browser is the program you use to surf the web. Popular browsers are Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Firefox and Safari. (I will test your website in all of these browsers when I design it, as different browsers can render a web page differently.)
This is different than an email client which checks your email. Popular email clients are Microsoft Outlook or Mozilla Thunderbird. You can also check your email with a browser using webmail. (Popular webmail options are Gmail, Yahoo, Hotmail, etc...) Email clients download the email to your computer. Webmail holds your email on a server on the web which you check through your browser.
What is a domain name?
The most simplistic answer to that question would be the name that is used for a web site on the internet, like 'google.com'. The name must be registered through a domain name registrar. Cost for a domain can range from about $10 - $20 per year depending on the registrar. » More information on Domain Names.
What is web hosting?
Simply put, a web host is a server that holds your web site. Your web site is just a collection of files and folders that are given a specific location on the server, that can be accessed via FTP, using a username and password. Basically you are paying rent to keep your web site on their server/s. Web hosts offer a variety of services above and beyond just "paying rent". There are usually different tiers of service offering different amounts of space, bandwidth, email addresses, ecommerce, databases and much more.
Web hosting costs vary widely and can cost under $10 to over $20 per month for basic hosting. Business and ecommerce hosting generally cost extra. There are two main types of web servers, Linux/Unix and Windows. Linux/Unix is typically a little cheaper. The two servers use different database types and web programming languages. You should know what types of things you need from your web host before you buy. Keep in mind that some inexpensive hosting services are overseas. Also many small web designers that offer their own web hosting are re-selling it from a larger company and do not own the servers themselves. Typically most small brochure type web sites can use a basic Linux/Unix hosting package. » More information on Web Hosting.
What is a URL?
URL is short for "Uniform Resource Locator". It basically just refers to a web address. A web address is like "http://www. google.com". It shows up in the "address bar" of your browser. Also known as URI. » More information on URLs.
What is Flash?
Adobe Flash, formally Macromedia Flash, is an animation program used to create Flash "movies" which consist of primarily vector graphics or video and ActionScript programing and is often interactive. Flash is often used for fancy motion ads on the web or streaming video like what you see on YouTube. Flash was a really exciting technology until Apple squashed it by not supporting it on its popular mobile devices (iPhones, iPads, iPods).
Flash is being used less & less nowadays. If you expect your site to be used heavily by people on mobile devices, you should not use Flash in your site. Not so long ago some really fancy sites were created entirely in Flash. Those sites are basically invisible to people on Apple's mobile devices.
What is HTML?
HTML stands for 'HyperText Markup Language'. Without getting too technical, it is the glue that holds the elements of a web page together. It is the underlying instructions to your browser that tells it how to display the page. To see what HTML looks like go to to the Menu bar of you browser. Go to >View >Source or >Page Source. The the underlying HTML of that page will be displayed. » More information on HTML.
What is CSS?
CSS means 'Cascading Style Sheets'. CSS is used in conjunction with the web page's markup language to streamline the display properties of the page. It can be used as an external file or embedded into the page itself, or both. It has greatly improved the way a page can be displayed giving global instructions regarding fonts, text layout, colors, page layout and much more.
Before CSS all properties were located in the HTML files themselves, often using redundant code to style say, a particular font. If the font needed to be changed, the code would have to be changed in several places on every page. It was very labor intensive. Now a font can be changed by changing one or just a few places in the external CSS file effecting the change globally to the entire web site, saving hours of tedious editing to the HTML pages. » More information on CSS.
What is FTP?
FTP or 'File Transfer Protocol' refers to the way in which files are transferred from a computer to the server over the internet. This is done using FTP software. This is not the same thing as viewing web pages with your web browser. Files themselves can be downloaded, uploaded or overwritten using FTP to/from a remote location much like you were doing it on your own computer using Windows Explorer or on a network. » More information on FTP.
What do you mean by zipping a file? What is a zip file?
Zipping a file means to compress it to make the file size smaller. Most computers nowadays can zip and unzip files without special software. For example, on a PC with Windows 7, to unzip, just right-click on the zip file and choose "Expand All..." from the context menu. To compress(zip) a file, right click and choose >Send to >Compressed (zipped) folder. You can also use file compression software like WinZip (PC) or Stuffit (Mac/PC). Most computers nowadays can zip and unzip files without special software. For example, on a PC with Windows 7, just right-click on the zip file and choose "Expand All..." from the context menu.
My web site was just finished, why am I not finding it in Google?
It can take a few weeks or more to start showing up in Google and other search engines. If you've paid for the search engine submission service I have already submitted your web site into the index at Google, Yahoo! and the Open Directory Project. However, it can still take a while before you actually show up in the index. The Open Directory Project can take many months and I often have to resubmit web sites to it before they will show up.
Even after your web site does show up in Google your ranking can depend on how much competition there is for the same general keywords that are embedded into your web site. One way to improve your ranking is having other web sites linked to your site and how 'important' Google considers those sites. It's a good idea to check your web site's ranking periodically and perhaps tweaking the optimization of the pages from time to time if your ranking is low. » More info on SEO (Search Engine Optimization)
You said you made a change to my website but I don't see it. It looks the same to me, why?
Most likely you are seeing the old version of the web page that has been saved in your Browser's cache. The cache is a collection of files that the browser saves to your computer from the websites you have viewed. When you go back to a previously viewed page they take files from the cache so that the page loads faster. Some browsers are more stubborn about getting the pages off the web than others, like Firefox or Safari.
Try one of these operations: Hold down the shift key while you click on the refresh/reload button. Hit [F5] or [ctrl (PC)/cmd (Mac) + R] or even [ctrl/cmd + F5]. If that does not make a difference you may need to empty your browser's cache, then refresh the page. To clear the cache with Safari on the Mac: Command + Option + E [Command/cmd = Apple key] then refresh the page. With other configurations look under your browser's "Help" menu to find out how to do this.
If these things don't work try looking at the web page in a different browser or from a different computer, if you can. If after all of this you are still seeing the old page, contact me.
I just got an email/letter saying that I need to renew my domain registration. I've never heard of this company.
This happens all the time, even to me. There are some sleazy companies out there that find your domain registration contact information and then try to trick you into using them to register your domain, effectively switching to them. Here are some clues that will help you determine if it is really your registrar.
- Have you heard of them?
If you don't remember who your domain registrar is you can check the "WHOIS" for your domain by using something like the Godaddy or whois.com WHOIS search. Enter your domain name in the box provided. A page will come up that will show that you owns the domain and who is the "Registration Service Provider" and/or the "Registrar of Record". These may be different if your registrar does not register your domain directly. i.e. Sonic.net uses Tucows. Or— you can check your old credit card bill from when you signed up.
If this is all too confusing for you, forward me the email you received (if it's an email) asking me if this is your registrar and I will look it up.
- How much is the registration?
Is it $20 a year or more? In most cases that is too much, most of my clients pay $10-$15 or less per year, if anything at all.
Those of you with 1 & 1 get your domain registration included with your hosting package.
- Are they asking you to "unlock" your domain?
There is no reason to unlock your domain unless you are transferring it to a new one. Before a domain name can be transferred the domain name must be "unlocked". Most registrars offer a domain name "lock" and "unlock" feature to prevent fraudulent domain name transfer.
- Do they need your "Authorization Key"?
Your present domain registrar will not ask you for that. You only need to have that to transfer your domain to a new registrar.
You can prevent a lot of this type of solicitation by making your domain ownership information private. Most registrars offer this for an extra fee.