Web Design time and cost?

A year ago, I visited a long time client. He owns a local service business in Fairfax County. During my visit, he showed me the mock-up for a new website he was having built. He could have used our company, CountyWebsite, to design a new site. But he may not have realized we offer web design! Our focus has long been search engine optimization, lead generation, and directory listings. So sometimes we are guilty of failing to communicate all of our services to clients.

No matter! We continued providing our services for him.

Yesterday, he and I caught up by phone. He shared that the project of building his new site ended up a failure and cost him over $20,000. That is a lot of money, since his business is small. But the story is not over. Next, he went to another company for a website design. That also bombed, but at least cost him less. Finally, he is now working with a third company, and he says he is happy with the service he is getting. His new site is not live yet, and he assures me that it may be next month (let’s hope so).

This is a horror story. It sounds like he has spent over $35,000 on web design. For the size of his business, I think he should have spent well less then $10,000.

At CountyWebsite.com Inc., we’ve been in the web design business for 20 years. We know how to get projects done on time.

web design

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New Year’s Resolution: Say “No” to an Ugly Website!

Dali-Persistence-of-TimeThe New Year is always full of hope and promise. Whether it’s the resolutions you make on the 1st day, or the feeling that it’s time for a change for the better, many people start about in January getting things in order. Now is the perfect time to start on your business improvements for the coming year.

You’ve heard, probably many times over, that “image is everything”, or the “you don’t get a second chance at a first impression.” While those sayings are trite, they do hold a certain degree of accuracy, especially when you are referring to websites and marketing.

Imagine yourself doing a search online for a business. You click on the first site in the search results, and what do you expect to see? As the page loads, images fill, and text formats, in those few moments, you get a picture of the business. Not only what you see in front of you, but in your mind. Is the page well laid out? Do the images look like well-done photography? Is the information or products that you are looking for easy to find? Is the text easy to read? Any one of these could be a strike against you.

The New Year is the perfect time to take an hour and really look over everything on your site. Check out the links. Check out the images. Check out the accuracy of your information.  If you need better images, if you need a better layout, or even if you just want a fresh, new look. We can help you.

Contact your representative to request changes and updates be made, adding new images, adding a reviews page, anything from a little to a full redesign. We can also discuss adding a mobile site, setting up or maintaining your business page for Facebook, and much more.

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What is Net Neutrality, and What Does it Mean to Your Business?

iStock_000016066249Medium Some of you may have overheard or read that the Supreme Court invalidated several parts of an FCC’s Open Internet Order, or “Net Neutrality”. This order would have made it illegal for internet service providers to give preferential treatment to content providers that pay a fee for exposure. This means that large companies like Target and Best Buy can pay a fee to have their websites load faster than the small appliance dealer and children’s clothing store websites.

How does this impact you? Think about this: How long do you wait for slow-loading websites? The reality is not very long. If you want to find out about a local pest control company, and their website is loading slowly, but the site for the national franchise is loading quickly, you’ll read the fast loading page, and probably close the window on the local guy. The local guy can’t pay the fees for preferential treatment, but the national franchise can. Their pockets are deeper. Your business suffers.

The reason this order was struck down is that the FCC classified ISPs as an information service, not a telecom service. Telecoms are regarded as utilities, and are federally regulated to keep them from overpricing their services to the customers. Information providers can charge whatever they want, and now they can censor your content to the advertisers that don’t pay them extra.

Think of your print magazine or online magazine. You wouldn’t expect to find articles about cruise travel in an auto enthusiast magazine. You wouldn’t look in a decorators magazine to find out about the local trials and criminal activity. Those sources control their content. Now your ISP can censor and control your contend, and sell it to the highest bidder.

Below is an infographic from MediaMatters.org that gives a good overview of the issue.

NetNeutrality

The easiest solution is for the FCC to reclassify ISPs as telecom services. Then the rules governing fair business practices cover them as well as your phone, electric, gas and water companies. For the time being, this means that you may not have the internet you thought you did, and that customers may have a harder time reaching you.

The only thing you can do is to contact your federal representative to voice your opinions on how this could affect your business.

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Happy New Year!

DEPOSIT_New-Year2014

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

We wish you a joyful and prosperous New Year!

From your friends at County Website.

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Holiday Greetings

Footway in snowy woods

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Holiday Schedules

Everyone has a change in their regular schedule around the holidays. Your kids have off from school. Family is traveling to see other family. The retail outlets are in overdrive to meet the customer shopping demand.

Take a few moments to clearly post your hours where your customers can see them. Send an email out or place a poster on your front door. The last thing people want is to plan on giving you business, only to find that you are not there to give it to. Show some goodwill, and let them know you are going to close early, or stay open late, to meet their needs.

County Website’s office schedule for the December Holiday Season:

December 23: Regular Hours
December 24: Closing Early
December 25-27: Closed
December 30: Regular Hours
December 31: Closing Early
January 1: Closed
January 2: Resume Regular Schedule

We wish you the happiest of holidays, and a prosperous New Year!
From your friends at County Website!
 
Yule Log
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Tech is not the answer to everything

laptopTechnology has made our lives a great deal less labor intensive. There are a great deal of daily tasks and labor-intensive work that we just do not have to do, thanks to technology. Inventions like indoor plumbing, electrical lighting, modern residential furnace heating, telephones, automobiles, refrigerators, stoves, cell phones, … the list is massive. One would easily fall into the trap of believing that technology could be the answer to any problem.

The fact of the matter is that we are human. We are living and breathing creatures that require interaction with other creatures. If the problem is too many phone calls coming into your business, the answer might be to prompt callers to leave a voice mail so you can call them back. If the problem is too much wait time during steps of a widget-building project, you might be inclined to automate segments to free up your staff for other projects. Only one of these examples is the right way to use technology.

If your business has peak times when a lot of calls come in, a voice mail system might be good to handle the overflow. But if it’s an all day occurrence, will you ever really catch up on calling back your customers, without them believing that they are not important enough to return calls to? Here is an example of the human solution. It might be time to hire more staff, or designate time for your existing staff to make answering calls a priority.

If the steps of a widget-building project have necessary lag time built into them, and you don’t make use of those times being productive, that is wasting time and money. Spending the money to automate the widget process frees up your people to take on more work without reducing the human contact with the clients. Technology solution.

If you are having problems with traffic on your website, and it easily becomes overwhelmed, the problem might be that you are becoming successful, or it might be that you are being spammed as a target. Some automated programs can differentiate between them, but the best programs have user controls that can be adjusted to suit your needs and your experience. In this situation, a combination of technology and human touch would be the best solution. If you already have a program to handle this and it’s not working, a human solution can guide you in the right direction.

If your email is down, and you need to get vital details to a client, there are other modes of communication that will mean more to them that you reached out, than to leave a vast chasm of silence while they wait. An old-fashioned phone call will let your client know that you are working on their project, being attentive to their needs and communicate that information. Another automated system might be the long term solution, but to address the immediate problem, a simple phone call wins the day.

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The Mobile Problem

Mobile phoneDo you know what Google’s big challenge is?
Do you know what Facebook’s big challenge is?

The answer is one simple word.  Mobile.  Everybody is now accessing the internet more and more from their smartphone.  Google and Facebook are having a very tough time trying to figure out how to ‘master’ mobile.  It is a big change.

Over 1.2 billion people now access the web from mobile phones. That means they are searching for your business on their smartphone. They are searching for products and services on their smartphone. Are they finding your business there? Maybe this should be considered your big challenge too? Can someone find your business on their smartphone? Is your website mobile friendly?

Studies show when mobile users see a website that is not mobile-friendly, they will search for a website that is mobile friendly. Don’t lose customers because they don’t have easy access to your website on their phone. Adapt!
Here are some examples of mobile sites that we have produced for our customers:

Here are more statistics about the growth of the mobile industry:

•    There are currently 6 Billion mobile subscribers worldwide
•    This equals 87% of the world’s population
•    Google earns 2.5 Billion in mobile ad revenue annually

Here are a few more mobile sites created by CountyWebsite.com:

StampedConcreteVA.mobi
ColorServices.mobi
CaptainMosSeafood.mobi
CakeDesign.mobi
Cool-Breeze.mobi

Contact your sales representative for more information on building a mobile website for your company!

Or call our office at:
(703) 535-3320

We’re here to help you adapt!

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Image is Everything

How are the images on your website? Are they hazy and blurred? Cropped from whatever you could scrounge? Countywebsite.com has a photographer that we can recommend to you to produce stunning images to properly represent your products, business, and professional image.
When hiring a photographer for your business imaging, you should look at their body of work. Do they have plenty of experience in doing exactly this kind of photography, taking pictures for local small businesses to create customized website content?
In general, these DC area services will cost $300 to $400 to have the photographer visit your business. You want a photographer who will provide you with digital image packages formatted for website use, and can produce high resolution images for print as well.
Contact us for a referral to suit your image needs.
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Beware of Underhanded Solicitations: That’s Not a Bill

You are going through your mail, and you see an ad for this service, and a proposal for that service, both trying to sell you on how much you need what they have to offer. You know those are sales pitches. But then you see something that looks like a bill, but you aren’t even sure that you ordered those services. You know that County Website does those things, so you wonder if it’s a bill from them or someone that they use. Maybe you unwittingly agreed to something from that last sales call you listened to? Don’t be fooled. It’s a cleverly disguised solicitation, trying to get you to pay for their services that you never asked for.

We’ve received numerous phone calls and emails about a “bill” our customers are receiving. It’s from a company called DNS Services, and they’re sending out a SOLICITATION in the form of a bill requesting payment. The fine print clearly states: “THIS IS A SOLICITATION FOR…”

Our advice to our clients is that we encourage you to disregard this offer. In our opinion, we do not see value for our clients. The company isn’t even straightforward in their pitch. Never sign or pay for anything that you didn’t agree to. They are hoping that you’ll send payment to them, thinking that you actually owe them money.
DNS Services Solicitation

The letter is a solicitation, however, they have clearly made it appear as if it is bill for services that you have requested. This is not a service that you need, it is not a bill from CountyWebsite.
Solicitation disclaimer

The letter states, in fine print:
THIS IS A SOLICITATION FOR THE ORDER OF GOODS OR SERVICES, OR BOTH, AND NOT A BILL INVOICE OR STATEMENT OF ACCOUNT DUE. YOU ARE UNDER NO OBLIGATION TO MAKE ANY PAYMENTS ON ACCOUNT OF THIS OFFER UNLESS YOU ACCEPT THIS OFFER.

If you have any questions, please call your CountyWebsite representative or our office at (703) 535-3320.

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