I need a website, where do I begin?

1. Determine the purpose of your site.

Okay, the first thing you need to do is determine what you need your site to be. Sites can be anything! A web site can be an online brochure, it can be a storefront open to the world, it can be a place to exhibit your art or music, it can be a place to get your opinions and knowledge out into the world, it can be a means for your clients or customers to register for events you are producing.

2. Determine your budget.

Your budget is going to play a large part in determining what your site can be. You won't be able to build a site that sells 100 products for less than a thousand dollars. But you may be able to put up a small but effective brochure site for less than that.

I suggest the following guidelines for determining how much site your money will buy:

The initial graphic design and planning of a standard, HTML site will take approximately ten hours, or $450, at my regular rate (this does not include the cost of the actual site production, instead consider this the pre-production work).

After the pre-production, you can figure it will take one hour per page to produce your site. Some pages take less time, some might take more, it all depends on how interactive the page is (store type interactive pages take longer to code than a page with only text and images).

So a standard HTML site with 8 pages may cost around $800.

Several things can add to the cost of your site.

Outside Graphic Design Work - Though many of my clients are happy with my graphic design work, other clients want a different style of work, and choose to have me hire an independent designer. Outside graphic design services can add significantly to your costs.

Text Composition and/or Photo Acquisition - Your site will cost more if I have to research and write your text from scratch. Writing well is time consuming. If you have text prepared for me, it is much less time consuming to start with that and create your website text.

As far as images go, most artists do well to have pictures of their work taken by a professional photographer skilled in that specific area. Product pictures are also best if taken by professional photographers. However, I am able to provide photography services that works very well in most other situations. Many business save money by having me take or provide pictures. Also of keep costs as low as possible general images can often be licenses for less money than it would cost to have them produced specifically for you.

Content Management System Website Creation - Content Management System sites cost more to create than regular HTML sites. but in some cases they makes sense as they allow you to make simple text and photo changes yourself. For a discussion of both types of sites visit my "Services" page.

Creation of even a small CSM site, one that will work well into the future, one that is visually appealing and optimized for search engines is more complex and time consuming that creation of a simple HTML site. Working with you on the design, creating the site framework and updating the design template (the theme) to work for you usually takes at least 15 hours, even for a relatively small site. After it's created I'll also need to spend time training you on the use of the site. Filling the site framework can take as much as an hour per page, if the content needs to be created from scratch, but if the content exists (either as electronic documents or existing web pages) you can safely figure about 15 minutes per page.

3. Get a rough idea of how you want your site to look and work.

Browse the web. Especially pay attention to sites that sell or advertise products or services similar to what you offer.

You want to get a basic idea of the layout and organization you want for your site. Prepare a list of sites you especially like, and why you like them.

4. Contact me with this information.

After you have a clear idea of the purpose of your site and your budget, and after you have identified sites you like, then it's time to contact me. Bring your ideas and the information you have gathered. Talk to me about your vision for your site, about your mission and your work in the world.

I'll share my ideas with you, offering information about the possibilities open to you within the context of your vision and your budget.

Here's the bottom line. I'm not the kind of web designer who provides a one time service. The web is constantly changing so your web presence will have to change along with it. Your job, as you look for a technology professional to help you, is to find someone who cares about your mission, your vision and your future on the web.

Just so you know, I don't take on clients unless I care about what they are trying to do on the web, and in the world.

Click here to contact CircleWebWorks for help with your site design.