Sunday, October 11, 2009
An Interview with Web Designer Rick Taylor
What are some of the purposes of a web site and the advantages to having one?
First I’d like to thank you for this opportunity to be interviewed for the Writer’s in Residence web site, Jackie, and I want all of the readers to know I’ll be happy to answer any question we do not cover here today.
All right, some of the purposes of a web site include personal pages such as family photo sharing and e-mail, to e-commerce business applications where folks can buy your product and have it shipped to them. One of the most popular uses of a web site these days is to host a blog site, such as Writer’s in Residence.
There are many advantages to having a web site, whether it is a free blog or a paid solution. Free sites such as Facebook, Twitter, and Photo Bucket are perfect for friends to share updates about their lives, post photos, and keep in touch. These sites are also a good means of promoting professional web sites as well.
As for having a custom web site for your business, it is downright essential nowadays. More and more, even if you do business in person, your clients will look you up online for detailed information about your services. It is important to have a professional web site in order to build brand recognition and confidence.
Are there any new trends in websites that you can tell us about?
In the 15 years that I have been watching web site trends, the enduring and most important one has been to make web sites more useful—to make them do more for the end user. In 1994 when the Internet was first opened to the public, most sites were nothing more than a vanity page or business card. Now you can purchase anything and everything online, seeing it in various styles and colors before making your choice.
Most importantly they should have in mind what they want users to be able to do on their web site. Is it to simply share information, exchange ideas, or to enable visitors to make a purchase? Decide this first and I can help with the rest.
Any time creative professionals deal with people’s imaginings versus reality, they risk having a gap between the two. What should potential clients realistically expect from a web designer?
As far as the design goes, it is best for a client to provide a few links of web sites with a design that appeals to them. Rather than copy these sites, the designer will be inspired to create something new which will have a similar “feel” to existing sites. A great web designer can make people’s imaginings become reality, but usually at a cost, so budget has to be considered when planning a web site.
What is the biggest challenge that you run into when working with clients?
Oh, that would definitely be with providing content. This is not much of a problem with writers, but it can be for those with a new business idea. “Content is king,” I tell my clients. Without good text content on the home page, for instance, the major search engines like Google may never index their web site. A good domain name and lots of relevant text makes a world of difference.
Branding is becoming a big deal, especially with authors. This is when the author creates an image or identity through their website, blog, appearances etc. Do you address this at all through your services?
Great question. I often buy books based on the author’s name only, and this is a result of good branding. With the author’s website used as the starting point, and branching out to all blogs, interviews, appearances, etc, the brand name becomes consistent instead of fragmented. The author’s web site must not be “yet another” site she/he is found on, but instead it must be the foundation from which all other site postings are based. I definitely believe in this and guide the author all the way toward strong brand recognition.
How long does it take to design a web site from first consultation until the site goes live?
Of course this depends on so many variables, but what I like to do is give the client a basic presence immediately and then build upon that. The design process may take a few weeks, but in the meantime there is some home page content and a means of contacting the web site owner. Alternatively, I can bring the web site live all at once, it just depends on the customer’s preference.
What are the costs involved?
Again, this will depend on a few variables, though I daresay that a web presence is affordable for just about anyone as long as their expectations are realistic. Just as an example, a 5-page web site with a contact form would be $299.
Can a client make changes, additions, and updates? What’s involved?
Yes, if I know upfront that the client would like to make their own changes later I can build the site in such a way that it has an “administrator” mode which allows them to add or edit content. This mode is very easy for anyone to use, so it takes a bit more work for me to create. A very inexpensive web site would be edited in “HTML”—the language of the web—so it would have no such client mode. It all depends on the customer’s wishes and budget.
Does the webmaster "promote" the site in any way, such as advertise it on Google?
A good designer will build a web site so that it is “search engine optimized.” This means that search engines such as Google will automatically index such sites because of the way they are constructed by the designer. Additionally, I do let Google know when a site is live and ready for indexing.
Is there something that you would like to tell our audience?
I would be happy to talk to anyone reading this article, and you may reach me for a live chat by visiting my website http://uberhost.net/ and clicking on the “Live Support” button. You can also visit my contact page at http://uberhost.net/contact.php for toll-free number, fax, email, and more.
Thanks again for this interview!