Frequently Asked Questions

Q. What does "standards-compliant" mean?

A. In an effort to make websites look the same on different browsers (Internet Explorer, Firefox, Safari, etc.), a group called the Worldwide Web Consortium (W3C) has been developing standards for websites since 1994. While the standards are mostly geared towards getting browsers to play together nicely, website designers have an important role too. By building standards-compliant websites, designers help to insure that the sites they build will continue to work as intended as browsers evolve. They also add momentum to the efforts of the W3C, helping them to advance their mission in the interest of a better internet for all of us.

Q. What is CSS and why should I care?

A. CSS stands for "Cascading Style Sheets", a convention for setting the styling (color, font-face, size, background, etc.) of various elements of a website. The use of CSS, especially in a separate file, allows easier site-wide changes to the appearance of a website. The use of CSS also offers flexibility, especially when combined with Javascript, such as the text-size selection included on this site. The use of CSS to control the layout of a website, as opposed to using tables (the pre-CSS standard layout tool), has other advantages too. The code is cleaner, allowing faster page-loading and improving accessibility for vision-impaired people who experience websites through code readers.

Q. What does content management mean?

A. Content management or CMS (Content Management System) allows the site owner to update or maintain his or her own site without the need to understand HTML. Much like a blog allows the user to enter text and post it directly through the browser, a content management system gives direct control over many aspects of the site's content. Content management systems can be configured to give a great degree of control, saving on maintenance and update costs, but the initial cost of such a site is much higher than a static HTML site. However, blogging software can be used for content management, offering a low-cost alternative to full-blown CMS.

Q. What is "formhandling"?

A. An interactive form is a useful tool, but there has to be a way for the information that's gathered to be delivered to the appropriate person. A formhandling script is used to accomplish that. The form and script must be configured properly in order to do the job effectively. In most situations, a form also requires the building of at least two subsidiary pages: an error page (seen when a visitor fills out the form improperly) and a "Thank You" page.

Q. Can I give you the content for my website on paper?

A. Yes, you can give us your text content in many formats, including on paper, as long as the writing is legible. Graphics can also be supplied as prints, as long as they're of sufficient quality to scan well. That said, the most cost-effective way to give us your content is in digital format, whether in an email, or on a CD. Any time spent typing text or scanning images will be charged at our current hourly rate.

Q. How long can my webpages be?

A. Web pages are expandable lengthwise virtually to an infinite degree. Just bear in mind that the longer your page is (or pages are), the longer it will take to load (especially if the content is mostly images), and the more scrolling your visitors will have to do. The inconvenience of scrolling can be alleviated by creating hyperlinks from one part of the page to another.

Q. Do my image files need to be high resolution?

A. No. The highest resolution image that's normally required is 800 pixels wide by whatever height is required to retain the image's aspect ratio. Your images should high quality though - clear, well-focused and well-composed. It's a good idea to provide us with images that are somewhat larger than the size required for the website, to allow the possibility of cropping them, if doing so will improve them.

Q. How long will it take to have my website completed?

A. That depends on a number of factors, but a small site with well-developed content typically takes 3 weeks or less. If there's a target date, we'll try to accomodate your schedule.

Q. Will my site have a top ten position on Google?

A. Probably not. Google rankings depend on many factors, one of which is something called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). We provide basic SEO, such as helping you to choose keywords, and maintaining good form in the structure of the site, but we don't claim to be expert in the area of SEO. If you'd like to pursue SEO to a higher degree than we provide, we recommend that you seek out one of the many providers of that service on the internet. You can also get some free helpful advice from many hosting services, including ours. Just ask us if you need help. We'll be happy to help you with implementation of SEO recommendations.

Q. What's the best way to get my site noticed then?

A. If you're aiming at a local or regional market, rather than national or international, a high position in search engine rankings, while desirable, is less important. You should advertise your website at every opportunity:  By word of mouth, on all of your printed materials (including business cards, brochures, etc.), and with traditional advertising vehicles such as the Yellow Pages, newspapers and electronic media. If you use traditional methods to drive traffic to your website, you can then use the website to tell your prospective customer much more about yourself than would be cost-effective in a print or electronic ad. It can be like meeting with your potential customer at their kitchen table, but it's on their time, rather than yours. By using that approach, you can help to insure that you'll end up with a higher percentage of viable customers than by using traditional methods alone.

Q. What will it cost?

A. Our hourly rate (as of August 1, 2009) is $45/hour. All work is billed for actual hours required for the task, rounded to the quarter hour. We include time spent in correspondence, on the telephone, or in face-to-face meetings in our calculation of time expended. The actual cost of a website is highly variable, depending, among other factors, on the level of preparedness of the client and the clarity of communication. Our rate is subject to change without notice, but we strive to be fair to our clients in all respects.

The websites in our current portfolio ranged from $200 (not including hosting and domain name) to several thousand dollars.