Design Online Concept Gathers Pace

The design online concept has been around for a long time. Customers have been able to design their own business cards, birthday cards, mugs and t shirts for years. It has taken a while but the concept looks to be coming more widespread with even small bespoke furniture makers offering design online facilities for items such as oak coffee tables.

Clearly the customer will pay a premium for such a service, but the benefits, to me, justify spending that bit extra. Whilst researching the design online concept I came across a number of products that would typically cost double their mass produced equivalent, yet the personalised end product represents fantastic value. A good example would be the door mat my sister purchased recently. She’s one of those people who goes that extra yard to make her home as welcoming as possible, and now she’s the proud owner of a door mat which states “Welcome to the Critchley’s” – how much more welcoming can you get?

Another example would be the major sportswear manufacturer offering a design online service for sports shoes. This has got me well and truly hooked. I will be ordering a pair a trainers once I’ve finally decided exactly how I want them, but there’s just so much choice available it’s taking a while.

In my opinion the concept appears to be evolving. Firstly, from my research, we had the business cards and t shirts etc. From my limited knowledge of both products, I can quite easily see how they can be custom made with modern technology and both are easily transportable. Second, we have the huge multinational companies making products such as sports shoes exactly to the customers requirements. Again with my limited knowledge, I struggle to see how this could be profitable initially – certainly compared with mass producing by the million. I wonder if such companies have seen a future whereby the customer, rather than seeing the concept as niche, demands custom design and views it as standard?

Now, small companies are getting in on the act. Online trade is becoming overcrowded – it’s not as easy as it used to be. Therefore some smaller companies look to be going down the design online root, rather than compete with larger companies selling identical products. Home Farm Oak is such a company, they offer a design online facility where customers design their own solid oak coffee tables [http://www.homefarmoak.co.uk/available-now.html] online. Typically the customer pays a small deposit when ordering and pays the balance just prior to delivery. Whilst this clearly isn’t as simple as designing your own business card and I doubt it will be as exciting as designing your own sports shoes, it is a fantastic example of how small companies are fighting for market share. It also, in my opinion, offers an insight into how online trade will evolve in the future – where the customer will demand what they want – exactly how they want it.

Website Design – Things to Look Out For Before You Outsource Website Design

If you are not well-verse in website design and development, developing a website can be a very tedious process. You need to deal with all sorts of things like HTML, tables, CSS, slicing, etc. So I believe that you should spend your time on what you do best and outsource website design to an experienced web design agency.

When you decide to outsource website design, it is important that you find a trustworthy and capable agency to do the job. In this article, let me share with you a few things to look out for before you outsource your website design.

Firstly, you must know who you are dealing with. Usually, an agency will send a designer and a salesperson to talk to you about the project. During the meeting, you should ask them a series of questions before you decide to engage them. No question should be left in your mind. This is the best time to clear any doubt you have. On the other hand, they should have a series of questions to ask you too. They will want to find out the direction, corporate color, target audience and other information about your business. You should try your best to answer every question so that they can design a website that suits your vision.

Next, if you do not have a clear design for the designer to work on, you should give the designer a few sites to take reference from. Try to give the designer as much information as possible to facilitate the process. Once they are done with the first draft, they should send you the initial sample. Take a look at the sample and don’t be afraid to point out anything that you don’t like about it.

When you outsource your website design to an agency, open communication is very important. They will not mind if you drop them an email with more information or when you have any question about the website. Open communication minimizes misunderstanding and makes the project goes smoothly.

These are some of the things to look out for if you want to outsource your website design to an agency. If you are not well-verse in web design, it is best that you spend your time on the things that you do best. Leave the tedious development to the professionals.

A good website is like a good salesperson. You should not compromise the quality of your website for anything. So be serious about this and create a good website that will bring you more business.

Finding a Digital Agency: What to Look for in a Web Design or Web Development Agency?

Narrow down your digital agency selection using our handy top ten tips on choosing a web design agency.

1) Check out their own site

Do you like it? Does it sell to you? Does it contain all the types of skills that you’re looking for e.g. good web design, well designed user interface, well built, works on mobiles. Does it impress you?

2) Ask to look at their portfolio

Are the case studies recent? Do you recognize the company names? Do a Google search and check that the companies exist and have the same website that the agency designed. Do you like the website designs they have produced? Ask yourself: Do they represent the company well? Would you use this website? Do they have experience of website design in your field? Do the website’s meet their objectives?

3) Check References

Ask the web agency if they can send you references or testimonials from customers. And when you get these testimonials, make sure you check them out. Call the clients up and check that the testimonials are real.

Finally, ask how long the agency has been running. Age doesn’t always matter, but it does help to identify experience.

4) Capabilities

All agencies will be good at some things and not at others. Find out what they have experience in and what they do well, they often have a bias to one content management technology or another. Often, it’s helpful to get the CV’s of all staff employed. The best agencies will have a balance of online marketing, development and creative. If you have specific requirements – make a list and ask the agency what their proficiency is in the specific skills.

5) Availability – Service levels

Check that they can meet your needs. Quite often companies have a client account team in the UK but their main development team may be based elsewhere. Make sure you get a phone number not just an email address (and not a premium rate number either). Ask the web design agency what the turnaround time is for responding to emails.

6) Resourcing

You want your web design agency to be big enough to ensure that if your account manager is off sick or on holiday your business is not forgotten.

Do you prefer a larger, higher resourced agency or a smaller, more flexible agency? The general rule would be to find a web agency that’s resourced to reflect the size of tasks and projects you require. If you have 1000 employees but your actual marketing and development budget is reasonably low, you are only likely to need an agency of 5-10 employees. If you have 100 employees, but you are heavily reliant on outsourced projects, a larger agency may be more suitable. No one size fits all!

7) Age of agency

Age doesn’t always matter, but in this industry it can be an important factor. The web has seen many changes in a relatively short space of time, if a website design agency has been in business for five or more years it have obviously been managed well. The internet has seen the boom and bust of many company’s; those that live to tell the tale are obviously being run well.

8) Are the staff approachable and professional?

It’s important that you connect with the people managing your account. The best results will be created when you forge a partnership with your web agency.

Do they provide an off the shelf package, or do they tailor their resources to your needs? Do they use a lot of jargon or explain things clearly? Have they provided relevant suggestions suitable for your business? Far too often, company’s try to sell you products that you don’t need and are not tailored to your needs.

9) Check out the agency’s terms and conditions

This is quite important and helps avoid problems further down the line. Here’s some helpful questions to ask:

  • Are there any hidden costs, like set up fees or holding fees?
  • Can you make staged payments for your web project?
  • Are updates and maintenance included in the website design fees?
  • Are bug fixes charged for?
  • Will you get a copy of the source files?
  • Who owns the source code?
  • Who owns copyright of the design?
  • Are the files back-up?
  • Will it work on smartphones?

10) Do they outsource their work?

Check to see if your project will be developed in house or if it will be outsourced. Ask to meet the design or technical team. If work is going to be outsourced, find out where, are you able to contact the team? There are many cases of company’s who have an account management team, and an outsourced development team. It’s common for technical development to be done off shore as resources abroad are cheaper. The problem with this scenario is guaranteeing the quality of the work produced. Does the account management team check the back end code? Does it meet current guidelines and legal requirements? Can they be flexible enough to meet your needs?

Want a web agency with a difference contact Alchemy Interactive

Finding the Best Website Development Agency

As a business, finding the right web development company is not easy; as there are lots around offering state of the art services at record low prices.

Not to mention offshore companies based in Spain, India and the US – why not work with them. They are after all cheaper (mostly) and may be able to do a better job.

Using a local web development agency.

The main benefit with working with a local agency is that you can visit them and discuss the project face to face. Having an initial meeting with the agency will ensure they are competent and also help in communicating what the project is.

What about using an offshore web agency?

Quality – this would be hard to control if you cannot meet the agency. Skype and webenars are all well and good, but nothing beats a face to face for being able to communicate and discuss.

Remembering that only 10% of communication is verbal, talking on the phone or via e-mail means that the web agency misses 90%.

Which agency if you opt for a UK agency?

There is criteria that most companies look for when choosing a web agency

  • Do they understand the project?
  • Have they experience of your industry?
  • What will it cost?

These are the main things that come up when looking for a web company.

Meet with the agency (as mentioned) is the best way to a/ get a feel for the agency and if they are the sort of agency for you b/ they do understand your project. Many companies will say they understand when they really do not (as no one wants to tell a customer ‘we do not understand’ – could loose the client) understand.

If the agency has worked in your sector previously then they are much better equipped to tackle your project, contribute to is and also second guess to problem solve.

Comparing quotes from local web development companies is really the best way of finding out what the market price is. All companies charge differently and some are quite expensive – to avoid paying over the odds it is advised to get a few quotes.

Absolute Must Know First Basic Steps to Start Small Business Online and Be Successful

Starting a small business online can be a great way to go into business for yourself. An online business can be started on a shoestring budget. You can start a small online business and earn a full- or part-time income from home or anywhere in the world. Operating your business exclusively online enables you to complete all transactions, provide customer service, and manage the entire business, all from your computer. There are several steps you can follow when you are starting a small business online. Anyone, from beginner to seasoned online marketer, can benefit tremendously from learning and applying the following steps.

Find a need and fill it

The first thing you need to do is to look for a profitable market. Most beginners look for a product first, and then try to find a market. That is a big mistake and will often lead to failure. To increase your chances of success, you need to start with a market. You need to identify a group of people who are desperately searching for a solution to a problem. There are many Internet resources that make it easy to do this kind of market research.

Start by visiting online forums to find out what people want. Spend some time on various popular forums, and read the posts. Pay attention to what questions people keep asking and what problems they are trying to solve.

Another way to find out what people want to buy is to perform keyword research. There are many online tools that help to do this research. The trick is to find keywords have a huge number of searches but low competing websites.

Once you have found out what people are searching for, you can sell a product that provides solution to their problem. So look for a market that already exists, and then cater to their needs.

Set Up Your Website

You need a website to sell products or services online. Once you have found your market and product, and you have nailed down your selling process, it’s time to set up a website your business. Some people build their own website by using website creation software or readymade templates. There are also web design services, and these services can help you set up a website that is designed to run a successful business online.

Drive Targeted Traffic To Your Small Business Online Website

To make sales, you need to get buyers to your website. Potential customers will not know about your product if they can’t find your website. There are several ways to get your website in front of people who are looking for the product you are selling.

Pay-per-click advertising is the quickest and easiest way to drive targeted traffic to a website. When you use this method, you can start generating immediate traffic. You can also use search engine optimization to rank your website high in the organic search results.

Other methods of generating website traffic include article writing, banner ads, email marketing, and online classified ads. Video marketing is also a great way to distribute information about your website and product. You can also promote your website by participating in social networking sites and forums where your target audience hangs out.

Take Action

Thousands of people have started their one successful businesses by following these steps. Many have amassed great fortunes in their own businesses. And there’s no reason why you cannot do the same. Use these steps to start and grow your own small business online.