- What is site hosting?
Once a website is created, it has to be made available on the Web for people to see. This is done via a webserver -- a very fast, very reliable computer whose whole purpose in life is to dispense web pages to people who request them. People like your customers.
- Could I do that on my computer?
Yes and no. If you have a computer with the appropriate software, a fast 24/7 net connection, and an Internet service provider that allows it (note: most cable systems do not), you theoretically could. However, without the fast fiber-optic links to the Internet backbone that a host like Winterhome provides, your pages would be displayed very, very slowly. You wouldn't be able to use your computer for much else. Plus there are security and reliablility issues. In practical terms: No.
- How much does a website cost?
How much does a print advertisement cost? That depends entirely on what you want. Our design and hosting services pages give the basic prices, but your website is unique, just like your business. That's why we sit down with you and go over your needs in detail, so that your site does exactly what you want it to do.
- How soon can my site be online?
That depends on the complexity of the site and the work to be done. If you need us to scan and prep 500 photographs, that will obviously take more time than setting up a few pages of text. As a rough guide, your domain name will usually be active with a "coming soon" page within two business days, and the full site will take roughly one day per $100 of services. In general, the average site will be done within a week. This is, however, only a rule of thumb. We will give you a firm date when you've settled on all the details.
- What if I don't like it when it's done?
That can't happen, because it isn't done until you're satisfied. Once we have the site built according to the design you chose we will work with you to fine-tune it until it's exactly what you want. Only then is it ready for the Web.
- How will people find my website?
First of all, we'll submit your site to all the major search engines such as Google. While nobody can guarantee top placement, our careful use of features such as meta tags and descriptive text content will ensure that people who are looking for you can find you. In addition, don't forget to put your website's URL on your print advertisements, flyers, business cards, receipts, packaging ... everywhere a customer might look to see how to find you again.
- Can you guarantee me a top position in the search engines?
No, and anyone who claims they can is either lying or using an exploit that may get them (and you) dropped from the exploited search engine entirely. A well-written page with appropriate meta tags and good text content is your best bet in the long run.
- I already have a website, but it isn't what I really want. Can you fix it?
Yes indeed. Website remodeling is our specialty. We can keep as much or as little of your existing site as you want, and turn it from an also-ran into a winner. Not sure what the problems are? We can evaluate your site and send you a detailed report -- and the cost of the evaluation is credited towards any design services you choose.
- My cousin Charlie has some website program and he said he could make me a website. Why should I hire a professional?
For the same reason you would hire a professional to design a television commercial for you, or fix your air conditioner for that matter. Running your business is your specialty. Building websites is ours. A video camera doesn't make someone into a TV producer, a toolbox doesn't turn someone into an HVAC technician, and a website creation program doesn't make someone into a website designer. Knowing how to put something on a Web page is only part of the picture; knowing what to put there, and why to put it there, are equally if not more important. That's where an expert makes the difference.
- Why is it important to have my site accessible to different browsers? Doesn't everyone use Internet Explorer?
There are many different Web browsers out there -- IE, Netscape, Opera, Lynx, Firefox, Safari, Konqueror, and others. Your potential customers might be using any one of them. Search engines' indexing programs are also browsers in a sense. The last thing any business can afford to do is to turn customers away at the door, especially when welcoming them inside is so easy.
- How about things like Flash and Java? Don't I need that to attract customers?
This is much like the situation with browsers: not everyone has (or wants) the software or bandwidth to display them. The most cutting-edge technology is worse than a page of plain text to a customer who can't view it. Some plug-ins have compatibility or legal issues, such as the recent court case involving Internet Explorer plug-ins. Plus, many people find them annoying. A solid, well-designed, accessible website keeps working for you long after the novelty of eye candy has worn off. Certainly there are times and places where these features are appropriate, but those are far rarer than their usage (or their advertising) might lead you to believe.
- If Flash and Java and the like are so bad, why do so many websites use them?
Simple: While an online business's goal is to sell their products to their customers, the goal of the website designer who created their glitz-loaded website was to sell a website to that business. Glitz looks great to the person who's buying it; it's the person who's using it -- the client's own customers -- who have the problems. At Winterhome, we remember that our business is to make your business stronger.
- You make a big deal about "hand-crafted" web pages. What do you mean?
At Winterhome, your pages are written one word at a time by a skilled human being, not churned out by an automated program. Slower? Yes, but so is building fine wooden furniture by hand instead of molding it out of plastic. Of course we use some tools to help with this -- we're craftsmen, not masochists -- but your site will be the work of a real person, not auto-generated by a program written by someone who couldn't care less about you and your business.
- Why wouldn't I want a site built by one of those fancy, expensive programs?
Many reasons: Being automated, they're very often sloppy. They often throw in a whole page of HTML to do what really only takes a few lines. This causes page sizes (and hence load times) to skyrocket. Some of them are known to deliberately produce pages that don't work properly in any competing company's browser. You want to expand your business, not theirs. Finally, what may be most important to you, their output is often a total nightmare. The developers of those programs (and the website designers who use them to create websites) don't want you to be able to read, understand, or update your own web pages. We're working for you -- so we do.
- Why is page loading speed important? It looks fast enough to me.
Not everyone has a fast connection. Many people, especially outside urban areas, are on slow dialups, and you don't want to lose their business. If a visitor has to wait more than 10-15 seconds to see your page, the chances are they will leave and not come back. People with high-speed broadband connections don't like slow websites either. They're paying for speed, so they may be even less tolerant of slow websites that make them feel like they're still on dialup. All the glitz in the world won't sell anything to a visitor who just clicked their "back" button.
- What about taking orders online? How can my customers pay?
There are many ways to handle this, including working with your current credit card processor if you have one. Another option is using PayPal's instant shopping cart and payment system. PayPal handles all of the payment details, so even customers who are uncomfortable giving credit card information to an unfamiliar business will feel safe. Plus it has easy options for electronic checks and other non-credit payments.
- Is there an easy way to include dynamic content, to keep visitors coming back?
With one of our database-driven page options, you don't need to know anything about HTML or web pages to update one or more of your pages yourself. This is perfect for things like a catalog, of course, but also for daily news, special events, featured products, or anything else you might want to change frequently. We also have a scheduled page swap system available which can automatically change between existing pages or style templates on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis.
- Some other company says they can "articulate a compelling presence on the Internet." You don't talk like that. How come?
Let them articulate all they like -- you need a website, not a lot of doubletalk. We're here to work with you as a partner. If you don't understand something, it's because we didn't explain it well enough. So just ask!