Web Solutions—Michael Scannell
Creating Web sites that work for you
How I work on Web sites
Looking good in the twenty-first century
The good news (maybe)
Just about anyone can call themselves a ‘Web designer.’
Usually this means they can produce single pages which look good in their own right.
But—do they look good to a real “hunter”?
The better news
- Web design is about Web sites first, and Web pages second. (Check out a few of the ‘website design’ posts in my blog.)
- Website visitors are out hunting, usually for information. Looking good means speeding up the hunt.
Questions I'm often asked
What qualifies you to be a Web designer?
In the first place, years of successful experience and happy clients. I have designed not only for the Web but also for magazines and newspapers, and even for the theatre.
For my formal/academic qualifications, have a look at my life story, on this Web site.
How do you keep up-to date with developments and best practice in Web design?
I use current professional tools.
I subscribe to professional Web design magazines, I get e-mail newsletters with the latest ideas in website design and search engine optimisation, and I have an (expensive!) full subscription to Safari Books, so I can read all the latest Web books online—sometimes in rough cuts as they are being written.
I also look at all the Web sites which other designers recommend in blogs and forums.
How much do you charge?
For a basic 5-page Web site with a working contact form: 400 euros (£360). Each extra page in a basic site is just 50 euros (£45).
I will design you an effective complete SEO-friendly one-page site for just 100 euros (£90).
For a big site with many sections I charge 150 euros (£135) per section, and 50 euros (£45) per section page.
For most sites, I will tell you what I believe you need, spell it our in detail, and itemize a fee, for you to accept or reject.
I never use templates. Your Web site will be tailored from scratch, especially for you.
Can we see some Web sites you have designed?
You can see some of them, broken down into types, on the very next page of this Web site.
The 6 stages I work through
- I take instructions from the website owner
I listen carefully, and I take notes. (My training as a counsellor helps here.)
If you want a Web site but don't yet have one—maybe not even a registered domain name—you can sign up with Web Costa Blanca.
- I build up a complete list of requirements
I spend time and thought on this stage: if there are things that visitors will be looking for from the start, they must find them even on the first version of the site.
- I seek out and gather material
I ask the website owner for everything they have: brochures, business cards, menus, branded stationery, photos, advertisements, news reports, press releases, articles, slide presentations… If they want to write text for their Web site, I ask them for that.
I also look at similar Web sites, especially competitor Web sites, and I go through my collections of stock photos. I frequently take new photos myself.
At this point, too, the website owner and I work out some indispensable features. All website owners want to be found on the Web. They will only be found if they provide something of intrinsic value that people are after.
The Web is not a branch of the advertising industry. You can attach an ad to something that people will watch or read. But no one will come to a Web site unless the site itself has something for them.
- I start building the site (with the website owner looking over my shoulder)
I design pages, in a private area. I often change details, so I ask the website owner only to comment when I feel at least halfway committed to a design. If the owner supplies what I need, I can get a whole site up in a matter of weeks.
What takes time is not page creation, but analysis and invention. Inspiration matters. You can't just slog away at a Web site: you will end up with something dead in the water. You have to find visual ideas which will capture and keep the attention of website surfers.
- The website owner signs off the site
For smaller sites, this is the first time money changes hands. (For bigger sites, I contract for payment at specific agreed stages.)
I only want happy clients!
- I make sure the Web site gets visitors
At every stage of website creation, I have been creating pages with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) in mind.
Now I create the necessary extra files, and I submit the site, with XML site maps, to all the major search engines. Finally I take the site under my wing, as a Webmaster recognised by Google, Bing and Yahoo.