Frequently Asked Questions
Why have a web site?
A web site is an invaluable tool and, in some businesses, an essential one, for advertising your products or services. Why?
- Extremely cost-effective compared with advertising in other media - available worldwide 24/7
- It can contain more information and photographs than printed adverts, having greater impact
- It is easily updated with new products, prices, photos and information
- It functions as an on-line brochure and can be downloadable by customers, saving you printing/faxing costs and time
- It can have a facility for customers to purchase on-line, saving showroom space/sales staff
- It can include payment facilities
- On accommodation and other tourism sites can have on-line booking forms
What goes into web site design?
There is much more to a site than a visually stunning presence on the internet.
- It must work for you, not the web site designer. It must sell your product/service rather than the webmaster's virtuosity as a graphic designer
- It should be appropriately attractive. For example, if you have some ordinary holiday flats your site should not give the impression that guests will be staying in Buckingham Palace as this will either deter potential customers from considering it or result in disappointment if they do. The reverse also applies!
- It should present your product attractively, honestly, with useful information and be easy to use. Any site that requires advanced computer literacy to explore is usually counter-productive.
What does a site need to be effective?
There is a vast number of sites on the net and any one of them is like a needle in a haystack. If your site can not be found then it will serve no purpose. There are some essentials for an effective site; it needs to be:
- Optimised. Read more about search engine optimisation
- Submitted to the search engines. Obvious but true - it is amazing how many sites have not been. In recent times most of the major search engines should pick up a new site automatically but this does not always happen which is why we still recommend submission
- Linked to other suitable sites. Some search engines factor in the number of incoming links as a measure of the site's popularity which, in turn, influences to some extent search engine rankings. To get a link you must expect to give a link
- Marketed. It is an opportunity wasted to have printed matter without mentioning your website address. Most marketing methods belong in the field of marketing but your web site designer can advise you with regard to how to market your site suitably on the internet
- Your webmaster must have an ongoing relationship with you so as to provide maintenance for your site to keep it fresh and up to date.
What does ZAWebs bring to web site design?
- ZAWebs has been in business since 2002 and has designed and maintained many web sites in a wide variety of fields. These sites range from one page "sub-domain" sites (not normally recommended but of value in niche markets) to large business sites with multiple client ordering systems
- Visit our "Portfolio" page to get an idea of the breadth of our experience. You will see that we cater for all sorts - a "humble" client does not take second place to a "grand" client
- We strive to build an ongoing relationship with our clients and the fact that most of our web sites have come from recommendations from satisfied clients speaks for itself.
What standard services does ZAWebs offer?
- Web site design, static or dynamic, to a client's requirements and publishing it on the internet. (Static sites can only be updated by the webmaster while dynamic sites can be updated by the owner). We also re-design existing sites. A potential client is welcome to consult us before making up his mind. We avoid the "hard sell" and will not try to sell you more than you need. We will even tell you if, in our opinion, a web site would not serve your purposes
- Register a domain name. (Your domain name is the website "address" by which you are known, for example www.mysite.com.). Read more about domain name registration. Domain names should be apt and practical, so draw on our experience
- Hosting. (Every web site on the internet is "hosted". Host servers are computers dedicated to making websites available to internet users). Read more about web site hosting. If you are already hosting elsewhere you are under no compulsion to host with us because we design your website
- Personalised e-mail address. If you already have an e-mail address firstname.lastname@example.org there are two important factors to consider. Firstly is professional image; an address like email@example.com looks more businesslike than a "home" address. Secondly, if you should later change your service provider all references to your e-mail address (stationery, website contact details, clients etc) instantly become invalid. The e-mail address we give you will not replace your existing address but will direct your business e-mails to that address. If you change your service provider all you have to do is inform us and we will re-direct incoming mail to your new address but for all your clients nothing will have changed
- Optimising your site
- Search Engine Submission
- Linking your site as part of an on-going strategy
- Maintenance of your site. This comprises, apart from any of the foregoing, minor changes to text, prices, contact particulars and photographs. Maintenance does not include re-design, new pages/functionality or major changes to text
- Telephonic and e-mail advice/assistance.
What optional services does ZAWebs offer?
There are numerous additional functionalities available to enhance the user experience or the appearance of your website. The following is not a comprehensive list but a sample of the most commonly used.
- On-line database
- Shopping cart
- Content management system
- Enquiry/Booking form
- Photo Gallery where the client can add and delete his own photos and text
- Slide shows
- Credit card payment facility
- Internet marketing, e.g. pay per click campaigns such as Google Ads
- Web site statistics
- Taking of digital photographs.
What does web site design cost?
It is impossible to speak of a "standard" web site. Each site is customised for the client and the price depends principally on the number of pages and the facilities required.
Our prices are, however, eminently reasonable and represent good value for money. As mentioned, we develop a long-term relationship with our clients.
We quote normally for web site design as agreed plus maintenance for twelve months. In subsequent years, there is a lesser charge to cover renewal of domain name and hosting and maintenance.
When we quote a price it is all-inclusive for the facilities contracted for. There are no monthly charges, no hidden costs or nasty surprises that only pop up later.
How do potential clients find your web site?
Firstly, they can type in your domain name into their browser. This implies that they already know your address because you have given it to them or they have found it on some written advert or other. This option is obviously limited in number.
Secondly, they can go to a search engine, such as Google, to search for the product or service in which they are interested, for instance a guest house in Chichester or used cars in Tokyo. This option opens up the world to your site.
For this second option to be effective it is not enough to have a web site on the internet. There is such a multitude of sites on the internet in just about any field you care to think of that any one site is like a needle in a haystack. To be found by visitors, your web site must first be found, indexed and ranked by the search engines.
Submission to the Search Engines
A web site therefore needs to be submitted to the search engines after it has been optimised (for the highest possible ranking). This may seem trite and yet many websites are "invisible" to the search engines.
To which search engines should a web site be submitted?
There are thousands of search engines in existence but the plain fact of the matter is that the vast majority of people surfing the net use a mere handful. Google, Yahoo and Bing between them account for the vast majority of searches.
There is also a small number of national search engines such as Ananzi and Aardvark in South Africa which mop up most of the remainder of searches within their own national markets. The remaining horde of search engines accounts for almost nothing.
There exist programs which promise to automatically submit your site to huge numbers of search engines. These offers are of no value as the major search engines, which matter, do not accept automatic submissions while the rest do not matter anyway.
How do search engines treat a web site?
Submission is not enough by itself. For instance, if you go to Google and search for "accommodation London" there will be millions of "finds". Even to be number 5 000 in such a list is useless as no-one is going to search that far before finding something that suits them.
Clearly it is important to be as close to the top of the list as possible in at least one relevant search expression. In other words, you need a good ranking on the search engines.
Search engine ranking is determined by the search engines themselves using a wide range of criteria; Google has been reported as looking at 200 factors to establish its ranking.
Some of these factors are quite beyond the influence of the web site designer; a web site about football may attract millions of visitors while one about the use of pogo sticks on the island of Lombok is likely to attract very limited interest. In that single respect, the football site will have a definite advantage. On the other hand, the second site has the potential to become the leading site in its field.
Others of these factors can be addressed. This is where search engine optimisation becomes important.
What is search engine optimisation?
It is the structuring and fine tuning of a web site to meet as best as possible the search engine ranking criteria with the aim of achieving the best search engine ranking possible under the circumstances.
Unfortunately, different search engines have different criteria so that it is not possible to optimise equally for all of them. Thus in practice one has three choices:
- optimise for Google and partners, which is currently the most important search engine, and neglect the others
- optimise for Yahoo or MSN and neglect Google
- or compromise and try for decent (but not brilliant) ranking all round
There is no single "right" strategy; each site needs to be examined on a case by case basis. It is sometimes possible to achieve very good ranking on Google in a niche market after optimising for the other search engines.
Contact us now for more information about search engine optimisation or a free quote to optimise your website for the search engines.