So you need a new website? Where do you start?

As a website designer and developer, I have seen clients go around in circles trying to figure out what they want their website to be, what the purpose of it is, how they want it to look, feel, perform. They lose precious time when they approach their project without thinking it through and mapping it out first.  If you are considering creating a website for the first time or re-designing the one you have, you must know this important truth:

The PURPOSE of your business or organization will determine WHY your website exists and HOW it will help you accomplish your goals.

Determining the purpose of your business or organization, as well as the audience or customer you are targeting, is crucial to driving the strategy (look, feel, function, everything) of your website.  What do you want your website to do that will help you accomplish your business goals?

Once these questions are answered, we try to ask more questions to help decipher our client’s online strategy but ultimately one of the most helpful things our clients end up doing is our suggestion that they spend some time critically exploring the internet on their own and jotting down websites they like and don’t like, whether it’s design or functionality, whether it has to do with their type of business or not. This really helps them to see what’s out there, what the possibilities are for them to pursue and begin imagining what it can look and feel like on their own website.

Perhaps your business goal is to increase your revenue by 20% but there is competition that appears above your business on search engines.  We LOVE the challenge of boosting our clients in search engines so that they organically appear above their competition! And our websites, integrated with social media and email marketing, have the power to do this, if done correctly.

We always have our clients setup their own domain and hosting accounts in their name or their business name and the websites we build for them (complete with cheat sheets and tutorials!) are theirs, they have full ownership and are never obligated or under contract to hire us again if they don’t want to. We have seen TOO many people “lose” their websites, destined to wander the earth separated from the website they thought they owned.

If you are looking to get started with your online marketing strategy, LuHow Designs can help you!  Contact us today for a FREE one hour consultation that, whether or not you hire us for the job, will give you clarity and a place to start accomplishing your business/organization’s goals!

First North Platte Real Estate Website with Custom Integrated IDX

Recently, LuHow Web Design/Development launched the first website in North Platte, Nebraska, for a Real Estate company, which included a custom IDX (Internet Data Exchange) solution.  This means that the live feed of properties in the Lincoln County MLS actually comes into the website, thus, is integrated into the website itself, with it’s own URL.  So now, when you do a search for different types of properties for sale or for rent, you actually do the search on the company’s website, which is a service to you and GREAT for the company in terms of capturing leads.  This is the type of thing we are used to seeing at Realtor.com, but that we have not yet seen, locally, incorporated into a website of a Real Estate Agency here in North Platte.

You can check out the custom IDX solution for the Commercial Properties department of Gateway Realty of North Platte, Inc. Real Living, here.

LuHow Web Design/Development of North Platte also recently included a Rate of Return Calculator within the website.  For any investors who are asking, “What Is The Return On My Real Estate Investment?”, use this valuable tool by plugging in purchase price, loan terms, appreciation rate, taxes, expenses and other factors to be considered when you evaluate a real estate investment. Use this calculator to help you determine your potential IRR (internal rate of return) on a property**.

We should also mention that this website is mobile and notebook optimized.  It can be viewed and utilized on all smartphones and digital notebook platforms.

 

**This information may help you analyze your financial needs. It is based on information and assumptions provided by you regarding your goals, expectations and financial situation. The calculations do not infer that the company assumes any fiduciary duties. The calculations provided should not be construed as financial, legal or tax advice. In addition, such information should not be relied upon as the only source of information. This information is supplied from sources we believe to be reliable but we cannot guarantee its accuracy. Hypothetical illustrations may provide historical or current performance information. Past performance does not guarantee nor indicate future results.

Another New Website in North Platte

Check it out, another website redesign that is almost done…..
(I can’t wait to tell you all the cool things it can do, real-estate listings importer, featured listings, image slideshow, site searchability, client-side editing, instant post to facebook and other social media and MORE)
sheribourne.com

 

Sneak Peak

Check it out, a website redesign that is almost done…..
(I can’t wait to tell you all the cool things it can do, client-side editing, time-out sales, google calendar, instant post to facebook and other social media and MORE)

Kandi Mall Shopping Center

Is Your Website Static or Dynamic?

There are many static websites on the Internet, I designed some of them!  There are especially a lot of static websites in North Platte, Nebraska where I live and work.  A static website is the traditional way to build a website – it’s an easy way to get something up and going and they are cheap to host, but you really have to know coding (like someone with web design/development skills) to edit it and keep it updated.   You may not be able to tell right away but if the site looks basic, and gives you information without anything cool happening, it could be a static website.

Although a static website can be fairly cheap to develop in the short run, they could be costly to maintain in the long run because of the growing number of pages and the need for help from a web developer who knows the code, AND, what people don’t realize is that the site is usually not very useful for the user and that the content can get stagnant, which is not conducive to site ranking high on search engines.  They give the user and the search engine (like Google) exactly the same response over and over again.

Dynamic sites on the other hand can be more expensive to develop initially, but the advantages are numerous.  A dynamic website can give the website owner the ability to simply update and add new content to the site. For example, news and events could be posted to the site through a simple browser interface. There is really no end to the features that can be added to a dynamic site.

Dynamic features enhance the user experience and most often result in an increase in traffic and added time spent on the site. Some examples of dynamic website features could be: forms, photo albums, content management system (CMS), e-commerce (selling stuff online), forums or discussion boards, newsletter, contact forms, detailed searches, social networking (connecting the site to Facebook, Twitter and other social sites), intricate calculators, RSS feeds (like a theater’s latest movie listings or recent news from CNN), ability for administrators or users to create content or add information to a site (dynamic publishing), without worrying about “breaking” something in the core code and thus, disabling or seriously disabling the website.

Advantages of dynamic websites

  • Much more functional website
  • Ability to continue adding dynamic features
  • Much easier to update
  • Deliver information to a wider audience
  • New content brings people back to the site and helps in the search engines
  • Can work as a system to allow support staff or other users to collaborate

Disadvantages of dynamic websites

  • Usually takes longer and is more expensive to develop
  • Hosting costs a little more

Many sites from the last decade are static, but more and more people are realizing the advantages of having a dynamic website. Dynamic websites can make the most of your site and either use it as a tool or create a professional, interesting experience for your visitors.  Here is an example of a static website  AND Here is an example of a dynamic website. (I created both of these, by the way….the static site is about 6 years old).  When I first started designing web sites I created a lot of static ones, since then I have redeisgned my old static sites into dynamic sites for my clients in North Platte, Nebraska, Denver, Colorado and across the U.S.  What remains the same is that I listen to what my clients need and I help them step by step to accomplish the web presence they desire, that will accomplish their goals.

If you have any questions or comments, please add yours to the post interaction or contact us.

What does your website say about YOUR business?

I am not sure what is worse, an ugly website or a website where you can’t find what you’re looking for.  Probably they are equally bad.  The world wide web is chalk full of aesthetic and functional violations.  On the other hand, many small businesses do not even have a website.  More on that later.

So, what does your website say about you?  About your business?  How would you describe your current “web presence”?  How would others describe it?  Is the current description exactly what you want to portray to anyone and everyone who can find you online?  Is your website easy to use and does it fulfill the function or purpose that you want it to?

Many businesses don’t need a fancy elaborate website, but they do need a user-friendly, functional, eye-pleasing and informative destination. If you think about it, would you ever hang an ugly sign on your store or office door?  Put a nasty billboard up for everyone to see?  Why, then, would you settle for an outdated, difficult to navigate website?  Your website can help or hurt your credibility with new potential clientele.

One type of project I take on a lot as a web developer are redesigns.  And a web redesign does not necessarily mean that the current website was poorly designed or built, it just means that it is important to keep up with the times and with the rapidly changing technology.  I even do redesigns for my own clients.  There are so many free and inexpensive tools out there for your website to utilize but if you don’t have the right kind of website, you won’t be able to access much of it, missing valuable time and opportunity to further your business.  And, just like fashion, clothing and home decor, styles change.  I am not saying that you need to keep up with the trendiest web features (in fact, I would probably advise against it) but you do need to make sure that you adopt a timeless, classic look and user-friendly functionality.

Shopping for web design services can be very intimidating, I know.  There are an awful lot of options, expenses and language that is difficult for most people to understand because it is so foreign to them.  If you need help weeding through your small business website needs and options available, please contact me, web consulting is another service I offer at a discounted rate.  I enjoy helping my clients evaluate and strategize so they can discover what they want their web presence to say to the world about their business.  However, if you are even considering hiring me for the redesign of your website, you can consult with me absolutely free!