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Client Services

make sure you own your website

Small Business Owners: Make Sure You Actually Own Your Website!

By | Client Services | No Comments

make sure you own your websiteThere are a lot of things that bug us about the web design industry, but there’s nothing quite as infuriating as meeting a business owner who has discovered that they don’t actually own their own website.

You may be thinking to yourself that you certainly own the website another company created for you. In fact, you might be sure that the fact that you paid a great deal of money for it would clear the issue up, but that isn’t always the case.

Behind some fine print and terrible industry practices, you’ll discover a number of different ways that unethical web design companies can claim ownership to your website or hold it hostage when you try to take your business elsewhere. Let’s look at a few parts of your web presence that might actually be owned by another company…

Your Business Domain Name

Some web design companies will offer to register your domain name (like somesamplebusiness.com) on your behalf as a way of saving time and money. However, you should always own your domain and be sure the billing can be traced back to your business. Otherwise, they can technically claim anything that ends up being put on that space. Any quality domain registrar like Godaddy or Network Solutions have the ability for you to add a user to your account that would give your web developer the ability to make the edits needed but still keeps you in control of your domain name.

Access to Your Control Panels

Some business owners prefer to never get “under the hood” of a business website. However, if you don’t have access to your control panel, or at least have the credentials stored somewhere, then a shady web designer could lock you out of your own site. Then they’ll want you to pay something to transfer your website to someone else or make any changes to your pages.

Your Layout and Logos

This can come up when you hire a bargain-basement company to generate your branding materials. They could work based from templates that have been created by someone else, or outright copy logos from better-known companies. Either way, you could find yourself in a situation where you’re facing copyright issues or even hefty fines. After having a logo designed make sure you ask the designer to send you all of the native files in case you need to change a color or make a change in the future. If you do not have the native files and your designer is nowhere to be found you could end up having to pay another designer just to recreate what you already have.

The Content You Have Created

Some DIY web template companies will have you sign agreements that say they own any content posted to their platforms. And, some fly-by-night web design companies will publish text and images on your website that are owned by someone else. Obviously, either scenario can get you in a lot of trouble. Make sure you ALWAYS own the content on your own website, this is a large issue if you start a website redesign with another company and find out you need to develop all new content as this can really negatively impact your website’s SEO.

How to Protect Yourself

There are a lot of reasons you need to own your website and everything on it. Not only will it prevent you from being held hostage by another company later, but it will also keep you from paying money to another business who has seen their work stolen.

The best way to ensure you actually own your website is to work with a reputable web design partner. Even then, you should check your agreements, ask lots of questions, and pay for things like domain registration and hosting from your own accounts.

If all else fails, you can always turn to a company like ours to evaluate your existing website and make sure you’re on solid ground. No business owner ever wants to discover they’ve been swindled, but it’s better to learn the truth from a professional than it is to find out before it’s too late.

Looking for the Right Web Design Team?

At Black Door Creative, we don’t have to resort to dirty tricks to hold onto clients – we just deliver what we promise month after month. If you would like to work with a team that prioritizes your bottom line over all else, contact us today to schedule a free consultation!

choosing the right web designer for your project

Choosing The Right Web Designer For Your Project

By | Client Services, Website Design and Development, Wordpress Development | No Comments

choosing the right web designer for your projectFinding a web designer to work with is easy. Choosing the perfect one for your business web design project can be a little bit tougher.

After all, there are literally dozens of web designers and developers in the Providence, Rhode Island area. Add in the fact that most business owners and marketing managers aren’t experts in coding, HTML, or search engine optimization (as examples) and it’s easy to see why it would be so tough to make a good decision.

However, you don’t have to be a web expert to hire the right web design partner. You only need to know how to start your search and narrow in on the perfect candidates.

We are going to show you how to do exactly that in this short post. Before we get into the three criteria that really matter, though, let’s begin with an important tip: it’s much easier to choose the right web designer when you know what you want and need from your new site. In other words, it helps if you have a vision for the kinds of business results (like walk-in customers, online sales, etc.) you are hoping to achieve. You might not know all the particulars, or what tools will be involved, but it helps to begin this process with a goal in mind.

With that being said, there are really three factors that can help you narrow your search to the very best web designer for your project. Let’s look at them in the order most business owners and executives would…

Business Web Design Costs

No matter how big or small your business might be, you’re probably working from a budget. This is an area where you don’t want to make the classic mistake of saving a few dollars if it might hurt your sales later, but you don’t want to overspend, either.

For most small and medium-sized companies, the “sweet spot” can be found with a small local creative team. They’ll bring the same talents of a large agency, but without the enormous overhead costs.

Design and Development Skills

The peculiar thing about business web design is that it is based on both art and technical ability. In other words, you want a web designer with great creative instincts, but also one who can handle HTML programming and other related tasks.

Most searches for a web designer are going to begin with a review of several portfolios. Make sure you choose a creative team that has an artistic eye that matches your own sense of style. Then, describe the sort of website you want to build and be sure they have the programming chops to give you what you need.

Reputation and Relationship

We have left this point for last, but that doesn’t mean it’s unimportant. In fact, this is the one part of the process business owners and managers tend to overlook most often. You only want to hire a web designer or creative team who is going to hit deadlines, communicate frequently, and be easy to work with.

You might not be able to see into the future, but you can tell a lot simply by listening to the way a web designer talks to you, and how they speak about their other clients. Additionally, you can look up reviews and testimonials online to see whether they have a reputation for being fair and responsive or not. That will tell you a great deal about how happy you will or won’t be with their work in the future.

Looking for Great Web Design and Five-Star Service?

If you want to work with a web design partner who can give you great creative work and the personal, dedicated service you deserve, contact us or give us a call (401) 339-4155 today!

finding the right value in web design

Finding the Value in Your Next Business Website

By | Client Services, Website Design and Development, Wordpress Development | No Comments

finding the right value in web design“Is it worth the money to have someone design a new business website for my company?”

We hear versions of this question all the time. It’s understandable that business owners want to know whether they’ll see a positive return on investment when they contact us for web design and online marketing work. However, we think this isn’t actually the best thing to ask. Instead, what new clients should want to know is how exactly they can find the value in a new website.

In other words, the focus should be on all the different ways you can improve your bottom line with the right creative team. With that in mind, today we want to look at a few of the ways you can profit directly and immediately from an improved web presence. Let’s start with the most obvious benefit…

Sales, Leads, and Walk-in Visits

When you have a great website, backed up with a targeted online marketing plan, you can generate new revenue almost immediately. That money could come from online sales, phone inquiries, or even walk-in visits.

That’s because it doesn’t necessarily matter how you close the deal with new customers. What’s important is that you can use your website to reach out to more of them using Google, social media, online ads, and email. Obviously, most of our clients consider this to be the biggest benefit of investing in web design, but it’s certainly not the only way to make your project profitable.

Better Credibility With New Customers

Almost anyone who considers doing business with you is going to visit your website. Most will do so even before they have ever spoken to you or stopped by an office or retail location. So, your website gives you a chance to make a good first impression.

That first impression is crucial because it can set the tone for so many interactions that are going to occur later. When people are impressed with what they see about you online, they are more likely to take the next step and less apt to question your pricing. Additionally, people feel more comfortable referring you to their friends and colleagues when they know your website makes you look credible and professional.

Less Time Spent on Customer Service

We often think of the customer service role of a business website as being a “hidden” feature that a lot of new clients tend to overlook. It isn’t the kind of thing that jumps immediately to mind when you’re considering a project, but the results can be enormous.

When you have items like user guides, instructional videos, frequently asked questions, and account update features on your business website, buyers don’t have to call you to find the answers they need. That makes doing business with you more convenient for them, while at the same time reducing the hours you and your team need to spend on the phone solving problems.

Better Recruiting

Customers aren’t the only ones checking out your website deciding whether to work with you. Potential employees do it, as well.

When you have a great website that makes your business look like a good place to work, it helps you to attract stronger job candidates. Over time, that can give you a big advantage over your competitors. And, you can even use your website to manage employees with schedules, guides, handbooks, and other interactive tools.

Your Web Design Partner in Rhode Island

If you need a great business website and a plan to use it in a way that puts more money in your pocket, then our team is here to help. Contact Black Door Creative today to schedule a free consultation and learn more about our work.

Rhode Island Custom Web Design

Custom Web Design vs. The One-Size-Fits-All Approach

By | Client Services, Website Design and Development | No Comments

Recently, we have been meeting with a lot of business owners who have questions about the best way to get lasting value from their web design projects. It seems that everywhere they turn there is another option – including some that are fast, cheap, and easy.

For instance, take the trend of DIY web templates. You have undoubtedly seen these advertised on YouTube and even television. For just a few dollars a month, they promise the chance to build a brand-new web presence from some easy fill-in-the-blanks forms.

Additionally, there are numerous freelancers and overseas web design companies who will build a website from an existing design for next to nothing. Given that many business websites look similar, and there are time and money savings to be had, it’s only reasonable for people to ask us whether they really need to pay for custom web design.

The answer, of course, is that it depends. It depends on your budget, and what you’re hoping to accomplish. For a solopreneur startup with absolutely no money, a website template might be a good starting point. Using one of these services is certainly better than having no online presence at all.

However, for an established business – or one that is growing beyond the work-at-home stage – custom web design has distinct advantages over templates and a one-size-fits-all approach. Let’s look at a few of the most important benefits that come with having a website built specifically for your company…

Your Business Has Unique Strengths (and Your Website Should, Too)

No two businesses are the same, so no two business website should be identical, either. You want a team of designers and developers doing custom work for you so you can put your most important advantages up front.

You have only seconds to impress a first-time visitor to your website. Do you want them thinking that you’ve got exactly what they were looking for, or that your website looks just like a dozen others they recently visited? There is a subtle but important value to standing out in a crowded marketplace.

Custom Web Designs Have Technical Advantages

Having a custom web design isn’t just about finding the right look. Web templates are made to work for virtually any type of business, which means they have to be loaded down with dozens of fonts and plug-ins that can slow a website down or cause compatibility issues.

Conversely, when you have a website built specifically for your company, the back-end programming can be cleaner. It can be created with only the software and content elements you need. That speeds things up and makes it less likely you’ll run into problems from extra bits of code that are lying beneath what you and your customers can see.

Business Web Design is All About Making Sales and Profits

When you put the customization and technical elements of a unique web design together, what you get is more sales potential. In other words, the business website generates more business.

At the end of the day, getting a web presence for your company isn’t about spending as little as possible or getting online as quickly as you can – it’s about generating sales and profits for your company. Keep that in mind if you’re tempted to take shortcuts that can hurt your bottom line later.

Need Help Creating a Common Sense Online Strategy?

At Black Door Creative, we know how to take cutting-edge design, online marketing trends, and business know-how and put them together into a cohesive strategy that works.

Contact us today to schedule a free consultation and see how we can help your company grow!

Responsive Web Design

What is Responsive Web Design?

By | Client Services, Creative Services, Search Engine Optimization, Website Design and Development, Wordpress Development | One Comment

jbm_web_designResponsive web design means making a website look eye-popping on a desktop computer, and on a smartphone or tablet. For the most part this is easier said than done. A website looks different on a mobile device. That means that you, or your design firm, need to put a conscious effort into making a website responsive. It’s no longer enough to simply make a website look great on a computer.

For example, imagine that you have an article about the tourism industry in Rhode Island. Your website is probably going to include lots of pictures. These pictures may look excellent on a computer, and too small on a smartphone. To make a website responsive, a web design firm might take one large picture of Providence or Newport and replace it with two smaller ones. On a mobile screen these will stack on top of each other, creating a better user experience.

Why is it Important to Have a Responsive Website?

Having a responsive website is important because of how many people access the internet from a mobile device. In 2015, 1.9 billion people will use the internet on a smartphone or tablet. In fact, 25% of people worldwide will only access the internet from a mobile platform. That’s a huge share of internet users that you cannot afford to not cater to.

The problem with traditional web design is that 44% of people claim that navigating a site on a mobile device is difficult. If a smartphone user has a problem accessing a site they’re going to be less likely to return. This is especially true for potential customers who only use the internet from a smartphone or tablet.

Another reason it’s important to have a responsive website is that it will increase your search engine rating. Google and other search engines check websites to see if they are compatible with mobile platforms. If they are, they’re more likely to send traffic to your site. If you’re selling a product, mobile traffic can be lucrative, as 69% of tablet users report using their device to make a purchase in the last thirty days.

What Can You Do to Improve Your Website?

If you don’t have a website yet then you want to be sure to talk to your web designer about creating a responsive site. You should ask them about their experience with making responsive pages and about how they will make your site easy to use on a mobile platform. The firm you’re talking to should be able to confidently answer all your questions.

On the other hand, there are two easy ways you can improve your website if you already have one. The simplest way is to load your website on your phone and go through it page by page, creating a list of problems that you encounter. For example, some text may be too small to read, certain images might render poorly, or it may be difficult to click different links. Take that list of problems to your web designer and work through them.

Another way to improve your website is to analyze it using this tool from Google. It will assess your website and point out any potential problems that a mobile user may face. This tool is useful because you’ll know exactly what you need to fix in order to increase your Google search ranking.

Having a responsive website means that it will look as good on a smartphone as it does on a desktop computer. Google rankings aside, you should have the final say in how a page appears on a mobile platform. Owing to the huge number of mobile users today, it’s important that your brand makes a positive impression.

Sources

http://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/responsive-web-design

https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/

http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2011/01/guidelines-for-responsive-web-design/

http://www.hongkiat.com/blog/designing-for-mobile-devices/

 

your website is your sales person

5 Reasons Your Website Is Your Best Salesperson

By | Client Services, Creative Services, Website Design and Development | No Comments

your website is your sales personOne of the biggest problems business owners and executives have during the web design process is thinking about their websites as websites. That might sound like a riddle, but it’s actually a reminder that your website has a more important job than simply sitting online and bringing in visitors – it should be a good sales tool, too.

 In fact, your website should be your company’s best sales performer. If you object to that statement, or doubt its accuracy, then consider these five reasons why your website has to do a good job of selling to be effective:

1. Your website is always selling. 

It’s unfortunate that you can’t have your company’s best salesperson in front of a prospect at the exact moment when they’re thinking about buying something from you. Your website is always open and available, though, 24 hours a day and 365 days a year. It doesn’t matter what the weather is doing, or if it’s a holiday… your website is always open for business.

2. Your website always delivers the right pitch.

The better a salesperson is, the more consistent they are going to be in explaining the benefits of your products or services to other people. Even the very best in the business aren’t perfect, though. Your website, on the other hand, can deliver a perfect pitch every single time (assuming you’ve got good copywriting and visuals to work with).

3. Your website can do things salespeople can’t.

It would be hard for a salesperson to move instantaneously into a multimedia pitch, provide references for every fact or study they use in the sales process, or gather together the latest testimonials from happy buyers in a few seconds. Your website can do all of these things for multiple prospects at once without breaking a sweat.

4. Your website can handle more prospects without asking for a raise.

Speaking of multiple prospects, one big problem with having a star salesperson is that there is only so much of his or her time and attention to go around. If they get overwhelmed because your marketing is successful, then you have to start recruiting and hiring all over again – a process that can be time-consuming and expensive. Your website actually gets more efficient as people use it more and more. It doesn’t cost you anything extra to have lots of visitors, but you get a lot more in return.

5. Your website is the perfect team player.

While live salespeople can (understandably) sometimes be a bit touchy about sharing leads and commissions, your website doesn’t have any hang-ups about being a team player. If you want it to finish a sale on its own, that’s fine; if you’d rather have your website spread information and gather leads before passing them on to a different member of your sales team, that’s fine, too.

 When it comes down to it, your website simply handles a number of different sales tasks that a real live person would struggle to. It’s always on, has more capabilities, and is more efficient. So, if your company’s website isn’t doing a great job of sales, now is the perfect time to ask yourself why.

web_gradeFree Website Audit

We will send you an In-Depth analysis of your website so you can learn how to improve your online visibility through SEO, Social Media, Usability and much more.

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ANALYSIS
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DEVELOPMENT
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MARKETING
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FUNCTIONALITY
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SPEED
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DESIGN

Or better yet, if you have a website project get in touch with us and let us start finding the answers you need.

Marketing for small business

What Small Businesses Really Need to Grow in 2015

By | Client Services, Creative Services | No Comments

Over the next few weeks, you’ll undoubtedly come across dozens of articles telling you all about what small businesses need to grow in 2015. The problem is, they won’t necessarily agree – some authors and experts are going to insist Internet marketing and advertising are the key; others will prefer more traditional tactics like direct mail or focused branding efforts.

So who should you believe? What does your small business really need to grow in the coming 12 months? How can you generate more leads and sales without spending a fortune?

The answer isn’t as complicated as you might expect. In fact, it’s hiding in plain sight. The reality is that there isn’t any real distinction between online or offline marketing anymore. Your mobile web marketing might need to be focused and compelling, for example, but so do your postcard mailers. And they all have to tell the same basic story.

In other words, what small businesses need to spur growth is an integrated approach to winning customers. It’s not about the tactics, but the plan and the philosophy. At Black Door Creative, we use a top-to-bottom approach that encompasses everything business owners need, including:

Branding and strategic planning. Without a plan, it’s hard to get the right results. That’s why we begin by learning to understand what your company is all about, what your short- and long-term goals are, and what kinds of challenges you’re facing. Then, we can develop a strategy that speaks to your strengths and makes it possible for you to make the kinds of gains you’re looking for.

Messaging and creative development. Of course, all the planning in the world won’t help if you don’t have great creative pieces that invite phone calls, visits, and click-throughs. We work with you to develop webpages, ads, and other creative elements that draw in interest and attention from your very best prospects.

Overlapping marketing campaigns and releases. Once all the right pieces are in place, it’s time to roll out your marketing campaigns and enjoy the rise in sales that will result. Unlike other creative firms, we don’t just look for one-time “bumps” in revenue; we’ll help you build a sustainable plan that reinforces your brand and messaging over time, so customers keep coming back for more.

A system of continual measurement and refinement. Even the most successful marketing campaigns need to be revised, adjusted, and modified over time. We’ll study the results of our work together to see where we can improve sales in the future so that every campaign is stronger than the one before.

What your business needs in 2015 is more customers, not more buzzwords. Until you have a team that understands how the different pieces of a well-constructed sales funnel work together, finding consistent success in marketing is going to be difficult.

Are you ready to take your sales approach to the next level? Talk to a member of the Black Door Creative team today and let us show you what we’ve been able to do for other businesses just like yours.

 

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