We feel that complete transparency and open discussion regarding our approach to website development is the most effective means of helping clients (and the world) relate to the process. It is with this in mind that we have put together this helpful Clients Guide to Web Design.
When inquiring about a new website development project with Alchemy Imageworks, a potential client should have a few things in mind before the initial meeting. This helps us more accurately put together an initial proposal based on your needs and budget, and provides you the client, with a basic understanding of the procedures we follow; from the initial meeting, to the final production and launch of your online identity.
3 important items to consider in your website development budget are Domain Registration, Website Hosting, and the acquisition of proper Website Content.
A domain name is the easy-to-remember and unique name—like alchemyimageworks.com—used to identify a website on the Internet. The Domain Name System (DNS) is a comprehensive directory that connects these names with the numerical addresses of other computers on the Internet. Domain extensions begin after the name, such as .com, .org, .ca, and the domain extension you choose can indicate easily whether your business is a commercial site, an organization, located in Canada, and so forth.
If you haven’t already registered a domain name, then doing so before development begins or contacting us to begin the searching and registration process for you is adviseable. Premium domain registration through Alchemy Imageworks is $25 (CAD) for .com, , .net, .org, .biz. CIRA-registered .ca addresses or addresses such as .us are $59 (CAD).
More in-depth information pertaining to domain registration with Alchemy Imageworks can be found here.
If you have already registered a valid domain name, then congratulations! You have already finished the first of several steps necessary to put your website on the World Wide Web, you also get to skip this process and proceed right to the next item, Website Hosting.
In order for your website to be visible on the internet, it needs a certain special place to reside in cyberspace where other computers from around the world can access and view it safely. This space is ‘hosted’ on powerful computer networks that securely enable people around the world to interact with your website. Alchemy Imageworks can provide powerful, reliable and highly-secure servers, dedicated starting at $300 CAD per month or shared for as little as $120 CAD per year, with 24-7, 365-days-a-year support available by telephone, skype and email.
We do recommend hosting with Alchemy Imageworks, of course. This is primarily to more easily facilitate support, upgrades and edits, but more importantly is that with Alchemy Hosting, you can be certain that your website will function at peak performance. This is something we simply cannot guarantee when hosting is provided by a third party. If your business is already equipped to handle website hosting, then we will be happy to transfer all final content to your servers upon contract completion. If your business does not staff network technicians to monitor your website, we will be happy to provide a technical support plan that will best suit your situation.
If you already have Hosting and a registered Domain, fantastic! Now all that remains is for you to gather some important information to be used in the actual development of your website, known as content.
Content (text, images and the like) is what Google and other search engines look for when searching for a website. When the content of a website is strategically thought about and ustilized, it can launch a website to the top of a web search based on the ‘keywords’ that people use to look for it. This is called SEO (Search Engine Optimization). Allowing your content to be optimized to your target audience is crucial in allowing them the best chance to find you. It is important to have a look at the content that is being displayed in the navigation, the headlines and in the content of a website since it can determine whether the site will rank well on search engine results pages on google and other search engines.
Business cards, brochures or other marketing materials currently in use the business can provide much-needed copy or context for the development of content for your new website.
Here are some general guidelines to use when submitting images or other content to Alchemy Imageworks :
Knowing what your customers want is the key to success and we know that the right words can get incredible results. Hiring an other expert copywriter is an ideal solution. You get effective copy, written by professionals with years of experience and up-to-date skills. We start by learning the search terms people use to find your product or business. Then we write content to answer their questions and deliver information relevant to your target demographic. By putting the right copy in the right place, proven methods and fresh knowledge maximize every message, guiding the visitor’s experience to your desired outcome.
Updated content is also key. If you currently have a website, and it has been up for a while, chances are it might be ready for a content overhaul. Fresh content will keep your audience returning to your website repeatedly and is vital to ensuring measurable results in search engine positioning. A good rule is to have content such as text and images updated as often as you want users to return.
Depending on the nature of your site or business, this can range from every few months, to up-to-the-minute. The time your users spend on your website varies according to the variety and amount of content as well. However, that being said, you don’t have to consider a major overhaul of your image to reap the rewards. A relatively small investment in professionally-written persuasive, informative, and entertaining content can improve your web presence and deliver measurable financial benefits.
Effective communication demands good writing. Alchemy Imageworks delivers. Let us know if we can assist you with expert copy and content development for your new website.
To understand your requirements, we start with a brief Client Survey. This helps us articulate those needs and agree on goals. It also addresses your message, audience and content, and the site’s look, feel and functionality. Key decision-makers should complete his or her own survey with brief, but thorough information.
Depending on the project, we may conduct an interview with you in lieu of the Client Survey. Once we have a clear deﬁnition of what needs to be accomplished, we will prepare an anticipated budget range and timeline for the project.
The proposal includes standard features of your project; additional custom features can be discussed when we review the proposal with you. It’s our shared responsibility to ensure you have a complete understanding before we begin, as this is the best way to reach your goals and stay on budget. Items of information considered during the proposal process include the following:
The more complete the information you provide, the more accurate the proposal. Please tell us about your unique circumstances or special requirements, such as internal hosting, third-party tools used or required, branding guidelines, approval processes or the extent of your content.
This is the ﬁrst time the entire team meets to review the project. As the ﬁnal step in the Analysis Phase, it’s critical that we’ve identiﬁed everything we want to accomplish and discussed any special requirements, such as:
Considerations such as these have a great impact on how we develop the site. That’s why it’s so important to identify them before we start development.
We’ll also need you to provide us with a company overview, explain the competitive environment and answer questions from the team. It’s best if you have all of the content materials in a digital format at the meeting. That way we’ll be ready to go with no delays. Once we have approval to proceed we will start the Design and Layout Phase.
We provide the entire team a thorough overview of information captured in the Scoping Phase; ask any ﬁnal questions and request clariﬁ cations before starting the Deﬁne & Design Phase. We ask that you make sure we understand all special considerations; supply in digital format all materials, including photography, that may be applicable, as well as a company overview. If you provide everything we need for the project at the Initial Meeting, it will save hours in the long run.
The information gathered at the Initial Meeting is used to create Content Documents which deﬁne the direction for your site’s development. These include:
Once we receive approval from you on the Content Documents we develop designs that meet the requirements of the Scoping Phase and Content Documents. We translate the Content Documents into an effective experiential design that reﬂects your brand and accomplishes your goals.
Throughout the design process, you may ask for certain things that we advise against. Please understand that we don’t do that to be difﬁcult — we just want to make sure nothing gets in the way of your users having the best experience possible.
Content Development and Look & Feel Development are closely linked because content is the largest part of the user experience. Finding answers to questions and tools that help users with tasks are what makes a site successful. Content will also include development of keywords for search engines. (Don’t worry — we have a simple worksheet to help with these.) Designs must be approved and all content, including pictures and videos, must be approved and delivered before moving on to the Production Phase. The timeframe for custom content development is based on the size and scope of your project.
The Design and Layout Phase offers several opportunities for budget and time overages to occur. To stay on target, we need to look at designs and content from the perspective of how easy and effective it is for users. Our average project has two rounds of design, so that’s what we include in our estimate. Overages occur when there are additional rounds of design or development required.
Timeframe of production is variable, based on the size and scope of your project. Most of the activity in this phase is on our side. Depending upon the size of your project, the production timeframe can be days, weeks or months. As always, we’ll send you frequent updates on our progress to keep you informed.
Every site we build is handcrafted. We don’t use off-the-shelf products because they can’t achieve the same level of professionalism and effectiveness. By using up-to-date coding and development prractices, we provide our clients with more powerful, dynamic, and standards-compliant web solutions.
Beneﬁts of standards-compliant websites include:
Once final testing and review have been completed by both the client and our team, and any subsequent changes applied, the website is packaged up. We copy all of your website information and files onto DVD and deliver a copy to you. If you have third party hosting this DVD can provide all of the necessary items to put your website on the internet. If you have subscribed to one of our secure hostingpackages then by this stage in development we are already in position to make the website live within minutes of your approval.
A few mouseclicks and keyboard clicks later, and the entire world can view your new online identity!
We recommend pursuing an active online marketingcampaign using social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, or through highlighted and organic Search Engine Optimization for premium search websites such as Google and Bing!. Alchemy Imageworks has a proven history of success in marketing, both online and off, and we will be happy to discuss the possibilities for your new online venture. Contact us today and we can define a marketing plan that can help your business succeed.
We make sure everyone understands what is and, perhaps more importantly, what is not covered by the estimated development costs. The following are typically not included in our estimate:
This is not covered within the scope of the estimate on most projects.
We need this content provided by you in a digital format or it will be estimated separately. The estimate covers the time to create the project, but not the materials. If the materials are not supplied electronically, additional time and costs will be incurred.
If your website has to be hosted internally, or your IT department has speciﬁc requirements for how the site is built or external applications the site has to work with, we will need to know these “special needs” during the estimating process. Otherwise, signiﬁcant costs may be overlooked until the project is well into development.
We will present you with a budget range based on costs for similar projects and requirements. To get started we’ll need a small deposit. For most projects the deposit is 50% of the agreed project estimate. Once we receive the deposit your project is assigned a job number and is queued for construction. If, at any time during development, we feel this project is in danger of exceeding this budget range, we will notify you immediately (via email or telephone) of the situation that could cause the overage and provide a recommendation to correct it. The initial deposit will be applied to the ﬁnal payment(s) on the project and is included in the budget range.
In the event that you request the addition of new features or revise the scope of this project after work has begun, Alchemy Imageworks will provide a revision to the budget range in writing for the change. Upon your approval, the new features will be scheduled for development or integration.
If a client deliverable, such as input, approvals or payment is late more than 10 business days the project will be considered “on hold.” Once the deliverable is received and the project is re-activated the project will be rescheduled based on Alchemy Imageworks current workload and availability. Just to say it loud and clear, it could be a month or more to get you back in the system if the project is put on hold.
You own all the original work created for you by Alchemy Imageworks as soon as you’ve paid for it. So if you stay up-to-speed on your payments then you own all the work.
In the event of the project being canceled, you own all of the original work created for you by Alchemy Imageworks that you’ve paid for. If you decide to start a project back up after canceling a new deposit will be required.