Tag Archives: Accessibility

Don’t Settle For Less

I get emails from a website called Service Seeking when there is a job listed that is related to my field of work, specifically web design. I have practically given up on it though as there seem to be a number of firms on there now that come in with quote on under $1000 on pretty much every job, including jobs that I cannot see any way possible to do for under $6000 unless those working on it are paid around the $2 an hour mark. It’s just not possible.

I find firms that offer quotes like this to be degrading, they devalue the job and the designer. The brand image should be an important part of any business. A business should be willing to recognise that they need to spend money to get a job done well. Once it’s devalued, it can be difficult to help customers realise that our time as designers is valuable, that we are in control of how their business looks online and that subsequently if we are undervalued, we cannot make their business look good.

There was one new job listing posted today that reads:

“Hi, I am currently in the process of putting together my own … business and as I am still in the researching stage I am just simply after quotes so that when I am ready to hire in a few months I know exactly who to call. I am after a company that can build my … site exactly to my needs, be easy and helpful to work with, fast and can also host my website for me. I expect to pay no more then $1000 if not less and would like my website to be put together in a couple of weeks as when I am ready to go I want to get up and running asap.”

I’ve edited out a couple of points that may make this business identifiable, but what they are asking for here is pretty unrealistic. Part of one point that I had to remove is that they are after e-commerce functionality as they need to be selling things online. They want it for under $1000 AND done in a matter of weeks. Basically it’s a case of wanting the world for nothing, which is becoming all too common in web design. Let’s break it down and look at it more closely.

Let’s say we use Drupal for the content management system on this project with Ubercart handling the e-commerce side of things.

  • Installation of Drupal with Ubercart and other required modules could be done in about half an hour.
  • Customisation and testing of Drupal, Ubercart and other settings could take anywhere from an hour upwards. In my experience it averages at 5-10 hours.
  • Setting up and testing Ubercart with PayPal could take half an hour to an hour.
  • Doing up the graphics for a design with a customer that sounds like they are going to be picky could be anywhere from 2 hours to 15 hours.
  • Converting the graphic design to a Drupal template using another template such as Framework to form the basis of the design could be 5 to 15 hours as well depending on complexity of the design, not to mention ensuring that it suits the e-commerce side of things as well.
  • Consultation times, could vary from 1 to 10 hours.
  • Miscellaneous extra 1 to 15 hours.
  • Total minimum: 15 hours work.
  • More likely minimum: 40 hours work.

At an average rate of $85 per hour, that’s an absolute minimum of $1275, but more likely $3400. That’s still a cheap e-commerce website, and costs more than 3 times the amount they want it for. Most e-commerce sites that I have worked on have been around the 50-60 hour mark or higher. By devaluing the market, clients don’t realise just how much they need to invest in this sort of thing.

Compare it to radio or TV advertising where advertisers will unquestioningly pay $5000 upwards on advertising campaigns, many looking at over $20,000 for one campaign, it’s a big difference, especially considering your website is advertising for you 24/7 compared to your TV or radio advertisement that’s only 30 seconds or so here and there!

One thing to keep in mind is that you always get what you pay for and you certainly cannot get the world for nothing. Don’t get me wrong, there are some quality designers that have specials and do quality work for cheap. In the end though you need to analyse what you need and be prepared to pay for it. You don’t have to pay top dollar, just ensure that what you are paying for is what you really want.

A final example to leave you with. I had one client previously whom I quoted for. They decided to go with another group who quoted them about a fifth of what I did. After the other group completed the website, I thought I should point out to the client the (numerous) accessibility issues with any non-IE7/8 browser. By the time they had paid the other group to get everything right, they ended up paying more than what I had quoted them in the first place, so paying a bit more to start off with would have saved them both time and money, and potentially saved them on any damage to their reputation that the poorly designed website could have caused.

Investigate your options and make an informed decision, don’t just go with what seems to be the cheapest.

Search Engine Optimisation for a WordPress Client

TerraMedia has recently been contracted to work on fixing up a WordPress website, specifically looking at improving usability and search engine optimisation.

There are a few key things that I will be doing on their website as part of this job.

The first thing I have done is to implement Google Analytics tracking code so that we can begin to get an idea of how people are finding the website. This will track visits while I am working on other sections of the website so that we can get a few weeks worth of results without having to wait idly for them.

There have been reported issues of the navigation not functioning correctly in all browsers, particularly Internet Explorer. As the navigation is vital to accessing website content, it is important to get this working correctly as soon as possible.

Next up I will be updating and modifying the template to help meet both of the criteria by ensuring the markup makes semantic sense, including adding in hierarchical header tags to each page. At the moment, while these are used, each page lacks its own heading, meaning that it is harder for search engines to determine the relevance of individual pages and their content, and users cannot easily see what each page is about.

Once I’ve got the code cleaned up so that is more search engine friendly and the front end more usable, we will start focusing more heavily on getting more traffic to the website from both search engines and other sources, more customers is the primary goal after all!

I will be installing a WordPress plugin called the All In One SEO Pack, which will allow us to specify page titles and meta tags for each page and blog post individually, allowing the keywords and descriptions to be optimised for each page. It also gives better control over the overall meta tags, and tags for archives, categories and so on.

They currently do not have any introductory text on their home page, this means that the root page of their domain name (arguably one of the most important pages of a website from a search perspective) doesn’t really tell search engines anything. It has photos, events, a logo and the navigation. So what we will be doing here is writing up a paragraph or two of highly optimised copy. By this point we should have about a months worth of results from Google Analytics so once this is implemented we will be able to clearly see the difference this text will make and subsequently tweak it as necessary.

To keep the home page fresh and keep the search engines checking it regularly, we will also be having the latest blog post displayed on the home page. As part of this, the client will also begin using WordPress’s blogging functionality to keep the website up to date with the latest news and special offers. They currently do not utilise this functionality, which is a big opportunity to keep their potential customers up to date.

Finally, we will be implementing a sitemap which will be submitted to search engines on a regular basis so that new blog posts and updated pages will be updated in their indexes as soon as possible.

By this point, we should be seeing quite an improvement in search engine rankings and subsequently in website traffic. In order to capitalise on this increased traffic, we will be adding in a static widget that shows the contact details on every page of the website and provides a link to the contact form. This will make it as easy as possible for potential customers to get more information or to make a booking. We will also be making the RSS feed a prominent link on each page to encourage visitors that use an RSS reader to subscribe to the latest updates and specials, and subsequently draw visitors back for potential future and/or repeat sales.

It’s overall a simple but interesting project that will pretty quickly show the difference a well optimised website that is regularyl updated can make. From here, we will start looking at building up links in directories and other relevant websites to continue to improve search rankings and visitor access points.

KIB216 Top 10 Portfolio Requirements

As part of our tutorial today, we have determined our top 10 criteria for reviewing a portfolio website. As a class, we have established that the following 10 are very important in any portfolio:

  1. Clarity
  2. Customisation / Personalisation / Your Style – In other words, it doesn’t look like a generic blog.
  3. Networking / Rabbit Holes / Professional links – Such as LinkedIn, Twitter etc.
  4. Content – Professional and correct.
  5. Usability – Is the portfolio complicated or easy to use and find your way around? Does it load quickly?
  6. Interaction – What does the portfolio do when you interact with it?
  7. Memorable / Unique – Does it stand out and make you want to send it to other people?
  8. Accessibility – Does it work on multiple browsers and platforms?
  9. Updated / Maintained – Has it been updated recently?
  10. Contact information – Are the contact details readily available and easy to find?