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    4 Replies Latest reply on Jul 23, 2009 12:16 PM by DomainDiva

    Web Design/ Development Company Advice

    wambyking7 Newbie
      Hey!

      First of all, thank you so much for any advice that will be posted! I'm a young 22 year old design/ developer who has started a small company with 2 other good friends (http://www.pictureskdesign.com/about.php). Although we've been doing business off and on for the past 1-2 years, we are always open to wisdom from those who are much older and experienced than us. We may be very talented and doing some pretty cool, cutting-edge stuff, but we're trying to do everything in our power to grow this thing and not fail! Even if you dont own a web development company, please feel free to throw us some advice, we are very open to experienced wisdom!

      My questions:

      1) Venture Capital - For 3 guys stepping into the unknown, one of our major discussions is whether we should get some funding from outside sources (we have some great connections to help us with this) to help us expand. We always seem to go back and forth. Say for example if we needed to borrow $100k, what is standard for having to supply back to your investors over the year (% ownership wise, interest, etc).

      2) Best way to promote initially - We have found so far that we continually get business just from connections through business relationships. Although this is great, we want to invest in marketing with other approaches. We are quite experienced with internet marketing, but we want to try other methods for perhaps local marketing. It just feels like there are way too many options out there and we want to make a smart decision on where to start.

      3) This one may be more directed towards a web development company owner, but still feel free to reply. What would be your recommended company average hourly rate for keeping your company alive and pulling in income. Companies I have worked for generally on average are doing work for anywhere between $100-$150 an hour. Although that may look expensive, when you look at all the costs for running a business, it actually makes sense. However, since we are 3 guys right now, where should we be setting our rates at? Let me know if you need more information to help make a better reply.

      Thanks so much for your help!!!
      Barn Sweetman
      http://www.pictureskdesign.com
        • Re: Web Design/ Development Company Advice
          DomainDiva Ranger
          I am going to address the 'design' thing. If you are doing what everyone else is doing...that is designing in squares and rectangles.....then quit business and get a McDonalds franchise. There are enough people out there, and also on this forum that call me once a month to tell me how crummy my website is. (Of course since they can't see the application that drives them wild as well).

          You may want to try and find a 'really good' designer that has training in visual communication. There are several websites that give awards for bad design...use Bing or Google to locate these sites and study these sites to look beyond the total obvious as to WHY these sites are awful.

          Don't be afraid to use 8080/8081 protocols for your clients. Leave the site information up front and only get an email address to send more info to. It drives people NUTS to put in all this data to get info. If people are going to become customers they will but obnoxious data gathering will make people go away.

          Enter yourself in the Webbies. New nominations open up in September, I have entered or software design as well. Our software is so well designed it does not even LOOK like a software/meta data-data retention application. If you vist the website (on my profile) all you will see is the old code and some info that dscribes the pain we are solving. HAHA we are on 8080/8081 protocol to protect our users and us from the site surfers and hackers. The.com info website is hosted on a completely different server than the application.

          Also find yourself a good software architect to work with as well. They can add lots of insight into web page/site flow and domain design.

          Get someone to write GOOD COPY. Most of the writing I see on these sites is SO BAD, bad copy bad grammar, bad spelling, bad, bad, bad....Fifty links to blah and more blah. Since the attention span (visual) of anyone on the internet is nano time...a good website designer will get attention and KEEP ATTENTION. This is done with visual communication that encompasses both the art and the written word.

          QUIT DOING WHAT EVERYONE ELSE IS DOING.

          Also, I would stay away from the VC's. No VC will invest in design. Design services are not techonology and firms come and go. Design firms don't make VC's any money.

          Marketing.... you are building your business the absolutely best way you can...referrals. These people become your evangelists and bring in more business. This type of business foundation cannot be broken with a bad marketing campaign. Stick to what is working for now.Before you start marketing promos you have to be ready internally (plan B) to handle the extra business. If you promote and get busy with no plan B then the work product suffers and then that's when your business will suffer. People will walk to a good product and run like crazy if its bad. I hope you see my point.

          You have a question about rates...what are you charging now? If it works don't change it. Quit worrying about what everyone else is doing and do your thing. If you do your thing well enough...your work product alone will guarantee that you will leave the others in the dust.

          You are young. Take it slow and build it right...too quick and all you get is a house of toothpicks with no foundation.

          BTW you don't know my designer, you know his work: Chilis, Dr. Pepper, Steak & Ale, Tournament of Roses to name a few...
            • Re: Web Design/ Development Company Advice
              wambyking7 Newbie
              Thanks for the advice. The copy side of the business...we usually let our clients handle. Alot of clients these days are demanding "Content Management Systems" which means they want to be able to edit their copy whenever they want on their site. (Ex: http://www.pictureskdesign.com/portfolio.php#images/portfolio/image1.jpg)
              You're absolutely right though. Also, alot of demand these days is to move onto mobile site development. Is this something that alot of others are seeing demanded?

              Thanks!
                • Re: Web Design/ Development Company Advice
                  DomainDiva Ranger
                  A client will blame you for anything that goes wrong remember that, and that includes copy. So if you see something that may turn out to be bad, you need to tell them about it. Also, offer training (with a fee) to train people HOW to maintain their websites. Be there for them to handle minor emergencies at no charge, notice I said MINOR emergencies that can be corrected within 15 minutes. After that you charge. Also be aware of people that have LOTS of minor emergencies. Lots of emergencies means not enough training.

                  I am learning to write HTML etc so I can keep up with the day to day on our information website after we launch.
              • Re: Web Design/ Development Company Advice
                drivetraffic Adventurer

                Ok, First I don't own a web/design company, but I'm going to offer my two cents. As far as capital, each situation on getting capital from outside avenues can be negotiated individually. There's really no standard. What you do in one situation, doesn't mean you have to do the same thing and give the same returns to each investor. If I can obtain a situation where I can offer returns with no % ownership, I'd go for that one.

                As far as the best ways to promote initially - Referrals are always great, word of mouth is always the best, especially from happy customers. You say that you are quite experienced with internet marketing. Have you tried internet marketing geared towards your local market? I've done this very successfully for my offline business. I also offer an ebook course that includes how to do this. If you like, check it out at http://www.drivetrafficforless.com. I would also offer my services through sites like http://www.Elance.com and other freelance sites like it. You can get your company out there by bidding on projects from people that need your services.

                I agree with the previous response as far as rates go. Don't worry about what other people are charging. Never fear price, you definitely don't want to be the cheapest on the block, you can only hold that position so long. Offer a good quality service, be confident in the service and product you provide, and the right market will pay the fees you command.

                CJP
                J.P. Marketing, LLC
                http://www.drivetrafficforless.com