A. BASIC PRINCIPLES
1. You can learn how to do this
2. You've decided you don't have the time
3. You can change your mind at any time
4. You can pay by check, credit card, or paypal, but I must get paid before you get the product
5. There will be a written contract
1. I will undertake to build a functional website around your content.
2. After initial discussion I will give you an estimate of initial charges, dates of completion, and a probability of overage. The probability of overage will increase with greater complexity. In my experience the biggest time hogging tasks are image manipulation and fancy scriptwriting to make the site do cute things that only geeks notice.
3. Charges will be based on time spent. My rate is $55.00 per hour.
4. The bottom of your home page will contain this text in a tiny and unobtrusive font: "Website design and development by Bob Reis." That line will be linked to this page (but NOT to the rest of my website). If you do not want this line to appear there will be an additional charge of $250.00.
5. The bottom of your home page will include this text: "All contents of this website Copyright (year) (your name)." This will give you a legal copyright. The copyright will not be registered. Registration, if desired, will carry an additional (substantial) charge. (Relatively few copyrights are registered these days.)
6. "Development" includes creative design, page preparation, script writing, and other tasks involved in the production of a working website. It does not include posting and maintenance. See MANAGEMENT below for those services
7. Finished product will be delivered in one of two ways:
a) by email as attachment(s)
b) by posting on the server if I have a management contract with you
8. I warrant to produce a working website utilizing your content. Esthetic satisfaction is NOT part of the warrantee.
10. No porn. No illegal products or services.
11. I will do java doodads, cgi nonsense, and silly bells and whistles if you want them. I recommend, however, the KISS standard.
1. I will undertake to manage your website for you. This will involve one or more of the following:
a) registration of your domain name or assignment of a subdomain area on my server
b) posting of your site on a server
c) updating of your site as needed
2. Under normal conditions, email from your site will be sent to you rather than me. If you want me to collect your emails as they come in, bundle them into a .zip file, and send them to you on a schedule I will do that.
3. I may or may not be prepared to service other aspects of your operation. Depends what it is. Talk to me.
E. WHAT TO DO NEXT
If you want more information, or if you want to get started, email or call me and we'll get the ball rolling.
FURTHER DISCUSSION OF THE PROCESS OF WEBSITE PRODUCTION
HOW I APPROACH A WEBSITE JOB
First a few general principles:
1. I work on the basis of a signed contract. The contract always states that I will work until I am told to
stop. It is thus both open ended and easy out. I do not bid a job in the sense of $x for a “complete website.” The method is to tell you exactly what I will do next, how much it will cost, when it will be done. You will prepay for each process. When the result of that process is delivered I will propose the next process. There are no refunds except for non-delivery of a process module. If you don’t like what you got we will try to reach an understanding. If no understanding is reached either of us can terminate the contract without penalty. The process starts with a series of questionnaires and proceeds to a detailed proposal, for both of which procedures you will be charged. When the details of the proposal are hammered out to mutual satisfaction the website is constructed and tested. Fully approved, the website is launched. A maintenance plan is included in the package. It can be self-managed or we can run it for you. You can take over at any time. We are very flexible. We insist, however, that we get paid for work that we actually do, and we suggest that in this business, as in any other, you get what you pay for.
2. It doesn’t matter what the website looks like. We’ll do it your way or we’ll make suggestions if you want us to. Same goes for content.
3. We guarantee to do whatever we say we will do. We do not guarantee any kind of results in regard to statistics or growth of your business. If you ask us to critique your content we will, if you just want us to put it together for you we will do that. We suggest that our content-related suggestions might be of use.
4. We don’t pull a website design off a shelf. We build it to your liking. Of course there are all sorts of
“canned” components lying around, and we use those. But we don’t take your money and go buy a
package from websites-r-us to resell to you. Your website will be unique.
5. We will refuse certain jobs on the basis of content, legality, or “just doesn’t seem to fit.”
6. We sometimes run into scheduling problems. Rush jobs are possible but they cannot necessarily be
bought. All of the ducks have to be lined up properly to make a tight schedule work. We will be able to
bring our work modules in on schedule, but if your concept needs tweaking or if you require changes in our product that will necessarily create delays.
While we make no promises regarding the traffic or business your website will get we can project some probable results in terms of time vs. hit count. Assuming your concept is worth anything at all, the website that we produce for you will generate approximately nothing for the first 6 weeks, which is how
long it takes for the major search engines to index you. After that there will be a slow build. A monthly hit count of about 5000 after 6 months is not unreasonable. It will be higher if you aggressively advertise the site, and we will bring up possible ways to do that during the development process. I had 30,000 hits per month on my site after a year, and it grew to 300,000 in 5 years, plateauing for a while, now it is slowly growing again. I think that if your idea is sound, the website we build for you can reasonably be expected to perform similarly. But no promises.
A few situations have emerged in the work we have done that need to be addressed. These have to do with the way businesses run, the difference between brick-and-mortar businesses and web businesses, the interface between the two, the time involved in maintaining a website, and certain personal and psycho-social things that must be considered, though there is not necessarily any kind of right way to deal with them. Refusal to consider all of these aspects will lead to one of two kinds of problem situations: either the website will not attract customers or it will attract more customers than you are set up to deal with. Better to consider the situation before it falls all over you.
1. The way businesses run: they all sell something, and
they all want to attract customers. We owners
might pretend that we want every customer we can get but actually we don’t want most people to be our customers. We want people who can afford what we have and who do not give us a hard time. So we are selective. We want a lot of them though, and we will take a certain percentage of lower level customers most of the time, because top level customers are pretty scarce.
My website gets between 20,000 and 30,000 individual sessions, a bit less than 400,000 hits on
my website every month, and has been for years. That yields a couple hundred orders per month. These are not cups of coffee, but complicated orders that have to be assembled, billed, packed, paid, shipped. If you have an existing business that currently does hundreds of deals per month you have studied logistics to some extent. If your website takes off, which it may do, you may double or triple your invoices in a year. I quadrupled in my first year on the web. You may not experience such growth, but you may, so you should be prepared to modify your internal business operations as needed.
2. Website maintenance takes time. If you don’t do it your returning visitors will see that it hasn’t changed, they will get bored, they will go away and not come back. Even if what you are selling does not change you must change your content in a way that keeps people returning.
I run a retail operation with a bit of low level wholesale. I add 500-1000 objects to the main
inventory sections of my website every month. I also have a monthly list of “new stuff” - another 1000
items - in a special section. About 30-60 of those monthly addition items are pictured. I also add
informational content and stuff for fun. Keeps things interesting for both the customers and the search
There are approximately 40 hours of work per month put into my website. This has nothing to do
with inventory management, order fulfilment, and all the other business processes. Maybe your website
will not require that much upkeep, but I’ve noticed that the people who just put it up and leave it there don’t get much in the way of growth out of it.
I support my website operation with an email announcement program. Not too often, subscription only, but I make sure my clients hear from me regularly. Those announcements take some time too.
3. Brick-and-mortar or other physical businesses (show dealers, etc.) have a certain schedule and sets of
procedures. Website businesses have a different schedule and the procedures are modified. The two
approaches don’t necessarily mesh very well. This should be borne in mind as the website part of your
business develops, and you will have to develop a different set of customer relations responses to deal
with these new customers. In our questionnaires at the start of our development process we ask you
about your plans for web-specific office procedures. You will be free to respond “don’t worry about it” or “none of your business,” and you may or may not wish you had answered differently at a later time.
4. There is a tendency on the web for business operators to tend toward anonymity. Some have no phone number or other way of quickly accessing one of the humans running the business, and some use auto-response techniques extensively. I don’t like those things myself beyond the level of “got your
message and will respond shortly.” Typically I will not do business with a website that does not provide a phone number. It should be fully realized that “e-commerce” is not an automatic process. At some point back there a human is going to process that order. I offer my clients the option of accessing me, the human at my website, directly. I think that the humanity factor is the main thing that “small” business people like me (and you, if you are reading this) have to offer.
5. Assuming that to be so, I have looked for ways to improve direct accessibility. Visitors to my website know my name, and recently they can look at a picture of me if they want to.
Accessibility is a double edged sword. Someone can see my picture and think “moustache, old guy, guy, white guy, yuk!” Or they can think “what’s he smiling about?” Or they can look at my name and try to figure out if I’m a member of an ethnic group that they consider to be the spawn of Satan. Hence the urge sometimes felt toward anonymity - if you don’t bring up the personality aspect maybe it won’t come up at all.
I don’t tell anyone how to run their business or their life but I think there’s no point in wishing these potentially invidious aspects are not part of the picture. And, I repeat, we small businesses survive on our personality and on our service. We can’t beat the corporates by being anonymous, they do it better. We can only win by being ourselves.
Still, if you (or I) have a funny name, are from somewhere else besides “here,” are some color, gender, age, political persuasion, education level, cultural context, ethnic group, etc. there will be some sector of the population out there that will not want to deal with you precisely because you are that thing. I have been thinking more as time goes on that it is better to throw those facts of being, the ones that in Spanish are described with the verb ser, out in the website for all to see. Let all the potential customers, including the bigots (most of us are bigots about something), know what they’re dealing with. Better to shine a light on the elephant in the room than to trip over it in the darkness. And remember, when you have a website you get visitors from all over the world. They will be thinking all kinds of thoughts. They will be a different and more diverse group than the people who walk into your physical plant.
These aspects have nothing directly to do with the construction of your website. And we can design our relationship so that they don’t come up to be dealt with. But I will know that they are there, and so will you, whether you want to deal with them or not.
I would not have brought this stuff up if I didn’t think it was important. But if you don’t we can still
talk about doing work for you. Maybe we’ll figure something out.
There, have I scared you away? If not, let’s talk. We can get you up and running in a pretty short
period, at moderate cost, and if you buy our product and use it intelligently we suggest you’ll probably get growth.
phone: (919) 787-0881 (8:30 AM - 10:30 PM EST please)
fax: (919) 787-1882
mail: Bob Reis, POB 26303, Raleigh NC 27611, USA