Frequently Asked Questions

about Web Design

Do I really need a web site?
What can a Web site do for me?
I already have a web site. Can you just update it and make it look nicer?
I have a nationwide company. Is Cosmic just for small business?
Do you only specialize on sites and materials for 'creative professionals'?
Do I have to know all about computers and the Internet?
Do I have to own a computer?
How do I know what I need?
How much will a site or graphics project cost?
How can I prepare? (Start section)
What will a Web site cost per month?
What is an Ďexcellent web siteí? (Full article)
What features are available on a site?
Do I need a Ďdatabase-drivení web site?
Do I need my own domain?
Can I make sure people can find my site using search engines like Google?
 
How will I know if anyone is visiting my site?
Should I hire a Big Web company or small?
Why hire Cosmic Idea? (full article)
What is the project process?
How long will it take?
How do we communicate?
What if I don't like a design?
Who owns the copyright on designs once they're done?
Do I need to use the same company for my domain registration and my web hosting?
Can I post articles from other web sites or publications on my site?
Why does the site look different on different computers?
Why do the graphics print smaller than what I see on the screen?
Why donít I just make my own Web site? Or let my talented teenager do it?
How can I get a site cheaper and faster?
Why donít I just get a template from a big online company?
What is the simplest web site I can get?
Do I need a Web site?
If you are considering a site, chances are you already know one or more good reasons to establish a web presence. You may be competing with folks who have this added advantage.
A clear, attractive web site is like having a salesperson visiting clients and prospects around the world 24 hours a day. It can provide detailed information, clear up misconceptions, and foster the impression of a dependable business. It can show a confidence that is reassuring to your clients, and signal that you are interested in providing service that goes beyond what you can do over the telephone. Before you decide, it's worth finding out if your clients or competitors are using the web.
A web site isnít a money tree. You use it as a tool to make your ideas, services or products available and understandable to people who may want what you have to offer. They have to find out about it in the first place. Search engines can help a little, but it is what you do in your other marketing that will turn your web site into a working part of your enterprise.
What will it cost?
Cosmic rates are among the lowest for quality sites in the Lower Mainland.
The fees reflects the time it takes to:
  • Plan the site content
  • Communicate with the client
  • create each element
  • create the template(s)
  • spin off the pages
  • put the site on the net and test it revise things to fit your vision
As with a pizza, you can combine ingredients in different ways, depending on your hunger and taste.
Many of our clients are sole proprietors. They generally need a budget of $1,000 to $3,000. This can result in a very attractive and comprehensive site of ten sections. The number of pages is not as important as the complexity of the content.
To keep the costs low, think about providing the content for the site. This can mean a clear breakdown of the information, the text itself, photos, diagrams, brochures; anything that can potentially be of use or interest to the people you would like to reach.
We help you discover what resources you may already have, and how to focus your information into logical categories.
I have a nationwide company. Is Cosmic just for small business?
Cosmic creates sites for groups large and small. Many clients are sole proprietors or partnerships; meanwhile we also build and maintain a fleet of internationals sites for companies in the reforestation and forest restoration sector. No matter how large your company, you donít want to pay someone too much to do too little, or even more to build something beyond your needs.
It is often surprising how even large companies can have very poor web sites Often this is because their site was built by technicians with little knowledge of the user experience or an eye for visual appeal. They can be instrumental in conveying the needs of the site design and maintaining it once built. We can incorporate your existing marketing materials into a site, or start from scratch. Contact us for answers to your more complex questions.
Do you specialize only on sites and materials for 'creative professionals'?
We put people on the 'net - people of all types. But with a strong background in the arts and an affinity for healers, Cosmic has a special ability to bring the sensitivity and flair that people in creative professions require. But every project is a collaboration between client and designer.
What features are available on a web site?
Most web functions have something to do with information: presenting it in an elegant way, selecting it on demand, etc. Read the full article on Available Site Features.
Do I need a Ďdatabase-drivení web site?
You may need your site connected to a database if one or more of the following applies:
  • you have a large number of documents and changing information to present
  • you want to sell products from an online catalogue
  • you want to be able to take customer information online and enter it directly into your contact management system
  • you want to frequently update large amounts of information on the site
  • you want to update the site yourself or have your employees do it
  • you want to integrate your web site with your intranet
You donít need a database just to allow visitors to fill in online forms if you are happy to receive the information by email. Also, there are ways to update text and images by yourself using simply a text editor and free software for uploading documents to the Internet. We can train you to do this very inexpensively.
I already have a web site. Can you just update it and make it look nicer?
Site redesign is often a great idea, as sites over a few years old can look dated and be less functional than more modern ones. Also, no simple update to a site is too small; we can often offer ideas to improve an existing site without a huge new investment.
How will I know if anyone is visiting my site?
No-one puts a hit-counter on their site anymore! Most web hosts provide statistics through a computer program which is available to you automatically. Another very popular options is Google Analytics. Cosmic can help you find this information and see what it can tell you. Interesting stats include:
  • how many individual people visit your site
  • how many pages they view
  • how often they return
  • how long they spend viewing your site
  • which are the most popular pages in your site
  • which pages are almost ignored
This information can be very helpful when it comes to redesigning an existing web site.
What can a web site do for me?
  • Providing information online can save telephone time.
  • If you use a fax, save time by providing standard documents to clients instantly.
  • If you have products, your client can view and compare them.
  • If you have credentials, refer people to your bio or resume.
  • If you are part of a community, you can provide a place to voice opinions.
  • If you are an artist, your portfolio is available to people without huge reproduction and mailing costs.
  • If you are in a technical profession, you show you are up to date.
  • Online forms can speed up order fulfillment and streamline questions.
  • A simple email to your contact list can link them to a much greater amount of information.
  • Your ads, brochures and biz cards (with URL listed) become much more powerful.
  • Images and text you develop for your site can be used in the print world as well.
  • The process of developing a web site can often help you to define your business.
For more details on what a web site can do for you, read the full article.
Do I have to know all about computers?
If you know how to use email, you have all the skills necessary to have a web site. If you also have a computer and know how to surf the Internet, youíre even better off. People who wish to update their own web site may need more skills and more tolerance of the quirks of working with computers.
What will a Web site cost per month?
Web hosting may cost around $20/month. If you already have Internet service, you may be able to post your site for free. Registering your domain may cost $2-$5 per month.
How do I know what I need?
Start by looking at Web sites of folks doing something similar to you. Cosmic offers a free one hour consultation, with no obligation. Or take a look at the Start page, and our online Needs Analysis, to begin planning your site.
What is the project process?
  1. We meet for free to discuss your needs and review your existing materials.
  2. We provide a proposed budget, with a range of options.
  3. Upon agreeing to a plan, we outline one or more design concepts. Together we create a design you like.
  4. We convert your existing materials for use, and create other elements, per our agreed design.
  5. We set up a web host and possibly domain registrar for you.
  6. We test the design in several browsers.
  7. We create all the pages from the design and put them on the Ďnet.
  8. We correct any errors and make adjustments.
How long will it take?
If we are well organized, it is reasonable to work in a three-week time frame. If there are frequent changes or required materials are not provided, it can take several months. Good communications and clear decisions are the key.
How do we communicate?
We welcome your input and will be available to speak with you or respond to messages, before, during and after the project period. Consulting takes place by email, phone or in person. Email is often convenient, as it leaves a clear record for both of us of what was said, making it easier to make sure everything gets done properly.
You can save money:
  • by organizing several ideas in one email instead of sending a whole bunch of messages.
  • by titling each email with a specific subject, to help us find info quickly later.
  • by making business-related communications brief and clear.
Should I hire a Big Web company or small?
Either one can provide what you need at affordable rates. How do you like to do business? If you like the service you get from large companies like your telephone company, there are many available. If you prefer the type of service you get from your doctor or accountant, you might select a small company. The good thing is that every designer has a Web site, so you can compare their portfolios and pricing. The first one-hour consultation with Cosmic is free.
How can I get a site cheaper and faster?
  • Organize the ideas youíd like on your site into three to ten sections, and write about 200 words for each section.
  • Gather together all the relevant photos you have. If there is are images you need which are missing, take at least two photos of each one.
  • Collect all the brochures, business cards, letterheads, original graphics, slides or CDs you can think of which may have source material.
  • Ask for homework: write your own meta tags, research free Internet directories that you can be listed on, etc.
  • Also, see the section on communications
What if I donít like a design?
Cosmic is intuitive, but not psychic. Some clients request three design concepts, and then pick one for development. If youíd like to keep the budget low, you can request just one idea. If you donít like it, we can come up with another one or revise the proposed idea after discussion. Designs can always be adjusted, the earlier in the process the better.
Who owns the copyright on designs once they're done?
A custom design will belong to you. For example, a logo or custom graphic will be delivered to you in its original form, and can be repurposed any way you like. Web site designs also become your property.
Original photographs, on the other hand, and design ideas which do not make it into the final project design, remain the property of Cosmic Idea. For example, we may provide a photograph of an evocative landscape. While you are free to use it as part of the layout or artwork provided to you by Cosmic Idea, you get license to use it on your site but not in other media without express consent from Cosmic Idea. If, on the other hand, we take a portrait photo for you, the photo is yours to use as you please in any form.
Do I have to own a computer?
Technically, no. If you can get your email at a local library and you generally donít get too many responses you can do it without a computer. Your site resides on a web host, which is a computer somewhere else. But to benefit from your site you should have a computer set up with access to the Internet and email.
Why donít I just get a template from a big online company?
You can find sites that offer templates to choose from. You sacrifice the opportunity to reflect your own unique identity. Most sites need to be customized to fit the specific content anyway, so you may not end up saving money.
In some people's experience, there is good service at the beginning, but you have to continue paying monthly for the site and get very little service after it is first posted.
When Cosmic builds your site, we provide you with your own files built in a transparent manner that any competent web designer can update. This makes it easier to create new pages and adjust design elements site-wide, and prevents you being 'tied' to a particular company.
Why donít I just make my own Web site? Or let my talented teenager do it?
You can build your own site. One way is to find a site on the web that offers a Ďwizardí checklist that generates something for you for free, or to create a free weblog on a site like Wordpress.org. Also, some web hosts offer low-cost web site building as an incentive.
A good compromise is to have a web site design laid out for you professionally, and work from the template we provide to add or remove pages, as you need them. If you'd like to work on your own website, we can build it in a content management program or you can use a site editor to update it.
If you would like your site to look excellent, take the time to become an excellent web designer, which is rarely achieved on the first attempt.
What is the simplest web site I can get?
The simplest web site would be a single page. It would include your name and/or your company name, a description of your ideas/services and contact information. If you have a logo, it should be there, too. Finally, an email link enables people to send you a message without leaving the computer. Even a single page makes you accessible to the Internet community.
Why does the site look different on different computers?
The world is made up of many different computer systems. How a Web site will look depends on:
  • the computer
  • the connection speed
  • the browser software (varying drastically by company and version number)
  • the plug-ins installed (or not) in the browser
  • the monitor
  • the printer (if printing)
Cosmic sites are developed in accordance with standards set by the World Wide Web Consortium, which guides the future of Internet development. We discuss with clients the likely capabilities of their audience, and make every attempt to design sites that look as similar as possible on the wide variety of computers in use today. By using standard-compliant code we strive to make every site 'future-compatible'.
Why do the graphics print smaller than what I see on the screen?
Your computer screen works like a mosaic, with 72 dots of colour per inch, per line. A printed image usually has 300 dots per inch. When you print an image from the screen, at 300 dpi, the printer may happily push the dots together so that a 4-inch image on the screen ends up as less than an inch on paper. We usually design logos and graphics to be printable, then reduce them for use on the 'net. Web layouts are usually done at 72 dpi.
Do I need my own domain?
If you have access to the Internet from your home or office, you probably already have web space available to your for your Web site. However, your web address would include the name of your web host, and an extension with some version of your name (like 'attcanada.com/~bobsmith134'). If you change your service provider, your site and email addresses will change as well.
Having your own domain usually means that you won't ever have to change your site or email address, and that you will have a site address that is a bit easier to remember. Some potential clients may find a company with a web site address that matches in some way the company name seems more established.
It is possible to have your own domain without changing your current Internet service provider, though they will usually charge a bit more for this service.
Do I need to use the same company for my domain registration and my web hosting?
Your domain registrar and web host can be two different companies or the same one for both services. Once you register your .com (or .ca, .biz, .org, etc.) with one, we go to the registrar's settings to connect the domain to your web host, wherever it may be.
How can I make sure people can find my site using search engines like Google?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a field unto itself, featuring a mix of genuine experts and snake oil salesmen. Getting to the first page of thousands of listings is possible if you have a small niche, or are willing to take the time for a concerted campaign. On the other hand, there are many things one can do to enhance your position and bring more visitors to your website by yourself. At Cosmic we take the first steps to make your site visible, and can carry the ball from there or coach you in the proces. In future you may wish to pay a specialized service for more advanced strategies.
It is important to include well-targeted keywords in the text of the page, as well as the code of the page which is not visible to users (such as meta-tags, alternate text tags for images, hidden comments and status bar statements). It's also wise to write a good description for each page, which will show up in search engine results. One can submit their site address directly to search engines and directories. Someone looking for your service may find a reference to your site on a popular directory much sooner than a direct link to your site. Also, it is very useful to encourage people to link to you; their higher search engine placements may enhance your own.
Can I post articles from other web sites or publications on my site?
Copyright law covers all ideas, including the content of web sites and publications, professional and non-professional alike. Any copyright permissions necessary for reposting articles on your site remain your responsibility. We can do copyright research for you if specifically requested to do so, but cannot accept legal responsibility for the use of copyright materials on your site or in your print materials. Conversely, images and text you create and put on the web are covered by your copyright. It is possible for people to copy and repurpose your work, however, though if they are using it to make money they are violating your rights.