Outsource Your Website Design and Web Development Needs (Safely)

If you’re like most business owners you know that you need to have an internet presence in order to reach a more expansive audience. The problem is that you probably don’t have an unlimited budget with which to build your internet presence through avenues such as having a custom website designed, hiring a search engine marketing / optimization (SEM / SEO) expert, and paying for pay per click (PPC), blogging, article posting or banner ad marketing.

Well, the good news is that needing more services than one can afford in the general market is a very common issue. And like most common challenges in the business world, there are at least a few ways to get around this problem.

First, before you even begin searching for a web development or marketing firm you need to take the time to think through your precise needs. When looking to promote your business, information or services online some crucial questions you must ask yourself are:

1) What exactly will the main purpose of my website be (deliver information, increase local on-site sales, generate internet based sales, sell advertising, save money by enhancing the efficiency of your current site).
2) What size budget are you working with? Later in the article we will suggest a range of reputable providers who’s services range from very inexpensive to relatively costly. We’ll also note some of the differences in quality you can expect based on what you pay.
3) Have you thought through your service needs well enough to explain them to a competent designer or developer? Clearly understanding what you are looking will significantly increase the odds that you actually receive it. If you want a website developed, take the time to actually find similar sample sites you can send your web team to so they have an idea of what you want.

Because this holds true for just about any graphic design or website development services an employer (you) would need, most professional website design firms should actually provide you with a questionnaire or “creative brief” that will help you think through and then clearly state what you are looking for. Such briefs should ask you about your company, other designs you like, color schemes you prefer etc.

Secondly, now that you’ve thought through the services you require, it’s time to start looking for a suitable provider.

The good news is that there are literally thousands upon thousands of website design, graphic design, search engine marketing and SEO companies out there for you to choose from. Oh wait, maybe that’s the bad new… With so many providers in the market you might need some help finding the best web service provider for you.

Here are a few suggestions that will help you identify a company to start your design project with:

1) Check out Craigslist.org. Craigslist is the most active internet based classified ads website in existence. Because this site is free to use, and it receives literally billions of page views each month, a good number of national and local service provider advertise their services on it. Website design, graphic design and web development service providers can generally be found in the “Creative Services” or “Computer Services” sections on Craigslist.
2) Run a search for “XYZ directory” and you find websites that maintain extensive lists of whatever service providers you require. Note: replace the “XYZ” with the type of service you need. For example, you might search for “Website Designer Directory.”
3) If you’re not in the mood to do the research for yourself here are some reputable, and national, web development providers:

Logoworks.com : This firm is a well respected website and logo design firm. Their prices are on the high side but if you’re not too budget conscious you’ll find that they produce quality work. I’d probably go with them for medium scale jobs in the range of $5,000 to $10,000.

InkBlotDesignStudios.com : Ink Blot Design Studios is a national web development company that established itself by providing premium quality website and logo designs at wholesale prices. If you’re budget is between $39 and $5,000 then they are a great choice.

Volusion.com : These guys are for the big boys. Their logo designs alone cost around $600 (vs. $39 Logos from Ink Blot Design Studios and $299 Logos from Logoworks) and their template based websites can cost $3,000 (vs. $400 from other companies). However, if you are looking for prestige (a perfectly reasonable desire) and you’re willing to pay for it then this might be a no-brainer.

Of course, there are other options for outsourcing your design projects (guru.com, odesk.com etc) but we didn’t include a review of them here because of the frequency of complaints they receive from past clients who tried to hire really cheap workers from overseas and ended up getting burned out of their money. That’s not to say that you can’t find great service providers on sites like those; you can. You’ll just have to be extra cautious so that you don’t end up losing your money and/or being disappointed with the product you receive.

Final note, I didn’t talk specifically about SEO services much in this articles because you can find those same services from via the means suggested for finding website developers and logo designers. You can also check with the companies I mentioned above because some of them provide SEO and SEM services as well.

Good luck with your new website and/or graphic designs!

Programming, Coding and Web Development Laptop Specifications

If you need to get a new laptop for programming or coding purposes and are uncertain where to start, this short guide will help you find the perfect setup for your needs.

For web developers, there are really two main paths they need to go through. If you’re doing front-end web development, then you’ll need a basic machine that can run a text editor and a browser to check your progress. For back-end developers things get a bit more complicated. You will need a laptop that can handle multiple tasks simultaneously like running a browser, a local server and the code editor. These might not seem like a lot, but they do require a lot of system resources so make sure you pick a laptop that’s up to the task.

For game, 3D or mobile app development you’ll need a high performance laptop that can render everything in real-time. Think about getting a gaming laptop if you’ll be doing this type of work. Mobile app developers will often need to run a simulation of their app running in the mobile operating system, which can take a lot of system resources.

Let’s have a look at some of the specs recommended for each of these types of development work.

Processor

The processor is the heart of your computer and by the number of cores and threads it boasts, it determines how many processes you can run well in parallel.

For front-end development work, you should be able to get away with a laptop that uses either a Core i3 or Core i5 dual-core processor. Back-end and mobile app developers should aim at least for a Core i5 quad-core processor, Core i7 being the best choice.

RAM

RAM or system memory helps the CPU process everything smoothly. The more your laptop carries, the better. Front-end work implies about 4-8GB of system memory installed, since you’ll probably use a code-editor like Sublime Text and one or more browsers to check up on your work.

Mobile, game and back-end developers should opt for something with a bit more kick. The minimum amount of RAM should be in the 12-16GB range. This is to make sure that all your applications run smoothly together.

Hard Drive or SSD?

Every laptop needs to store and retrieve information. This is done by the storage device installed. Here you have two choices: either get a laptop with a regular HDD, that will typically cost a lot less, or get a laptop that comes with an SSD. An SSD is the newer type of storage option that doesn’t rely on spinning disks to store information and can be about 10-12 times faster than a regular hard disk drive.

For front-end development work, a regular HDD should be enough, but you can always look for hybrid drives which incorporate a bit of SSD technology into a regular HDD. These are a bit faster than regular hard drives and don’t cost quite as much when compared to SSDs.

For any type of programming that’s above front-end development, it’s recommended that you get a laptop that carries an SSD. This will speed up boot times and everything you run on your computer.

Operating system

This is yet another thing you will have to think about. While Windows is perhaps the most popular operating system today, it’s not quite the best choice when all development fields are concerned.

For web development you should try coding in a Linux-based OS, like Ubuntu. Mac OS also works with Windows being the last on this list. This is because you need to install different third-party software like XAMPP on Windows if you’re going to do back-end work. You will have to install some of these as well on Ubuntu, but the process is much more streamlined.

Screen

The laptop screen is another factor that’s important to take into account. With so many resolutions available today, it’s hard to pick a laptop that’s just right for programming.

Front-end developers will need a laptop that carries a screen with a higher than average resolution, since they’ll need to test if their websites are responsive on a lot of resolutions. For back-end developers, this is less important. But what’s true for both of these categories is the need for a secondary monitor. This can speed up development time quite a lot, since you don’t constantly need to switch between applications when coding and checking the output.

Battery Life

While most developers sit at their desk when coding with the computer plugged-in, should you feel the need to code on the go, then make sure you get a laptop that’s got a great battery life.

Macs are typically great at battery life, with their Air series going up to even 12 hours of battery life on a single charge.

The thing is, the more powerful hardware a laptop carries, the more battery life will be sacrificed. This is because powerful hardware eats up a lot of electricity. Most computers nowadays have devised ways of counter-acting this by dimming the display, throttling down the processor when the computer isn’t used and so forth.

If you’re sure you need a laptop with a great battery life, that’s also powerful but don’t want to pay through the nose for a MacBook, then you should invest in a secondary battery that you can take with you when you’re on the move.

In conclusion, if you’ve run through all these aspects, you should have a pretty clear picture in your head of what your next laptop should be like.

The Essentials of Web Design & Web Development

Numerous individuals find irresistible the idea of having a website, but get fearful when they hear the expression “web design or web development”. Nevertheless, you do not need to be a specialist with years of computer programming cleverness to make a grand website? Luckily, producing a first-class website is not as troublesome as it may sound, once you know the basics.

Before you start working on the appealing part of the website, you need to work on your website’s content. After all, people are going to want to visit your page for more than just appealing pictures! Grab a sheet of paper or notebook and make a list of the main areas that you think others will want to visit. “About me”, “home”, and “links” are commonly good pages to get you moving.

Once you know what you want to have or need on your website, it’s time to begin organizing! Folks like it when it’s straightforward to tell what is where but do not like a flood of links to click, the simpler your site is the better. If a few relevant things go together, it generally is OK to put them on the same page. For example, “About me” could also tell your hobbies and favourite music instead of having separate pages for your music, your hobbies and you as an example.

As soon as all the information has been chosen and sorted, you can then get your layout designed. The three things that are the most key when designing your website’s layout are compatibility, visibility, and ease of use. That is what makes a good site great.

Visibility suggests that your page is easy to read. Choose at least two contrasting complimentary colours for your pages. It is essential to make sure the colours are very different in shades to make it easy to read. As a rule light text on a dark background or dark text on a light background is most effective. Also steer clear of using background images as it makes reading complicated.

User-friendliness means that it is straightforward for folks visiting your page to find what they call for. All the main pages you developed earlier should be clearly linked on an easy to read menu that will be in the same place on every one of your pages. If you have any sub pages, a site map linked in the footer of your web page is also a great thought.

The most critical of the three concerns is compatibility. If your visitors can’t load your site, they will not be able to benefit from it! Don’t use things like flash or silverlight as they do not work on all browsers or all operating systems and can crash slower computers. Also, check your site across a number of browsers to make sure the code works well. Using W3C compliant code will in general assist the dilemma out loads.

As soon as you get down to the essentials, web design and web development is not very complex. Just consider the three keys of compatibility, visibility, and ease of use and organize your site well and you will be doing incredibly well. Do not be scared to make your own web page yourself. Give it an attempt and you might just be very ecstatic and delighted with the outcome.