So you think you might want a new website designed by Rowboat Media. If you’re like most people, you don’t know where to begin beyond sending a “Help” email. Not to worry – we’ll lead you through the rest of it from here.
Our first conversation
Our typical response to emails that simply say, “I need a website. How much and how fast can I get it?” is…laughter. Once we stop laughing, we email you back and advise you that, while titillating, your missive does not contain nearly enough information about who you are, what you need, and whether or not we are a good fit to work together. First we ask that you thoughtfully fill out our short Website Design Inquiry form, and then we’ll email you back to schedule a telephone or Skype conversation.
We do initial consultations on a pre-scheduled basis, once we receive your Design Inquiry.
Cynthia’s most impressive super-powers come in her human scale. She’s a real live, real smart, real funny, real human, human being, who is quick on the return email, sharp on the snark, wise (and occasionally wiseass) on the opinion, and all around an extraordinary pleasure to work with. Kudos to her and to Rowboat Media.
The point of these consultations is to get a sense of who you really are and what you’re looking for, without you having to know all the fancy techie words to describe it. We’ll ask the right questions.
As a result of that phone call, we will provide a detailed proposal with firm quote for the project scope as outlined in that proposal, and a delivery timeframe estimate.
I want to hire you. What next?
If you are pleased with the telephone call, the quote, and our initial ideas, you let us know you want to hire us by choosing one of the payment methods provided. Quotes are good for 30 days only, and your retainer is what solidifies both your place in the production queue and your price. For insta-confirmation, we take Visa, MC, AmEx, Discover, and PayPal. You can mail us an old-fashioned check, too.
We’ll also send you an email letting you know what we need next, and how to provide it to us.
How long does the process take?
Once we begin a project – meaning that you have provided all content, photographs, and other collateral – we expect to complete that project within 30-90 days with active feedback and participation from you in a timely manner. Overall timing depends on the complexity of your individual project and what our queue looks like at any given time.
We’re not interested in dragging out the process, for ourselves or for our clients, so we prefer that you sign on with us when you are fully ready to engage. Stale, stagnant energy around a slow-moving project is no fun for anyone!
Content – or…what on earth do I put ON my website?
“Content begets design” is the truth. You must have something to design for the result to have meaning.
– Chris Pearson,
Thesis creator and developer
Ah, content creation and copywriting. The bane of both every web designer’s and design client’s existence. Those pithy words that send your message out into the world, lovingly cradled by the outstanding design for which you’re paying hard-earned money. Content and design, design and content…it’s hard to figure out what to put on a website that doesn’t exist yet, and it’s hard to build a design to hold imaginary contents!
This is the one spot where a design process can most likely end up stalled and drifting on becalmed waters. If you want your website quickly and on schedule, you must actively participate in the content process and meet the internal deadlines we set. Otherwise…the Internet could be obsolete before we get the project in the can!
Since your content needs to reflect YOUR personality and that of your firm or company, it’s hard to provide “canned” content that sounds like anything other than just what it is. We’ve all seen the results of those one-stop-shopping website mills and the same crappy content over and over.
If you feel unsure about how to proceed, you’re flat out too busy running your own business, or subjects, predicates and keywords make you break out in hives, we can help write your content. Just ask, and we’ll figure out a quote for the wordy stuff.
We’ll help you figure out what absolutely MUST be covered on your website on our initial call.
If you’re providing new content, we need it BEFORE starting your design. We can’t stress this enough – design CANNOT begin without your having delivered to us the content you are comfortable launching with. Since this is WordPress, you can always add more later – but we need the initial content bundle before we start. If we’re doing a blog for you, this includes at least 3 initial blog posts.
The fun part – creating the design
Creating the design can be the most rewarding and the most challenging part of the process. While we love playing with typography/fonts, pretty colors, and lovely images, we’re also giving serious thought to the architecture and functionality of your design.
It’s our job to make sure that, while it looks good, your site is also attractive and easy to index by the major search engines, and also dynamic enough to support minor changes and continual additions to content without having to throw the whole thing out the window and start all over. There are many ways to make a website “look” nice without being properly constructed under the hood.
After uploading/transferring your content, (that’s why we need that FIRST), we start out working to design layouts of your home page and interior pages based on your specifications. Once we’ve got something we’re proud of, we share a private review link with you.
Once you give us your feedback, we incorporate that into another revision, and so on, until you’re 100% satisfied.
Checkin’ out the finished product.
Once we’ve settled on the layouts and applied them to all of your initial content, we invite you to wander around, peek in the closets, snoop in the medicine cabinet and generally try your best to break things. We hope you’ll be unsuccessful at that, but if you are – it’s doubly helpful. Let’s take a look at what seems hesitant, or less than intuitive, and talk about it. Find the dead-ends, cul-de-sacs, and flat-out silly connectors. Get Grandma to test it, along with your six-year-old nephew.
Let’s LAUNCH this baby and make some NOISE!
Once the site has been cat-tested and approved, and you say you’re thrilled with the idea of it showing up under your very own domain name, you let us know. We’ll get you live on your own domain, test the live site, and break a bottle of champagne over the nearest pointy corner we can find. You don’t EVEN want to clean up that mess. We then follow up with a congratulatory email to you, make some noise with our social media networks about it, and strongly encourage you to do the same.
What now? Do you sail off into the sunset and leave me here all alone?
Absolutely not. At the time your site launches, we give you the opportunity to subscribe to our WebMistress Service, which is an extremely economical way to have us monitor your site quietly in the background and be available to you when you need minor changes to content, graphics, plug-in help, etc. You can find out more details about that service here.
Otherwise, we charge a diagnostic/setup fee and an hourly rate for support and changes. If you just have a simple question, feel free to ask – we’re always here to maintain a continuing dialogue with our clients – many of whom become friends before the process is over.
Now I know how it works – but how much does it cost?
Magic 8 ball says…it depends. But we’ve learned over the years about what it takes to build a tiny cottage, a 3-bedroom house, or a giant mansion with extra wings and custom-designed doorknobs. Check out our starting rates for certain types of projects, and drop us a line to find out where you fall on that spectrum, if you’re not sure. Keep in mind that we offer monthly payment plans if you need them.
This sounds like WAY more fun than
a root canal. Let’s do it!
Great idea! Get the process started by sending us a website design inquiry.
Still not sure? Check out what these people had to say about working with us – all I know is, I’ll have what they’re having.