My last 57 web designers have all been worthless crooks! I hate web designers… GRR! Why should I choose you?

We feel your pain, we really do. Unfortunately there’s very little barrier to entry into web design so it’s up to you, the consumer, to do your due diligence to make sure you’re dealing with a company or individual that delivers a quality product.

At Cluster One Media, we stand by our reputation. Our clients love working with us and we are up front about everything your project will require. While we occasionally have to spend way more time than is billed for particularly fussy clients, we absolutely do not bill websites hourly. Rather, we quote a fixed fee and stick to it. Ultimately, it’s your satisfaction as our client that is our end goal, not to squeeze every last dollar out of you on any given project. Check out what our clients have to say in our web design testimonials, view our web design portfolio to see if our design style meshes with your tastes, and if you like, we’ll give you references of clients who will tell you what it’s like to work with us.

Whether you choose us or not, here are some tips for choosing a web designer:

  • Price: There may be no better example of “you get what you pay for” than cheap web design. If you expect the world from a company offering an all inclusive website plus SEO for $299 you’re likely headed for disappointment. On the other hand, if you’re shelling out thousands of dollars for a product, have a look at the company or individual’s portfolio. Make sure you like the design style and are clear on what technologies they intend to use prior to getting started.
  • Proprietary CMS: More often than not, be wary of proprietary content management systems. While there are certainly some great minds that work at small and large web design companies, alike, they’re not making proprietary CMSs that are as versatile, well supported, feature rich or polished as platforms like WordPress, Joomla, and others that have millions of websites/users providing feedback to dedicated development teams. While a proprietary CMS might seem impressive on paper, keep in mind that it provides a barrier to being able to leave your web designer should you feel it to be necessary down the road. This is especially true in Ecommerce, which has some very complex functions. We would challenge you to check out our preferred third party ecommerce platform, Big Commerce, and compare the feature set against ANY web design company’s proprietary ecommerce solution.
  • Fees: While we acknowledge that many designers quote hourly fees, we’d personally be wary of anyone who won’t quote a fixed price for a straightforward project. Unless your project is unusually complicated or requires heavy programming of custom web applications, an hourly rate is most often not necessary, as any web designer who’s been around for a time can estimate the hours required for a given project quite accurately. If you do have a very large and/or complex project, ask for a tiered pricing model based upon hours. We hear of people who engage with web designers who bill by the hour and end up with partially finished projects because the hours get out of control. This can easily be avoided with a properly laid out fee schedule.

Do you offer hosting?

At present time we do not offer hosting. Many web designers like to offer hosting because it allows them to advertise being a “one stop shop.” While this seems like a great deal, realistically, the hosting they offer is usually substandard to what larger, dedicated hosting companies offer, with hosting really being offered more as a way to make it harder for you to leave them should you be unhappy or want to try someone new down the road. Of course we hope you’ll be a lifelong client, but we’re not trying to trick you into staying with us by making it difficult for you to leave. Everything we do is turnkey. Ultimately, we want your site to perform its best, and as we believe that dedicated hosting companies offer the best environment with the least strings attached, and that’s what we want for our clients.

Do you recommend any specific hosting company?

We use a company called Hostmonster for ourselves and have been doing so happily for years. They offer unlimited bandwidth, storage, domain hosting, email, great support, as well as well as the ability to run virtually every script in existence for around $6/month. We recommend them without hesitation and have sent many happy clients their way. Visit Hostmonster’s website.

Do you build websites on any kind of content management system (CMS)?

Yes, we build the majority of our websites in WordPress. We love it. If WordPress were a woman we’d probably marry it. To read more about why we love WordPress so much visit our WordPress web design page.

Ecommerce is really complicated. Do you use a proprietary ecommerce platform?

As mentioned above, we’re somewhat wary of web design companies who do use proprietary ecommerce solutions, as there is simply no way to equal the polish or the sheer number of features of larger software as a service (SAAS) platforms. Our preferred ecommerce platform is Big Commerce. If you’re interested in setting up an ecommerce storefront we’d encourage you to check them out and compare their features against any competitor, be it a web design company with a proprietary solution or another SAAS provider. We love Big Commerce and are happy to be a custom Big Commerce web designer..

What’s your web design process? How do I get started?

We’ll start by going over a detailed needs analysis with you. Once we have a clear understanding of what goals you have for your website we’ll make suggestions for what we feel is the best solution for your individual needs. Then comes the fun part! We’ll design your site to your specifications and once the design is finalized, our code ninjas work their magic and turn a the visual design into functioning HTML, PHP, CSS, Java etc. We’ll then set up a test website on our server so that you can see your website up and running in your own browser and provide feedback prior to the site going live on your domain. Once everything is finalized on the test website we’ll transfer it to your host and your site will be live.

I made my site in Dreamweaver and I’m thinking I’d save some money by simply have you “refresh” my existing website. Do you do that?

While we’ll be happy to develop a new WordPress or Big Commerce theme for you to integrate into your existing WordPress or Big commerce installation, we’ve all but sworn off editing existing static websites, as working with others’ code results in headaches 9 times out of 10, with an end result that simply does not live up to our extremely high standards. If you have an old site whose design is long in the tooth and running on an outdated CMS (or no CMS at all), we’ll more than likely recommend a ground-up move to WordPress to get you up to speed.

Is SEO included with web design?

Our approach to SEO involves an extremely comprehensive research stage that can often take as many hours as a web design project, and as such we offer SEO as a separate service from web design. While we offer the services separately, every website that we create is set up with best SEO practices in mind and we include a complementary “seat of the pants” optimization of the meta tags for the homepage and first level subpages.