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I have just finished putting together my company's web page/s with the help of an external web design company and am pleased with the result. Just now need to put it on the web. Couple of queries though: 1. The company are asking if we wish to pay them £700/annum for web optimisation. This does include some time for page amendments throughout the year. Is this a good idea and good value?
2. They are also asking if we wish them to host(I believe that's the term) the pages on their server(s). Again for a fee. We do pay a fee to BT Connect for our broadband connection, which currently enables our e-mails and web browsing, but I believe also entitles us to 20gb web space. Would I not be better off using BT?
If you are happy to have your company's site hosted in free web space then go for it, but don't expect to get much by way of traffic, or any kind of a decent listing with search engines.
To look truly professional you'll need to have the site on your own domain name rather than on a long and incomprehensible btinternet.com address. That will mean professional hosting, and there are hundreds of companies out there.
As to whether your design company's fee is good value or not is for you to decide. Many companies try to maintain a revenue stream like this, and I don't blame them - site design isn't the end of the story by any means. Having said that, it depends on how often, and to what extent you intend to make changes on the site. The answer is, I hope, 'very often' for that's the way to keep your company showcased to best advantage. There's nothing that puts regulare visitors to a corporate site off more than unchanging content - it's yesterday's news, and can kill a site dead. 'Site optimisation' is one of those vague terms which I hate - it can mean everything or nothing, and you would be well advised to get a clear indication of exactly what you would get for your £700 before you agree to pay.
I'd imagine that the main reason why Matt45 suggests that you "use Hosting Place which have excellent customer support and have never had a problem with them" is that it is his own web hosting service.
Obviously the choice is yours whether or not you decide to pursue this but I think it is poor form to advertise your own products/services on a help forum.
Now, value for money is difficult to define without knowing the full nature of your business, its site, volume of traffic, requirement (real or estimated) for regular updates and so on. If you will be getting regular updates throughout the year as well as a good search engine optimisation (SEO) service then it is not too much to pay at all. I cannot comment too much more on that front, without a lot more detail and without knowing exactly what your web designer has offered, the volume of traffic you expect to get and so on. Too many factors can affect the requirement for, desirability or even the necessity of SEO to offer a serious reply. Too many designers also use the SEO acronym to make a lot of money for no real work involved. SEO can be useful and important, but it is also a much misused buzz-word at present and puts my back up quite a lot.
I would say to be careful you read any small print in their proposed services though, and make sure you get some sort of terms of agreement or other contract that actually states what you will get and, possibly more important, what you won't.
It could prove more economical to arrange and pay for updates to the site as required, and any site should be produced in a search engine sympathetic way, so SEO may not be necessary at all. I prefer, in almost all cases, to instruct clients to rely on including their domain name on ALL correspondence (advertisements, letterheads, business cards, quotes, receipts, invoices and so on). This, to most small business with limited resources is often of far more value than an SEO campaign. Again though, without a lot of detail it is impossible to answer this accurately for you.
Now, BT Connect, depending on the features you selected, offers you the chance of a free .co.uk web address for your business or the ability to register and use General Nominet Domains
(co.uk .org.uk), General Internic Domains (.com, .net, .org) and also .biz and .info addresses. If you don't have a registered domain name you will have to use your BT Connect address which will be:
http : // home.btconnect.com/folder
If you do register your domain name you can point it to your BT Conntect space and off you go. There are certain possible pitfalls to this but your designer should talk you through them, as well as the reasonable alternatives.
Full details of the possible services you may already have or may add onto your BT Connect account can be viewed at the BT Connect site click here - make sure you click on the Help & Support link where most of your questions will be answered. In fact, you may find a call to BT support or pre-sales enquiries is worthwhile, to answer some questions, but BT Connect does potentially offer what you need.
I'd suggest that you could well be better off using BT by registering a domain name and assigning it to your existing BT Connect account. Alternative web hosting is relatively easy to arrange and your designer should really have covered this as a matter of course. I always make clients aware of the options they have, from hosting through my own services through to standalone accounts with a web host I recommend.
Incidentally, I normally prefer to set up individual accounts for clients with a web host rather than host the sites myself. Some clients prefer that their registration details remain private for their domain, in which case I register it on their behalf.
All domains registered for business use must have the registrants name and address listed but some clients prefer to keep that out of the public domain. In this event it is worth having a small contract between you/your business and your chosen designer to avoid any unpleasantness if you choose to transfer your domain to another host or go with another designer in the future. Most good designers will do this for nothing or at the worst for a small administration fee but stories abound where a designer has registered a domain name on behalf of a client and then is unwilling to part company with it unless a large payment is made.
Protect yourself by having a written agreement to that effect. Again, any good designer will go through this with you and be happy to provide the necessary paperwork.
My apologies if these are not exactly definitive answers but you asked some very large questions and there is nowhere near enough detail to form anything other than a very general reply.
Just for the record, domain names may be had for under £10 for two years for a .co.uk address and unless your site requires underlying database support or other features, good web hosting need not cost the earth. Take a look here for serious hosting click here or here for 1&1, who many people use quite happily click here
I don't any more after certain problems, but many people do. Less expensive options include Web Mania click here and Web-Attention click here both originally brought to the attention of forum members by Talented Monkey.
I suggest you ask your designer to outline the possible alternatives for you and go through the proposals carefully. Come here to ask specifics by all means and one of us will try to explain things for you. Just be a little wary of anyone who tells you to use them for everything (hosting, domain registration and so on) without at least offering some realistic alternatives because they do exist.
Good luck and best regards,
I should really learn to refresh the page before posting. Forum Editor posted while I was typing (again) and covered most of the bases for you.
To all forum members who have responded. Thank you for the time and trouble that you have taken. There are some long scripts to absorb but I will do so. It seams that 'take your time and get it right' is the best philosophy and be careful of some of the offerings.
Thank you all again.
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