Website Designing Information
Website Designing Information
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Professional Website Designing
Website Design — Hosting — Turnkey Systems
Information Page - Frequently Asked Questions
This page is lengthy: the links below jump to each section.
Who is Larry Gowdy?
Not too many years ago the Gowdy name was well-recognized throughout Amarillo and the panhandle for electronics service. Technology continues to change, and with the changes I too have changed to keep up with the current needs of my customers'. One of the drawbacks of being a tech is that almost every piece of equipment that I see is defective and in need of repair. Customers never call techs to say how great something is working; people only call when they have problems. One of my methods of relieving the stress of always having to repair problems was by my learning how to create fun stuff like websites in 1999. It's still a lot of work, but it's fun creative work, and I plan to continue web design till the day I pass away at the keyboard.
Website designs are dictated by browsers. It really doesn't matter what we want to create, the bottom line is that we must build within the limitations of each browser. Up until around 2010 we were still forced to build sites that were compatible with Netscape® (just knowing what Netscape is can make a person feel old). Most websites back then were rather primitive as compared to today's, and though the coding for a website might be atrocious, the main goal was to just get a website to display properly without crashing Internet Explorer® and/or Netscape. Many of my websites were earning high search engine rankings, so I have been cautious to not too quickly modernize my old sites' coding to meet the new browsers that include Firefox®, Opera®, and Chrome®. Netscape is now all but buried, and with all modern browsers currently sharing similar standards of display we can now clean-up our coding to make better use of modern fonts and page layouts. Yes, I still have quite a few of the old coding nightmare websites online, but little by little I am modernizing them all, and enjoying (most) every minute.
I closed my offices on 8th Street and 51st Street primarily because over 99% of my tech work has always been done at the customer's location, and too, because the only person (other than my employees and I) to walk into the 8th Street office was a tax collector to appraise my inventory (the tax bill was, of course, higher than what I paid for the inventory). I still have a physical business address, but you would likely have a better chance of winning the lotto than catching me there. In November of 2017 I ceased all on-site service, while I have moved all work to be online only. For large web design projects I can meet the customer at their business location or at a coffee shop if needed (yay caffeine!), but please plan for all correspondence to be by email and telephone.
In 1979 I almost got my feet wet with COBOL (clammy damp mostly), and in 1986 I tinkered with Basic and a couple others. None of the languages seemed to pique my interest until HTML. I have a fondness for HTML and CSS, but not so much for PHP and JS, and perhaps one of the reasons of why I usually focus on HTML and CSS is because they produce the best results in all browsers. I like stable compatible code!
The main things I aim for in a website are stability (doesn't crash the browser), security (no code that can harm a visitor's computer, nor infect the hosting server), appearances, and search engine ranking. Without search engine ranking the website is pretty much useless, so my coding might sometimes be twisted a little (or a lot) to get the site listed on the first page of all major search engines. Some web designers have excellent tastes in design, but not much luck in SEO, while other coders might build whiz-bang websites that the public never sees because the search engines frown on the coding. I believe that I have found a happy medium, and the search engine rankings appear to agree.
The bottom line is that I truly enjoy coding, and if I were rich I would still be doing web design. I charge for my work because, unfortunately, I have to eat and pay that darn tax collector.
— Larry Gowdy
(1) How much does it cost?
All websites are unique and are priced by how many hours are required to create the design. I can create a brief web page from scratch within a day, but more time is used for specialized layouts, setting-up the hosting services, configuring email accounts, and uploading files. The "Basic One Page Website" and the "Business Five Page Website" are good general ideas of the typical costs for most websites. The "High-end Web Design" is an intensive and lengthy project that includes specialized skills beyond design and programming.
I used to offer an economy web design for about half the price of a normal one-page site, but I have updated the offer to provide better SEO and design along with a nice price of $199.95. You can view the Cheap Websites page for more information.
SEO and Hourly Rates
One Page Cheap Website - $199.95
Basic One Page Website - $499.95
Business Five Page Website - $899.95
High-end Web Design
The actual first words spoken by a customer when seeing one of my high-end web designs: "Classy, unique, overwhelming, emotional, emotionally overwhelming."
A recent high-end website earned the emotional first comments of 'There's nothing like that on the Internet...' plus several additional positive comments that described the pleasing layout. I like the new design so much myself that I wish I could use it for my own websites.
Please do not confuse the term "high-end" with being merely "high cost" or "high quantity of gadgets". My definition of high-end implies superior quality of usefulness, layout, and artistry. My high-end web designs are intended for use by the discriminating professional who demands a corporate intranet or online presence that reflects the individual's own personal qualities.
Draft-samples of my high-end styles are only shown to customers in person, and no finished high-end styled web design is displayed nor linked to online (I do, of course, link to high-end SEO sites, but I do not publicly describe which of the pages are high-end). Customers have paid for the specialized coding, and it would be very unfair for me to place the websites online where their coding can be copied. The customers can choose to place their high-end websites online if they wish, but I will continue to keep the coding private.
The layouts found within this website and most all of its links are quite good and work very well for search engines and their intended audiences, but the high-end designs shadow all else. Some of my high-end pages focus on specific purposes while not giving as much attention to visual appearances. One example is a page that I invested over three-hundred hours into reworking to earn the number two spot on Google's® national rankings against very strong competition (second only to the mega-popularity of Wikipedia). Earning a #1 rank is not difficult, but it does require more time and expense.
If you prefer a Bugatti rather than a Yugo, a Rembrandt rather than a Disney, a cello rather than television, or a Newton rather than a Dickens, then you know why the high-end web design is preferred.
Additional services are billed at the hourly rate. There is no extra charge for my designing the website to be search engine optimized (some companies charge an additional $500.00—$5,000.00 or more). The price that I quote on the contract is the full price that the customer pays; not a penny more.
(2) What are the advantages of a business having a website?
Retail businesses: A website advertises your business twenty-four hours a day seven days a week. It is important for home shoppers to be able to find your business online after business hours. Out of town shoppers rely heavily on websites to give information about store hours, product lines, and available services. If a customer is online and cannot find your business, then the customer may choose to purchase from a competitor.
Business to business: Little says as much about a company's lack of professionalism than for the company to not have a website. As important as it was in the 50s to 90s to be listed in the telephone books' yellow pages, today a website can be far more important than a yellow page ad ever was. As a general rule of thumb, a website typically sparks ten times more B2B opportunities while costing less than a tenth of the cost of a small yellow page ad. The old days of using the Thomas Register to find suppliers and buyers is over, now replaced with the Internet. A good website now reaches potential customers around the world at no additional cost.
Similarly important for B2B is how a company's website is created. A company's reputation can be severely damaged by having a website that was created with a content management system (CMS) or one of the 'online site builders'. The use of a CMS or 'site builder' is often interpreted to imply that if the site's owner does not care about the quality of their website — who will not invest a few hours to do a good job — then the owner probably will not care about providing a quality service either.
(3) How long will it take to build the website?
The average website is finished within one week, but it may take longer if your company's needs require numerous web pages or a higher than normal quantity of graphics. The estimated time of completion will be written in the seller's contract.
(4) Does the customer have to maintain the website?
No. The website maintenance can be handled by me on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis and be billed at an hourly rate. It is often more profitable for the customer to pay me for about an hour of work rather than for the customer to consume their own time that would be better invested in their own business.
(5) What about domain name, email accounts, and visitor statistics?
Depending on the type of website that the customer chooses, the web design service will include hosting, from one to an almost unlimited number of email accounts, and logs of visitors and referring link statistics. If the customer prefers to not handle the chore of acquiring the statistics themselves, I can email the statistics to the customer on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. I can also give instructions of how to setup the email to be automatically received through Microsoft® Outlook® or other email software.
I strongly recommend that all customers take full personal control of their own domain names. There are many registrars available, but I usually recommend Enom and NameCheap because both offer good rates and good service. I can handle the domain for a customer if requested, but I must charge at least an extra $20.00 over cost per domain name per year for maintenance time. Domain identity protection is available at additional cost.
(6) Can the customer add graphics, photographs, or videos later?
Yes. I can update the website at any time that the customer wishes. Unlike the telephone book yellow pages that cannot be updated except once a year, I can usually update a site within an hour or so depending on the complexity of the updates. If the customer prefers, I can do all graphics, photography, and videography for the website as well as save the work onto CDs and DVDs. I use professional graphics software, cameras, and mini-DV camcorders. (Videos are useful for business meetings, store product demonstrations, theatrical works, and family-orientated topics.)
(7) What guarantees and warranties are included in the web design service?
I guarantee that the website will be properly programmed to perform the agreed purpose, to be free of bugs, to be aesthetically acceptable (subjective as that might be), and to be designed in a mature atmosphere. The normal wait for search engines to include a new website is about one to two weeks, but it may take longer depending on the search engines' own perpetually changing schedules. The Internet hosting services that I contract with have a 99.9% guaranteed up-time.
(8) Why is search engine ranking important?
A typical individual searching for a product or business will first click on the top links of search engines. It is considered uncommon for a person using a search engine to continue searching past the second page (the top 20 of that search engine). If a company's website is not in the top 20, few potential customers will ever know that the website exists. Higher placement on a search engine will result in a company's website being viewed by potential customers before they view the competitor's website. It is very important for many companies to maintain no worse than a top 10 listing. Some of the web pages that I design are listed in the top 10 within a few weeks, and some pages become number 1 within a few months. If a company needs a top listing on a major search engine quickly, I have methods to help make it happen (the costs for additional search engine optimization are dependent on several factors including keywords, existing competition, and speed of attaining rank).
I want to make it as clear as possible that I only use ethical SEO techniques. I earn high search engine rankings by building quality websites with quality coding and quality content (white hat SEO), and I never under any circumstances whatsoever cheat and/or unethically manipulate search engine rankings (black hat SEO). My customers choose me with the knowing that I cheat no one, and similarly, I only accept customers who are themselves honest.
It is also important for the customer to know that I actually use a keyboard and type all web page coding myself. Unless a customer specifically requests otherwise, I do not use templates nor do I use 'automated' web page creation software when building a custom website. Each website is individually created by a professional programmer (me, Larry Gowdy, and sometimes with additional help to complete small tasks when the quantity of work is beyond what I can finish quickly). All work is performed locally within Amarillo by Amarillo residents. (I do not farm-out any work to other cities, to other states, nor to other countries.) Search engine optimization is included as standard practice while the customer's website is being coded (I do not purposefully build a low quality website and then charge the customer to fix the problems like what some big-name companies do). A website built from a common template or automated software will likely not earn a high search engine ranking. It is far more profitable for the customer to purchase a correctly designed website than to lose business and have to pay for optimization later.
A common example is of a customer who has had three or more other web design companies create and maintain the customer's website over a span of several years, but the website still did not show in Google® searches unless a person entered the company's name. After I reworked the customer's website it quickly gained the number three spot for its keywords (one ranking under the manufacturers' top two spots). Within a few months the site earned the number one rank, as most of my other customers' websites have also achieved. Another customer's business increased to record high annual sales while I maintained their website, and when the customer chose to discontinue the site, the customer experienced record low sales. Web presence and ranking are extremely important for most businesses.
Some types of businesses are profited best by not being ranked #1, and I explain the reasons why to my customers.
(Note October 1, 2013: I had been so busy this year with work that I did not have time to maintain my own sites, resulting in this site dropping Google rank rather badly (although Bing still ranks me #1 for my primary keywords). I am now busy working to correct my too-long absence!)
(Update August 23, 2016: I am just now returning to update this site after almost three years of still being too busy, but I did notice that my Google rankings climbed back up near to where they were before, and about where I prefer them.)
(9) How can a company receive a quote on having a website designed?
Email me from the contact page, or use the contact Larry Gowdy page. Please include the information of how many pages that you want, how many photographs are to be placed on each page, what type of graphics might be needed, and as much additional information as possible. If you like the appearances of a website and would like to have your site share a similar layout, then please include in your email the URL address so that I can visit the site to better know what visual style that you are wanting. I will use the information to begin figuring the cost for your website design. Except for projects that include an on-going series of varied updates, I do not work with estimates; I quote a specific price and I do not vary from the contracted price.
(10) What websites are examples of the work?
Please visit the Website Designing home page for a partial list of my clients' sites. Examples of search engine optimization include The Logics website. The Logics earned the top 10 and top 20 national spots on search engines within two months without any additional search engine work beyond the normal programming. Several of the pages are now in the national top five on search engines for their keywords. Earning the top 10 can be achieved much quicker when additional techniques are applied. The Olfactory Perception page had previously been ignored by search engines for over two years, but with a few modifications it rose to #5 on Google and #3 on Yahoo® and Bing® (I no longer maintain the page, so the rankings have shifted, but remain in the top ten as of the time of this writing). The Ethics site is an experiment in SEO against strong competition. Most of the pages have now earned the top-ten spot on search engines, and as time allows I may work towards raising the ranks on other pages as well. At present, all of my clients' websites are ranked in the top ten for their primary keywords. I know that my search engine techniques work, simply because the pages that I modify are now ranked well.
(11) How does the website self-adjust to different sized monitors?
Visit one of my full width pages like at Philosophy of Quality and use your mouse to "restore down" your browser (click on the double-square symbol at the top-right corner of the browser). While the browser is partial-sized, use the mouse to drag one side of the browser towards the center of the screen. Watch the website text and graphics automatically adjust to the browser size as the browser narrows. Your customers will see your website in its correct layout regardless if their monitor resolution is 800x600, 1024x768, 1920x1200, or higher (the Philosophy of Quality web page shines on monitors of 1920x1200 and larger). Use the "restore down" method to compare other website designs. Many companies still use older monitors or keep their monitor resolutions set at 800x600 for business purposes. Too, some computer geeks who enjoy rebuilding computers use old monitors to be used online. Students in developing countries are being given computers with small screen sizes, and it is especially important for websites aimed at global audiences to be compatible with older computers. There are many reasons why I build websites the way that I do, and I am happy to explain them to my customers.
If a customer has a need to reach cell phone users with miniature screens, then I can show the customer private pages that are designed specifically to be used on all known devices. It appears that most web designers throughout the world (well over 90% the last time I checked) have chosen to use content management systems (CMS) like WordPress® as an easy method of having a website's display change to fit different sized displays. Among the common problems with the use of CMSes is that the websites all look alike, they cannot display a page the same for all users, the CMSes offer little choice of how your pages will be displayed, CMSes are notorious for slow loading (which annoys visitors and hurts search engine rankings), and CMSes are relatively easy to hack and to insert malware. My web pages offer the quality of display that the customer wants, and the pages cannot be hacked because they are hand-coded.
The Cheap Websites page shows several examples of how my websites can be coded for viewing on miniature displays.
The final decision of what type of website would work best for you will depend on which customers that you want to attract, what types of devices that you want to be able to view the site, how the graphics should be displayed, and how the site is to be used.
(12) Why do some of your websites have few graphics?
Websites are designed to meet the purposes of each customer. Websites that promote products will have numerous graphics, while websites that provide reading material will purposefully use few graphics. Too, graphics cause web pages to load slower, and many visitors will quickly leave a website that loads slowly. The web page that you are currently viewing is capable of loading within about nine seconds with a normal 56k modem, under one second with average DSL, and far less than one second with cable. The home page has more graphics and loads about a sixth as fast, but still less than a second with cable (personal experiences might vary depending on the visitor's devices and local networks).
Few graphics means fast loading, a cleaner appearance, and visitors stay longer. Specific website designs attract or repel specific types of users, and a website design should be aimed at attracting the types of customers that a business wants.
(13) Can you update an existing website?
Yes. I can improve the current website's design as well as use the statistics to learn how to adapt the design to better suit your visitor's needs. All of my customers' sites that I rework increase their search engine rankings. An interesting case is of a business that chose an out of state firm to rework their website, and though the updated design and layout were well done except for a few minor typos, the customer's site remains poorly ranked even after five years (the site cannot be found on search engines by using keywords for that specific type of business). If the site is aimed for public use then it is important to ensure that the updates are beneficial for your customers as well as for search engine recognition.
(14) What types of websites do you design?
I create websites for businesses, organizations, societies, clubs, and for personal uses. I only design websites that are suitable for viewing by all ages. Samples of designs can be viewed on the Website Designing home page.
Please let me emphasize this a little more clearly: I only build websites that are honest, fair, legitimate, and hold to high standards of polite language. I also offer sharp discounts to individuals and small organizations that promote kindness and compassion.
(15) What other services do you provide?
When I say "turnkey" I literally mean turnkey. I can build a computer for you, setup the computer, install additional hardware if needed, install telephone/networking wiring if needed, install all software, design and create your website, setup the hosting service, manage your website, and instruct the customer's employees on how to use the computer and software. My service is "turnkey."
(16) Privacy Notice
I do not collect information about my website visitors, I do not make telephone sales calls, nor do I send unsolicited email. Any email sent to me that does not result in a sale is deleted within 1 to 180 days (sometimes I am too busy (or lazy) to empty my trash folders). Except where required by law to keep records of paying customers for the purposes of reporting revenue to the state and federal governments, and for the purpose of maintaining information about customers' websites and recurring charges, I collect no further data about my customers. Simply stated, I keep all customers' information confidential, I do not sell, lease, nor in any manner allow a customer's telephone number, email, or physical address to be given to a third party, and if a customer's information is not necessary to be kept on file, then it will be deleted.
Simply stated, I value your privacy as well as mine, and to be frank, I really don't want to know who visits my websites. I have been in the security field for decades, and I have too often accidentally stumbled onto things that I really did not want to know, so now I purposefully avoid all private data possible.
(17) Payments, Customer-provided Content, and Agreements
The following prepayments and limitations are commonsense, but I feel that it is best to have it in writing so as to help prevent possible future misunderstandings.
[a] Prepayment: Except for existing customers, a nonrefundable 50% prepayment is required before I begin new work on a website. The remaining 50% is due when the website is ready to be made live online. (The prepayment is necessary because some people are impulse buyers who later decide that they did not want a website after all, but only after I have already created the website.)
[b] Content: If the customer requests, I can create all graphics and written content. Customer-supplied content (personal photographs, text, data, etc.) is the customer's responsibility, and although almost all customers are very prompt to provide me with the agreed content, if the content is not provided within three months from the date of the prepayment then the contract will be deemed to have been fulfilled and completed, and I will not be under an obligation to resume work on the website.
[c] Email: All requests for changes to a website must be made in writing by email. Using email helps to prevent possible misunderstandings, while also enabling me to provide my services at the best possible cost.
[d] Third Parties: All website work performed in cooperation with a third party (e.g. a customer has me do the website while hiring someone else to handle their domain name) must be initiated and communicated solely by email so that we will have a written record of all requested changes.
[e] Annual Fees: Domain registrars and hosting services must be paid their annual fees when due, or else the registrars and hosting will discontinue their services. No website designer — including me — has control over registrars and hosting services beyond paying the annual fees. If a customer fails to pay for their annual domain and/or hosting renewals on time, then their website will go offline when the domain and/or hosting expire(s): no exceptions. (It is relatively rare, but I have had a couple non-paying customers assume that I could somehow magically make domain names and hosting services remain online without someone paying the annual fees, and the non-paying ex-customers were unhappy that their websites and email no longer worked, plus too, that their domain names were taken by someone else.) If a website goes offline due to a lack of payment, then I must charge an additional prepaid minimum fee of $360.00 (plus the renewal costs) to re-upload files and to reconfigure the hosting server: no exceptions.
[f] Payments: All payments must be made by check or money order (cash is only accepted in-person with a signed receipt). Monthly billing is available for established businesses in the Amarillo and Canyon, Texas area. (Note: checks from Happy State Bank and Amarillo National Bank — as well as USPS postal money orders — all receive same-day acceptance. Checks from all other financial institutions may require a five to ten business day wait for the checks to clear.)
[g] Phishing Alert: I will never contact you by USPS mail, email, nor by telephone to ask you for your credit card and/or bank account information. I also never use third party billing for hosting and/or domains. All billing to my customers is directly from me through USPS mail or by email. If you receive a statement letter or email from a name and/or address that is not mine, then the mail is very likely a phishing scheme that should be ignored. (It is very common now for crooks to mail letters for domain name renewals and Google® SEO to unsuspecting victims. If you receive a suspicious mail or email asking for money, you can email or telephone me to ask if the letter is legitimate.) Any payments made by a customer to third parties will not be applied to any payments that may due to me.
[h] Standards: I reserve the right to accept or to decline work for any reason. I do not accept work for websites that I interpret to be unethical, and if a current customer should change their mind and want an unethical website after I have begun work on the originally agreed site, then the customer can choose to either continue with the original site, or else choose a different web designer. I stand firm on my own standards of proper conduct, plus I value my customers' reputations: I will not harm my customers' good reputations by associating their websites with unethical websites.
I apologize if I might sound to be hard-nosed, but all businesses occasionally get a peculiar customer, and I hope that the 'in writing' items above will help to explain why web designers cannot always do everything that a customer might want.
(18) Website Designing's Sites and Pages
Copyright©2018 by Larry Neal Gowdy. All rights reserved.
Updated August 03, 2018