A Chicago Web Design Company : Website and Graphic Design
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A Chicago web and graphic design company.

March 21, 2013

Words from a Happy Client

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I want my clients to be thrilled to bits with the work I create and when I get a recommendation like the one below ( also on LinkedIn) I know I have succeeded.
Logo Design for Chicago Business Quadra

“Quadra Applications & Technology, Inc. hired Zoe & her firm Indigo Image to design and develop our new company logo. Zoe’s strong business, technical, and multi-industry experience, coupled with her creativity and customer focus, was truly remarkable! From the onset of the project, Zoe outlined the process steps, project timelines, and cost estimates which in all cases were spot and exceeded all of our expectations. Additionally, Zoe went above and beyond her role as lead logo designer and provided critical Web development and integration advice to optimize the quality and user experience of our new site (www.quadra-ati.com). We look forward to engaging and collaborating with Zoe and her team at Indigo on future projects and customer initiatives. It is not easy to find resources that can combine technical expertise, in-depth business knowledge, creative ‘out of the box’ thinking, with a strong passion around quality and customer satisfaction!”

John White

Quadra Applications & Technology

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January 24, 2013

How much does a website cost?

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how much does a website cost

How much does a website cost?  If you are visiting this page looking for a definitive answer then I am going to disappoint because pricing a website can be a complicated process but it is a question on every potential client’s mind. The cost of a web site is a little bit like the cost of  a house, the  bigger and more complex the heftier the price tag.  So lets break things down a bit to give you an insight as to where the costs lie and walk through some client scenarios.

Lets first consider the type of company quoting your project. A design agency with a portfolio full of fortune 500 companies and a trendy studio in a skyscraper in down town Chicago is going to charge more …well.. because they have to to cover their costs. If you are large company with mega$$ they may be a good fit. An offshore, say,  Indian based web design company, may give you an unbelievably cheap quote but how comfortable are you doing business that way?

A good approach to selecting a company to quote your project is to take a good look at their portfolio and services and if their offerings match what you are after, they are worth a call. Also don’t be afraid to check out any testimonials.

Any decent web design company will lead you through a discovery process (ours is free) to understand what it is you want to accomplish with your web presence. Come prepared to talk about your marketing objectives, the type of functionality you’d like on your site ( e.g shopping cart, content management, video integration, social media, blogging capabilities etc.), who your customers are, who you competition is and what makes you unique. The more information you can provide at this stage the better, as the information  will be used to create a comprehensive proposal which will outline the best plan of action to achieve your goals and a realistic price.

Whatever the goals of the project, the cost to create it can generally be broken down into the following categories

Design

  • A captivating design to engage you site visitors
  • Home page and inner pages of the site
  • email template design
  • Imagery selection
  • Navigation design
  • Definition of branding assets e.g color palette, typefaces
  • Working from a predefined brand style guide

Programming

  • Converting your design to a form which can be understood by web browsers
  • Integrating all content
  • Building and integrating functionality e.g  shopping carts, databases
  • Integrating with a Content Management System (CMS) e.g WordPress
  • Integrating 3rd party application e.g newsletter management, Google analytics
  • Mobile version of site
  • Browser compatibility testing

Launch

  • Domain registration/configuration
  • Hosting setup
  • Email setup
  • Upload to server
  • SSL certificate
  • uploading data ( e.g for e commerce)

Marketing

  • Search engine optimization (SEO)
  • Submission to basic search engines
  • More extensive search engine, directory, portal submission e.g Targeting Local directories
  • Social media profiles e.g Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter, Pinterest
  • Email campaigns
  • Paid Advertising Campaigns e.g Google Adwords
  • RSS subscription

Now not every project is going to require all aspects of these categories so lets take a look at a few client scenarios

Client A: Online Brochure Website

A small interior design business requires a simple online brochure type website to market their services. They would like to set up a Facebook page, an email management tool so they can send out a newsletter and a Pinterst account to pin photographs of their design work. They serve a local area and would like to rank well for anyone carrying out a local search for an interior designer- they are not interested in paid advertising although this may change depending upon the site traffic. They already have an offline brand image but require a domain name. The site will be between 10 and 12 pages in total.

Project Estimate

Design: 12 hrs
Programing: 18 hrs
Launch: 4 hrs
Marketing: 10 hrs

Total: 44 hrs = $4,400

Client B: Content Management Website

A company offering summer camps wants a web site they can manage themselves. The would like to upload photographs of camp events and allow parents to register their children – they already have an online application to allow this through a 3rd party but this need to be integrated seamlessly into the site. They would also like to be able to write a blog. They have a Facebook profile already set up but this to be linked to the site.  Most of their customers are by word of mouth but they would like a basic SEO and search engine submission.  They have a comprehensive offline style guide and already have a domain name. The site will be approximately 25 pages.

Project Estimate

Design: 24 hrs
Programming: 50 hrs
Launch: 8 hrs
Marketing: 5hrs

Total: 87 hrs = $8,700

Client C: E commerce Website

A small business want to launch an online store to sell their products. They also want the ability for their clients to sign up for an e-newsletter which will offer monthly promotions. They need assistance in selecting a provider for these email blasts and a custom template designed for the newsletter.They already have a merchant account set up and are interested in paid advertising to generate traffic. They have a logo and all copy for the website ready.

Design: 35 hrs
Programming: 70 hrs
Launch: 20 hrs
Marketing: 20 hrs

Total: 145 hrs = $14,500

As you can see the price range for a website can vary dramatically depending on what you want it do do and want to achieve.  If you would like us to quote on your next website give “The Chicago web Designer” a call at 847 607 8679, we may be a Chicago web design company but we don’t have a trendy studio in the city and don’t charge ridiculous prices!

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April 3, 2012

New WordPress websites for Life Celebrant Ruth Hasser

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Launched today are two new wordpress powered website for celebrant Ruth Hasser.

Ruth has two sides to her business, weddings and funerals, or life tributes. As you can imagine the target audience for each is very different.

A first generation site, designed and developed in  2009 for her wedding business,  served her well and really helped grow her client base as a lead generation tool.

“Last year at this time, pre-website, I had one wedding scheduled for 2009. By the end of the year I had done 25. Right now, I already have 17 weddings scheduled, and I have been receiving an average of one lead per day since the beginning of January- outstanding!”

But like all tools they need to be refined to offer maximum effectiveness, so this second generation site offers social media integration allowing her clients to connect with her via Facebook and YouTube and we took the opportunity to move the site to the more robust blogging platform WordPress.  This has the added advantage that Ruth now has full editorial control of the content of the the site. Ruth was happy with the look and feel of the first generation site so we kept the design the same but did increase the width to accommodate the most common  screen resolution.

wedding celebrant web site

A website dedicated to the funeral side of her business is a new endeavor. We kept the brand image the same as the wedding site but used different imagery and a more muted color palette.

life celebrant web site

Switching from Blogger to WordPress can be a little daunting for a client and there is definitely a learning curve. As well as training we also provided Ruth with a set of screen cast videos which outline how to do the most common updates such as publishing a new blog post and uploading photographs.

© 2012 Chicago Web Designer

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November 3, 2011

Websites that create leads

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OK, tooting my own horn today a little but you know you’ve done a good job when a couple years after a project you get this sort of message from a client.

“My website is still my number one generator of new business.  Seriously, almost all of my new business is from my website.  Just finished answering another inquiry through the website (probably won’t be a client but that’s okay because the inquiries seem to generate other leads anyway.)  I’m probably your most satisfied customer.

Jan Roberg

Roberg Tax Solutions

We created a custom WordPress site for them which they maintain themselves.  You can visit  at http://www.robergtaxsolutions.com.

Thanks for this great quote Jan,  I am so happy your website is working for you.

©: 2011 Chicago Web Designer

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May 24, 2011

Words from the Wall of Shame

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Here is some interesting feedback I have received from A wall of shame for website testimonials   and I thought I’d spend 5 minutes sharing it with you today. There were not many apologies but plenty of excuses.

  • ” We didn’t mean to use your testimonials, they were just filler text on our web site” - from a company who stripped out my company name and added their own.
  • “The content has been removed. This is not a business website and did not intend to create profit from displaying it- so it’s ok to steal if you don’t plan of making any money?
  • “A copy writer produced the content for our website”
  • “Go Daddy has shut me down and I want you to help me get my site back online” …umm why?
  • “I’ve learned a valuable lesson”
  • “They are not so great testimonials that I want to keep them for life.” This made me laugh
  • “I am not a Cyber thief but a TALENTED website designer who creates real stuff for the client and take due regards from them in return
  • “We do apologize for this action and have since removed them and fired the designer that did this. Again we do apologize for this as we had our own testimonials.”
  • No idea how this happened,  I have asked our web supplier in India to fix the issue.”

My plan of action in cases like these is always to contact the site owner first. If they ignore my requests I will then approach their hosting companies and  a file a DMCA. This can result in the sites getting shut down.

 

© 2011 Chicago Web Designer

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May 17, 2011

Wall of Shame : Website Testimonials

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With over 10 years in the web and graphic design business, we have amassed a fine collection of testimonials from our clients, heart felt words that reflect the quality of our work and the level of our service.

Funnily enough we frequently come across those same testimonials on other people’s sites. How could that be? Did the magic testimonial fairy wave her wand and give them duplicate versions? Did multiple satisfied clients just miraculously happen to come up with the same words, accurate down to the last detail? We routinely contact people and ask that these testimonials be removed, and you would be amazed at the explanations that people come up with for how they ended up with multiple identical testimonials to us. You would also be amazed at the unrighteous indignation exhibited by some of these same firms when they are outed for having these duplicate words on their site.

We list below some of the websites in question, and leave it to you, the reader, to wonder what could have caused our hard-earned and genuine testimonials to somehow find their way onto other people’s sites. Far be it from us to question their motives, integrity or need in this matter.

Media Majik
3 testimonials
.>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of the Media Majik site.

Fast Web Designz
All 5  testimonials
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of Fast Web Designs

Systemtek Technologies
5 of our testimonials
>> View our testimonials of a screenshot of Systemtek Technologies

SeizePro Design
2 of our testimonials and even kept the client names intact.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of SeizePro Design

Mpire Solutions
three testimonials on their site and 2 are ours.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Mpire Solutions

Compuask Group
2 testimonials from our site.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Compuask Group

Nexxpoint
All 5 testimonials on their web site are from us
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Nexxpoint

360 Scenes
At least 2 of the testimonials
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of 360 scenes

Moynahan Multimedia
1 testimonial  used on many pages of their site
>>View our testimonial on a screenshot of Moynahan Multimedia

Pittsburgh IT Solutions
1 testimonial
>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of Pittsburgh IT Solutions

Technical CAD
1 testimonial
l>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of Technical Cad

Website Design City
2 stolen testimonials
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of Website Design City

Best Coder
2 testimonials from our site
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of Best Coder

BML Design
1 of our testimonials
>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of BML Design

Crystal Eye Design
1 testimonial
>>View our testimonial on a screenshot of Crystal Eye Design

Hire Web Developer
1 testimonial
>>View our testimonial on a screenshot of Hire Web Developer

Iqra Creation
1 testimonial
>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of Iqra Creation

Outsource Website Development Company
2 testimonials
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Outsource Website Development Company

Vikas Kapoor
A whopping 7 testimonials.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Vikas Kapoor

BrightZone Design
2 testimonials
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of BrightZone Design

Simple
All 3 of the testimonials on their site belong to us. They even “forgot ” to remove our company name.
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Simple

Prosites Online
all 3 of the testimonials on their site belong to us including 1 for Pro Bono work
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of Prosites Online

SpinWeb Creations
tA estimonial I received for pro bono work
>> View our testimonial on a screenshot of Spinweb Creations

SmartHo
2 testimonials
>>View our testimonials on a screenshot of SmartHO

WebTotal
2 testimonials
>> View our testimonials on a screenshot of WebTotal

May 2012 …the latest offenders

stolen testimonialsIdea RGV
All 4 testimonials on their site
>>View our testimonials, displayed on the footer of every page , on a screen shot of Idea RGV

AM2 Internet Design
1  testimonial used on multiple pages of their site
>>View stolen testimonial on a screen shot of AM2 Internet Design

A freelance web designer
All three testimonials on this freelancer’s site belong to us
>>View three testimonials on a screenshot of this site

Sylvester Marketing Group
Both testimonials on their site >>view stolen testimonials on Sylvester Marketing Group

 

Prestige Web Innovations
one testimonial
>>View screen shot of stolen testimonial

 

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May 16, 2011

Fraudulent use of website testimonials

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Would you believe it if I told you in just a few hours today I have found 22 web design companies using my client testimonials as their own, yes TWENTY TWO.

This investigation was kicked off by a call from a client over the weekend, who had found the wonderful testimonial she had given me, on an unfamiliar site.  I found that they had not only used hers,  but testimonials from two more of my clients, including one I did for some pro-bono design. The only change they had made to the testimonials was to replace my company name with theirs.

This is not the first time I have had content stolen from my web site but it is the first time for testimonial swipes. Luckily I have a tried and tested method for dealing with this highly unethical behavior.

  1. Take a screen shot of the offending page. Always good to have visual proof of the “offense”
  2. Contact the offending web site and request immediate removal of material. I prefer to do this via email than over the phone so I have a paper trail of communication. If the only contact is through an online form I make sure I take a copy of what I send.
  3. Visit whois.net and run a search on the domain name to see where the site is hosted – you can establish this by copying the nameservers and running them through Google.
  4. Contact the hosting company and alert them to the fact they are hosting a website with fraudulent or copyrighted content. Hosting companies take this very seriously and will quickly shut a site down if the webmaster does not rectify the situation.
  5. Contact Google and get any ranked pages excluded from their search

The initial offending company responded quickly to my email this morning and called me to say that it had been a mistake and they were just in the process of building their web site and were using my client testimonials as filled text. Ummm,  if that is the case why bother removing my company name and replacing it with your own? They did take down the fraudulent page but the testimonial swipe was by no means a “mistake”. They must think I was born yesterday.

So that is 1 down and 21 to go. It is going to be a busy week but I will not stop until I have addressed everyone of these pathetic web site companies. Even found a couple of companies here on my own turf in Chicago

I am considering creating a wall of shame and naming names to bring to light all of these unscrupulous web design companies, got quite a stash of screen shots to share.

© Copyright 2011 Chicago web designer

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November 29, 2010

New website for Equestrian Farm: Spring Willows Farm

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What better way to start the week than the launch of a new web site.
Introducing  Spring Willows Farm. Based in Centralia, Illinois, the farm provides a multitude of equestrian services from horse boarding, riding lessons, horsemanship and stable management lessons.

The design of this site was inspired by a great selection of client  photographs which feature prominently throughout and with the high class level of facilities they provide it was important that the web site reflect this. Visit the site or connect with them via Twitter or Facebook.

Here is what owner Christine Hull had to say

“Zoe,
Thanks you so very much for the wonderful job you did on the website. Working with you was a pleasure and I’m really impressed with the outstanding workmanship on our project. Great job!”

Happy client= Happy web designer!
©: 2010 Chicago Web Designer

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November 9, 2010

Blushing: The Chicago web designer

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It is my objective to provide exceptional service for my clients and getting a recommendation like the one below on Linked In makes my face break out into a wide grin … and maybe even blush a little!

“Zoe has that rare combination of broad vision and tactical expertise, especially when it comes to careful listening. She is able to form the concept into a distinctive message, and then follows through with outstanding execution. Really knows her business. Zoe is as much an astute advisor as service provider.”

Top qualities: Great Results, Expert, Good Value

Peter Meder

I worked with Peter earlier this year on a web and branding project for his Chicago based headhunting company.

Thanks Peter, for taking the time to write such a flattering recommendation.
2010 © Chicago web designer

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July 27, 2010

Website Design Testimonial

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I always appreciate testimonials  from clients and this one from Burns Recovered Support Group for pro bono web design work almost has me blushing. Today I am blowing my own trumpet and without further ado …….

Dear Zoe,

The two words “thank you” seem inadequate at this time.

It amazes me… I wrote to you in May and explained that Burns Recovered Support Group is a small nonprofit and asked for your help – pro bono – in totally redesigning our web site

You kindly and graciously contacted me and said that you would be happy to do this for us as part of your commitment and concern to the “community at large”.

Much to my astonishment, here we are 2 ½ months later and our beautiful web site is now on-line.  You designed a user friendly site for our visitors to use.  You designed a visually attractive site for everyone to see.  You have taught this “barely computer literate” woman how to manage the site on her own!  I have already had people contact the office to say how great they think the site looks.

So, instead of two words…      THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU…. and, many more “thank you’s”  You have given us a gift worth more than you can ever know.

Yours truly,

Linda Hansen

Executive Director

2010 © St Louis Web Designer

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Chicago Web Designer

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