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getting started

The best websties have some good planning behind them.  Think about what you want the website to do for you - find new clients, communicate with existing clients, sell goods, be found in search engines, collaborate to write a book, share photos and videos, sell tutorials....  whatever it is, write it down and make notes on it.  You don't need a full technical specification but written notes will help you and your web developers a great deal.

  • Make a list of sites you like and note what you like about them and what you don't like too.
  • Have a budget - it's always best to have a clear budget in mind.
  • Take into consideration how much time you will be likely to happily spend every week working on your site.
  • Have a marketing budget - without this, you won't get visitors to your site.
  • Have a marketing plan - as above; without planning how you'll reach your audience, they won't find you.
  • If you want to get users to part with personal details, think of a suitable value exchange.
  • Choose the right designer - make sure they understand you and your brand, make sure they understand how you will market your product.
  • Choose the right developer - see our guide here.
  • Buy a domain name - ask us first because not all domain name registrars are equal!
  • If you're looking at an ecommerce site, decide what kind of business you will have and get a suitable bank account and merchant account.

We price all work on an individual basis.  We have a menu pricing system so it's easy and fast to price........ and we need to hear your detailed requirements first so please get in touch.  After an initial briefing by mail or a chat on the phone, we can give you a ball-park figure.  With a full brief, we can then give a formal quote, valid for a month and, for many websites, we are able to offer fixed price, fixed timescale development.

We generally find that our pricing is mid-range and we're told that our service is top-end.  You'll also find that prices for web development vary enormously and it's difficult to see why.  So please tell us about other solutions and developers you're looking at as we have plenty of experience and can tell you the differences, advantages and disadvantages for a whole variety of ways of building websites.

This is a good question and we're not immediately going to say "It's us!".  We've prepared a useful little document / checklist to help you choose the right web developer.  Please download it and have a read - most people find it interesting.  You really need to look for someone with expertise (not easy to judge for a new buyer), plenty of business experience - not just writing software - someone who has the right approach (somewhat easier to judge but also read up on best practices in development) and most importantly you want a developer who listens well.  After all, they are translating your needs and your ethos and communicating it to the world.

Our key advice:

  • Use open source software
  • Avoid anyone who won't tell you what software they are using or says it's "our own".
  • Make sure they're available to talk to any time and test them to a bit to see just how available they are.
  • Don't be too influenced by design.  Just make sure that the developer can make complex designs, even if they're not to your taste.
  • Avoid Flash developers - it's a great technology but needs to be used in combination with other technologies, not on its own.
  • Find out how rigid the quote is and phone their existing clients to see if they deliver on time.

Then you've come to the right place.  Much of our work is training and we're well used to clients for whom computers aren't second nature.  That's good... you want to be an expert and spending time on your business, not your computer.

We provide full training and have yet to come across someone who doesn't find our websites easy to use and administer.  If you want a great online shop that sells to the world, then there's a lot to learn and it takes some time........ but we're there all the way.  Our approach is hand-holding.  We give you the minimum you need to get started as quickly as possible whiile we handle the bits you can't yet do.  And as you build confidence in both your business and your website, you naturally want to take over more of the administration and functionality of your site.  We give you full training to do this, one simple chunk at a time.

Running a Drupal website is easy - you don't need any technical knowledge at all.  During your training, we speak plain English (or French, Spanish, Russian or Italian) with a minimum of jargon. And you get the support of a whole community of happy Drupal users - and with that, an amazing amount of goodwill.

From a technical point of view, not much.  Infomagnet provides you all the training you need to operate your website.  Learning how to add and edit pages and products is easy - about the same level of difficulty as sending an email with an attachment.  And even if you find this difficult, you'll soon learn and we're here to help you at every stage.

Much more challenging is everything else that you need to learn.  Even for experienced business owners, commerce and marketing on the web can be daunting.  Not only is there a lot to learn (search engine marketing, search engine optimisation, pay per click for example) but it seems to change all the time - the internet is a fast moving medium.  We're here to provide training and guidance at every step, not just technical support.

You'll find that you appreciate a partner who has their finger on the pulse when it comes to technology - to suggest next steps and keep you up to date with the latest trends in marketing, technology and law.

The cost of designing a website spans everything from very cheap to very expensive.  You've certainly seen examples of both!  How much should you spend ?

Firstly, it depends on your starting point.  Do you already have a logo or a brand ? If not, it really depends on your business - but design is always key to how you are perceived and if you're just a very small business, it's worth spending on a nicely designed logo, bigger businesses really do need to think about their brand, how and where it will be used.  We can put you in touch with a suitable designer or a selection of designers based on your needs, style and budget.  Get in touch first for a quick chat.

When it comes to your website design, a simple gallery site is a lot less work than a full e-commerce site but whatever kind of website you need, don't skimp on design costs, set a budget and see what you can get done for that budget.  Design is the single most important way that you have to distinguish yourself from your competitors as well as by far the overriding factor for your website visitors when deciding whether they should trust you.  Website development costs tend to be a fairly fixed expense so, knowing this, allow as much as you can for design and marketing.  Please feel free to contact us and we'll give you some initial ideas on a suitable design budget based on your needs.

Yes, we're always happy to work with new designers.  We have a list of deliverables that a competent graphic designer will be able to create, so please put your designers in touch with us and show us your ideas.

Infomagnet can certainly help you with the design of your website - by putting you in touch with the right designer for your needs.  Design is not only a matter of personal taste but also of choosing the designer that fits your brand values and your budget.  We work with a number of designers - we have our favourites of course - not only can we recommend a good one but if you find one you prefer, we'll happily work with them too.

Design should really be seperated from the development of your site - both are extremely important.  Your technology choice and the choice of your developer have a long-term impact on your business.  Design is more easily changed....   and moreover, the skill sets are so different that nobody is great at both design and development.  Our approach is to let you communicate directly with the designer, giving the designer the creative freedom they need (we like designers to challenge us) - we're on hand to consult with them and with you on technical issues, usability, accessibility and compliance.

You can have as many pages as you wish on your website - and since you add, edit and delete pages yourself, there is no cost involved in creating each page.

Creating and updating content on your website is useful - not only do your site users like to see new content but search engines like to see a regularly updated site with lots of pages on a similar topic or theme.

A CMS (Content Management System) is a piece of software that allows someone without any technical knowledge to add and modify the content of a website.  If you want a website where you can change things yourself - text, images, video, downoadable files - then you'll need a CMS.  Often a CMS will give you additional features such as a blog, a photo gallery or a newsletter.

There are very many different CMS available, good bad and indifferent.  Some are free, others require purchase of software or a license.  We use the Drupal CMS - we have chosen it because we think it is the best available.  It also happens to be free.  It is suitable for all kinds of websites from big to small.  You're in good company if you choose Drupal - have a look at this list of notable Drupal sites here as well as our work - all done using Drupal.  If you're considering another CMS, let us know - chances are that we have some knowledge of it and can always give you an opinion on its advantages and disadvantages.

Drupal is the most popular Open Source CMS (Content Management System).  It is free software that is used to power and develop all kinds of websites from some of the most notable, highest traffic sites on the internet to small home-businesses and personal blogs.

The "Drupal Core" gives the basic functionality that you expect of any CMS - user login and registration, page creation, editing etc.  This functionality can be expanded by the use of free "modules" which extend the capabilities of the system.

Being open source, and using the PHP programming language, any sufficiently competent programmer capable of working with PHP can create new modules and add new functionality.  No programming skills are necessary to perform ordinary day-to-day use and maintenance of a Drupal website. Because Drupal is open source and so widely used, it is very stable and thoroughly tested.

Absolutely not...  Using Drupal, or any good CMS, is easy - when you are logged in, you get the option to create and edit pages... and you get a nice little text editor, very similar to Word which allows you to change text styling without using html.  See the image below - that's what this FAQ looks like when editing it!

Drupal is licensed under the GNU General Public License, version 2.  You own the design copyright if this is agreed with the Designer and you own any code custom created to produce the design.  All site code is made available to you at any time on request and, the code behind the Drupal CMS is in the public domain.

This question is key and your should ask it of any potential developer / software.  Find out what kind of license the software and database have and who owns them.

Computer software generally falls into one of two camps; proprietary or open source.  You will already be familiar with the former - products such as Microsoft Windows, Word, Office and many other common software are proprietary products.  You pay for this software and it comes with a certain set of features and it comes with support.  Every so often a new version comes out and you can upgrade with a new purchase to get new features.

Open Source software is different.  It is free and comes with no support – you pay an expert for support as you need it.  Open source software is free in a second sense:  The “source code” of the software is also freely published and that means that an expert can change it and make it do anything you want.
There are advantages and disadvantages to each model.  We favour and work with Open Source software.  It means that it can always be made to do whatever you want – and it has the huge advantage that if you are not happy with the service we provide, you can take the source code in the knowledge that it can be developed by a competent programmer.  For a small business it is very flexible and it means that we have to stay competitive to keep your business – there is no technology lock-in.

For a full explanation of open source software, read the Wikipedia entry here.

Your website is available to view in all countries (assuming it doesn't upset state censors in some countries such as China).  Wherever you can access your website, you can also log into it and administer it too, adding or editing content as you wish.

If you expect an international audience for your website, you may wish to think about internationalization.  To localise a website to a specific country, you need to:

  • Translate the content
  • Translate the menus and navigation
  • Translate the interface
  • Market and SEO in each language
  • Know how to deal with the foreign language enquiries

Drupal powered websites are excellent when it comes to internationalization - in every aspect, from the translation publishing workflow to SEO.  Make sure you ask about internationalization at the beginning of your website development and design as, even if you add it later on, it has an impact on the design of the site.

As much as you want !  With notable sites like The Whitehouse, Mattel and Warner Bros using Drupal, you can be sure that handling large amounts of traffic is not a problem.  If your site starts to get a lot of traffic, we will help you to make periodic reviews of your hosting requirements.  But it's only when you get a lot of traffic that you might outgrow our standard Drupal hosting - and at this point we can provide a tailored hosting solution based on your needs and budget.

Yes - we suggest you do!  You can have as many email addresses and forwards as you want, within reason.  We run our own email servers and use gmail as a backup and when you need to use webmail.  You can also send and receive with your own domain using Gmail.

We quote how long it takes to build your website once we agree the specification.  We then build it within the deadline, every time.  To give you a rough idea of build times, count on 8 weeks for a Drupal gallery website, 12 weeks for a Drupal / Ubercart e-commerce site.

Some jobs are more complex - for example, some broking sites, large community sites or ones with very specific and unique functionality take longer.  In this case we clearly tell you if the deadline is an estimate as opposed to a quote and then subsequently review at agreed key stages.

When starting Infomagnet, we had a choice: A traditional approach with an office in town or no offices, no big overheads and all the world's coffee shops to meet our clients.  The advantages of the latter are not just for us but are really felt by our customers too.  Lower overheads means better value for our clients and means that we can afford to search the world for the best programmers we can find.

The really big advantage though is when it comes to support.  We don't have office hours - and even if you do business with someone with a local office, chances are the servers hosting your website are in one location, the staff are in another and you're in another location again.  We're online and available far more than any office based company - we provide remote support on your website (we can administer it from anywhere) and the same goes for our servers (the data centre is manned 24/7 in case of hardware failure).  But support isn't just about your website - it's about you.  We are available to our clients for training and support many hours each day.

Some of our clients have never met us - others we meet regularly.  We're available to see you in a surprising number of European, North American and South American cities.  And we're available on the phone, on skype when you need us most.