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Excellent web design and digital marketing are crucial for the success of your business in today’s competitive digital environment. Every business needs a website that is appealing and well-marketed.

Your website is your business’s billboard, unless of course, you have a brand that primarily utilizes social media. Assuming your business relies heavily on its website, it’s crucial that your site have a concise message.

“This is my product. This is my service.”

The sooner you can convey these two points to your audience, the better.

Clear, focused communication will make your web design and digital marketing efforts more effective. Fuzzy and incoherent messaging on the other hand can tank your conversions.

You’ve probably come across a few websites that were not clear about their products and services. We certainly have. In fact, we can think of three or four websites in the last month that didn’t give us a clue about what they were really about.

It’s quite amazing that in our day and age, 2020, some of the most foundational issues are not being dealt with properly.

Websites in some respects are becoming like products on an assembly line, where they have these drag-and-drop builders with prepacked elements. This is problem since a lot gets lost in translation when you build a website using prepackaged templates.

What makes this problem worse is that web design is being advertised as something quick and easy that anyone can do with a few clicks.

This type of advertising is used by large web building platforms to sell their product, but the truth is, in-depth web design is difficult.

Many people spend a lot of time trying to build their own websites without accounting for the deeper principles behind web design and digital marketing, not to mention SEO and hosting. As a result, they put up half-done projects that never gain the rankings and the traffic they are looking for.

We like to say, “Hey, you run your business. Let us focus on creating a website and marketing it.”

Becoming an expert in web design and digital marketing takes hundreds (even thousands) of hours. Do you want to do that on your own? Or do you want to focus on being the owner of your business and doing the day-to-day tasks that are required for you to be successful in your line of work?

At what point does it make sense to outsource your website to a professional firm that keeps it up to date and has the technology and the understanding to provide the best possible level of service without you having to go learn the whole thing yourself?

If you agree, one thing that is certainly important to look for when considering an agency or freelancer is that you want to see some focus. You definitely don’t want to find the Jack of all trades who does print, billboards, magazine ads, and the whole kitchen sink. They should have in-depth knowledge of web design and digital marketing, as well as a strong grasp of SEO.

“What makes great web design and digital marketing?” you might be asking.

We believe it all comes down to user experience and understanding your audience. You web designer should know how to attract the right people to your website and impress them with a well-functioning website.

To achieve these goals, we make sure to build your website properly the first time. Then, once you have a great platform in place, we can start your digital marketing campaign.

How Long Does It Take To Build A Website Properly?

So, how long is it going to take to make a website correctly?

Our answer is, “How fast can you get us the information we need?”

We say that kind of half-jokingly, but usually, we’ll provide an initial list of needs almost immediately when a project starts. Things can vary significantly, but overall, we usually take two to three weeks from start to draft.

What we do is we build your draft website on our development platform, so that the site is not live on your domain while it’s under construction. We then present the fully functioning draft to you.

What does that list of information we need typically look like? Well, it’s basic stuff like access to your current registrar, images, and content.

Keywords, SEO, and Web Design

We’ve seen a recent uptick in clients who are starting from scratch with their websites, and we usually have to explain the importance of having the right content in place once their website has been made.

Making good content is fundamentally intertwined with web design and digital marketing and requires smart keyword research.

Once you know what keywords your target audience is searching for, you can then write content that is embedded with those keywords and increase your chances of showing up online.

If you already have content on your website, you can also revamp your old content with your target keywords.

Whatever approach you take, there needs to be some quality control with what you’re doing. You should never just grab content from five different sources online, plagiarize it, put it on your site, and call it done.

You’ll be happy to know that we never do this when we create content for you since we are all about providing high-quality web design and digital marketing services.

Sourcing Images For Your Web Design

If you’re just getting started, or you have a website but haven’t given it a face-lift in several years, the question is, how do you source the images for your web design?

There are two avenues we’ll look at.

Avenue number one is getting professional pictures done by some of our recommended photographers. We love them because they’re efficient, not very expensive, and give you unique work.

Avenue number two is purchasing stock images from any number of websites or using royalty-free images.

We take both approaches, so if you would prefer to save time and money by getting stock photos, we have accounts with several different stock image repositories.

All of our stock photos come with the proper licenses so that you don’t run into any issues down the line by using images that don’t belong to you—an important consideration for web design and digital marketing.

What Is Custom Web Design?

One of the more common web design and digital marketing questions we run into is what approach to take when designing your website.

A lot of people come to us not knowing whether they should get a custom site or a template. In fact, a lot of them don’t even know the difference between the two.

So, let’s get very clear on what custom means.

A custom website is one that has been built from the ground with custom code. The advantage of this approach is that it provides you with immense flexibility and design options.

This is important to understand since we’ve seen situations in which a web designer or a web developer will tell you that they’re going to build you a custom website when they really just use themes with little to no customization.

Truly customized websites build upon themes, not just rely on them.

How We Design Your Website

We use Figma for website design and WordPress for web development since 90% of our work is on the WordPress content management system. WordPress is an open-source platform, and we absolutely love it.

Please note that WordPress works on templates or themes (these are synonymous terms).

There’s nothing wrong with starting off with a high-quality template, so long as it is customized.

This is where the skill comes in. Full customization is a lot harder than just downloading a theme, changing some colors, and adding some text. The idea is that we can apply custom-coding languages to affect any change that you want to see.

We know when a lot of people hear the word template, they think of a cookie cutter or generic website. To be clear, a template is purely the foundation from which a customized website will be able to be built upon.

There’s a common misperception by most people when they say, “No, I don’t want a theme, or I don’t want a template,” when in fact that’s how it works.

It’s the same with Shopify, for example. Shopify offers you a number of themes in order to start off. You can certainly custom code your own, but in most cases that is definitely not the best solution.

Let’s say a very, very talented las vegas web developer wanted to custom create a WordPress theme for you. No matter what her skill set is, more than likely she’s not going to be able to develop a product to match what is available to us foundationally right there out of the box, that we can already affect updates to.

What is somebody possibly going to do that requires them to build a custom theme? Let’s think about this for a moment. Is somebody going to create every single file that’s associated with your website, the tens of thousands of potential lines of code required? It makes absolutely no sense.

Offering to build a custom them is a hollow technique used to try to oversell a service to somebody, as opposed to just being upfront and saying, “No, that’s not how it works.” Nor is that the reality of how WordPress or Shopify or another content management system functions.

We find that the need for a “custom site” would really only come if that site had to function as a piece of software. Because that’s really what they’re building at that point, they’re building a piece of software that would function as a website. But whether you use big commerce, Shopify, WooCommerce, or WordPress, it really doesn’t matter.

There’s a tremendous opportunity for custom development when it comes to, let’s say, making changes to plugins, plugins do specific things on the site. We have any kind of ability to custom create functionality that may not exist out in the world today.

Point is that in most scenarios, for most businesses, when they want to achieve some kind of functionality, really you’re coming to us for our expertise, for us to be able to immediately, inherently know, “Hey, this is the best solution, this is something that we recommend and we will ensure that the entire ecosystem works well for you and for your business.”

There is no scenario in which we would provide a website to a customer that is not mobile friendly and responsive.

Having a mobile-friendly website is one of the most important components of both web design and digital marketing.

In fact, we build mobile first. Views on mobile are most times at least equal, if not more than desktop. We find that anywhere from 60% to 75% of the total website traffic is coming from mobile. The reason we say mobile first is to ensure that the lion’s share of the traffic that most people are getting anyway is best suited for mobile.

Now, what about cost? How should someone gauge what the cost is or what’s an appropriate budget for their website?

We have developed a set of packages available for web development and monthly maintenance, in addition to web design and digital marketing.

We think there’s a big gap in potential pricing for sites depending on where you go. You could go to big agencies and you’re going to get invoices in the tens of thousands of dollars, and you can go build a website for $199 bucks somewhere. But we certainly don’t fit in either of those categories and we ensure that we were as effective as possible with the budgets of our clients.

All right, now if you’re the client and you’re spending a few hundred dollars, a couple thousand dollars and then they get the website and all of a sudden, it’s not really what they were expecting. Now, shouldn’t people be looking for a company that will give out an architecture, a blueprint, wire frames, etc.?

Oftentimes a client will say, “I’m in this particular business and I absolutely wish that my site looked like A, B, and C.” Those are always really good comments because it allows us to understand their style of what it is that they’re looking for.

On the other side of the spectrum, when somebody has no idea what it is exactly they want, but they know they want a website and they want certain functionality, we will ensure that we have an idea of the site map. We have an idea of look and feel, we have a color theme. We have many different things that we need to be on the same page about upfront so that the first draft can be as close to as desired as possible.

One thing that gets overlooked is clean code, but having clean code on your website is super important for web design and digital marketing.

Oftentimes people overseas or if it’s a freelancer who’s getting paid by the hour, they’re not going to take the time to make sure that the code is clean and that could certainly have negative SEO implications. A lot of the time if a page is just code heavy and not done in a correct way, it certainly could have negative ramifications.

Now, once the site’s given to the client and the handoff is complete, how does maintenance typically work? So, we have a number of maintenance options available. We have a small percentage of our customers who want to maintain their site for themselves, which again, rarely happens. We have some solutions with respect to managed core updates, theme updates, plugin updates, that we strongly recommend get done for security purposes.

We have virtual private server hosting that we offer to all our clients on an ongoing basis, and we manage that for them. We have offsite backups on a daily basis. What this means is essentially your website’s going to load quickly and it’s secure and there’s little to no chance of ever going down and losing information or something like that.

Now, a lot of people are concerned about what happens if you get hit by a bus. Who manages the site? How does the site work? Where are the files? How does that typically work?

This comes back to why we love WordPress and why we do what we do the way that we do it. Number one, WordPress is an open source platform. What does that mean? It means that developers from around the world can affect updates to it. Alex or Mike or anyone else is currently in charge of somebody’s website, but it doesn’t mean that needs to be the case forever. Obviously, we’d like to maintain long-term relationship with our clients, it goes without saying, but in an unlikely event of some situation, a site can easily be taken over by another developer.

Now with respect to ownership, with respect to where are the files, every client that utilizes our hosting platform has full cPanel access to their website, has full back up access. It can be uploaded to any other hosting plan at a moment’s notice.

Again, we don’t see this situation happening often, but in some unlikely event of a problem, yes, you are the full owner of your site and it can be easily migrated so that another development firm can ensure the continuity of the website.

And obviously we’ve been talking a lot about the developers or customization, but how hard is it for someone to make their own updates?

Well, it depends on what those updates mean. Are we talking about core updates, theme updates, plugins, etc.? There’s a certain level of skill required or knowledge at least in order to ensure we’re doing things correctly. So those we recommend we do ourselves.

With respect to content, I would say it’s pretty even. About 50% of our clients like to be able to have the keys to the car, so to speak, to login, make any updates or changes they want, changes, etc.

And the other half just say, “Hey, we want to use your ticketing system.” They send us a quick email and it’s handled. So, it really depends on the person.

So, why call us? Why talk to Sage? Why not go elsewhere? What’s the benefit to a client?

In many ways the resources are there so that anyone could potentially build their own website, but it’s something that probably doesn’t make sense.

If you don’t have the technical knowledge of SEO or conversion optimization or site architecture, you’ll end up spending your time, and maybe you’ll get the aesthetic right if you start with some sort of generic website builder, but at the end of the day, is that really what you want for your business?

Do they really want to have another “Me Too” website like everyone’s going to have, that’s basically already outdated and won’t set your vision or your business apart?

As far as why you would look to hire a professional, it’s because they’re going to have the knowledge and the creativity, so they’re going to be able to see that vision. It’s going to help turbo charge your web design and digital marketing. It’s a skill to be able to boil down all that your business does and display it in an interesting and intelligent way online.

If you just use a drag-and-drop or some other inferior service, you’re starting off on the wrong foot right out of the gate. And we believe very strongly that you should set up a proper foundation and do it right the first time.

And as my grandmother used to say, “Cheap is the most expensive.” Let’s make sure that we do things correctly the first time and we’re effective and strategic in our decision making and how we process the website. I heard a very similar saying, “The cheap man pays twice. Once the first time and once to fix it.”

Cost is probably one of the biggest deterrents for people when it comes to web design and digital marketing. You’ll see some sort of builder where you can sort of do it yourself and pay the $200 or $300 for the site. And oftentimes big box agencies will give quotes of $10,000 to $20,000 for a site, which for most businesses is far out of the budget and in many ways not even needed.

The first big question would be, “Well, what are the deliverables? What am I getting for this price?” And oftentimes we are probably comparatively offering the same, if not a better service.

So, do we really have a solution for all people, all projects, all industries? Certainly not. We are very targeted and strategic in what we offer, and in most cases it’s a good solution for small- and medium-sized businesses.

It’s great to find a company that can do it all or claim that they can do it all, but oftentimes there are certainly red flags that will show up that people don’t really account for when shopping. Getting a website’s an exciting part of starting or growing your business, or taking your business online, if there’s not already digital presence.

What are some things that stick out that could be red flags? Let’s do some basic due diligence. First, look at their Google reviews. Are there positive reviews of the business on Yelp, Facebook, Google, etc.? Next, let’s check their body of work. Does the portfolio look like a website that I would want for my business? If the answer is no, there is nothing more to talk about.

If they don’t have a good web presence, how could they make one for you? If their website is not great, you can be absolutely sure that yours is going to be worse. A  las vegas web design agency they should have a good looking, functional website that’s easy to navigate.

From a developer or designer perspective, a lot of people have been detoured where these graphic designers are now trying to turn into web designers and all of a sudden they put up a good looking site, but it’s not functional. And vice versa, when someone doesn’t have the design knowledge or the understanding of how to optimize a site for the customer.

So many people think, “Oh, I like these colors, or this is what I want my website to look like.” Meanwhile, the goal of the website is to provide resources and knowledge and to drive potential customers or current customers through one or many funnels. And oftentimes that get overlooked on how functional it is. What does the customer experience really look like?

And maybe a graphic artist might think, “Hey, people are asking me about websites, why don’t I just do it myself?” And if you were to ask us to do a logo for you, we’re going to say, “That’s not what we do. It’s not our wheelhouse.” Of course, we have recommendations, and we’ll put you in touch with the right people within our organization or outside our organization. But we are not ones to take on work outside our expertise.

There’s a certain level of ethics that is required in a business like this to say, hey, we are driving, not just the look and feel, but we are driving the potential long-term success of a business. And we take that very seriously. So when we say we are going to do something for you, it is going to be done in the absolute best fashion possible. It is not something half done. It is not something done that is outside of our skillset.

So, when a client comes to us and they say, I’d like to get started, what’s the next step? Number one, we have a simple agreement that outlines the deliverables that you are getting based on the package you’ve chosen. We like to be very, very clear.

Now, we are not long-term contract people. We like to keep our commitments fairly short for web design and digital marketing, typically on a month-to-month basis.

If you opt to utilize our services on an ongoing basis, we believe that we should earn your business and if there’s a point where you no longer want to use us, we certainly have no interest in binding you contractually.

So that being said, we have an outline of what are the deliverables you’re receiving, what is the timeline, what are the needs we need from you, and it’s as simple as that. We’ll provide you a list of needs, we’ll request a deposit against the total balance, and we’ll get started right away.

When it comes to building out a website and getting started, if you plan from a client’s perspective, if they plan this out two, three, four weeks in advance, they’ll have a clear understanding and a clear direction on what the final outcome is.

And oftentimes you hear people say, “Oh, I spent three months waiting for our website and I have nothing.” There have been many scenarios in which we’ve heard people say, “I’ve paid a deposit, months have gone by, they’re slow playing me,” or whatever the case is. That’s not how we operate.

We have a project management system we utilize to update not just our staff and our clients. There are many cogs in the wheel, with many people on the team doing different things. Again, everything is in concert coming together, working together in order to create a final product.

There is no point at which our clients don’t understand where we are in the process, and there is no point at which we are going to go past a due date for a draft or for some other deliverable without a very good reason why and an explanation to our client.

It’s such a commoditized industry that whether you decide to get started by yourself or you decide to hire a professional agency, there’s certainly some key considerations on how serious someone is about their business or what the actual purpose is of the website.

If a business is in a stage of growth and they’re looking to scale and take their business to the next level, it’s crucial that they understand what to look for and what not to look for. You can find web design and digital marketing people anywhere, but what type of person is going to be able to execute their vision for someone else’s business?

It’s also a matter of perspective. When you work with us, you’re gaining a perspective that otherwise may not be available to you. We see things from, let’s just say a 30,000-foot view. We see all the things required to put this project together in a proper way and one that will truly serve the function of the business.