Questions & answers

Man using Surface laptop
Everything you've ever wanted to know about websites

Needing a website

  1. For most businesses, a website plays a key role in  their marketing strategy. That's because when people want to buy any kind of product or service, they start looking online first. Companies that have invested in a website and digital marketing are then easy to find.

    If your customers are looking for you online (they almost certainly are), how important is it for them to find you when they're looking?

    What if you only sell physical products from your shop or premises, or even if your entire marketing strategy is based on word-of-mouth - where one customer tells then next one about you?  Your customers will still try to find your business online before deciding if they want to contact you.

    So perhaps a better question is "Can we keep the website clean and simple?" - see the answer to that lower down.

    If you're unsure, get in touch with us to discuss it directly.

Costs

  1. These days, it's possible to make an entire website in as little as one hour. But that's only possible if you know which software you're going to use, you know what you want it to to look like and how it should be structured, you won't be adding any interactive features, you aren't going to put loads of products on the site, you already have all the content - text, images, etc. - already prepared, and of course, if you're quite tech-savvy.

    In reality, websites for businesses often take multiple weeks or multiple months to make from start to finish. And as you might have guessed, only a portion of that time is actually spent *building* the website, The rest of the time is spent discussing and planning it, designing it, gathering or making the content, testing it when it's built, and then launching it properly.

    For example, for a business with 20 employees that sells one type of product or service, a website professional might tell you that the site will take around 6 weeks to make. But the professional will also know that the site could take as little as 3 weeks or as long as 12 weeks depending on how organised your team is and no one hold ups the process or doesn't do what's expected of them in a timely way.

    So if you'd like the website to be done quickly, ask your website professional "What do you need from me to be able to make the website quickly? And if I provide that quickly, how long will it then take to make?"

  2. That's a really good question, because with any process as complicated as making custom websites, there are inevitably changes that nobody can predict that will affect the price. Some areas to be aware of are:

    unplanned rounds of feedback and revision

    additional features or sections added to the site

    hosting and related technical costs

    website software costs, like the theme or plugins

    outsourced marketing services like SEO, social media, etc.

    outsourced content providers like copywriters and photographers

    Ultimately, the website designer / developer / agency should discuss each one with you, and together, you should decide if each of these "costs" should be included in the original quote, or if they should just be added at the end if they happen to be needed.

  3. While we often think that the website designers and developers do all the work, and that after a few weeks, they'll deliver a website to us without much involvement from us, that's unfortunately never the case.

    First and foremost, the website designer will need lots of input from you and your team when designing the website, to decide things like the purpose and goals of the website, what it should say, how customers will take action, etc.

    Then we'll need to work with your team to create the content of the site, which includes all the text and images. Depending on the project budget, we might need your team to provide brief explanations of what they do, the products you sell, how they help customers, some background on the business, and so on.

    When the website has been built, it'll also be important for you and your team to test it, to make sure your customers have the great experience you want when using it.

    In most cases, you and your team will need to do nearly as much work as the website designers and developers do. That's unavoidable to make a great website that helps grow your business. However, with our experience and expertise, we are able to guide you smoothly through the process.

  4. Websites vary a lot in cost, and can be relatively cheap on the low end, but in most cases, effective websites cost a lot more because they require a lot of work to create, and they require the skills take years of learning and practice to be able to do a great job making them.

    The biggest factor that determines the cost of websites is of course the amount of time the designers and developers spend working on the project, as well as their support colleagues (like their project managers). Each of these individuals is highly skilled, and therefore needs to be paid accordingly and varies a fair salary, depending on their experience and which type of company they work for. Imagine hiring a full-time designer and developer for a month or more to build your website, and you'll get a better idea of just that portion of the project cost.

    More specifically, in the process of making a website, the team will spend some time on planning and research, iteration of the ideas and website design, website development, and finally optimisation and improvements.

    Some things we don't often think about are the time the team need to spend working on revisions of drafts based on your feedback, maintenance of the website when it's complete, managing hosting and migration (moving the site from one web host to another), setting up analytics (to measure website activity), and administration training.

    Lastly, we love to meet our clients face-to-face and discuss their project with them, and this cost of travelling and meeting time is also factored into the price. This normally take half a day for each of the team members involved.

    If you'd like to learn more, go ahead and read our article on the prices of websites in general, or read our own Pricing page here on our site.

Alternatives

  1. Sure, many people have invested a lot of time and energy into developing a simple website. It can take  anywhere from 2 hours to 2 years, depending on how you choose to do it, and how complicated and customised you make it.

    You could use an all-in-one website builder like Wix, SquareSpace, or Webflow. You will not need to know much about websites or have any knowledge of code to get started. They are very basic and all have a monthly fee.

    To sell products online, you can use Shopify, which is just like Wix, SquareSpace, or Webflow, but it's focused on ecommerce.

    If you want something more flexible and powerful, to do anything you need it to, you could use WordPress or Drupal. They'll take a lot more time to learn and use effectively though.

    If this is the first time you're trying to make a website, the process you should follow is to pick one of those tools mentioned above, try it out and learn how it works, then to leave it alone and try to sketch - with pencil and paper - how you're going to structure your website, then finally go back to the software and try build it.

    If you need assistance, we'll be more than happy to assist you with our advice and experience, and we'll simply charge you an hourly rate depending on how much time you need with us. Contact us.

  2. If you have someone relatively tech-savvy on your team, with a couple of free days available, then yes, you can build your website internally.

    However, consider that it's going to take much, much longer for your employee to make it than a professional, so if you think of the value of your employee's time, it might actually be cheaper to have a professional build it.

    If you want to give it a shot, read our answer to "Can I make the site myself?" for some instructions.

    If your website builder employee needs any assistance, we'll be more than happy to help by providing our advice and experience. You are welcome to contact us for a free quotation based on our hourly rate and  how much time they need with us. Contact us.

  3. Apps and websites usually have quite different uses and purposes. Websites are typically used as part of marketing - to increases the number of customers and sales - while apps are typically used to provide an interactive tool to customers.

    The exception to this is an ecommerce business, where you'd like your customers to be able to buy your products from your website or from an app.

    If we just think about customers on their phones, the benefit of a website is that they don't need to download and install anything to load and view your website. Apps need to be downloaded but provide a much more fluid and enjoyable experience, and they can sometimes be used offline. But while your customer uses their computer, they're only going to be interested in your website. And they will be able to use your website regardless of which type of device they're using and what software they have on it already.

    So to decide if you need to invest in a website or an app, consider if your customers are more likely to search for you using their phone or computer, and if you're important enough to them for them to download and install an app.

    If you decide a website is the right choice for your business, give us a call to chat about making it.

  4. Unless you're launching a new product or a new store, there's probably no specific deadline you need to have the website by. So yes, it's probably okay to wait until you're ready to have the website built.

    However, consider why you need a website in the first place; what value will the website provide? Are you expecting the website to bring you more customers or sales, or to impress your existing client base? Whatever the reason for having a website, the longer you wait to have it made, the longer you have to wait to get those benefits.

    When you are ready to invest in a website, remember to Contact us.

Website software

  1. Drupal is great software for building websites, and it's popular among large businesses and institutions because of that. But it's not the best tool for every type of site.

    On the positive side, Drupal is free and can be made really easy to use for the website owners and content managers. It's well known to be incredibly secure (typically more secure than WordPress for example). Drupal is great for building websites with lots of types of content, such as events, products, team members, organisation profiles, publications, etc. Lastly, it's very flexible because of the large number of community modules (plugins).

    Drupal's biggest downside is that it can be a bit more difficult to learn than the alternatives, so it's often not used by people making their first website.

    Check out our full comparison between Drupal and its alternatives.

  2. Shopify is really fantastic software for building ecommerce sites - sites that sell products online - but it's not the right choice for every ecommerce site. One of it's most popular alternatives is WordPress with its WooCommerce system.

    Shopify has many positives, and the first is that it's very easy to use. If you have your product information all organised with a folder of pictures ready, you can build a Shopify site by yourself in a couple of hours if you keep it really simple. Shopify is also really reliable and safe website software, meaning that you'll almost never find any bugs in the software, and it won't be hacked. Lastly, Shopify is quite flexible, with thousands of themes to choose from, and thousands of "apps" (plugins) to extend the site with new features.

    For most businesses, the biggest downside of Shopify is its cost. Shopify charges a reasonable monthly charge - depending on which tier you choose - along with taking a percentage of all sales, ranging from 0.5% to 2%, also depending on the tier chosen. Lastly, Shopify is a little less flexible than WordPress with WooCommerce, because it focusses on just ecommerce sites, instead of more complex sites that have an ecommerce section.

    If you'd like a Shopify site, feel free to contact us to chat about it.

  3. WordPress is great software for building websites, and it's super popular because of that. But it's not the best tool for every type of site.

    On the positive side, WordPress is free, and it's fairly easy to use when you first install it. It's quite easy to improve a WordPress website with new features by adding plugins, and an updated design by finding and adding a new theme. It's also great for ecommerce sites with the WooCommerce plugin.

    But WordPress can get really messy and bloated when you add many plugins, and it's not great for sites with lots of types of content, such as events, products, team members, organisation profiles, publications, etc.

    Check out our full comparison between WordPress and its alternatives.

Design & features

  1. It's become very easy to sell products online these days, with so much great software built to make it easy to do. This is especially true if your website is built using an ecommerce-focussed-platform like Shopify, or is built with WordPress with its WooCommerce plugin system.

    Even if your site isn't built with an ecommerce site already, chances are, it can still be added. Almost all website-building software these days has an ecommerce system or plugin you could use, however it might require a large additional cost to set up and use monthly.

    If you aren't sure if your site is built with ecommerce in mind, get in touch with us to figure out the best way forward.

  2. The words "clean" and "simple" come up in nearly every single meeting and workshop when website design is discussed. Everyone wants their website to be both of these. So if everyone wants them, what do they really mean?

    If you look at pictures of websites from 20 years ago, when the internet was still new, it's fascinating to see how complicated they often were, with so much small text all competing for your attention. They were designed that way because we didn't know what was really important for websites, so we didn't know what to emphasise, and what to hide or cut.

    These days, websites are often much simpler, partly because we now have a much better idea of what's important to show our customers and what isn't, but also because of how often we browse sites on our phones, which require simpler layouts and less text.

    So to have a website that's really clean and simple, we need to ask ourselves marketing-related questions like "What do my customers know and expect? What do I want them to do on my site? And what should we emphasise?" With that in mind, work with your designer to prioritise the parts of the site that will best achieve your goals, and hide or cut the rest. Then make sure that what's left is consistent and matches your brand's style.

    If you'd you like to have a simple and clean website designed for your business or organisation, get in touch with us to discuss it.

  3. Yes of course; it's actually fairly easy to add videos to a website. The simplest way is to create a YouTube (or Vimeo) account for your business, upload the videos to the account, then send links to these videos to your web developer. The web developer will then "embed them" (put them into) your website in the right places.

    If you really don't want to use a public video site like YouTube, you might be able to upload your videos to your website directly. While this does mean your videos are kept in the same place as your website, it does come with several downsides such as your video only showing in one resolution (the size or quality of the video), meaning that it'll either be too large for customers using their phones, or too low-quality for customers using their desktop computers.

    If you're like to add a video to your website, contact us to show you how.

  4. If you're not the biggest fish in your pond, chances are good that at least one of your competitors has a great website. And just like anything else in life, it's always okay to be inspired by your competitors, and to learn from them, but not simply copy what they have.

    A few examples of things you should learn from your competitor's websites include, which pages they have on their site, which sections they have on their home page and other key pages (but don't assume that they've included all the important sections!), how they talk about what they do (their communication style), and any useful features, (a wish list for example), that their websites have.

    Your website shouldn't look or feel like any of your competitors websites of course, not just because it's wrong to copy, but also because it's important for your customers to see and learn your particular style and brand. But it's always wise to learn from those who have previous experience.

    We always recommend looking at competitors' websites, making notes of what your website can have and how it could "feel" to visitors, then discussing your ideas with your website designer.

    If you'd like us to take you through this process please contact us to schedule an appointment with you. We meet with our clients either virtually or in person and agree on an hourly fee upfront.

  5. Almost all software that we use to make websites these days provides a way to log in and edit the content of your website - the text, images, videos.

    Two of the most popular tools that allow you to log in and edit are WordPress and Drupal. These are called content management systems (CMSs). If your site is built in one of these, it should be easy to log in and edit any type of content, webpages, posts, events, team members, etc. If it isn't easy, then your web developer hasn't done a good job making it easy for you.

    The same is true for ecommerce software like Shopify, which makes it super easy to edit products, categories, info pages, and so on when you're logged in.

    And if your site is built using a drag-and-drop visual site builder like Wix, SquareSpace or Webflow, you will be able to log in and edit the content of the site, though it might be a lot more difficult to do it without breaking anything than if it was built with one of the CMSs.

    There is a category of websites that don't have any sort of log-in-to-edit functionality; we call these custom-built websites. They're usually built from scratch specifically for your needs using code. In exchange for losing the ability to edit content yourself, the website could be much cheaper to build, or just much more powerful and unique.

    If you'd like to know how to edit the content of your site, just ask us.

  6. When we say a website is "linked to social media" like those two, there are several things we could mean.

    Firstly, we could mean that we have little text links or icons or buttons that point to our social media pages, so when you click on one of them, it opens for example your Facebook page in a new tab. We usually put these links links our site's footer (at the bottom of every page) or header (at the top).

    Second, we could be talking about "Share this" buttons on our blog posts, products, etc. When some clicks one of these, they are taken to a share screen in the social media site, for them to some context before sharing it to their followers.

    Lastly, we could mean that we've embedded social media "streams" (lists of posts) in one of our webpages - usually the Home page. These streams show the latest posts from our social pages, and get updated automatically every time you visit that page. these used to be very common, but have lost their popularity because it's not clear how they help websites, and because their appearance often clashes with the rest of website's design.

    So which of these would you like your website to have? Let us know.

  7. A website that works well on all devices - including tablets and phones - and in all circumstances - eg. outdoors - is called a responsive website.

    Almost every website that is built these days is designed and built responsively, but not always very well. A question you should definitely ask your web designer is "When you design the site, will you include a version in the design for laptops / desktop computers and phones? And how about other devices like tablets?"

    And before your website goes like, make sure that you and the website developers test the new site thoroughly on popular devices - such as popular phones like the latest Samsung Galaxy and an iPhone - as well as in different browsers - such as Chrome, Firefox, Edge, and Safari.

    So when it comes to websites being responsive, it's no longer a question of "if it is", it's a question of "how well it is".

Marketing

  1. When someone is searching for your products or services online, they're going to type something in to Google, and you want your website to show up in the results when they do.

    The two factors that Google will consider when someone searches:

    The first is "How relevant is your website to what the person is searching for". For example, if you sell chairs and you're based in Cape Town, and someone searches "chairs in Cape Town", then your site will be highly relevant to them. But if they search for "couches in Johannesburg", your products might not be relevant to them, and your city definitely isn't where they're looking, so your relevance is really low.

    There isn't really a way to make your website more "relevant" generally, because everyone's searching for something different, but it's important to make sure your website is using the words your customers will use when they're searching.

    The second factor is "authority", which is basically Google calculation of how important and valuable your website is. It calculates this based on how many other sites are linking to your site (using links in their text), and how important each one is. So it's like a giant web, and the more your website is in the middle of it, the more important Google will think it is.

    The want to improve "authority" is doing something called search engine optimisation (SEO), which we'll cover in much more detail in an entire article.

    If you'd like to ask us more about making sure your customers find your website, let's arrange a meeting to discuss it. Go ahead and contact us.

  2. This is the single most important question business owners should be asking when they're getting a website built for their business. Unfortunately, it's a very difficult question to answer.

    A good way to think about your website is like a physical shop or showroom, on a quiet street with very few passers-by. If you had a shop or showroom like that, how would you get people to visit it? Would you put up signs, handout fliers, or perhaps pay for advertising on a billboard? For each of these, we can ask almost the same question about your website.

    Then once you get people to your store (your website), how to you turn them into paying customers? How do you inform them, impress them, and get the to make a purchase, or to take some other kind of action that will lead to a future purchase? Once again, the answers are the same, whether we're talking about a physical store, or your website.

    In summary, a website will bring you sales if you get people to visit it, and if you can get them to buy when they do. How the site is built can make a big impact on the second one, but your marketing activities will determine the first one.

    If you'd like your website to bring you more sales, give us a call to discuss it.

Technical terms

  1. Websites often have a blog, which is a place to put posts or articles on topics that your customers would like to read about. Blog posts should inform and entertain your customers, to help them ultimately make a buying decision.

    But a blog doesn't typically live in isolation, just like the website itself. Instead, when you are ready to make blog posts, consider if you can create short summaries of it for your social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram. You can perhaps also tell your customers about it through your email newsletter if you have one. And you can even turn each blog post into a video to make the most of it!

    Creating this sort of "content" for your customers

  2. A web app is just like a website, but it is focussed on providing an function rather than communicating information. Think about web apps like Google - a search engine - Facebook - a social media platform - YouTube - a video platform.

    Let's consider an example. Let's say your business sells and installs swimming pools. Let's say you want a traditional website with lots of pretty pictures and information, and you also want to build a webpage where customers can fill in their information, select some options, and a quote is calculated for them. That quote calculator website could either be part of your website, or you could act as a stand-alone web app that your customers could visit.

    It's also a great idea to turn a web app into a mobile app that your customers can install on their phones, so they can use that tool anytime and anywhere. But for that, you'll need to find a great app developer - one that can build for android and iOS.

    At touchdreams, we built this industry-first Flues Calculator web app for our client Hydrofire.

    To ask us about web apps, go ahead and contact us at any time.

Afterwards

  1. Yes we do; we call that maintenance. We offer a maintenance package to every client after completing their website. In that maintenance package, we typically include doing regular backups of the entire site, regular updates of the website software, investigating when there are issues on the website, a certain number of hours per month for any work you'd like us to do on the site, and support, where your team can ask us any questions about the site, such as how to add new content to it.

    And we even offer maintenace to some clients whose sites we didn't build ourselves, provided that they're built in a way that's similar to the way we build websites.

    If you'd like us to maintain your website, contact us about it.

  2. It makes us really sad every time we hear stories of freelancers who build a website for a business, then become really difficult to get in touch with afterwards, or disappear altogether. There are many reasons they might do this, but none really excuse this behaviour.

    Rather than trying to ensure this never happens, the best thing to do is ensure it isn't a problem for you by looking at the alternatives.

    Firstly, make sure that your site is built in a way that isn't too unique and specific to the person or agency that built it. For example, make sure that it's built using popular software like Drupal or WordPress, and make sure the developers haven't included too much custom code that other developers won't be familiar with. How? Just ask them to explain how they plan to build your site, and what parts they're developing instead of sourcing from the wider community.

    If you need support for your website, there's a pretty good chance it's built in a way that we're familiar with, so get in touch to chat about it.

Do you have a question that isn't answered here?

Let us know by on 072 103 4083 or Contact us in another way.