Why should I pay a professional to design my website?  It seems very expensive and I’m sure I could produce one myself.


A key factor for any site is its need to build up trust with visitors who want to see a professional looking and functional site.   With this in mind, the objectivity of an external viewpoint in the design process is essential.   It’s very easy to get carried away with what you can do with a software package and to believe that you’ve created the best site ever! 


What you need is someone who will work with you to produce a site which reflects your existing house design style, company and brand values.


I ‘ve seen one terrible site recently produced via the “do-it-yourself  template” method.  The colours and layout were uninspiring and the “who are we” page contained 2 very large photos of team members which took forever to download.  There was nothing about this site to convince anyone they were looking at a professional organisation – which was what they were trying to do.


When using a professional designer, “design” doesn’t just relate to colours and attractive looking pages.  The actual construction of the site is also important.  You need a site with a navigation system which can handle site expansion.  When you want to add a new page or two, you don’t want to find that the navigation system is out of date.  Indeed, unless a site is professionally designed, you can encounter nightmares when you come to make even small updates.


However, I believe it is important that you are able to update the site yourself (ie to add or change text and pictures) and this is something which we include in all our web design packages.  Unless you are a very large organisation with deep pockets, it is impractical to pay a web designer for each update, not to mention that it is much quicker to do this in-house – assuming of course you have some in-house resource.


One further point though, when employing a designer, make sure you have a written contract with milestone dates, payments and details of the work to be undertaken.


What are all these new domain name suffixes that are being advertised for sale? I keep receiving emails telling me I should register my domain name with .tv, .info etc?


Some time this autumn you will be able to buy .biz and .info domain names.  The idea behind this was to make more names available as it can be hard to get the domain you want with a .com or a .co.uk  suffix.  However, you need to be careful, companies have often invested a lot of time and money in developing their brand and their domain name.  If you find yourself purchasing a domain with one of the new suffixes where the .com or .co.uk is owned by someone else, you may find yourself facing a court case.   Solicitors are now keen to pursue cases of possible trademark infringement or perceived cyber-squatting.


If you are trying to register a new domain name on line, it is easy to check who owns existing domain names and thus whether there is likely to be a conflict.


Of course, the release of additional domain names means more business for domain name registrars – it’s in their interest to promote this.  If you feel your existing name isn’t sufficiently memorable, this is a good chance to get a better one. 


Other domain names which are routinely offered by registrars such as .cc, .ws and.tv are really country domains (the Cocos Islands, Samoa and Tuvalu – no, I don’t know where that is either - respectively).  I certainly haven’t seen many (if any) sites with these suffixes and I wouldn’t recommend this approach.



I’m pleased with the overall design of my web site but it takes too long to download.  I’m worried that people won’t be bothered to wait while it downloads.  How can I speed it up without losing too much detail?


A 56k modem  takes  21 seconds to download a 125k page – longer if the internet is slow as it often is at peak times.  A 40-50k page is the optimum size for download. 


The most common problem is slowing down a page is, not surprisingly, graphics – either too many or too large (one site I tried to access lately had 30 graphics to download, I didn’t  wait to find out what they all were and I’m sure a lot of other people didn’t either).  This is particularly important on your home page where you need to make a good impression fast. 


Some tips to reduce page size are:


§ Replace navigation buttons with text where possible.

§    Optimise graphics for smaller filesize by reducing the number of colours and the size of the picture.

§ Use static rather than animated graphics.


One thing about graphics and animation you have to take into account is the increasing use of faster web access, such as ISDN, ASDL and Broadband although most of these currently make up only a small percentage of the British Web Users, its far from that case in the US.



I’m having a website designed for my business and the designer has registered the domain name on our behalf.  He says this will be easier as he will also be hosting the site.  Is this usual?


Many website designers will offer to host your site as this provides an extra income stream for them but this may cause a problem in the future if you want to change service providers.  When your website is complete (and before paying the final bill) you should make sure that you have all the passwords to the site and that you are able to upload and download files.  


You should also ensure that all domain names are registered in your name (both as billing and administrative contact) rather than the web designer. 


Although your site can be successfully hosted by your designer, you should always have ultimate contract.  It’s always easier to be aware of the pitfalls than to try and sort matters out once something has gone wrong.