By Kellie Kuecha

Over the years I have had a variety of websites built for a myriad of purposes and I certainly have learned LOTS along the way! My purpose for creating this report is not to disparage anyone but instead to help save all who read it lots of time, money and heartache. By the time most of my clients get to me, they have already put a site up, spent a small fortune and have virtually no flexibility in their ability for their site to evolve with them as their brand transitions. Unfortunately I have seen far too many people engage in contracts with designers without the correct knowledge of what to ask for, and then sink loads of money down only to end up un-enthralled with their site. Oftentimes regardless of whether or not the site passes the acceptability point – the buyer still owes the remaining balance. This often results in both parties being extremely unhappy and sites getting shut down resulting in money spent essentially being thrown in the hopper. Please note that I specialize in Personal “Bankable” Branding and Small business and I help my clients position their companies under their personal name as the umbrella so my advice will lean more towards small business personal sites rather than large company sites although I have created several of each! I hope this document helps you in your endeavors.

1. Graphics Who, What, Where, When, How? Unless you have hired a full fledged branding, marketing and advertising agency, your web designer is not usually the same person that will create your logo and brand essence that will ultimately position you and your company to truly stand out.Some will offer to do both but check out dozens of portfolios before making the decision to put both tasks into the same hands.Don’t hesitate to call a few of their clients.Website developers are only as good as the information and examples given to them.You will want a highly competent graphic designer to work on your logo prior to hiring your website developer.In addition you will want to have dozens of great pictures of yourself taken by a photographer who understands the brand messaging you are trying to relay.I personally use Sabrina Fajardo at The Laughing Zebra to create all the graphics for my business from my logos to my fliers to my headers etc, specifically because she’s exceptional and because we have worked together long enough for her to know the look and feel I am going for. I also use Carlos Aristizabal as my photographer as I have been with him for years and he knows very well my taste and image I prefer and he is brilliant at capturing it.Before sending my client off to the graphics designer and photographer I provide all parties with a comprehensive branding report so the artists know what direction to take the artwork.You will want to have a branding specialist help you construct your brand brick by brick so that your site emulates the essence of exactly who you are and clearly illustrates why your target market should work with you and only you!In addition to the custom graphics you will need, you may also need stock images on your site.Be sure to either open up an account with Istock and purchase your own graphics or have your developer give you a receipt for images that were purchased for your site.This is an area that both I and several of my clients have run into problems.There are many ways to search for images on the web but oftentimes those images belong to someone else.Images that are used on the web have properties that can be traced back to the person using them.If you have not paid for the images, you may find yourself getting legal letters stating that you have engaged in copyright infringement.Getty Images is notorious for this one so be careful!

2. Static or Alive? In today’s every expanding and evolving world of web and business it is critical to have a site that can be manipulated and grow with you! Three years ago many of us weren’t concerned with how well our sites interacted with Facebook and Twitter and today it’s essential! I often see people get confused on whether or not to use a site that has a Word Press platform or to just use a static platform. Well I can only speak from my own experience but my static personal website will no longer serve my needs or the needs of my community as it stands right now. I have fought it for a long time but I too am moving on over to a Word Press platform so I have the freedom and flexibility of adding content and video to my site whenever I feel the urge to. Please don’t get confused with WordPress.com and WordPress.org. They are two different animals. If you are looking for your site to both look like a site and also have blogging capabilities you will want the site built on WordPress.org. If you just want a blog then WordPress.com suffices. I am using The Internet Genius Ben Cope to help me seamlessly through this transition!

3. Landing Pages or Full Websites? These are two very different types of sites with two very different purposes.A landing or squeeze page serves simply one or two main purposes, to acquire leads and/or to sell a product.You will often see these sites scroll down with lots of text, testimonials and loads of other sales information.Some are very direct and require your name and email to get whatever free information is being offered.Many of these types of sites can be created using templates and can be done without the need to hire someone, however if in any way your landing page looks homemade – scrap it and hire a professional.That is pretty much a standard rule of thumb in business overall.I built several of my own landing pages using templates and you can see them at www.brandomnipresence.com and www.fortunesonfacebook.com.  Full websites are necessary when you have a variety of menu items and require a full showcase of who you are and all that you offer.It’s important that you know the difference.

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Front End Specialists and Back End SpecialistsAre they the same person? Here is another area many people get confused in believing that web creation is a one-stop-shop proposition.A front end developer is typically someone that has a great artistic talent and can articulate your vision into web components that make up your site.However these are not usually the same specialists that will build out the code necessary for your site to give you analytics, data mining and so many other custom functions that you may require depending on your offerings.Be very clear in your needs in advance and make sure your contract spells out detail by detail what your needs are!You can hire coders that work for pennies on the dollar in other countries by contracting through www.elance.com or www.odesk.com. If your project is large and you want to hire a firm to be your project architect you will want to hire my friend Aaron Friedman at Bitmap Systems to layout the entire process for you and communicate directly with the coders on your behalf.

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Good Aesthetics or Cash Cow? So by now you probably get that having a pretty site in no way determines your ability to convert your visitors into paying clients.One of the first things I do with my clients after setting up their Bankable Brand is to figure out exactly what offerings they have and how best to position those offerings throughout the site.The site visitor must be put on an immediate and enticing sales path that they feel good enough about to leave their information or make a purchase.This is a very tricky process and must be set up by someone like myself who specializes in the sales psychology of converting visitors into paying clients.This is one area you do not want to leave in the hands of your developer.Remember, they are only as good as the information you give them.

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One Person Operation or Large Company?Now this is a tricky one as I see both advantages and disadvantages to both!My first ever website was built by an individual who was and is brilliant at both front end and back end processes.I loved the fact that I could call and talk to him anytime and he worked fairly quickly on my projects.When it came time for custom programming, he handed me off to a larger sub partner of his that I spend thousands with to build out my back end.Eventually he was no longer doing web work, the larger company got sold and I essentially was SOL!Today that custom software is antiquated and no longer serves the purpose it was originally intended for.Small guy – great for more personalized attention, large guys – you are often just a number and your points of contact could sometimes change.I have worked with a few larger companies (who have for the most part been great) but find that sometimes it takes weeks to get an issue resolved.Some of the larger companies have fallen victim to the economy and either get sold, downsize or go out of business altogether.Over the last year I have put a lot of my trust in this area with Jeff Ratushney and his company Internet Sales Results who continues to grow very rapidly but still has a very personalized approach.They are successful enough to ensure that their clients are satisfied or they don’t pay.In such a tricky endeavor, I find it crucial to have this type of guarantee and very few can offer it.I highly recommend Jeff and ISR!

7. Template or Custom?I have used several template companies over the years and some of them are great if you are on a tight budget but don’t be naive in believing that ALL web work is custom work.Now again, there is nothing wrong with a template as long as you know in advance that this is specifically what you are getting in your contract.There are lots of folks out there calling themselves designers but have no real knowledge beyond putting up the initial site. Templates can tend to be very limited.Again, your choice between custom or template shall vary depending on your specific needs and desired outcome!

8. Content – is More or Less Better? If you are expecting to make money on your site – less content is better. If your copy is not telling a story that ultimately leads to a sale – leave it out. This is another area that I leave up to the experts. I put my clients through an extensive branding evaluation, story building process and a test I refer to as PLAVCO that are all designed to help my clients profit from being themselves, their passions and their expertise! Once I extract all of that great info – I highly recommend a well established copywriter to pull it all together. I personally recommend and use Jane Garee from Write Expressions to do this work for you. The About Us/Me page on your site is the most heavily visited page of any site and it must be positioned the right way! You can use mine as a guideline!

9. Be Clear on the Essentials – Brand, Core Message, Mission, Vision and Purpose, Story, Brand Promise, Target Market.(Depends if we are marketing YOU or Your Company!) It would take me about ten more pages of information to properly articulate this point so let me try and simplify it. A website without a definitive audience, core message and clear promise will never amount to true, well paying clients. Your Bankable Brand must come shining through on your site along with your Unique Value Propositions sprinkled throughout with all the benefits that the consumer will gain from working with you and your company. Your mission tells the prospect what you are setting out to accomplish, your vision gives a longer term prospectus on where you are going and your purpose should tell them why you exist.These are all very well thought out processes that sometimes take dozens of hours to nail.Don’t be in such a hurry to get your site up before carefully thinking these items through.I recommend developing these components through MastHERminding.

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To be Seen or Not to be Seen – Google holds the keys…or do you? Everything I just taught you will work fine and dandy however if you take all the steps, spend all the money and no one can find you on the web you have wasted precious time and money. Worst yet your site will lay dormant and become just another pretty piece of dusty old artwork.This is a very tough lesson for many to learn so if I can help save someone from the web black hole then I will have successfully completed my mission.Your site MUST be built in advance for Search Engine Optimization; there is no other way to put it.It is far too costly to go back and repair after a site has already been constructed.I know with Internet Sales Results -they use 36 different protocols to properly set up a site so that it can dominate the search engines. This is a very highly skilled are of expertise that not all web developers posses and that’s ok – they don’t need to. You just need to be good at asking the right questions.