Something Smart offers three different tracks to take depending on your budget and what you want to do with your website. Those options are: standard static; custom static; and a more dynamic option which is always custom. At Something Smart, we will gladly guide you through the evaluation process to help you decide which option is appropriate for your individual case.
Static sites -- cascading style sheets or CSS, as they're known -- are usually less expensive initially, but will usually cost more whenever you need to make changes to content. They also do not offer any of the kind of advanced functionality that will be outlined when describing the dynamic option.
If you 1) don't feel you need advanced functionality, 2) you don't think you will be making regular content changes to the site and 3) do not plan to rely on search engines to drive potential clients to your website, we would generally recommend this static option. You should be aware, however, that part of Google's algorithm to rank websites ties to frequency of new content on a site. They believe that a site that regularly changes content is likely a more relevant result and that is their main goal...to provide relevant results to searches. Who are we to argue, right? You can do some "bells and whistles" things with static sites like including a Flash header or Flash intro or include a simple slide show, but we feel you should be careful when adding these to your site. We find that in some cases this can be detrimental to more conservative type businesses. People generally don't want to see sparklers and/or hear music on a site when they're looking for a banker or lawyer. You also need to be aware that Flash elements do not show up on Apple products like the iPad. You may however want to include a tasteful slideshow of topical images. We have access to millions of professional stock photos so finding topical images will not be hard and done right, a slide show looks very professional.
We offer two levels of CSS pricing. One level is the standard CSS service offering. This offering is the most economical as far as development costs go. We start with a theme that the client approves and we stick closely to that theme. Customizations of the theme, additional images and other variations increase client costs in an a la carte fashion and these changes are added to the base package price. This is generally intended for start-ups and small businesses and allows them to have a professional looking website as their first step into the World Wide Web while being able to manage their tighter budgets. Information regarding this start-up websites offering can be found here
The second type of CSS offering is custom CSS development. In this offering we start with a blank slate, designing and developing a website unique to you. While more expensive, this option allows for us to tie more closely to the look, feel and message of the brand your business may have already established. For example, custom backgrounds and graphics can be coordinated closely with your specialized logo. Specialized fonts can be utilized across your website, print advertisement, business cards, letterhead and vehicle graphics. While functionality is limited to the same level as the standard CSS offering, this is a great option if your business would like consistent
branding across all levels of your customer messaging.
The final -- and most powerful -- option is a dynamic site using a content management system. If you plan on relying on higher search engine rankings for prospect generation, we would highly recommend this option because it allows you to update your content regularly and easily. You can really do a lot with this type of site. You'll be able to introduce and talk about your business, blog (it has facilities for multiple bloggers and editorial approval), insert media (videos, etc.), have slide shows, pull in RSS feeds from other sites, push out your own RSS feed to your clients for messaging, pull in items from your (or others') Twitter account, self-publish and/or edit pages and content, and more. It's designed to allow you to manage your content, keeping the ongoing costs of maintenance down (to a bare minimum if you like). This is a great long term solution for people who want additional usefulness from their site or who plan on making regular content changes -- which of course Google and the other search engines like.
The CMS we develop in is used by millions of websites, so it is well tested with high standards. It also has a wide array of core functionality
. One of the best things is that it is also extensible, which means you can add software modules giving it even more functionality. You can transform your site from being just an information source to being a tool for your entire organization to rely on. From customer relationship management to project management to job postings, you can mold your site into being the go-to resource for your entire company. You can see a small sampling of possible extended functionality here
. If there is functionality you would like to have that is not on that list, let us know and we will see if there is a preexisting module for that functionality or if it possible to have one developed.
As noted the CMS is a more dynamic option. This means you are able to change content, menus, images, etc.. on the fly either through an administrator's portion of the website or directly from the front end of the site itself. Once logged on to your site you can make content changes or publish new pages without even leaving the website itself. In fact with editorial approval built in, an approved employee could write and save an article (out of public sight) until you had a chance to review it, at which point you could publish the article with a click of the mouse. The administrator's console allows you to change menus, images, manage users, etc. by yourself with no additional developer costs for maintenance or site changes, if you would like to manage the site internally. Of course we offer packages to manage the site for you. It's your choice.
All design and development tracks can support e-commerce functionality. However, we recommend that e-commerce sites with > 20 items, that need higher functionality, that expect to be modified regularly or that require a more professional look and feel should to be based on the CMS platform.
As for how professional the sites will look, we've done web design for a lot of different industry segments either by ourselves or in partnerships with other design companies. Here is a cross-section of some of the sites we've done