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Layout, Design & SEO Are More Important Than You Think

How do you determine your fees?
The Process
What's This Online Proofing Thing?
What's An Admin Page?
Responsive Design? What The What??
PC And Mac Are Basically The Same ... Right?
I Saw A Cool Picture On The Internet. Can I Use It?
Payment
Recommendations
The Estimate
What About Video?
When Will iPhone Play Flash Files?
Why PHP?

How do you determine your fees?

Though we are not members, our fees are based loosely on the guidelines set forth by The Graphic Artists Guild. Because we're home-based with minimal overhead, we tend to significantly undercut The Guild's recommendations. Each project that we bid on is considered on a case by case basis and calculated based on applicable hourly rates. These rates are determined based on complexity and scope of task, client contribution and turnaround time expected among other factors. Read 'Recommendations' below to learn some cost saving tips.
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The Process

We always begin with a free initial consultation. We prefer a face-to-face meeting to get the ball rolling, but have successfully dealt with clients thousands of miles away without so much as a handshake thanks to our Online Proofing. After the consultation, we jet back to the computer and get started on a mockup of the idea that we brainstormed. In the case of a web project, we like to put together a semi-functional couple of pages so you can not only see where our head's at in terms of layout, but you can actually kick the tires a bit and see how the site will behave. We believe that you'll get a better sense of our thought process if you can actually wiggle and click the mouse on a live page rather than view a story board tacked to the wall of a stuffy boardroom. Graphic projects are somewhat similar in that we will present you with completed piece to proof, and not a bunch of conceptual sketches that leave you to fill in the blanks.
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What's This Online Proofing Thing?

When you begin a project with us, we ask you to fill out a simple online profile that we use for correspondence regarding your project. The profile that you create grants you access to our online proofing database which allows you to view all of your available proofs 24/7/365 from anywhere that has internet access. When a proof becomes available, you will be alerted via email. Our proofing page allows you to view your proof immediately as well as view and leave comments. It's pretty gosh darned cool actually, and is the reason that we're able to work 100% remotely for you far away clients. Just ask Dr. Lee at Creighton University in Nebraska some 3000 miles away!
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What's An Admin Page?

This option can be a HUGE cost and time savings for you. Did you spell a word wrong? Put a line break in the wrong place? Upload the wrong photo of that widget that you're selling? If your project requires frequent updates on the fly, we can design a custom admin page that allows you to modify your site content including photos and copy IMMEDIATELY. You'll still need at least a basic knowledge of how to format art for the web and own software that allows you to do so. There is an additional fee to create your custom admin page, but the investment will pay for itself many times over during the life of your project because you won't have to pay maintenance fees. The ease and convenience of instant site updates alone makes the cost worthwhile. We have one built into this very site that you're visiting right now, and use it to update all content as the need arises.
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Responsive Design? What The What??

It used to be that you viewed the www on your computer sitting at your desk. Times have changed, my friend. Actually most web surfers today are doing so on smartphones and tablets. Obviously the screen sizes of all of these options are different and handheld devices can vary within themselves when you rotate the view. Enter responsive design. Our sites 'respond' to the browser size and orientation and adjust automatically to best fill the screen. This eliminates the old school thought that you have to create a separate site for mobile and desktop. Responsive designed sites, when done correctly as we do, are mobile friendly to the all important crawlers meaning that your site is also SEO compliant. It's a win-win! Read more about Responsive Design on our blog page.
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PC And Mac Are Basically The Same ... Right?

Short answer - no. The number one browser is Internet Explorer viewed on a PC. There is a wide range of browsers available for both Mac and PC including: Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Internet Explorer, Opera and Netscape. Internet Explorer is the biggest thorn in a developer/designer's side because Microsoft kinda' plays by its own rules. To complicate matters even more, there are a ton of people out there still using old versions of Internet Explorer that really throw page layout for a loop. All of our sites are tested on both Mac and PC using the major browsers as well as a smart phone environment and are designed to be compatible as far back as Internet Explorer v7.
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I Saw A Cool Picture On The Internet. Can I Use It In My Project?

There are a few issues here not the least of which deals with copyright. We will absolutely not infringe on anyone's copyright, and will refuse to include any image in your project specifically designated as copyrighted material. No exceptions. If it's something that you really, really, really want you can contact the author/artist and ask for permission - in writing - to use it. Images that you see on the web are probably not going to be sufficient for print. We typically design our printed pieces at a minimum of 200 dpi formatted as .tif or .eps, and images on the web are saved as 72 dpi .gifs, .jpgs or .pngs. Images of this low of resolution and limited color range will become pixelated and blurry when sent to press, and even worse if you attempt to enlarge them. There are some terrific sites out there that will actually allow you to purchase rights to their content at little or no cost. Google 'royalty free' to get a sampling.
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Payment

Payments are split into thirds: First third of the total is due upon approval of the layout, The second third is due upon completion of the design, The final third is due (web) when your site is posted or (graphic) when the files have been sent to the printer. All payments are due and payable no later than 30 days after receipt of the invoice.
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Recommendations

So you want to save some money, huh? You really can, but it does require some work on your part. Top↑

The Estimate

Let me put it to you this way, "Your job ain't our first rodeo". We've been doing this for decades, so we're pretty confident in our abilities to give you a fair and accurate estimate of your project. Keep in mind that the estimate that we present to you is based on items and issues that we have specifically discussed in our initial consult and subsequent correspondence PRIOR to beginning your job. We pride ourselves on sticking to the number that we present to you and will bend somewhat as the need arises, but we will bill separately and accordingly for items added after the initial acceptance of terms.
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What About Video?

Adding video to your site is a very smart thing to do. Video can add a personal touch, and can actually be very helpful with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) making your site rank higher in the crawlers like Google and Yahoo!. If you're considering adding video, make sure that you keep those smart phone and tablet viewers in mind because not all formats of video are friendly on portable devices.
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When Will iPhone Play Flash Files?

According the departed Steve Jobs, "Never". The same holds true for iPads, and many browsers are now disallowing Flash because of security concerns. These are huge considerations when conceptualizing your site. Fortunately there are animation solutions avaiable that are compatible with portable devices. Granted they aren't as 'Flashy' (pun intended), but they serve the purpose for subtle animation. As cool and trendy as Flash animations are, by and large we steer clear of using them. Read more about this on our blog page.
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Why PHP?

PHP Hypertext Processor (okay, we don't know what happened to the first 'P' either), is the language that we write our sites in. It allows for dynamic content of your site making it more interactive. PHP can be used to communicate with a database to store and retrieve data allowing your visitors to customize their experience with each visit. The main reason that we chose PHP is because it's what's referred to as Open Source, meaning that it's free. Some languages must be hosted on special servers that require additional monthly fees above and beyond your standard hosting fee. PHP only requires that your host offers a Linux hosting plan which is part of most basic packages. No monthly fees to worry about, and infinite savings for the life of your site.
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