Why should my business have a website?
- First is effective communication. It's important for a business to keep both current and future clients up-to-date on the latest information available. A website is a great tool to disseminate this information to other people. Plus, this information is at their fingertips 24/7.
- A website helps reduce administrative expenses. Not only does a website help relieve the administrative burden on the staff but it also can reduces costs for copying, mailing and responding to requests since fewer items have to be mailed.
- Better and timelier communication to your clients.
- Paperless processes. Visitors can fill out forms online which will be emailed to the person(s) you designate. You can then respond to the resident via email.
- Clients can see “what’s gong on” and communicate easier.
- Added value to your company. Your website should show highlight proudly who you are and what you're about.
Why use a professional website design firm instead of doing it ourselves?
Many people have web design skills of various levels. Chances are somebody in your own neighborhood or family may volunteer to design and maintain your website. In these situations it's a good idea to consider the following:
- What is their level of expertise?
- Will the site appear professional?
- Can they create the functionality you need and want?
- How long will it take to plan and develop the website?
- Will you spend too much time on an unproven process?
- Can they manage a website hosting account?
- What time do they have now and in the future to maintain the website?
- Will they do what's in the best interest of your business?
- What happens when they disagree with your actions?
- What happens when they move or become too busy?
Any of these can cause tough situations for a small business.
Who is SmallBiz Sites?
We have been in the web design and hosting business since 2001. Our parent company provides full service website design and hosting to a wide variety of clients.
SmallBiz Sites was formed as a response to clients approaching us needing a custom website solution for their business. Some of these businesses had an existing website nobody knew how to maintain and others were looking for a new website to help reduce their administrative costs. We knew we could help on both fronts by creating a service specifically for small business.
What makes SmallBiz Sites better than the competition?
Don't take our word for it. Compare for yourself based on the look of the website and the features you and your company need. Here are a few points to consider:
- No mass produced website template scripts. Our web designers assemble the website's design and layout for you.
- No cluttered and useless pages on your website. We design clean and appealing websites with information your customers need and will use.
- No "one size fits all" website layouts. We easily tweak the website based on your desires which creates a very flexible website.
- Not being left alone to reinvent the wheel. We'll always offer suggestions as to what to include on your website, how best to organize it and what to say based on our experience with our other clients. This is not just during the development of your site. We share ideas as they come up even after you go live.
Plus, full support for your website by a personable and creative person available by phone or email who also gets to know you and your specific needs.
What types of support do you provide?
We make sure you are supported from every direction.
- Our hands-on support is a phone call or email away.
- Browse our extensive knowledgebase filled with step-by-step instructions including screen shots to better show you the best methods.
- Helpful Tips are located throughout the Admin Panel to give you quick tips on best practices and to help you administer your website.
Can you support a business as large/small as we are?
Yes. Both our features and services were developed from the ground up to ensure they are always scalable to support businesses of any size. We can build a website for anyone, but only you can be the judge if were the right fit for you.
Do I need to know anything about websites to do this?
No. Our user friendly Admin Panel is designed to be a self-service portal for non-technical people. You'll be able to edit your text, upload documents and control your website's functionality through our familiar Microsoft Windows interface. If you're comfortable using programs such as Microsoft Word and checking email you'll find the Admin Panel very easy to use. You'll simply add your text in a box, click save and it's live on your website. No HTML or technical knowledge needed.
Can I see a some live websites?
Yes. Visit this page to see some of our current clients in action.
Do you advertise on our website?
No. We do not force any advertisements onto your website for our financial gain. Any sponsors you have who wish to advertise on your website is 100% income to your association. We will however place a link back to SmallBiz Sites at the bottom of your website.
Will you share our contact information with other people?
What spam controls do you have in place?
We integrate features to help keep spammers from finding your email addresses to begin with. Fill in web forms are setup to hide the recipient's email address, require an image verification code and prohibit common spam words from being included in the message.
Can I see your service agreement?
View our Website Service Agreement here.
Can you also provide web design services to any type of clients?
Yes. Our parent company provides custom website design and hosting services to businesses of all sizes.
How much do you charge to create and host the website?
Our rates are a flat fee. View our pricing here.
How can your pricing be so much lower than the competition?
Each time we hear this question we know we're doing something right. Custom website design is nothing new to us, but we were not going to enter the small business niche charging $10,000 per year for a website.
Instead, our business plan was simple...we worked backwards. We ignored the competition and asked small businesses who had never explored having a website how much they think a website for their low budget, not-for-profit organization would cost. As you can imagine those were some rather low numbers. After a year of thinking outside the box, we were very pleased with our creation. The key is reliable and efficient processes plus low expenses that we can then pass on to our clients. We could tell you all of our secrets, but then they wouldn't be a secret.
Are there any fees for support or questions?
No. Our support is included in the annual fee.
Will the annual website services fee ever increase?
The prices you see are not a gimmick to get you to sign up so that we can later increase your costs. Of course we cannot predict the future of the economy as it relates to labor and technology costs. If we do face a situation to where we need to increase our fees, our goal will be to keep it reasonable and in line with the industry.
What types of payments do you accept?
We accept checks and all major credit cards.
What is our billing period and when does it start?
Billing is done annually and begins the date we give you access to your new website.
Can we pay monthly or quarterly for our website?
Our fees are due on an annual basis. This saves both you and us the expense of processing multiple payments throughout the year.
Are there any long-term contracts?
No, you may cancel at any time. Refunds are not issued for the months you have paid in advance.
Is there a money-back guarantee?
No. Once we begin coding the website the expense is incurred. However, if we cannot come to agreement on the design you will be refunded your annual hosting fee.
Do you provide search engine optimization services?
Yes. We've partnered with a SEO firm who specializes in providing search engine optimization and online marketing services. See the full details here.
Do I really get a personal web designer for my site?
Absolutely! Your web designer will find out about your business and your ideas to create a design that reflects your company's image. This extra touch means you can be proud of the end result because your small business website was made specifically for you.
Will our website be driven by a template?
No. Template driven websites are pre-built websites that are mass produced and require all websites running on the template to have a uniform structure. These are also known as "cookie cutter" websites. Because many layout and design aspects of template driven websites must remain uniform, they restrict the ability to be customized beyond swapping out a header graphic, page content and navigation. The end result is often a very "flat" website.
Because our background is in designing custom websites, we take a more personal approach. Our website designs are custom coded for each client and they stand alone from our other clients' websites. This means we can completely customize every aspect of your design and layout to better fit your unique needs and preferences. Our clients have found that this flexibility gives their website its own personality and "WOW!" factor.
Who owns the website that you create for us?
The graphics created, text, documents and photos you submit for your website are your property and continue to be your property. This also includes the domain name(s) we register for you. Our code and functionality remain our property.
How much work do I have to do on the website?
Initially, your involvement will include: input on the look of the website, text for the pages and documents/photos you wish to incorporate into the website. We take care of the design, registering your domain name and providing support. You will always be able to maintain your own content, documents and functionality through the Admin Panel.
Can you make our new website's design match our current (old) website?
We will probably be able to incorporate aspects of your current website's design. We would not be able to take over your current website nor plug in our functionality without any compatibility issues. That's why we would have to create a new website for you following our design standards and processes.
How many people can have admin access to update the website?
Through the Admin Panel you can assign unlimited people admin access to help maintain your website and keep it up-to-date. We suggest keeping it to a core group based on the "too many cooks in the kitchen" philosophy.
Depending on your plan, you can also have unlimited sub-admins that are given restricted access to manage the content on specific pages and manage the functionality you specify in the Admin Panel. Each sub-admin can have their own access profile independent of other sub-admins or use sub-admin groups that share the same access profile.
Why doesn't our website go live the instant we sign up?
Some of our competitors provide instant websites that are available as soon as you sign up. This is because they use automated template software that sets up all of the pre-designed code for your website. The end result is a "cookie cutter" website which restricts your ability to modify and personalize it to your unique needs.
We take a different approach. Your personal SmallBiz Sites designer will learn about your company and your desires to build a creative and flexible website just for you. This personal touch is how we ensure you and your clients are proud of the end result.
How long does it take to create a small business website?
Normally the design for your website is assembled within 2 - 3 days. This depends on workoad and complexity of the custom design. After that, we stay on top of your change requests until you're happy with the layout. Once we present you with the initial design for the website you can immediately start adding the text and documents you wish to include. Then, once you're happy with the website you'll be ready to announce it to your association.
Can I decide what pages are on the website?
Yes. You can have whatever pages you would like on your website.
How does our website get updated after go-live?
You will be able to maintain your own content, documents and features through the Admin Panel. We will also continue to assist you as much as you need to maintain your website.
Am I able to send you photos to include in the design?
Absolutely! We look forward to seeing pictures of your business. This is a great way to add a personal touch to your website for your company.
Is there available stock photography to include in our design?
Yes. We use istockphoto.com for our stock photography. They have 5 million high quality images on their website. We will purchase up to 2 photos to include in the design of your website.
How do I get people to visit the website?
There are many ways to spread the word to your clients about your new small business website. Consider including a message in periodic newsletters or flyers in your community. As an additional service, we also provide full color postcards and refrigerator magnets for announcing your new website. View pricing on these items here.
What features are included?
There are many. You can view a list of features available in all of our designs here. You get to pick which features to include or not to include and even suggest new areas for inclusion. As part of our dedication to fully maintain your site, you can also change your mind after your site goes live without any additional cost.
Are there items we cannot include on the website?
We require all websites to maintain a level of business professionalism with regard to its look, content and use. Websites are not to be used for posting personal matters. This includes but is not limited to blogs, dating, match making, online chat etc. There are too many legal implications to items such as these.
Can we have you paste some code we have into our website?
We are open to the idea. We would need to look at what you are wanting us to add to make sure it compatible with your website and that we are comfortable having it on our server.
What is the Admin Panel?
Whoever you assign as one of the Administrators for your website will be able to edit the content on the pages, upload documents and run the features on the website through the Admin Panel. The Admin Panel works a lot like Microsoft Word and sending email, so it does not require any technical knowledge.
Can we have FTP access to our website?
FTP access allows you to connect to the back end of the web server and gives you direct access to the code that's running your website. Therefore, we don't allow FTP access because we need to protect the value and integrity of our software and features. You'll be able to upload files, update your website's content and manage its features through the Admin Panel. If there are other changes you need done to your website let us know so that we can take care of them for you.
Can we post surveys?
Yes. Online surveys give you the opportunity to ask for your client's opinions on topics you choose. You can post multiple surveys and clients can view real-time results. Closed surveys can be left online for view only. Clients may also leave a comment with their vote to further share their thoughts. This also includes features to restrict one vote per survey.
Can we create forms that are filled out and submitted online?
Yes. Online forms can be configured to match your current paper forms. Clients fill them out online and the responses are automatically emailed to the person you indicate. Fields can also be required to ensure you receive the data you need.
Can I restrict access to certain pages?
Yes. We've found some churches wish to hide their financials and other documents from public view. Therefore, each member has a unique username and password to access these types of items. There are also unlimited levels of security for each page. This is helpful if there is a page you only wish certain types of members to access.
Can clients create a profile with their contact information?
Yes. We have 30 standard fields plus you can also specify 10 additional custom fields to gather even more information. Users are also able to update their profile themselves in real time or you can restrict certain fields to be only updated by the administrator.
Can we have a message board?
Yes. Message boards allow clients to share thoughts and post questions for other clients to respond to. Categories are also created to help keep things organized. The person assigned to be the editor is instantly notified via email of new posts so that they can monitor and edit/delete inappropriate posts.
How do we resize large photos from our digital camera?
One of the issues with sharing photos over the internet is the size of most photos produced by a digital camera are too large to effectively share online. We have the problem solved. Our Photo Album functionality automatically resizes your photos when you upload them to your website so that they are user friendly to view online.
Can we send out mass email announcements to our clients?
Yes. We have a user friendly Email Publisher that enables you to create email announcements with formatting (bold, fonts, color, bullets, graphics, links, etc). You can also target your emails to specific clients by filtering on their profile data...such as only sending an announcement to clients with children.
Can we export our client data to make mailing labels?
Yes. You can export your client profile data into Excel at any time. This will be useful for creating mailing labels. Although, we hope your website has drastically reduced your need to mail items to your clients.
Can we have you customize the way one of your features works?
We are not able to customize our features for the needs of individual clients. Always let us know how you think our features could be better. If it's something all of our clients could benefit from we'll make it an enhancement request for future development.
Why is branding for our business important?
It is said that a brand resides in the hearts and minds of people who interact with a business. The more you show a consistent brand to those you interact with, including your own clients, the more value it creates for your clients.
What printing services do you provide?
Our items range from refrigerator magnets to postcards to stationary. All items are printed in full color and on quality paper. They are also branded to match your website and fully customizable to fit your preferences. Click here for details and pricing.
Do we get to customize the design?
Absolutely. As a starting point, we will first create a design for you that matches the graphics of your website along with our suggested text. We will then modify the design to better fit your needs.
What is included in the pricing?
The price is a flat fee based on the quantity ordered. It includes the custom design, proofs, printing and ground shipping. View pricing here.
Will you also mail our postcards to to clients?
Yes. If we are creating your postcards we can also label and mail them directly to your clients. Our services include taking your Excel file with everybody's names and addresses, individually labeling each post card, postage and delivery to the post office. Plus, you receive discounted first class postage rates. View our Mailing Services pricing here.
How long does the process take?
Once you place your printing order we'll have an initial design created and ready for your review in a couple days. After that, we'll take care of your design modification requests until you're happy with the final product. Once you've approved the design, we'll send the graphic files to our printing company who will print your items the next day. The items then will be ground shipped directly to you. Faster delivery methods are also available.
What if we aren't happy when we receive the items?
If there's something wrong with the quality of your printed items we'll certainly want to address the problem with the printer. We'll ask that you fax or mail us a sample so that we can point out the issue. We'll have the issue corrected and have new items sent to you free of charge. If the problem originates in your review and approval of your design proof we'll work with you for a equitable solution.
What is a domain name?
This is the same thing as a web address which is what you type in to pull up a website in your internet browser. (www.smallbiz-sites.com)
Will our website be viewed on our domain name?
Yes. You may find with some providers that when you type in your domain name it is redirected back to their domain name for your website's hosting. So, instead of seeing your website on www.yourdomain.com you'll see www.theirwebsitename.com/yourname. Not only does this result in company branding issues, but this can also be confusing to visitors and more difficult for you to direct people to a specific page when your website isn't hosted on your own domain name.
What if I don't have a domain name?
We'll register one for you. Depending on the plan you choose, the price for this is already built into the annual hosting fee. So, you don't need to worry about maintaining your domain name at all. We will suggest an available domain name that matches the name of your company. Then you'll get to choose the domain name you feel is best.
Should we purchase our domain name(s) before we signup?
Not if you are going to have us maintain your domain name for you. It's much easier and quicker if you allow us to purchase your domain name(s). You can instead choose to purchase your domain name(s) on your own through another domain provider.
Can we have more than one domain name?
Yes. We can register additional domains for you. Reasons you may want to have more than one domain name is if you wish to own both the .com and .org. Each domain name after your primary (the one your website is hosted on and included in your annual fee) is $15 per year per domain name (depending on your plan). We can also point the other domain names to your primary domain name so that people don't get lost.
Do we get private registration for domain names you manage for us?
Yes. We will automatically register your domain name with our privacy protection service which hides your contact information from spammers and marketing companies. This service is included for free with all domain registrations.
Can I search for an available domain name now?
I already have a domain name, can I still use it?
That would be between you and the company you have your domain name through. You can continue to keep your domain name with your current provider. You can then simply point your domain name to your new website.
If I wish to leave SmallBiz Sites, can I still use the domain name?
Yes. Each domain name we register and maintain for you is always the property of your company. If you decide to leave SmallBiz Sites, we will release your domain name to the registrar you indicate. This will enable you to still use the domain name to create a new website. We will not charge you a fee to transfer your domain name.