We do not have a one-size fits all approach to our design projects; instead, we custom manufacture each web site.
We try to allow for your maximum input while maintaining our tried and true method of site construction.
For instance, a house is built from the ground up. You would not ask the contractor to build your roof first. You can, but it will cost you more. So when you ask us to do something that distorts our work flow, we will listen and try to accommodate you but if it runs up the price we will educate you and get back on track.
Through the many web sites we have built, we have come to learn how to produce a site in the most efficient manner. Our procedures are constantly monitored and fine-tuned then balanced against your inputs. This is how we estimate the cost of your site. However, your situation may require different needs. We will always let you know the pros and cons of your decisions and what possible up charges there may be, both now and in the future. The final decision rests in your hands.
Let us answer some questions...
Do we provide concepts with our proposals?
(Work on speculation)
In your best interest, it is our policy to not produce "off-the-hip" work. Our designs are based on in-depth discussions, research and thought, which deliver the best parameters to optimize the project. We typically spend 20% of a job in this area, so in order to keep rates low and quality high, we are unable to provide work on speculation for jobs under $25,000.
A concept request is typically used as a qualifier for firms with limited experience within a media, and typically these designs are thrown out once the 'real' engagement is entered into.
Too much research is required before we even touch a computer, including multiple questionnaires we use in determining what the design goals really are, then comparing these to the competition and provided URLs. Then the discussions of what the design should be really start with the client...
This process can take over 2 weeks, and is the foundation of a proper design and site navigation. Basically, we haven't done this for over 10 years, due to the up front commitment required for quality work between ourselves and our client.
We encourage people to review our site and portfolio for many examples of 'live' sites currently hosted on the web today.
Why do we have different levels of quality?
Many other design firms have a one size fits all approach. Your needs may not fit in with their level. We understand budgets and ROI and it just doesn't seem to make sense to us that a small start up with limited resources and needs should have to pay the same as a big corporation.
We have set up three levels of quality, Economy, Corporate, and High-Touch.
Do we offer project prices?
We usually do not, but we can. We provide an intelligent estimate. Project rates, in our opinion do not benefit the client in the end. Why? Let us look at two common scenarios.
First, let us remember that we are building custom solutions. Often things are discovered by both you and us that were not seen at the time of the original estimate. So, when preparing a firm not to exceed price, we will consider all the factors and will add hours for "discovery". Since we have never worked with you, we will also add hours to factor in things like timely delivery of materials, project workflow, customer fussiness, tastes, etc. Yet, if you are efficient, or nothing is discovered that adds to a project, the extra hours of rate are kept by us. Another scenario is that we will usually try to play it safer so we can come in under the estimated hours. Therefore, in reality, project prices can sometimes give a customer less quality at an increased rate per hour.
Since we have built so many sites, for many industries, our formula for estimating the number of hours it will take to build your site is very close. We understand tight budgets and we keep in mind upper limits. We clock in and out every time we work on a job. Complete auditing is available. We can post the number of hours we spend on your job on a weekly basis. Any requests that may push things over are explained and sometimes we ask for written approval. Some jobs come in under the estimated number of hours… and yes, you are charged only for hours worked. Our goal is to keep you in your budget, but deliver the best site for the money.
Will you receive all the files?
Upon payment of all invoices due on the project, we can supply you a CD of all the files, masters and working files. We cannot supply the fonts used due to licensing. Stock photos purchased for you will be included. Stock photos from our own library cannot be included due to licensing.
What about copyright?
Copyright and Usage can be difficult to understand. One might think that if you buy something, you can do anything you want with it, but that is not true as we will try to explain.
USAGE RIGHTS. The agency retains ownership of all original artwork, layout, design, styles or code, whether preliminary or final, and the Studio shall allow the Client full usage rights for the Client’s marketing purposes only, based upon all invoices are paid in full. Other uses require written permission from the Studio. The Agency shall be able to utilize the work for its’ own marketing purposes on its’ website, printed materials and other mediums to demonstrate its’ capabilities. The Studio will provide, on request, all final artwork, layout, design, styles or codes in a standard format(s) for the Client's promotional or marketing initiatives. Additional charges for CD or DVD burning plus shipping may apply.
Sullivan+Wolf does not participate in "Work For Hire" There are many reasons why this is best for you and our clients. Essentially, our clause allows you to use the work we do for you for any Marketing purpose. If you sell your company, the rights are transferred to the new owner.
It does not allow you to say, take a design we did for you for a web page and go out and sell thousands of T-Shirts to the Mass Public for profit. We were not contracted for that and that would require an extension to the licence, which usually is accompanied with a licensing fee. I think it is important to understand that most anything can be arranged if done so from the start. Example, you buy a software program. It's licence says that YOU can use it. It does not let you send copies to everyone. Yet, you can buy more licensing
Another example is, if you bought a photograph from an artist, it does not allow you to copy it and sell it. You bought the photo, and the implied licence to view it only.
Ok, so let's talk about web sites. In reality, you own the content. You get to use the design and code for the purposes of running your web site. Can you take that design and sell it to a website that sells templates. NO. Can you take formatting code (CSS) and re-sell that? No. There are other techniques and procedures that we use, built on years of experience. This is proprietary and why we own that.
Bottom line, you need to use the material we have provided you for the purposes that were provided to us in the contract. If, down the road, these purposes change, you can re-licence it.
Unfortunately, there are bad people out there. Wouldn't it be easy to contract an artist, to do some graphic for "the web site", but in reality, they are starting a T-shirt Chain and will use it to make millions. Believe it or not, it happens and any artist worth anything understands this and has rules about it. Some are easier than others. We tell you about it up front.
Hope it helps. If not, we're glad to further this discussion with you.
Why do we design your home page last?
Our experience has taught us that the most efficient way is to design from the inside out.
The home page is fun and exciting, but it is usually viewed for less than 15 seconds. The inner pages contain the real content. We are interested in building great inner pages that work no matter where you are on your site. The development of site flow, navigation, and content delivery is very important to us. Our success here brings in more sales for you.
Building the home page last also speeds up production. When you approve your inner page, we put it into production to build out the other pages. The sooner we accomplish this, the sooner the site is completed.
Do we present a home page concept at the same time we present the inner page?
Generally, we do not. Our first concern is the inner pages. If we spend time developing a home page, we take the gamble that if the inner page is not approved or if it requires changes that have to be duplicated on the home page that these hours are wasted. Fewer hours are wasted when we get an approval for the inner page before proceeding to the home page because we have locked down the general feel of the site, the colors, the navigation system, etc. We also wish to avoid too much concentration on the relatively minor home page at the expense of time spent on the more important inner pages.
In addition, we find that by the time you have approved your inner page, we have learned more about what you really need for a home page, what is possible and feasible. Sometimes we do feel we can deliver or should deliver a home page at the same time as the inner page. If you request review of a home page and inner page at the same times, no problem, it might cost a little more than planned, but we'll do it.
What if you want additional concepts?
We do not normally estimate hours for multiple concepts. Our initial communication brings us an intelligent concept. Over 90% of first concepts are accepted with minor modifications. This is a really good rate! However, we cannot hit the mark every time. If we miss we will provide a new concept or two.
Do you develop any WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal web sites?
Yes, we can, though the majority of our clients want and need more custom solutions. There are certain concerns one should have in using these sites as pointed out in our article, Pros and Cons of CMS Systems.
How does Sullivan+Wolf Design, LLC deal with web site security concerns?
Security and battling cyber-warfare on web sites is a major concern for us and should be for you. We are constantly researching and updating and improving our efforts. We have worked on sites with strict PCI complaince issues along side of web site security firms like HackerSafe from McAffee. Other things we do on web sites are;
- Upgrade servers to PHP 5.3 and above, Plesk Servers should be on 11.X or above (Before this, all Plesk passwords were in plain text, plus many other security loop holes have been plugged)
- Filtering all form data for malicious injections schema
- We developed our own anti-spam form protection application which is very effective at stopping spam going through your forms.
- ZB Block from SpamBot Security which is extremely effective in blocking a variety of threats.
- Cloaking of all online email addresses on a web site
- Strong password generation
- Complete data destruction at the office of all printed materials.
- Internal IP security including IP address retrictions, which we receommend for all Control Panels.
Can you work with our design team?
Yes, we routinely do so, though, many are not as up to date as us on current web site development trends and code. We're happy to teach though. Our goal is the best web site that can be made for your company.
Do you provide maintenance for my web site?
Yes we do. Web site maintenance is a large part of our business and we take it seriously. No leaving you all alone. We generally turn simple requests within a day or two.
Do you provide maintenance plans for my web site?
Generally, we do not. Many of our competitors provide plans based on unknown assumptions. And usually, if you do not use those hours in that Month, you still pay the same amount.
We bill a la carte, so you only pay for what work we actually performed to your web site.
We are working on a web site health check plan. We will review your site periodically for a variety of issues. More to come soon.
How do you bill for monthly web maintenance?
We punch in and out every time we perform work on your web site. Billed to the minute, we bill on the first of the Month. Balance is due in 2 weeks. We currently do not offer NET 30 or 60 or other credit like payments. Though we can take payments via PayPal.