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    Home : Net Life : Creating A Web Presence : Using Vendors 
Using Vendors
The Basics
Creating a Web Presence
Strategic Considerations
Content Considerations
Web Server and Internet Access Considerations
Design Considerations
Using Vendors
Evaluating Web Sites and Designers
Planning For The Future
Resource Locator
Electronic Communications
Electronic Publishing
Electronic Commerce
Online Marketing
There are three ways to approach creating your Web site: do everything yourself, outsource everything, or use a combination of your own resources along with the assistance of one or more vendors. The biggest difference among the three options are:

  • the depth of knowledge you will need
  • the amount of hardware, software and technical support you will have to furnish
  • the creative and design skills you will have to demonstrate
  • the overall amount of time, resources and money you want to invest

Few people will take on implementing and running a Web site exclusively on their own. The commitment of time and the in-depth knowledge needed, especially in the areas of server management, discourages all but the most dedicated. Moreover, most organizations find that it is worth the money to buy the increased experience, knowledge and creativity of professionals.

It is possible to find full service vendors who will do everything for you. Prices for their services vary significantly, depending upon factors such as the level of design talent, the size and complexity of your Web site, the number of Web documents, the size and speed of the Internet connection, the size and power of the Web server and the use of dedicated rather than shared lines or servers. Not counting strategic planning, content development or specially commissioned graphics, prices for professionally developed Web services can range from $6,000 - $25,000 and upwards, plus monthly maintenance fees.

Most organizations will choose to develop their site using a combination of outsourced services and their own time and talent. Common routes include:

  • Creating all the files that will comprise your Web page and hiring a vendor to load and maintain them on their server.
  • Gathering and creating content, proposing some graphics and style guidelines, and then turning it over to a vendor who executes the design, mounts the files, and makes the Web site available on their server.
  • Hiring one or more consultants or agencies to work directly with you and your staff in performing any combination of individual tasks.

There are many service providers who can help start or run your Web site. Different vendors provide widely different sets of services. Because so many offer choices of mix-and-match services, it is important that you first define your own needs and areas of strength and weakness before searching out assistance from vendors. It also pays to have an understanding of the issues when evaluating vendors in order to be confident that they are able to meet your needs. There are four broad areas in which you may seek assistance.

  • For strategic planning and content development, look for marketing communications, advertising or public relations firms who understand both strategic communications and the new media. Be very selective when choosing a vendor for this area; the Web is still a new medium with innovations being introduced constantly. Certainly coordinate your efforts with any such firms you use already so that your Web site is integrated with overall communications strategies and campaigns.

  • In the area of server implementation and maintenance, unless you have a compelling reason and the technical and fiscal resources to support it, think long and hard before acquiring your own server. It is possible to get reasonable monthly rates for mounting and maintaining Web sites, even for complex and fairly large ones. Prices for mounting and maintaining average about $30 a month, but they do vary significantly. Beware of IAPs who offer free support for your Web site, however. Web sites can be labor intensive to maintain and you may get exactly what you pay for. Many access providers also offer to publish Web pages for their customers for a small fee.

  • Internet access is the one area in which everyone must seek a vendor, unless you are fortunate enough to be associated with a college, university, research facility or business that has direct Internet access and will allow you to mount your own Web site or pages. For more information, see Accessing the Internet and Other Network Services. The "Living in a Networked World" section includes a list of commercial online services and regional public access networks. For local Internet access providers by area code, visit The List.

  • Web design services seem to be a cottage industry these days. They are offered by Internet presence providers, specialists in Web publishing, design and marketing communications firms, some Internet access providers, and independent consultants and freelancers. A list of regional Internet Presence Providers is available in the Potomac KnowledgeWay.

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