Wired and Wonderful – The Web Site Advantage

We live in a wired world. Thanks to cell phones and Wi-Fi, all of the information on the Internet is never more than a click away. That’s precisely why having a web site is more important than ever before-even for creative, artistic professionals like interior designers.

Those of us who pride ourselves on our ability to create and nurture relationships to build business may cringe at the impersonal nature of the web. But look again. What may seem impersonal at first glance is actually the most revolutionary tool to connect conversations, ideas and solution providers in the history of the world-and you don’t want to miss out on it.

Here are five ways you can make the most of a web site for your company:

1. Expand on your portfolio without high printing costs. In a visual business, creating marketing materials that show your work to its best advantage can be very expensive. Full-color brochures on heavy stock paper with quality binding have a high cost per piece. They’re too expensive to mail out to all but the most qualified prospects. A web site can show your work in full color without the expense of printing and distribution, and it’s very inexpensive to add new photos or even a video tour of your latest show house or designer room.

2. Make a personal statement with audio, video and motion. Your web site isn’t limited to just words. The best web sites are interactive. Let your personality shine through by utilizing easy-to-play audio recordings, video clips from speeches, maybe even a video testimonial from a satisfied client. The web is perfect for a visually-focused profession like design, and with the new options for audio and video, your prospects can really get a sense for your individuality as well as your work.

3. Become more than just a pretty room. Brochures can’t tell your story as well as you can. Yet to keep your business running smoothly, you can’t spend all of your time meeting with prospects. Your web site can fill in the gap by sharing your design perspective, your style philosophy and your unique impression of trends via click-and-play audio and video. Prospects know that you’ll be a good fit for them before they ever pick up the phone to schedule a meeting. That saves time for you and increases the odds that your new client meeting will be a success.

4. Stand out as a thought leader. Today’s editors and reporters do their research online. When they are looking for someone to quote on trends for a given industry, they turn to the web to find experts. They decide which experts to contact based on what they can learn about that person’s point of view and credibility-and that is often determined by the expert’s web site and online articles. How many interviews have you missed because reporters couldn’t find you online?

5. Offer options and added benefits to your clients. With a web site, you can make it easier for customers to do business with your company. You can offer online payment, provide automatic email notification when special-ordered materials ship, and even sell related books or signature products that you have created. Let your current and past clients know about your recent awards, speeches and show houses-it might just spark a call for a new project! You can offer online quizzes and downloadable articles and encourage current clients to purchase additional services by educating them about trends or helping them understand the full scope of what you provide.

The best thing about harnessing the power of the Internet is that you don’t have to do it by yourself. It’s more affordable than ever before to work with a qualified web designer and create a site that is not only a great sales tool, but a magnificent showcase for your work. There’s really no excuse in today’s competitive business environment not to have a web site. Add a web site to your marketing and expand your outreach overnight.

Top Online Design Degrees

An online university with a specialized design school can offer courses in animation, graphic design, interior design, video game design, website design and more. Students who have that creative spark and are interested in carrying it through to a career may look to an online university program to attain an online degree.

A degree in design gives students an understanding of the creative development process, the technical expertise and fundamental principles needed for a successful career in design. With a design degree, students can plan for a career in website design, creative/art direction, brand identity, illustration, photography, interior design, fashion design, or media production.

Sound interesting? If you are considering a degree in design but just can’t commit to rigid class schedules then an online university program may be the right fit for you. Here are some of the best online design degrees available:

American InterContinental University

American InterContinental University’s School of Design offers an online Bachelor Degree of Fine Arts (BFA) in Visual Communication. In this area of study students may choose a concentration in digital design, graphic design, illustration, or web design and development to better serve their career goals.

The coursework emphasizes creative thinking and the application of cultural and contextual perspective to solving complex design problems creatively. The curriculum is industry-specific, allowing students to build on their knowledge of the design process and expand their skills. Core courses such as Design Principles: Fundamentals of Color and Art Direction are all part of the 180 credits required for graduation. A BFA degree in Visual Communication at American InterContinental University costs about $26,150.

DeVry University

DeVry University’s College of Media Arts & Technology offers an online Associates Degree in web graphic design as well as a Bachelors Degree in multimedia design and development. With the bachelors degree students can choose to specialize in graphic and multimedia design, graphics and multimedia management, web design and development or web game programming.

Coursework in these programs is focused on managing communications, mastering key software applications and understanding fundamental design principles. Eight full-time semesters are needed to complete the required 124 credit hours. Upon graduation students will have an array of digital media to build a full portfolio.

Regent University

Regent University’s School of Communication and the Arts offers a Masters Degree of Arts in Communication in Digital Media Communication and Cinema-Television. The digital media degree will teach students to analyze and create effective communication for the digital landscape, including iPhone applications, online television station management, and mobile video streaming websites. The cinema-television degree offers online specialties in critical studies and script & screenwriting and prepares students to become successful cinematic storytellers.

Coursework in both of these programs includes communications theory and ethics, leadership and creative classes. Required credit hours for graduation are between 33 and 39, and a directed project or internship in your program subject is the culminating activity for the last semester.

Why Hiring a Web Designer Is a Great Investment

A Website Represents You on the Web

You would not build your new home all by yourself, or allow it to be decorated by a person who does not know anything about interior design. Many people would not. We would hire an expert to make sure that we get the best outcome. A professional web designer is knowledgeable on how to direct your website towards your target visitors. Since first impressions last, you want your website to represent you in a professional way so you would be able to draw customers that could have been missed or lost.

Professionalism

In hiring a professional designer, you should make sure that, aside from knowing how to produce a beautiful image, they should also provide you with an image that is helpful for your company and industry. In addition, they should know the value of creativity and marketing. An effective website should be distinct, easy to look at, easy to navigate, should load efficiently and work well with every major Internet browser.

Saving Time

If you hire a professional web designer to build a website instead of doing it all by yourself, you will save on a lot of time, energy and disappointment. There is a wide range of skills that are needed to create effective websites, and there is more to web development than just learning the basics like HTML. An experienced web designer should not only be skilled in design, but he should be familiar with other areas as well, such as communication, marketing, search engine optimization, photo optimization, HTML, CSS, JavaScript, PHP and Flash, among others.

Customization

There are millions of websites out there. So, how will you make your website stand out from the competition? Though purchasing a regular template may appear to be a good option because of its ease of use and cost-efficiency, your website can face the risk of looking like several other sites. In addition to this, the several custom features that you need for your website – like galleries, forums, contact forms as well as special scripts – do not come with pre-made templates. If you used a pre-made template to build your website, and if you want to expand it in the future, you will most likely rebuild your whole site to add the custom features you need.

A Clear Message

An expert in web design knows how to communicate your message more effectively. These professionals are capable of marketing and relaying your message by means of fonts, colors, layouts and shapes, to name a few, and to deliver a clear message that represents your company in the best possible way.

A Worthwhile Investment

A professional website should take your business a step ahead of competition, task which cannot be done by a pre-made template. Thousands of people worldwide may view your website every day, so you have to make sure that it embodies what you want them to see. Though a website created with a pre-made template is cost-efficient and easy to make, hiring a professional designer is more advantageous to your business in the long run.