Choosing the Right Web Designer

Creating your web site can be a tricky process. Choosing the best web design company for your site is extremely important. Unless you run a web-based business, you probably do not have web design experience within your company. Building your web site will take time and a little homework!

To create a web site for your business, follow these 4 simple steps:

Establish your goals
Determine your budget
Pick a web design company
Pick a web hosting company

Establish Your Goals

Before you begin looking for company to help you design and build your web site, take the time to understand the goals of your web site. This will be extremely important to help set expectations with the web design company you choose.

In order to set your web site goals, ask yourself the following questions:

Why do you want a web site?
Are you selling something?
Do you have a catalog of products that changes on a regular basis?
Who is your target market?
Do you already have a brand?
What is your industry?
Who are your competitors?
Do they already have web sites? If so, what do they look like?
If you’re selling something, will you accept credit cards over the internet?
How soon do you want your web site?
What happens if you never create a web site for your business?

Take the time to answer each of the above questions and if you have time, write the answers down on a sheet of paper. These are the same questions most web design companies will ask you before they begin to create your site. If you have these questions answered up front, you will have some criteria for choosing the right web design company. For example, if you are a real estate agent, and want to publish listings on your web site, you should seek a web design company that knows about the real estate business and has created web pages for other real estate agents.

Determine Your Budget

How much do you want to spend on your web site. Web sites can cost you anywhere from $100 to $100,000 depending upon what you want it to do. Know your spending constraints before you begin negotiating with design companies. Whatever you do, do not tell a web design company what your budget is!! Always get pricing based on your needs, not you budget.

Pick a Web Design Company

Your choice of a web design company is a very important step. Take your time to investigate all of your options. Here are some important items to consider.

Design vs. Build

Depending upon the scope of your web site, you may need to choose two different companies. Building a web site is a highly technical process. Designing a web site is a highly creative process. Many advertising firms specialize in web site design which does not necessarily require any web development skills whatsoever. The process of creating a web site is similar to the process of building a new home. Before you ask a construction company to start building, you first seek out an architect who creates a blueprint of your house taking into account what you want (number of stories, square footage, etc.). Creating a detailed blueprint before construction begins can help you accurately estimate the final price. Without the blueprint, you may end up paying a lot of money for a house that does not fit your needs. Creating a web site is exactly the same except most web site “builders” also claim to be “designers”. The good news is that you can look at other sites a web design company has created (like looking at other homes that a home builder has made). Make sure you ask the web design company what their process is for designing a web site vs. building a web site. They should understand the difference between these two concepts. If they don’t, they’re probably builder that think they can also architect.

Evaluate Experience

Has the web design company created web sites similar to yours? Do they have relevant industry experience? As with any services company, choosing someone that has relevant experience. If you want to sell products through your web site and accept credit card payments, does the web design company you are considering have experience doing just that?

Review the Portfolio

A well established web design company will have a solid portfolio of web sites that they have created for other clients. Ask for links to other site the design company has created and review each one. Do you like what you see? Do the sites have a style that appeals to you? In addition to reviewing web sites, ask for customer references. Contact their clients and ask them about their experience with the web design company. Were they happy with the results? Did they get what they paid for? How much did they pay? Would they recommend them? How long did it take? What didn’t they like about the company? How responsive was the company when they had questions?

Compare Prices

Pricing for creating a web site can vary. Typically, web design companies will charge one of three ways:

Time and materials: price is variable based on the actual number of hours spent working on your site. For example, a web design company may charge you $75 per hour. If it takes 100 hours to create your web site, your price would end up being $7,500.
Fixed Price: some design companies will charge you a fixed fee based on a fixed set of requirements. If you outline your requirements very carefully, many web design companies will quote you a single price.
Component Pricing: some design companies will charge “by the page”. By creating a price based on the number of pages, you can control the cost by designing a specific number of pages. Buyer beware: some design companies will charge by the page but will have “special pricing” for components such as custom graphics, animated images, and the like.

The most important step in pricing is to make sure the potential design company outline all of the prices associated with the work and puts it all in writing. Never enter into a deal unless all of the costs are well understood up front. Also make sure that you understand what “done” means. Try and structure the payments such that a significant portion of the fees (20%) are not due until you “accept” the final web site. Include the agreed-upon dates in your contract and provisions for what will happen if these dates are not met.

Solicit bids from multiple web design companies and compare both the pricing models and the prices themselves.

There are thousands of web designers across the country and they should all fight feverously for your business! Be picky! If a web design company dismisses any of your questions regarding their design process, pricing, or client references, take your business elsewhere!

Andy Quick is co-founder of Findmyhosting.com (http://www.findmyhosting.com), a free web hosting directory offering businesses and consumers a hassle free way to find the right hosting plan for their needs. Feel free to contact Andy at [email protected] in case you have any questions or comments regarding this article.

MoS2 Low Friction Coatings – Not Just For The Aviation Industry Anymore

MoS2 low friction coatings (also known as molybdenum disulfide, also spelled, disulphide) are regarded the most widely used form of solid film lubrication today. What makes them unique (with the other dichalcogenides) is the weak atomic interaction (Van der Waals) of the sulfide anions, while covalent bonds within molybdenum are strong.Thus, lubrication relies on slippage along the sulfur atoms. All the properties of the lamella structure are intrinsic. No external form of moisture is required. In fact, best performance from MoS2 low friction coatings is attained in the absence of water vapor, which are prone to surface adsorption. This makes them ideal under vacuum.There are a number of methods to apply MoS2 low friction coatings, including a simple rubbing or burnishing, air-spraying resin-bonded or inorganically bonded coatings, and more recently by sputtering through physical vapor deposition (PVD).Thickness will vary, depending on form of MoS2 low friction coatings, but typically ranges between 5 to 15 micrometer. Sputtering techniques can produce thin films of 0.2 micrometer. While plasma sprays will result in higher builds, beginning at 0.003 inch or more.Friction coefficient less than 0.05 is attainable, but will also vary with humidity and sliding conditions. Tests show friction decreases with increasing vacuum strength. Friction also lowers with higher load, faster surface speed, or both. In fact, MoS2 low friction coatings are superior to both graphite and tungsten disulfide (WS2). Friction with MoS2 low friction coatings is independent of particle size, though the larger particles can carry more load.Dry lubrication for MoS2 low friction coatings remains superior at higher temperatures, with oxidation rates remaining relatively low at temperatures up to 600 degrees Fahrenheit. And in dry, oxygen-free atmospheres, lubricating performance, even with oxidation products, is stable to 1300 degrees Fahrenheit.Higher air flow can affect oxidation kinetic rates in atmosphere. Molybdenum oxide products (MoO3) and sulfur dioxide. Since MoO3 alone offers dry lubrication, based on its relative softness, molybdenum disulfide coating are ideal in higher temperature environments. At higher temperatures, though, they are better suited under vacuum. In atmosphere, they are prone to water adsorption from air based on their hygroscopic properties.As with the other dry film lubricants, while differences may prove negligible, you will have to determine which is better for you: longer wear life or better performance, using MoS2 low friction coatings. Generally, friction will be slightly higher by coating both surfaces, rather than coating one surface only. But wear life will increase coating both surfaces.Friction can be good in so many areas of life. Without it we could not easily stop and start our motion, or change direction. But in moving machinery, friction causes considerable loss of energy, poorer performance, not to mention limiting wear life.As with many non-lubricated systems, the static coefficient of friction is higher than the dynamic coefficient of friction. The resultant motion is often referred to as ‘stick-slip’. Basically, the two surfaces stick together until the elastic energy within the system has accumulated to some threshold, where a sudden, forward slip takes place. Under magnification, it’s apparent the union of two surfaces is often limited to intimate contact only at the tips of a few of the asperities (small scale, surface irregularities). At these point areas, pressures relating to contact may be near the hardness of the softer material. Thus, plastic deformation occurs on some localized scale. This is known as cold welding. Where bonded junctions are formed between two materials.For lubrication to occur, these bonds, this adhesive component of friction, must be broken. And this is where products like MoS2 low friction coatings serve well.So, where are these products used today? Consider aerospace, automotive, marine and electronic, for starters. There, you’ll find MoS2 low friction coatings, again and again.

Ontario’s Wine Industry – Harvesting the Benefits of SR&ED

How wonderful it is to proudly browse the wide selection of Ontario’s wines at your local LCBO. Knowing that your own winery is both a driving force in the Canadian economy and an innovator of the local wine industry can certainly be rewarding, both personally and professionally.From challenges to opportunitiesQuite often the goal of a grape grower to produce a consistent, high-quality brand of wine is met with many unexpected challenges. With the erratic situation of the Canadian economy following the recession, wine makers of Ontario struggle to produce at the risk of manufacturing downsizing. In addition to economic factors, the wine industry of Ontario is faced with a higher stringency under Vintners Quality Alliance (VQA) regulations, and the push from Wine Council of Ontario (WCO) to raise industry standards by participating in programs like Sustainable Winemaking Ontario.For the individual winery of Ontario, keeping up with competition means continuously utilizing new technologies and finding innovative ways to provide a premium product, despite such challenges. Simply put, this boils down to having the necessary financial opportunities become available to maintain a healthy competition. Are these opportunities available to the wine industry of Ontario? Yes – SR&ED is the answer!The SR&ED programThe SR&ED program (Scientific Research & Experimental Development) aims to reimburse companies for their experimental development expenses. For over 20 years and with about $4 billion a year in funding, it remains the largest single source of federal funding for R&D in Canada. The goal is to make creativity and innovation affordable in the Canadian business environment and foster future development.The program is highly relevant to businesses who are naturally involved in shop-floor
experimentation. R&D projects that qualify under the program include (1) work undertaken for the purpose of achieving technological advancement and/or (2) creating new, or improving existing materials, devices, products or processes. The actual refund amount depends on proper identification and qualification of eligible expenditures.Wineries in Ontario serve as ideal candidates for such funding. Typical SR&ED eligible activities that apply to the wine industry include:Developing new wines
Altering soil chemistry
Handling and harvesting technology
Improved bottling techniques
Altering practice as result of the weather
Many more…
Wineries and growers may be regularly overcoming such obstacles in daily operation. Your innovative solutions to these problems may very well qualify you for some SR&ED funding. The program supports any attempts to improve your business operations, even if they do not prove successful.Which costs qualify?Working on new ideas takes time, wastes material and requires equipment modification. The SR&ED program allows retrieving these expenses:68% of wages and salaries of personnel directly involved in R&D
41% of sub-contractor expenses
22% of capital expenditures
The refund has no strings attached – as a winery owner you are free to spend it anyway you like – buy new equipment, attempt new projects, or give everyone a big bonus – the decision is yours!How we can help?Submitting a SR&ED claim is a fairly complex and time consuming process. It involves properly identifying eligible activities within your business, associating the appropriate costs to these projects and completing a highly technical report to support the claim.Using the extensive experience of a professional consultancy like ourselves, business owners have the opportunity to review their potential for qualification, and complete the application process in a few hours, and with no up-front costs. We get paid when you do!Discovering that your business is eligible for SR&ED funding makes a world of difference. The goal is to help your winery take potential technical risks that will eventually lead to significant improvements in your industry.