The Most Dramatic Home Design Elements

When many people think of home interior design they often conjure images of high priced consultants and even more costly furnishings. Yet each day we walk right past or over the most important and least expensive design elements in our homes. These are basic design elements that set the tone for any other decoration we will accomplish in our home. But like most things in life, the simple things are often overlooked or taken for granted.

The first of these design elements is so basic and yet so under-utilized that it is almost laughable, and just so happens to be the cheapest tool you can use to enhance the appearance of your home. PAINT. Before we can design any other element in our home we must first set the tone and depth of the backdrop. We have to paint the interior of any design area to enhance all other design elements. Before we can furnish or accessorize any room in the house we have to paint first. Color trends have changed and if it has been awhile since you last painted your home, you may want to give serious attention to this basic but necessary design tool. There are many more wonderful colors to choose from now and the colors you choose will set the mood and the backdrop for any home design plan. (We have some suggestions on how to use color to compliment you home on our web site).

The second fundamental tool that will make or break your interior design plans is your choice of window coverings. Here again we see that so many times we look right past this basic design element and focus on things that really do not make the impact that a proper WINDOW COVERING can achieve. Installing the proper window covering in the right colors will add depth and perspective to your overall design and the effect is phenomenal. Once again, if it has been some years since you updated your window coverings, you may find that other attempts at enhancing your home fall flat because of an outdated covering or color. Most window dressing is inexpensive and the current trend is toward the most simple of styles, so this means less money you have to shell out to update your home design.

The last tool I would like to discuss is also just as important as the first two and yet so often overlooked that literally we walk all over it. You must update your FLOORING. You can do all you want with furnishings and such, but if you set everything on and against a backdrop of outdated flooring and flooring colors, you have pretty much just wasted your time. What is that I hear? Someone is complaining about the cost of updating to modern flooring. You can update your floors without spending a fortune. Many hard surface floors, such as laminate, are designed to be installed by the homeowner, as a do-it-yourself project and this saves you money. Still too much for you to spend right now? Let me ask you this. Would most of you drive around in a twenty-year old car? No! And yet many of us think nothing of walking around on twenty years of dust, dirt, allergens and just plain outdated color. Your home and your family deserve better. If you are renting or living in a dorm or other such circumstance, you simply cannot replace that outdated floor. Or can you? If all else is impractical, then consider using an AREA RUG. They come in all sizes, shapes and colors, and can be the perfect solution to your flooring problem. It is a fact, that you will not browse any interior design magazine without seeing an area rug on the floor. That is how important they are to home design. You will also be pleasantly surprised at how reasonably priced rugs can be.

There are many area rugs on the market that are definitely cheap. Now let’s not go too cheap though, because an area rug is a design element that can last a lifetime. And it’s portable. You can always take it with you, or move it to another area when you adjust your home design. Rug styles also last, they don’t become outdated the way that other design elements can. And the best news is that a good quality wool rug does not have to cost a fortune. We feature 10’x13′ area rugs on our web site that are less than $500.00. This is quality and economy that will last a long time in your home. Many of these rugs were designed to last twenty-five years or more.

If you have a tired and outdated home design, remember three important tools of basic, and inexpensive design. You and your family will be much more comfortable in a home that is well balanced by the backdrop of Paint, Window Coverings and

Creating an Author Web Site – How to Find the Best Web Designer to Sell Your Book Online

Why Are Web Designers Such Flakes? A Reality Check.

Circling the drain of unresponsive or missing in action web designers is a common dilemma. The Question is this: As a self-respecting author with a plan and a purpose, how do you choose a designer you can afford and rely on?

As a small publisher, or self-published author, you are faced with the high-cost of publishing a book. Your ever-growing budget includes editors, book cover and interior design, maybe a book coach or advisor, printing costs, fulfillment needs, marketing … my goodness, where does it end? When does the author start making money? Well, this is a question for another article all together. The point here is, how much should you allocate to the added expense of hiring a web designer? Can you hire someone who can do it all and is affordable to boot?

Ah, herein lies the problem. The one-man show dilemma-freelance artists. A newly graduated artist (or even an established one-person show) can be a very enticing option for someone with a small budget, especially when they are often a third of the price you would pay with a full-service design house. They are typically hungry, excited, talented, reasonably priced, and they can do it all. Yeah!!! So what goes wrong? Burnout. A freelance artist often over promises and eventually under delivers. They over commit because of the opportunity to build their portfolio; they chock it up to needed experience, and maybe even their desire to help another artist. But at the end of the day this is the perfect recipe for disaster. Why? Because it’s truly hard to do it all yourself and when you finally reach that wall, you shut down and walk away, close the door, stop returning calls-you move on.

This does not mean that because someone is reasonably priced that they are a bad choice for your needs. The question we seek to answer is: How do you protect yourself?

As you search for a reliable, talented designer consider the fallout. As you become overwhelmed with the production of your book, you tend to need a leaning post. That is, someone you can consider a partner, someone who cares as much as you do and will be there till the bitter end, or God willing the glorious payout. But let’s talk reality folks. Few people care about your project as much as you do. At the end of the day, people will do what is best for “me.” If you lay something precious in someone else’s hands you have to know that they will cherish that precious thing and treat it with the same care that you would. In the business world, this means you pay them to care-you appreciate them, you praise them, you create an environment that is rewarding, you pay them hard-earned cash.

What you are looking for is a long-lasting relationship, someone who delivers, who knows their stuff and someone who isn’t going to close up shop and leave you holding the bag.

A Sad Tale of Trust and Where it Went Wrong:

The Spark: You have just written a book! You are ready to meet your public. You are told you need a web site. You look around, you ask a few people for references, you weight the costs, you’re not quite sure how it will benefit you, you’re just about out of money, or worse your sinking further into debt. And then you meet Bob at a community function. Bob is great! He is dynamic, he loves your book, he has great ideas, he is excited, talented, and he can help you build a site for a fraction of the cost-this you can afford.

The Honeymoon: You get started on the project and Bob really seems to listen, he’s working quickly, he answers your calls, he has something for you to see right away, and it’s pretty good, you like it, OK maybe it’s not great, but hey it was practically free and it’s something, its better than nothing.

The Fallout: You have a big signing at the local bookstore, you’re excited, but your site needs to be updated and there’s that issue of those few spelling errors you haven’t gotten around to fixing. You know you need to talk to Bob. But Bob is out of town until next week. You call some friends to see if they know of anyone who can help, yes, but do you have access to the web files? Hmm, no Bob has that. Bob doesn’t seem to be returning your calls, or emails-Bob is MIA.

The Reality: So what if you do find someone who is so excited and hungry that they are willing to do it for very little, or even better, for free. What happens when your designer needs a leaning post and you are pushing for more-you’ve started with this person, you need them to finish the job, your marketing success depends on it…they stop returning calls, they are less and less responsive…you go crazy with frustration, the process of getting a simple update to your site is maddening, you throw your hands up in exasperation, the love affair is over and you are left to pick up the pieces.

You face the facts, you know you must find another web master, you search for people in your area, you are horrified by the high-prices, your benchmark, what you had come to rely on was so much less expensive. How can this be? OK fine, you find someone you think you can trust and they tell you your previous web designer didn’t know what they were doing. Salt. Wound. Pain. They tell you have to start over and it’s going to cost you. Yikes.

The Idiot: Was your last designer really an idiot? Maybe, but probably not. First of all, it’s important to know that designing and programming are two very different art forms and it makes sense to leave each task to the expert. I once saw a very talented illustrator design the interior layout of a book one page at a time, as opposed to flowing all of the text into one document (which certainly makes things easier when it comes time to make future changes). Was this guy an idiot? No, he just didn’t know what he was doing, but he sure was confident that he could get the job done. And boy did he. Now the second edition needs changes….

With web programmers, another thing to consider is that there are numerous ways to build a web site. Building a site is much like organizing your files, because in fact it is; web coders are a unique brand of person and each has his or her own naming conventions and ways of organizing files, which could be near impossible for someone else to decipher. Plus, there are numerous ways to code, programs to use, platforms, etc. Just like you might be baffled by my filing system, I would likely be baffled by yours. So for a programmer to look inside your site, it can take a lot of maddening hours and cursing-clearly the last person didn’t know what he or she was doing. No, they just did it differently. But, why would I want to tackle that frustrating beast? Hmm, this is gonna be pricey.

Synergy, Longevity and Web Designers; The Answer:

Finding the right Web designer is sometimes like trying to find a needle in a haystack. So what’s a savvy author to do? First, get referrals. Qualified referrals will save you a lot of time, especially if they are from fellow authors. For this reason, consider joining your local authors’ guild and attending authors’ conferences where you can connect with other people in your industry.

Be sure to choose a designer who is familiar with your industry. A successful Web site goes way beyond the nuts and bolts of programming and coding. Your designer should have a firm understanding of what you are trying to accomplish and a definitive plan to reach that end. For instance, your navigation should lead your visitor in the direction of a sale-think of it like a funnel. You should implement an effective call-to-action that will guide your readers through the funnel and convert them into sales.

A successful home page will appeal to varying personalities in different ways. Use both imagery and text to say the same thing. This will reach the analytical and the visual; no matter how you say it, both will lead to the same place-a sale. A marketing-savvy firm will understand the importance of this element and provide valuable insight.

Ask for testimonials. Does he or she complete projects on deadline? A typical site should take from two to five weeks to design and build. Also, ask to see samples-including live sites. Test them for ease of use and loading time, as well as the general feeling you get from the sites you view. Chances are, if you dislike everything someone has done, you will be unhappy with what they produce for you as well.

Does he or she listen to your needs? A good way to tell if a company designs for the client or for themselves is to view their samples. If all of their samples are similar, this could be a red flag-unless, of course, that is exactly the style you want in your design. A good designer should be able to listen to your needs and translate them into a workable site that exceeds your expectations. Ultimately, your site should reflect your personality-not theirs.
Make sure your design team is easy to communicate with. Do they speak your language? Remember: this should be your vision, not theirs. Ego can often get in the way of your goals. When it comes down to it, they work for you. They should be able to set their artistry ego aside and follow your line of thinking, providing you with valuable insight and ideas that you hadn’t considered.

Ask Questions-Expect Answers

Ensure that your designer and the person coding your site are two different people. They are very different jobs and require different skills, just as your architect and your contractor are two different people. That’s not to say that you should hire two different firms-quite the opposite: a well-trained team works smoothly together and should be able to handle anything you throw their way.

A good firm will provide you with at least three “comps” or design samples. This is the part of the project where you will have the most involvement. That’s not to say that you should be able to stare over their shoulders as they create for you-but you should be given ample opportunity to verbalize your needs. You should approve the design before it goes to the programmer. Also, find out what their policy is on additional changes once you have approved the final design; you do not want to get stuck with hidden costs halfway through the project.

Always get a contract. Know exactly what to expect. A contract protects you as much as the design house. Read your contract thoroughly. Be sure that you own the rights to your site, the design, all the images, and your copy. When it’s all said and done, your designer should provide you with a disc that contains all your design files and your Web files; keep this disc and all your passwords in a safe place-in fact, make backups. Should something happen to your design house, or they go out of business, you should be able to seamlessly transfer everything to a new firm. And remember: this is a relationship, if you are not happy with your team, or you are not getting the results you expected, then don’t be afraid to find someone else.

Don’t rush it. Costly mistakes are made when people rush. Once your site is up and running, you can decide to change it, but it will likely mean starting all over and costing you twice what it should. Often, this can be the straw that breaks the marketing camel’s back. It is easy to get discouraged when you have invested so much of your heart and soul into a project only to find out you are back at square one. From the perspective of a coder, it is less costly to start over than to give your site a facelift-changing colors, navigation, and the overall look and feel of your site isn’t as easy as it may seem. Avoid costly mistakes in the beginning, even if it means stalling your project just a little longer.

How Much Should a Web Site Cost?

While industry standards are typically followed, prices vary widely. The Graphic Artist’s Guild Handbook: Pricing and Ethical Guidelines is a sufficient reference guide for industry pricing standards when it comes to illustration and design; this will give you a firm place to start.

It’s possible to pay anywhere from $200 to $44,000 on a Web site; all of this depends on the size of your site and your programming needs (and who you hire). What you want to concentrate on is the relationship you have with your designer. Meet with this person, and see if you like him or her; after all, you will likely be working very closely with this person. You should be developing a relationship that will help make you and your book shine.

Keep in mind, just because your site looks great doesn’t mean it’s effective. Discuss these elements and see what kind of ideas your potential designer may have that can bring your project to a higher level. Use someone who understands books and the publishing industry. While one firm may be able to design and build an incredible site for real estate agents, they may not know the first thing about selling books.

All of these things are crucial elements that you must consider before signing that contract. Always ask for a contract; no matter how much you trust this person, business is business-be professional. It’s okay and even necessary to build relationships and even friendships in this business, but never forget your end goal: You are an author with your own business, and only you will look out for you in the end.

Make a List-Check it Twice

Before you start shopping for a design house, jot down a list of your expectations; that way if it comes down to one or two firms / designers, you will make an educated decision based on all your needs.

Lastly, follow your gut feeling; listen to your instincts. If something doesn’t mesh, move on.

Finding a design team can be an emotionally overwhelming process. The following checklist will help you find the right team for your needs. And remember: just because the price is right doesn’t mean the fit is, and vice versa; an expensive team may be just that-expensive. You want to choose the best designer for you and your book. Believe me, you’ll be glad you did.

1. Do they listen?
2. Are they responsive?
3. Do they explain things in a way you can understand?
4. Do you like the other sites they have designed?
5. Are all of their design samples the same? Do they have the feel you are looking for?
6. Are their sites easy to navigate?
7. Do they have experience in your industry?
8. Do their sample sites load quickly?
9. Will they give you recent testimonials and references? Do they have happy clients?
10. What is their timeline?
11. Do they provide more than one design sample for you to choose from?
12. Are the designer and the programmer different people? Does the design firm have a specialized team?
13. Do they offer hosting services?
14. Do they offer E-commerce solutions?
15. Do they understand Internet marketing?
16. Do they have a company Web site?
17. Do they provide a contract that outlines your rights?
18. Do you get to keep the rights to every element of your site, including design and images?
19. How much do they charge for Web site maintenance?
20. Do they employ a solid back-up system? If so, do they keep back-ups offsite for added security?
21. Upon completion, will they provide you with all your files and passwords?

How To Create An Affordable Web Site For Your Online Business In Less Than 24 Hours

The purpose of this article is to recommend complete newbies to online business an affordable instant web site solution.

This solution will enable them to create an affordable web site quickly and easily, while taking time to acquire the necessary technical skills.

To have their own web site, they need three essential elements:

– A domain name

– A web host for that domain

– A web design software to create your web site.

Let me give you a brief comparison between starting a traditional and an online business.

** Domain Name **

Before anyone can start up a traditional business, they would brainstorm for a business name.

There’s absolutely no difference for an online business. On the Internet, a business name is represented by a domain name.

That’s the part that comes after the www in a web site address or after the “@” in an email address.

For example, if an email address is: [email protected], then your domain name reads as “domain dot com”

** Web Host **

After a name is given for a traditional businss, an office or shop space is needed so that customers can locate.

So, in the online world, once a domain name is gotten, a web host is needed to store an online business web site.

In other words, web hosting is the service that provides the space for a website to exist.

** Web Design Software **

Now, it’s time to look for an interior designer to do the office or shop layout so that the traditional business can operate most efficiently. Another option is to do it yourself.

Similarly, in an online business, a web designer is needed but that would cost hundreds or thousands of dollars. And how about the changes and updates in time to come? The alternative is for the Internet marketer to create their own web sites using some web design software according to their business needs.

** How Long Does A Complete Newbie Take? **

If someone is not yet familiar with computers and the Internet, it’s really not that simple to get started. Why I said so is because I personally came across many aspiring Internet marketers who really need help.

Even after attending Internet marketing seminars and back end coaching sessions by gurus that cost them an arm and a leg, they are still totally stumbled by the basics!

Somehow, they cannot get started to do the following:

– Register for a domain name

– Register for a web host

– Point their domain name to their web host (so that when someone types their domain name in their browser, it would take them to their web site)

– Create a web site

– Upload the completed web site to the Internet

As you can see, these are the stumbling blocks to many when starting their Internet marketing journey.

How long would you think a typical office worker who knows only MS Word, email and surfing the Net be able to muster enough courage and take action in order to get up to speed with that?

I’ve seen people taking three months to do that while there are people who are still at the starting blocks (or shall I say, stumbling blocks) after 6 to 9 months!

Isn’t that a pity?

** How To Create An Affordable Web Site In Less Than 24 Hours? **

I came across a solution that can help these people get started within 24 hours!

As long as they can type a letter or create a document in MS Word, they can start creating your own web site with their own domain name literally in minutes!

No, I’m not talking about outsourcing. Nor am I talking about buying web sites from eBay. (I know some newbies who did that but still, they don’t know what to do with the web sites they purchased.)

While they take their time to learn and take action on registering a domain name and web host, creating web sites using Frontpage, uploading the files using FTP, they can get started immediately with Affiliate marketing and AdSense Publishing!

Here’s the instant solution for them…

Have you ever heard of Global Domains International (GDI)? They are the guys who came up with the .ws domain. Their angle is that domain names is a HUGE thing and if you have missed the .com revolution, here’s your chance again with .ws.

For example, if “yourname dot com” is already taken up by someone else with the same name, they you still can register “yourname dot ws”

With a GDI account for just $10 per month, they can register for their “businessname dot ws” and their web site goes LIVE instantly.

Plus, the package comes with a web-based site builder software that they can use to create your web site within hours as long as they know how to use MS Word. Once the web site is completed, all they have to do is to push a button to publish to their web site painlessly.

Guess what?

Now, they can then insert the HTML codes obtained from the affiliate programs or Amazon or Google AdSense. And they have up to 10 web pages to paste that into.

Copyright 2006 Roger Loh