Monday, February 11, 2008

Network Solutions - What you get (and what you don't) with DIFM Standard Design Services

First of all, I'll start by saying that I've only been working at NetSol since September (check the archives). I am not an expert on everything at NetSol, nor do I claim to be with customers or potential customers. If you need help with any of our packages other than the Do-It-For-Me Standard Design Package, please go to networksolutions.com for the appropriate information.

And that's another thing... a lot of NetSol customers get to us by word of mouth rather than viewing our website and seeing what we have to offer. This can cause problems, as people who come to us as referrals tend to not read what's on the website, and even then some of the wording has come up rather poor for the DIFM Standard Design packages that are available. As I said before, I'd like to clarify what's included in the Network Solutions Do-It-For-Me Standard Design packages. As a web designer in this department, I will share as much information as I can. Let's get started with what our Standard Design packages are and what you, as a NetSol customer, can do with them.

A.: First we have the "DIFM Standard Design with Hosting" package. This package is for those who are 1.) new to Network Solutions (or having a website period) and have not purchased a web hosting package with us, or 2.) Have an existing website but want something that they can manage without knowing how to use HTML/CSS/etc., and don't mind having the existing website "recreated" through Network Solutions' ImageCafe application. This package not only costs $499.00, but it comes with a required monthly fee of $11.95 for web hosting.

B.: Second, we have the "DIFM Standard Design Only". This is a package for those who 1.) Already have web hosting with Network Solutions and have decided to have their website designed by our team, or 2.) Already have web hosting at some other hosting company, but would like to use our Design services. Web hosting does not come included with this package. If you make the mistake of purchasing this package and you do not yet have hosting, you can log into your Network Solutions account manager and purchase the appropriate web hosting from there. Or call our sales team, and they will happily assist you. The Design Only package costs $499.00, with no extra fee for hosting.

Both packages come with a default 5 pages. If you want more web pages than that for your website, you can purchase additional pages for $60.00 per page, or purchase an additional 5 pages for $200.00 altogether.

Here's what you can have with either package:

1. You can choose from a multitude of templates for your website's design. This does not mean that you're stuck with what you see on our samples website. In DIFM Standard Design Services, we customize your template to suit your needs... to an extent. Please note that there are limits to what can be done, as we work with existing layouts that are created for STATIC websites. By static, I mean the website will have to be updated manually every time there needs to be a change.

2. We do offer Flash animation with our DIFM Standard Design packages. HOWEVER, the animation is usually limited to simple text or image effects and image slideshows. Flash animations are also restricted to the content area of the website template (where you insert your website's text/images/videos/etc.). What can and will be done for the customer is at the discretion of the designer.

3. You can sell products through Network Solutions' DIFM Standard Design packages. During the design process, you will be limited to roughly 10-15 products per page, and you can only sell your products using PayPal. If you're looking for a package that offers you more by means of E-commerce, I suggest that you look to our E-Commerce packages.

Now, here's the bad news – What DIFM Standard Design does not include:

1. We DO NOT create Flash-only websites. As stated above, web designers in the Do-It-For-Me Standard Design teams only design websites that are to be maintained using Network Solutions' proprietary website editing application, ImageCafe. If a salesperson told you that you can have a Flash-based website, you've been misinformed.

2. Even though we do simple Flash effects, we do not do custom Flash website banners unless they are to be added to the content area. Please see above for what we usually do for customers concerning Flash animation.

3. Both "with Hosting" and "Design Only" packages come with only ONE round of revisions. There is no doing it over and over until it gets done right. There is only once chance for proofreading and changing any or all design elements within a Standard website. After that, the website will publish to your web hosting, and you will need to purchase modification time.

3. DIFM Standard Design websites cannot be integrated with other web applications or custom server-side programs (like a shopping cart system or lovey-dovey match-maker website complete with user registration and login functions). As stated above, the websites we create consist of static web pages that can only be used with ImageCafe. If you're looking for database functionality and dynamically-updated user content, the Standard Design packages are not for you. Our DIFM Premium Design service can be used to create a design for an already installed and configured web application. Note: Premium Design services cannot be used for the design of weblogs, such as WordPress, Movable Type, or Blogger. None of Network Solutions' design teams design blogs.

4. We do not add any more than 20-30 products to a DIFM Standard Design website. That is about as many products a designer in the Standard team will add to a website during the design process. This is because a.) The entire process is supposed to take 3 weeks, with the second week designated for the web designer to complete the overall look of the website and add content that you send to him/her, and b.) as stated above, your products are limited to about 10-15 items per page. Purchasing additional pages during the design process for the sake of adding more products will cost you more in the end, and c.) It is difficult to maintain a manually updated web store through ImageCafe. If you have more than 30 products to sell at any given time, you should look into E-Commerce.

5. Blog functionality is not included with either DIFM Standard Design with Hosting or DIFM Standard Design Only packages, nor is other type of application. It just isn't. ImageCafe overwrites all files that you upload to your web hosting. According to a recent update in ImageCafe, it should now be possible to publish ImageCafe-created websites without it deleting everything else on the web hosting package. However, you are warned of this possibility while working within ImageCafe. If you want to be able to add custom pages that are not created in ImageCafe, you are advised to find some other way to maintain your web pages (i.e., Dreamweaver, Expressions Web, etc.).

6. If you purchase the Standard Design Only package for the sake of creating a website that is to be hosted elsewhere, Network Solutions requires a "take-away" fee of $25 per page. So if you have a regular 5-page website created by our team, and you'd like to host it someplace like GoDaddy, then the price for doing so would be $125.00. The reason for this is because if the website is to be hosted by Network Solutions, we own the website. It was created for use in ImageCafe, which was created and is owned by NetSol. If you purchase the take-away, then a designer will clean the website of all of ImageCafe's proprietary code, package the website into a zip file, and email it to you. What you do with the website at that point is up to you. And that leads to another thing we don't do...

7. We do not do file transfers to or from ANY web hosting provider. You must transfer your own website files to your NetSol/GoDaddy/Earthlink/etc. web hosting or have someone who is more web-savvy to assist you in file transferring.

8. Concerning the submission of web content to the designers – web designers in the DIFM Standard design team WILL MOVE ON in the design process without your content. During the first week of the website design process, the client must put together all content that is to be included in the website prior to being published. It is recommended that all web content be sent via emails no larger than 5 megabytes so that the emails will be received by our servers. We do allow for content to be sent via fax or postal mail, but keep in mind that once you agree to the "Web Asset Submission" deadline, you must meet that deadline, or else the designer will design a site that has no content. If you communicate with your designer during the final week of the design process and send him/her the missing content, he/she will then add that content to the website along with any aesthetic changes needed prior to the website going live to the internet.

If you have a dire situation in which you cannot submit anything on time (i.e. tragedy in the family, emergency surgery, or emergency business trip), please notify your web designer as soon as possible. Once the designer is aware of your situation, he/she will hold your project for a maximum of 60 days. Any time after that, your website project will be deleted. Let your designer know when you'll be able to resume the project before the 60 days are over. If you start your website design project 7 days before, say, leaving the country for a vacation or business trip, please reschedule your web design consultation for a later date if it hasn't already been done. Once we conduct the design consultation, that is the start of the design project, and as said, we will move on without assets being submitted to us. DO NOT start your website design project in the mist of you not being available for communications. You may appoint a trusted person to take care of the website project in your stead.

9. There are some third-party solutions to overcome the limitations within ImageCafe, such as more complex web forms. We can configure web forms that are provided by services such as Bravenet.com or JotForm.com. However, we do not handle support for third-party solutions. For example, if you consent for your company's online job application form to be created using Bravenet's web form services, you must go to Bravenet.com for help on issues concerning web forms.

10. DIFM Standard Design websites are created to be compatible with Internet Explorer 6 or later, or Mozilla Firefox 2.0 or later. We try to make sure we code our websites to be valid with today's web standards, but we do not test our sites in any other web browsers besides the aforementioned.

11. Post-Publish Changes: Once your website has been published to your web hosting, any emails sent to DIFM will be sent to a closed project activity, and no one will read it. Do not try to contact the designer of your website if you need additional changes. Instead, contact our Modifications team to request more changes to your website. Once your round of revisions is complete, the website will publish, and the website design project will be considered complete. If you manage to "break" the code that holds your website's design together, don't call and ask for your website's original designer. All design requests that are post-publish must go to Modifications. If you decide to change design elements within your website yourself, then that is your choice. We are not obligated to fix it for you for free if you delete something by mistake. Be careful when editing your ImageCafe-created website.

Last, but not least...

DIFM DESIGN SERVICES DOES NOT PROVIDE TECH SUPPORT FOR ANY APPLICATIONS. If you are having technical trouble (not design/content trouble) with ImageCafe, you should ask for tech support, not someone in design services. If you have trouble setting up mailboxes, you must ask for tech support. If you have trouble reaching your new website via a link within your email, you should ask for tech support first. If you're having issues with your website's domain(s), contact tech support. If you have a question concerning the billing of your website, do not ask to speak with someone in Design Services. You should speak to someone in sales instead. If you want to know your FTP account information, contact someone in hosting, not DIFM Design Services. Please make sure you assess your issue(s) properly so that you will know where to direct your support call.

That's about it for now. The most important thing to all of this is to READ THE INFO ON NETWORKSOLUTIONS.COM. If you have questions concerning something that you can't find on the website, call the sales team. It is important that you know what you're about to or already have purchased. Do not purchase DIFM Standard Design just because it's the cheapest package. You'll get what you pay for and then some, but you'll more than likely not get everything you WANT with it. Do your homework first!

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Monday, October 29, 2007

So far, it's good

I've been on the job for about a month now. Things can get pretty busy around here, and because of it, I had to find a good pace I could work at. Not only do I do web design, I do design-related support over the phone. Sometimes it's not design, but more software/account/internet-related.

One lady thought something was wrong with her web site no updating when it was really her browser loading a previously saved version of her site. She told me that telling her these things is what we get paid for...No, it's not, but it doesn't take much time to tell someone to ctrl+F5 when trying to reload their website in a browser. It is not my job to tell someone how to use the internet.

I have a rant, but I want to save it for when I can better word it (as if, lol). It will be called "The Do's/Don'ts at Network Solutions". Even though the most important stuff is described at Network Solutions already, some people either skim through it or have more questions about specifics that aren't explained on the site. As I am new here at Network Solutions I don't know much, so I'll be updating that Do/Don't list as time goes on.

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Thursday, September 20, 2007

At work, lots of perks and no jerks

I'm enjoying myself at Network Solutions so far. It's only my first week, but I already like this place a lot. The culture is very friendly here, and this NetSol location is rapidly growing. From what I hear, it's mostly guys here, but the group of new hires that I'm in has only one guy. Not that he's complaining. :P

I've been hired as a designer for the Standard web design team. Basically I work on a lot of web sites for individuals or small to mid-sized businesses. The usual turnout rate for a standard package is only a couple of days. All the code is handled without my need to touch it unless there's some customization requested by the client. This is good, as it should help me concentrate more on the actual layout design. Hello, Adobe.

One of the new hires hinted me to www.sxc.hu, which is a free resource for stock photography. People can share their photos and others can download what they need. At least I won't have to come out of pocket for great photos to use whether for myself or for someone else.

Time to go. My lunch break is over, so it's back to training. Can you believe I actually have a final exam? D:

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Friday, September 14, 2007

Job get! *Da na na naaaaaaa!*

I've been hired by Network Solutions as a web designer. The interview went very well yesterday. The lady who interviewed me told me she'd get back to me in a few days, but she called back today with the salary offer and other documents I needed to fill out. Sweet! No more credit card debt, I can buy a new car, and I can save up to buy or rent a place of my own...life is good right now. ^__^

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