Website Design and Development Frequently Asked Questions

Web design and development can be a complicated process. From buying a domain to launching a website with a compelling design consistent with your brand story, there are numerous steps involved in building a successful website. Discover answers to all of your website design and development questions in our handy FAQ guide.

Understanding the Foundations of Web Design and Development

How long does it take to design a new website?

This depends on a number of factors such as how many template designs you’ll have if you need custom functionality and the number of revisions during the design process. As a good rule of thumb, we usually estimate around 60 hours for design.

How long does it take to develop a new website?

Websites that have a few basic templates will be quicker to develop than those which have custom apps. For basic websites, we usually estimate around 150 hours for just the development process.

How much does a website cost?

There’s a big difference between a website built specifically for you and a template-based product. Here at Blue Compass, we do custom development. That means your website will be uniquely yours, not a reskinned version of a template. We build the custom functionality you need so your website works exactly as you’d like, but this takes time. Ultimately, it comes down to how much custom development you’ll need and how you choose to designate the work across your team and ours.

What is frontend website development?

Frontend website development is focused on what people see when they visit your website developing the user interface and bringing the design to life. Frontend developers take the design, then build it on the website and make it interactive.

What is backend website development?

Backend website development is focused on the server side of the website. Backend developers handle the behind-the-scenes of a website such as a database, custom app functionality and more. Basically, all the information you present and collect needs to be kept somewhere so the website can recall the data it needs to function. Backend developers set up processes to connect the data from the storage to the design

What is website hosting?

A web hosting service provider is a company which houses your website on their servers. This is different than purchasing a domain or building a website; this is simply where the website lives once those other two steps are complete. If you’ve ever experienced a website crash, it was most likely because their hosting wasn’t set up to handle the volume of traffic. At Blue Compass, we host websites through Amazon Web Services for the security it provides, the consistently maintained servers and the capabilities of the platform that allows us to scale as needed for a variety of client needs. We would be happy to create a quote for your unique needs.

How much does hosting cost?

This depends on who you choose as your hosting company. At Blue Compass, hosting typically starts at $100 per month, which includes top-of-the-line servers, security and monthly server maintenance. For additional requirements, the cost of hosting may vary.

You’ll find that hosting costs can range dramatically depending upon the level of support you receive.

How do I purchase a domain name?

Domain names can be purchased at any domain registrar. We recommend Google Domains or GoDaddy to purchase a domain. The cost is around $15 a year for a domain.

How do I know if my password is secure?

With all the recent news of security breaches, it’s more important than ever to have a secure password. Did you follow the instructions to have one number, letter and special character but you’re still feeling unsure about your password strength? Test it out.

How do I clear my cache?

Chrome

Go into your settings and select “clear browsing data.” Make sure you check the box next to “clear cached images and files.”

Edge

Click on the “hub icon,” and select the “history icon.” Click the link labeled “clear all history,” and select “cached images and files” before clicking the “clear button.”

Firefox

Choose “Preferences” from the menu button, and select the “privacy & security” panel. In the “cached web content” section, click “clear now.”

Safari

Go into your preferences, and select the “privacy” tab. Select the “remove all website data” button to clear your cache.

Other

Most browsers will house the option to clear your cache in the security or privacy section of the browser.

Web Development Questions for the Non-Developer

What is a content management system (CMS)?

CMS stands for content management system, which is a platform used to manage your website without having to directly interface with code. Most content management systems have a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to make adding content, images and videos easy.

What CMS should I use for my website?

Whenever possible, we recommend choosing a custom CMS for your website. It’s important you pick a CMS which has features such as SEO capabilities, easy page creation, file manager and more. Our custom CMS handles all of that, plus with our custom development process, we can add editors for any type of custom functionality we build.

Many websites use WordPress, which is a good option if you have a smaller budget, but it does have its drawbacks. WordPress is built on plugins, so to add more functionality to your website, you add a new plugin. The problem is anyone can develop a plugin, which means they may have bugs, security flaws or SEO errors which you do not have control over.

What is a robots.txt file?

A robots.txt file is a place on your website where you can indicate to search engines pages, resources or code you would like them to exclude when crawling your website. Every website should have a basic robots.txt file, even if there are not specific resources to exclude. The standard robots.txt looks like this:

User-agent: *
Allow: /
Disallow:
Sitemap: https://www.website.com/sitemap.xml

Not all websites will have exclusions, but some common inclusions include login pages to e-commerce shopping carts or pages which are for internal use only.

What is a sitemap and do I need one?

Yes, like robots.txt, every website needs a sitemap. A sitemap is a file which contains all of the pages on your website. Google and other search engines use this information as a starting point to crawl your website. Once you get a sitemap on your website, don’t forget to submit it to Google via Google Search Console.

What is an SSL Certificate and do I need one?

An SSL certificate encrypts information sent between a browser and a web server for a secure online experience. When you visit a website that has a padlock in the address bar followed by https, this means the website has an authenticated SSL certificate.


All websites should be secured with an SSL certificate. Not only does it add a layer of security, but it assures users that the website is safe. As of July 2018, Google began marking websites with an SSL certificate as non-secure and warning users about the connection before sending them to the website.

What does mobile-friendly mean?

In short, mobile-friendly refers to a website which is optimized to use on mobile devices. There are a number of criteria which make a website mobile friendly, such as the size of tap targets (buttons), the space between clickable elements and more. If you would like to test your website, check out the Google Mobile-Friendly test.

Does a website need to be mobile-friendly?

Yes, all websites should be mobile friendly. All websites we develop are responsive to work across the spectrum of devices. Mobile devices are taking over, and websites which are not built to work on phones will lead to higher bounce rates and fewer conversions. In addition, Google is now using a mobile-first index, meaning they index the mobile version of your website and give a boost to websites which are mobile friendly.

Does site speed matter?

Considering that 53% of mobile site visits leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load, website speed is incredibly important. Not to mention, it’s now a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm. You can test your website load time on Pingdom or Google PageSpeed Insights to see how quickly your page is loading. If your website is taking 5+ seconds to load, it’s time to see what you can do to optimize your website speed. To start, check out our question about compressing images. Reach out if you want to know what else you can do!

How should I order my heading tags?

Heading tags are essential to include because they help search engines, users and assistive technologies understand the hierarchy of content on a page. Always begin your page with the most important headline as the h1. For subheadings below the h1, always use an h2. Content should never jump from an h1 to an h3 or an h2 to an h4, they should always proceed in order.

How many pages should I have on my website?

How much information do you have to share with your audience? This should always drive the number of pages. We recommend creating as many high-quality pages as you need to tell your story. If you start adding pages that don’t add value to your website, this will confuse your audience and could potentially reduce the SEO value of your

What You Need to Know About Web Design & Images

What is responsive web design?

Responsive web design is the process of designing a website which will fit all screen sizes. This is so important in the mobile-first era, where Google now indexes the mobile version of a website. Here at Blue Compass, we are a mobile-first agency. We start with the mobile design and then transform that to fit tablet and desktop.

What tools do you use for web design?

Our designers work in Photoshop and InDesign to put together awesome designs for our clients.

How do I resize images?

Resizing images is one of the most effective ways to improve website speed. We recommend images be less than 100KB. If you find oversized images on your website, you should compress them to reduce the file size. Image compression does not change the dimensions of the image but instead scales down the quality. Images for web do not need to be the same quality as print images, so the result of this compression should be quite minimal on your photo quality.

Two great tools for image compression include:

Where do I get photos for my website?

Authentic photos of your team and your business are the best options, because we know these perform better organically and on social. They don’t have to be professional, perfect pictures. We recommend pulling out your phone and simply snapping some photos of your team at work. People want to look at real photos and can spot stock photos from a mile away.

That being said, if you don’t have the capabilities to take photos of your team, then stock photos are a good option. It’s better to have stock photos break up your content than no photos at all.

Analytics Basics for Your Website

What is spam traffic?

Spam traffic, sometimes called “ghost traffic”, refers to website hits from bots that look like users in your analytics platform. This fake traffic information shows up in Analytics, despite no actual users visiting the site.

How do I get rid of spam traffic in analytics?

When setting up new Analytics accounts, always create a “clean” view to filter out this type of traffic. In “view settings”, you can choose to exclude traffic from all known bots.

We also recommend including a Valid Hostname filter to include only traffic to your domain. However, this will not work if your site is using subdomains. If you are still having problems with spam, we recommend analyzing your Analytics data to identify additional spam traffic and using filters to exclude this traffic from your clean analytics view.

Do I need to filter IP addresses out of my analytics?

We recommend filtering the IP address of your business and other partners you work with, such as a marketing agency, that may spend a significant amount of time on your website. It’s necessary to exclude these IP addresses to get a true understanding of how users are interacting with your website. You don’t want data from your employees to skew your website results and future marketing decisions.

Wow Your Website Visitors with Blue Compass

Ready for a new website that takes your brand to the next level? We’re here to help! Contact Blue Compass today to find out how to get moving.