Frequently Asked Questions

Answers to some of the more common questions regarding GTP Designs' work. If you don't see the answer to your question here, don't hesitate to ask me directly.

How much do you charge for design work?

My standard billing rate for design work is $85/hour. This rate is applied to all work that is considered "forward progress" toward a finished product. In instances where I feel like I have spent time on a project that did not contribute to the final product, the client will not be charged for that time.

Why do you charge by the hour versus a fixed cost for designs?

Costs can vary greatly depending on the client and the type of project. Based on this, I have decided to charge an hourly rate for all work, rather than a fixed price for each service. I believe this is the most economically fair approach for both my clients and myself. It also allows me to accomodate a broader range of clients from those who need simple designs to those who need more complex and time-intensive designs and applications.

Can you work within a specified budget on a project?

Yes, if you have a specified budget to work with, I will try to accommodate any reasonable offers.

When will I be billed?

For projects spanning less than one month, an invoice will be mailed out upon completion of a project. Payment is due one month from the date of the invoice.

For projects spanning more than one month, monthly invoices will be sent out at the beginning of each month. Payment on each invoice is due one month from the date of the invoice.

All of my billing is handled by GTP Designs' partner company, New River Computing. All invoices will be sent from and payable to New River Computing.

How much would it cost for you to design a website for me?

This is probably the most common question I am asked by new clients. Unfortunately, it's also one of the most difficult to answer without a clear idea of exactly what the client wants and needs.

The cost of a website can range from a hundreds of dollars to millions of dollars, depending on the site and what it entails. Consider shopping for a website to be like shopping for a car. If someone were to walk up to a car dealer and ask, "how much does a car cost?" the car dealer would need to know what kind of car the person was looking to buy before he/she could start quoting relevant prices to the customer. In that same respect, before I can give an estimate on a how much a website is going to cost, I need to discuss with the potential client exactly what it is that they hope to achieve with the website.

How long does it take to design a website?

This another one of those questions that isn't easy to answer, as there are a lot of factors involved in designing, developing, and launching a website. Theoretically, a very rudimentary site could be designed, developed and launched in a day (I wouldn't recommend doing this, by the way), while a large and complex site could be in development for many months.

Typically, I deal with small to medium-scale sites, with turnaround time generally in the 1-3 month range.

What is a CMS, and do I need one?

A CMS (Content Management System) allows clients to add content to their websites without the need for any knowledge of HTML. A CMS is particularly valuable for clients who intend to routinely add new information to a website (or update existing information). Of course, the catch is that integrating a CMS into the development of site will increase the cost of the website, so it is important to weigh the cost of being able to update the site versus how likely the site is going to be updated routinely.

For clients with fairly static content and few updates, if is often more cost-effective to have a static site. This does not mean that the site can't be updated or changed, however. It simply means that the source files for that make up the website must be directly updated, which requires an understanding of the markup language used in the source file. In cases where clients only update a website a few times a year, it's generally more cost-effective for me to update the site for the client.

What CMS products do you use and why?

For CMS driven websites, I use ExpressionEngine. From the designer's perspective, I choose ExpressionEngine because it allows for easy customization and implementation and has a great track record when it comes to security. Unlike some of the open source CMS products available, ExpressionEngine is a commercial product. While it is not a free product, the security and support benefits of ExpressionEngine more than make the purchase price worthwhile.

From a client perspective, ExpressionEngine's control panel allows the interface for data-entry to be easily customized to make the content management process as user-friendly as possible.

In addition, to ExpressionEngine, I also use WordPress for blog-centered sites. While I don't find WordPress to be anywhere near as versatile as ExpressionEngine, the strength of WordPress exists in the fact that it is practically ready to use as soon as it's installed. WordPress is also a free product, so for clients on a tight budget who are simply looking for a blogging outlet, WordPress is often times an attractive option.

Do you offer web hosting?

GTP Designs does not directly offer web hosting. However, many of my clients host with my partner company New River Computing, which offers website hosting for $50/quarter ($200/year). This hosting fee includes maintenance and support for hosting related issues.

Can I host my website with another hosting provider?

Absolutely! You can host your website wherever you please. While a bulk of my clients are hosted through New River Computing, I have multiple clients who have sites hosted with various hosting providers.

I've seen other companies that offer to build me a website for $200. Why don't you do that?

The short answer is that you get what you pay for, but there's really more to it than that. Every site that I build is "hand-coded" and started from the ground up. I do not use templates that can result in what I consider to be "cookie cutter" websites. Often times, these mass-produced site designs are also a big mess when you start looking at the site's source files, which means that if you ever decide to modify or update your site, it is probably going to be an arduous task for the person who has to deal with the existing markup.

That being said, there is clearly a market for these kinds of "designs," and if a quick and easy, low-cost website is what somebody is looking for, a company that offers $200 sites might very well be a better choice, in those cases.

I am not in the market of mass-producing websites nor trying to make a quick buck off of repeatedly selling the same site design with a few minor aesthetic changes here and there. My target website clients are those who are looking for a custom-designed website built around their unique identity and needs.

Can I get an email addres setup with my website's domain name?

You sure can, but this is really more of a hosting issue than a design aspect. That being said, almost any reputable hosting provider out there will offer the option of email accounts with your hosting plan.

Can you provide photography services for my website or other design?

I offer basic photography services primarily for websites and marketing documents. Typically, the photography that I have done for clients has included product photography, shots of office, general landscape photography, and client portraits (both group and individual). If you need somebody to photograph your wedding or take your family portraits, I probably can't help you there.

Can you get my site ranked #1 on Google?

Hmm, that depends on what search term you want your site to be hitting the #1 spot for. If your site is offering something unique, or you are trying to target a specific area, there are ways to effectively make the site visible to potential search terms and phrases.

For example, if you were opening up an antique thimble store in the remote town of Probstville, and you were hoping to get your new site ranked #1 for the search string "Probstville antique thimbles," it's probably a safe bet that I could get you ranked very high on Google for that particular search string. However, if you just opened a new chain of toy stores and expect to claim a #1 ranking for organic searches on "toy store," you're going to be in for a disappointment.

My site just launched. Why isn't it showing up on Google and other search engines?

When your site first launches, it might take a while for Google (and other search engines) to index your pages. There are legitimate techniques and practices to help facilitate this process, but sometimes it might take some time before the pages on your site are indexed and appearing in Google searches.

How much does a logo cost?

Logo design is a little bit easier to give an estimate on than website, but there is still no magic price for a logo. Depending upon the complexity of the artwork involved and the time put it into the design, the cost of logos can vary dramatically.

Typically, most of the logos that I have worked on have fallen into the $250-$500 range.

What program do you use to design logos?

All the logos that I design are created in Adobe Illustrator (after sketching them out on pencil and paper). Final designs of logos are delivered in the following formats: .AI, .PDF, .EPS. Logos may be delivered in other formats at the request of the client.

I already have a sketch of my logo, can you convert it a vector-based digital format?

Absolutely. I can also offer suggestions and ideas on how to improve upon your sketched concept, should the need arise.

Can you create a sample logo for free, and then I'll decide if I want to pay for it or not?

Unfortunately, no. If I were to just throw something together for a client for sample purposes, I don't think it would appropriately reflect the final product, so I would likely end up spending the same amount of time on a "sample" that I would spend on a final product. I'm not saying that I've actually done this before, but I might have.

What is branding and why does my organization need a brand?

A brand is a recognizable visual (typically) representation of your company that communicates your organization's identity to its customers and shareholders, as well as the general public. An effective brand can enhance the perception and recognition of your organization and strengthen customer loyalty.

The marketing of your organization should be centered around your brand, so it is important that you have a strong, recognizable brand that effectively conveys the image and message of your organization and is appealing to your target audience.

My cousin created this logo for me in PhotoShop, can you incorporate it into my marketing documents?

I suppose that I could, but your logo should really be vector-based artwork, whereas PhotoShop is a raster-based program. By creating a logo in a vector-based format, the logo can be scaled to various sizes without any loss in image quality. Raster-based artwork will become pixelated if you try to increase the size of the artwork beyond its original maximum resolution.

Can you restore some of old photos that have suffered some wear and tear?

Yes, depending upon the condition of the photo to be restored. Some photos that are severely damaged might be beyond hope, as far as my photo restoration abilities go. Things that I can often effectively fix include tears, holes, discoloration, and minor wear and tear.

I usually can tell from the get-go whether or not I'm going to be able to significantly restore an old photo, so if you have photos that you are interested in having restored, contact me, and I'd be happy to take a look at them.

How long does it take to restore a photo?

The time it takes to restore a photo can vary based on the extent of damage to the photo, as well as where the damage appears on the photo. Things like scratches or holes in the background of image are generally quick fixes. Damage to the main subject of the photo can take more time, depending on the subject.

Photos that are extensively damaged might take several hours to restore, and depending upon the original image, the final result might not be worth the effort. I can assess a photo prior to working on and let the client know what to expect, beforehand.

I was just at a seminar on branding, and they gave us some great marketing document samples. Can you create something like these centered around my brand?

I sure can, but let's not try to copy the style of the samples you received. Instead, we can create a branding package customized to your needs.

How do you go about restoring a photo?

I start with a hi-res scan of the original photo. Then I follow a multiple-step process to digitally restore the photo back to as close to its original state as possible (or sometimes even improve upon the original state). The final product is then delivered as a digital image file.

Can you remove unwanted items from a photo?

Yes, most of the time I can do this quite effectively. It all depends on the position of the unwanted object, though. For example, if you want to get rid of somebody photo-bombing your shot in the background of a picture, that's typically an easy fix. However, if you want to remove an ex-girlfriend from a group shot of you and your friends, and your ex is in the middle of the group, that might prove to be a more difficult task.

Can you add elements to a photo?

Yes, I can add just about anything into a photo. The key to this being effective is going to be having similar source photos. If you want me to do a composite image of your boss' head on a donkey's body, it helps to have source images of similar image quality. If multiple source photos are of varying resolution, then the final image composition will be limited to the resolution of the source image with the lowest resolution

Do you offer printing services?

No, GTP Designs is not a print shop. However, I have local printers in the area that I work with in order to deliver high-quality printed documents and material directly to clients, who do not wish to coordinate printing services on their own.

Will I own the copyright of the designs that I hire you to create?

Yes, once a design has been paid for, you own the copyright. For work that has not been paid for, I retain the copyright. I will often request to display work that I have completed for clients in my portfolio for promotional purposes, except for cases in which the client requests that the work not be displayed.