KustomWeb.  We spin your web. Coding since 1982, weaving since 1996 KustomWeb Frequently Asked Questions
  1. Why do I want a custom-built website? Why not get a free site?
  2. What is a database and why would I need one?
  3. How will people find my site? Will it show up on Google?
  4. How much does it cost? What about changes and updates?
  5. What is expected of a quality webmaster and why is it so hard to find a good webmaster?
  6. My webmaster is just horrible!! Can kustomWeb take over?
  7. Can I manage my own site, and still use the webmaster services?
  8. How do I put my video on the web?
  9. I hate computers! Do you provide maintenance programs?
  10. How many email boxes do I get with my site? What about SPAM?
  11. What if I have to change something in the future?
  12. Do you design logos and graphics for the website?
  13. What do I need to get started? What can we add later?
  14. How do I sell on the web? Can I collect money from sales?
  15. What is hosting? Where do I buy a domain name?
  16. Do you do animations and intros?
  17. What languages and platforms do you use to write my website and database?
  18. My computer is infected with spyware and viruses. Help!!
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If you have any question related to websites, search engine performance, form processing, or database design, please contact kustomWeb.



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Frequently Given Answers


Why do I want a custom-built website? Why not get a free site?

A website reflects upon you, your company, your product, and for many people, it may be the only way people and customers have to communicate with you. It will also be the first visual impression you will make, more and more as the internet becomes a standard business tool.

Much like a business card, very much like a brochure, a site built to your specification, with a degree of expertise and attention to detail that web visitors insists upon, has a better chance of engaging the visitor, of starting a long and rewarding relationship. And because a customized website can adapt to your needs, to the visitor base it attracts, and to the new technological possibilities, it allows you to create a great web destination that will engage and evoke a response.

Free sites are great. They allow you try stuff, setup sites dedicated to families and hobbies. For example, many minor-league football teams use free sports-oriented template sites. They don't look so good, but they work, and when updated, convey the information needs of the club. So why would a club like the SoCal Steelers and a league like the SWFL request a custom site? Because they wanted services like an online news system, an online roster management tool, and they wanted to have the same stats as the NFL. When you get a free site, these things are simply not available.

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What is a database and why would I need one?

The simplest way to think of a database is to think of the phone book. The most basic of database, a phone book allows you to find people, first by location, and then alphabetically. The yellow pages is also a database, allowing you to find businesses by business types and alphabetically, and to find business types alphabetically. The yellow pages contains information that is similar to a regular phone book, but the organization of the book allows the customer to zero in on the business needed much faster.

A database in the computer world allows you to do 1) store information and 2) search and retrieve this information easily. A database of customers can be searched by any of the parameters stored, by name, by zip code, by area code, by street name, by anything. The resulting information can then be sorted alphabetically, numerically, by date, by job type, by position on the field, by anything that make sense to you. A well-designed database will allow you to create the reports you need, and make the information available to you and your visitors quickly.

Most of our customers do not need a database. A site for a gardener or a single product would not need a database.

A chef making his recipes available online needs a database, to manage and organize the recipes, and to make them available to visitors interested in printing them, or watching the online video cooking segment. A clothing designer with an ever expanding and ever changing line needs a database to manage the line, discontinue items, mark down for sales, and add specials. The website is updated automatically with every update.


How will people find my site? Will it show up on Google?

There are many ways for people to find your site. If your site is designed properly, Google and the other search engine companies will reward your site with a good ranking. Well-designed site incorporate the behind-the-scenes codes with the appropriate, well-linked, content. If the content is kept up-to-date, and the information provided is relevant, you will be rewarded.

It's a little bit like judging a sports competition. Everyone starts with a 10, and then the judges deduct points for missing critical elements. Google, Yahoo, and MSN all play this game, taking away a point here or there, until you reach your ultimate rank. Your webmaster must be know and understand, and especially follow the design guidelines spelled out by the search engine themselves.

A great deal depends on how much you and your website stand out from the crowd. The web rewards specialization, and a niche business has a much greater chance of being found, and appreciated. Additionally, the search engines increasingly present local information first, so that if you are searching in Atlanta for a Beauty Salon, you are first going to be presented with Salons in the Atlanta metro area, directories of Beauty Salons, and then well-designed Atlanta area websites that emphasize their location.

Well designed websites present relevant page with Title and Description full of keywords the visitors use to search the web. Such a site will also be part of the web, making relevant links available to visitors, and being a destination for other sites. Great links will make a website shine. Remember, visitors always eventually leave your site, you may as well influence where they go next.

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How much does it cost? What about changes and updates?

A custom website by kustomWeb runs about $100 per page, for a standard site. The site can start small, most run 5-7 pages, and then expand to include additional services such as a message board, or a shopping cart. One of our most successful aditional services is a Gift Certificate system.

A custom designed database also starts at $100 for each table used to store information. For example managing a list of newsletters subscribers would cost $100. If your needs, for example you want to manage different newsletters for different kinds of subscribers, that's when we sit down and hammer out exactly what you need to achieve your goal. The proposal will consist of a flat-fee quote, an agreed-upon scope, and a timeline with milestones for completion.

At kustomWeb, we do not charge you every time you need a detail updated or changed. We do charge a maintenance fee when, on a regular basis, we have to spend non-negligible amounts of time updating and maintaining the information on your website. This maintenance fee will reflect the amount of work needed.

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What is expected of a quality webmaster?
Why is it so hard to find a good webmaster?

A good webmaster will make sure that your needs are addressed quickly. There is nothing more frustrating than to have to wait for someone to do something, and then have to ask again, to make sure it got done. A good webmaster will update content, graphics, and databases in a timely manner, and give you updates in plain english. A good webmaster will provide you with web traffic analysis, and explain the data. A good webmaster will answer your calls and emails promptly, and will communicate in a pro-active manner, needed changes and improvements to the website. A good webmaster will keep up with changes in the industry, especially in the areas graphical design and of search engine optimization.

The number one reason given by our new customers for switching to kustomWeb is lack of communication by the webmaster. The second reason is lack of timely updates by the webmaster. The third reason, and often the last straw, is the way most webmasters charge for services. Why do webmasters have such a horrible reputation?

  • Being a good programmer does not make you a good businessman
  • Years spent collecting fat checks during the .com boom have spoiled many.
  • Nerds are not known for being socially adept. We are nerds too, of course, but we understand our short-comings, and so we have learned to communicate, politely and professionally.
  • Implementing someone's vision may require programming, graphic design, and many hours of not-so-exciting work; most webmasters are limited in skills, and will start with techno-babble as soon as they are challenged to do work above and beyond.
  • Many webmasters "grew up" in a corporate environment, making websites for friends on the side. This corporate attitude results in fuzzy communication so that the boss doesn't get mad, charging by the hour for the smallest change. Economic survival becomes a game of "Job Security", and everything is done with the idea of the fat checks goose keeping on laying eggs. It (used to) work in corporations, and it never will for small businesses. It's offensive, really.
  • Anyone can start a website, that's the fun part. It's a lot more like work when it comes to maintaining the site.
  • Webmasters are often excellent designers, or programmers, rarely both. Be very careful of the super creative type, who designs a beautiful, and useless site. Most webmasters do not spend enough time listening to their client, and do not create a site truly reflective of the customer's needs.
  • Any webmaster who suggests a 100% Flash site for a business should be flogged. Flash is great, but it must be used with care.

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My webmaster is just horrible!! Can kustomWeb take over?

Yes. In fact, sadly, we hear this all the time. And sometimes the webmaster isn't so horrible, just innattentive, slow to react. We will guide you through the process of shedding your current webmaster, and migrating to your new account. You will have full control over email, content, ftp, everything! And you will enjoy the benefits of working with a company dedicated to the web, with web log analysis, great customer service, and expertise in the full spectrum of web technologies, from database to interface.



Can I manage my own site, and still use the webmaster services?

Yes, you can manage your own site, at different levels, depending on how involved you want to be. At all times, kustomWeb remains the webmaster, and we are responsible for supporting you in all you do on the web.

Some customers want complete, 100% control, and only need support with big changes to the structure of the website itself. Some are not interested in the website in that manner, and will send us information by mail, fax, and email, so that we can update their site for them, and they trust that it will be done in a timely manner. Most customers desire, and obtain, a little control and a little support, maintaining their databases themselves, and yet relying on the webmaster for new pages, managing videos, etc...

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How do I put my video on the web? How will it look?

In 2003, it was animations. In 2004, it was a soundtrack. For 2005, we predict that the trend of having a video in your website will only increase.

To put a video on the web, a few things have to take place. The video must be transferred to a digital format, then re-formatted for the web. Because of the web's ability to stream videos for different audiences, we recommend at least two versions, one for modems and one for broadband. To give you an idea of size, we have found that a broadband video with stereo sound runs about 1 Mbyte per minute of video. The size of the video affects three things, 1) storage, 2) upload time, and 3) bandwidth use. Thanks to the streaming, download speed is not affected by the size of the video.

The quality of web video is actually pretty good. At 320 pixels by 200 pixels wide, the video can become an integral part of a well designed web page. Unless you decide to have a broadband-only site, which exist, you will, at minimum, need to format everything for the modem crowd. The sound is also very good, so performances, interviews, and presentations translate very well to the web.



I hate computers! Do you provide maintenance programs?

Many customers of kustomWeb are new computer users and people who have little love for computers. We'll listen, and we'll help.

Depending on your needs, we can craft a maintenance program that fits your needs. We work weekends, often until midnight or later. If it's a small change to the website, don't even worry about it, just tell us what needs doing, and it'll get done. Regular tasks, like keeping a store current, running a news and stats summary, or sending reports to company managers, will require a monthly maintenance program, based the time necessary to address these tasks.

A lot of of our accounts are self-maintained by the owner.

The database interfaces are designed to be easy-to-use, and easily taught to others. We use simple technologies to admin, and we show off when it comes to time to displaying it on the web.

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How many email boxes do I get with my site? What about SPAM?

You get up to 10 email mailboxes with each website. Additionally, you get unlimited number of forwards, such as sales@domain.com. Emails sent to these addresses are forwarded to your existing email box, such as bob.smith@isp.com.

kustomWeb does not like spam, nor spammers. If you plan to spam, don't come to kustomWeb.

Email addresses and other demographics are very important to many of our customers. We design single-purpose forms for your visitors, with questions, options, and choices designed by you. The data from these forms are sent to you, and stored in a database for reporting. Because your visitors have requested your contact, emails sent to this list are not considered spam.

There are a couple of good email sending services available. Depending on the scale of your mailings, and the complexity of your emails, you can use these services to send email campaigns, track responses, and report on bounced emails (bad email addresses).



What if I have to change something in the future?

Simply put, if your request takes a couple seconds to implement, just tell us what you need done, and it's done. No charge, no bs.

If you have to change entire pages, add pages, maybe change some functionality to your database, let's talk about it. Let's discuss what it will take to get the changes done, and then you will receive a flat-fee quote from kustomWeb on the new work.

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Do you design logos and graphics for the website?

Many small businesses do not have ready-made graphics ready to go into a website. Many new businesses do not have a logo nor any branding of any kind. As part of a standard website, we will create all the support graphics you need. We will scan old pictures, and adapt old logos, whatever is needed to get the website and your message online. If you do not have a logo, we will create a simple one to get you started, give you a professional look until you can invest in more advanced graphic design for your brand.

If you need a logo, beyond the website, for your business cards, letterheads, and maybe a magnet for your vehicle, we do design custom logos, with color and black-and-white version when appropriate. We also create business cards, and letterhead for many of our web clients.

Your company's website, more than anything else, represents you to the outside world. The kind of graphic designs we propose match your product, your concept, and your vision. We will advise you on critical graphic elements, on the optimum positioning of contact information.

Of great importance is the color scheme, and the overall theme of the website. Decisions made here will extend to your brochure, and all printed materials. The color scheme can provide a response from your visitors at an instinctive level, for example red-on-white evokes an expectation of a medical or rescue product. A more subdued blue tones on white may be more appropriate for a corporate look.



What do I need to start? What can we add later?

To get started, you will need the following:

  • A reason for having a website
  • Time for a meeting to define the website, define your needs and expectations, and give us a chance to understand you better

We will meet, and will create a plan for you to generate content. In addition to the standard contact information, we typically need content for the homepage, for the About page, and any product or concept you may have.

Everything kustomWeb produces for the web is modular in design. We expect you to grow your website, to adapt it to changing market forces, and to provide more, better-targeted products for your visitors. It all starts with a standard information-oriented website. Once this website is created to the point where you are well-represented online, we can plan and implement such things as:

  • Shopping Cart
  • Forms and Questionaires
  • Gift Certificates
  • News System
  • Adding videos, animations, or slide shows.
  • Message Board

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How do I sell on the web? Can I collect money from sales?

Selling on the web is available to anyone. Whether you have a single product, or a whole range of products, we mold our proven inventory management tool to your product line. We use Mal's eCommerce technology, which is fast and secure, and easy to brand to match your website. There are multiple ways to charge for your product, for shipping, taxes, and payment options.

For beginners, the easiest way to begin collecting money on the web is to have a Paypal account. Now owned by eBay, Paypal provides a secure way to exchange money via the internet. The ownership and use of Paypal by eBay is not negligible, as many websites link to occasional auctions online, a nice way to introduce the site and its products to a wide audience.

As your business and your customers become more sophisticated, the shopping cart will allow you to process purchase orders, accept checks via fax, and, of course, process credit card numbers automatically. If you already have a merchant account, you will be able to process the credit cards either manually, or setup an automatic process, including subscription and renewals.

kustomWeb has developed an exclusive Gift Certificate System. The system has been a great source of revenue for its users. Administration is simple, and security is achieved with unique numbers and our secure shopping cart interface. The majority of the purchases on this system has been for family members buying for distant relatives, or as a simple demonstration of love.

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What is hosting? Where do I buy a domain name?

Websites live on computers, called servers. A hosting company provides its customers with top of the line servers, backup power supplies, expert nerds on premises to address any problem. A good hosting company will have been in business since at least 2000, they will readily and promptly answer support email requests. They will communicate in plain english. For kustomWeb.com and our customers, we currently use two hosting companies: hostgator.com and pair.com, and we will use hostgator.com for all new customers. For websites with more advanced needs, such as spell checking for example, we match you with an excellent and reliable hosting company.

Right now, we suggest that you purchase the domain name through www.godaddy.com. They have good prices, and good customer support. The admin is also straightforward.

Always buy your own domain name. Don't let your webmaster buy it for you. Too many times, a disgruntled webmaster will hold the domain name hostage. It happens. So, you buy the domain name, and then you let the webmaster administer it. With this control, you or your business can never be held hostage.

For a lot of websites, buying more than one domain name. The main reason is brand protection. The second reason is the possible variations on the spelling or pronunciation of your domain or business name. People will purchase a good name from under you, and then hold it for ransom. It happens. So, if you just bought help4u.com, do yourself a favor and buy helpforyou.com as well, if it's available. For example, we own kustomWeb.com, and kustomWeb.net, just in case.

A great place to find available domain names is www.register.com. Their prices are very high, but they have an excellent name suggestion system. Look there, and buy from godaddy.com.

Note: your domain name does not need to be the same as your business. You may want to consider a related name that matches your business itself, and is simpler to type for the web. For example, Empire Document Imaging Systems, a legal documentation copy services company, is using www.quick-records.com as its domain name. Keep it simple if possible.

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Do you do animations and intros?

Yes, we have created and animated many ads and intros for websites. Our intros are always part of the homepage, for fast loading. Our ads use a mix of timing, sizing, and color schemes to achieve the impact you seek.

Beware of 100% Flash sites. They cost a ton, they load slowly, they navigate slowly, and they are not search engine friendly. Beware of long intros, they have been proven to be a major turn-off. Use Flash wisely, and it can work, abuse it, and your website will not be seen.

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What languages and platforms do you use to write my website and database?

To accomodate as many browsers and computer systems as possible, we try and keep our interfaces simple, and thrust most of the functionality unto the servers. We understand that the best solution for you is the system you and your staff is most familiar with, but for all new projects, we encourage customers to use open source software whenever possible, as security patches, support, and overall quality are often the highest and the most timely.

To display information, we use html and flash, or very often these days, a combination of both. To make dynamic pages, we'll use javascript or ActionScript, as well as creative links. To manipulate information and process submissions, we use php, and sometimes asp. Many solutions involve a mixture of all of the above, with html, Flash, ActionScript, javascript, and php, all interacting together to achieve the visual and processing goals of the website. For a good example, please visit www.casinoreservations.com.

For databases, we prefer and recommend mySQL, but any flavor of SQL is fine, such as SQL Server, PostGresSQL, or Sybase.

The simplest interfaces hide some of our most complex solutions. A gallery in Brentwood, Leslie Sacks Fine Arts, uses a combination of visual basic scripts, javascript, frames, and html pages to display around 1,000 pages, all automatically generated from a third-party art database processed through templates via custom scripts.

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My computer is infected with spyware and viruses. Help!!

The web is a dangerous place. Microsoft Windows and Outlook Express are both very convenient and very poorly secured, opening the door for all kinds of uninvited guests and infestations. We have used the following free products to clean and protect many systems. kustomWeb is not affiliated in any way with the companies below. The great things about all three products are the complimentary way in which they protect you, the fact that they are free, the fact that they update themselves at no cost, the fact that they don't cost much to purchase, and most important, the way all three companies offer a pro version without begging all the time. Please follow the instructions below in the given sequence to be effective.

  1. Download and install the free firewall ZoneAlarm. If you wish, upgrade to the pro version, but you don't have to. A firewall acts like a bouncer at a club, attitude and everything. Be strict, and when in doubt, deny access, both into and out of your machine. You can always change your mind later, so err on the side of Denial.
  2. Download and install the free anti-virus system AVG. If you wish, upgrade to the pro version, but you don't have to. AVG will check everything coming in to your computer, and will update itself automatically, at no cost. Run a full scan, which may take a while. Be super-suspicious of all emails.
  3. Download and install the free anti-spyware system Ad-Aware SE. If you wish, upgrade to the pro version, but you don't have to. Ad-Aware will identify and kill all forms of spyware and trackware. Run a full scan, which will take a long time, and then I recommend running it again after a reboot, just in case. Ad-Aware should be run regularly, and will update itself for free. Be super suspicious of all offers to download anything from a website you did not specifically ask for. Particularly vicious are products embedded in other products, but they will ask for your permission, so say NO everytime.
  4. Don't feel bad. It happens.