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Q. How much does it cost?

A. Usually about twice as much as you think. Actually, its a hard call. With web development your price point starts at zero (Uncle Bernie or your niece doing it for free) and ends perhaps in seven figures. So its all over the board. You can create a complex site with an elaborate database and automated control with uber-secure e-commerce and verification capabilities or you may have a site that is essentially linked HTML with a few graphics and a PayPal account for the item your selling. Some people charge by the hour, others by the page or project. But how do you for instance, differentiate between the quality of design and functionality? Do you use a piece of stock art that is most likely recognized as such or do you commission custom graphics or photography? In general, all the people in this field who have been doing it awhile probably command prices in the same arena. The neubies can be anywhere. You must also decide if you want an end-to-end solution where one company does all or split it up between designer, coder, or even a project manager.

Several industries have a saying that goes something like this (I'll use the boat and aircraft industries); "You can have quality, speed of construction, or cost". Pick any two. Now, you may have a series of providers argue that, but in experience it rings true.

Animation, print and interactive projects work in the same vain. In regards to interactive multimedia on a CD-ROM, DVD or computer based, it can be simply a slide-show with linked graphics or Flash animations or perhaps something that involves artificial intelligence and links to a central server over the web. These projects run from several hundred to the six figure range. Its just like artwork, furniture, cars, and surgery. It depends where you want to be. If you can provide a sample, we can give you a range. Since we have done many projects we can show you work and give you an idea.

You finally need to figure in the "Hoopla" factor. We once had a client who was spending more a month on a branding, advertising, and graphics firm than people spend on a house in rural Maine. They ended up with a double-page spread with a white arrow on a black page and not even a phone number. You need to decide if you're paying for people who are "digging the ditch" or the people thinking about where to look for the store that sells the shovels.

Q. What software do you use?

A. This question usually comes from students who are looking at the site. To answer them, I'd say choose any of the big three (or five) 3D packages and get good at it. You must at least learn Adobe After Effects or Discreet Logic Combustion if you're going to be an animator. If you are one of the multitude of "web designers" then you need to know Macromedia Flash, Adobe PhotoShop, and an illustration package inside-out. You should also know how to put a page together beyond a WYSIWYG editor.

We have literally hundreds of programs collected over the years. There were so many boxes and manuals around that they were probably recylced into a building. (And if you don't have boxes, manuals, or receipts, and have software, and you know what I mean, your nose is going to fall off.)

Q. Where are you?

A. We're at your door step with powerful laptops or at the studio in Camden/Rockport, Maine. Local commuter flights can put us in downtown NYC by 10:30 AM and Boston before 8:00 AM. Bangor is an hour and 15 minutes away by car and Portland an hour and 45 minutes. Knox County airport is 8 miles. Generally, most work is delivered over a high speed internet connection.

Q. Do you use Macs, PCs, or SGIs?

A. Machines are equipped with current and legacy MacOS and Microsoft Windows operating systems. SGI Irix based systems have not justified the expense for the type of work we do.

Q. What about foreign languages?

A. There is immediate access to Spanish, German, and French. The language school down the street provides many others.