Defining what you need from a website and getting a quote
A consistent brief will obviously help when you initially approach designers. Asking ‘How much is a website?’ is rather vague and you will get varying quotes.
A good designer will be able to help you flesh out your ideas and ask you questions in order to define the scope of the project and give you a more precise quote.
Don’t be afraid to give the designer an idea of your budget. If you want an ‘all singing all dancing’ solution this is a very different proposal from a small 8 page ‘brochure style’ website. It may save a lot of heartache if you are able to establish early on what the limitations of your budget are. Knowing what you have to spend means the designer can, if necessary, offer you alternative cheaper solutions that may work for you.
On the other hand, you may be pleasantly surprised to learn that you don’t need to allocate as much as you thought to a website and some of that budget can be deployed elsewhere.
1. Look at your competitor’s websites to see what they are doing and how their services or products differ from what you have to offer. This will help you define your USP (unique selling point).
2. Find examples of websites you like the look of so you can show your designer what you aspire to.
3. Make a list of the pages you think you’ll need. You don’t have to provide final written content in order to get a quote but a rough draft can make it clearer for the web designer to visualise things.
4. What functionality do you require? Do you need features like a news page, a blog, a photo gallery, videos, password protected area to the site, event booking, an online shop, a newsletter? Think about how you want those things to work. A designer will be able to show you examples of what they’ve built for other clients but it’s a good idea to spend a bit of time looking at these examples to see if they will work for you or if your requirements are slightly different. They often are.
5. Think about the time you will need to spend updating the site. It is rare these days to find a website that is not on a content management system but, even so, a large website or online shop can take a lot of time and energy to populate and keep fresh. There is nothing worse than out of date news or blog posts. So, for example, do you need both of these functions? If you have the budget but not the time, you may want to consider employing someone to handle your social media posts (Facebook, Twitter etc) or send out newsletters on your behalf.
6. What’s happening about imagery for the site? Good imagery is crucial: photos or graphics. You may think you are a dab hand with a camera but don’t be dismayed if your web designer sees your efforts and suggests professional help. There is nothing more frustrating than trying to make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.
Many designers use stock photography which can be included in the overall cost but sometimes it’s necessary to have bespoke photographs. If you are selling products online check that your suppliers can provide good high resolution images. If you need to take photographs of your premises, products or staff your designer will probably have photographers they work with and can recommend. They’ll also be able to liaise with them to ensure the end result is right for the site. You should budget separately for photography.
7. Are you going to embrace social media? Your designer will be able to suggest the best channels to use for your business. They may offer to handle your social media for you if your budget allows, or training if you’d prefer to do it yourself but not feeling confident enough.
8. Do you need a search engine optimisation (SEO) campaign? The competition on the web is fierce. A good designer may be able to get you ranked highly for a geographical search where people are looking for local services e.g. plumber Cambridge. However, if you have an online shop you will want to reach a wider national audience. This is more difficult simply because there is more competition and a lot of the competition may be large companies with large budgets to spend on SEO.
The thing to bear in mind is that high ranking with Google does not happen overnight and you should be wary of anyone who promises to get you at the top of Google. There is no ‘fast track’ to the top and you do not want to get involved with an agency that will try to manipulate your rankings through ways Google disapproves of as your site will be penalised.
Search engine optimisation is a huge topic that cannot be covered here but your web designer will be able to advise you on what you can do to increase your visibility and put you in touch with trusted SEO experts.
9. Do you need a logo design? If you can afford to get a logo designed you should get this underway before you start work on the website. It will be an additional cost but you will then have files in the correct format for both print and web. The web only uses low resolution files but if you want business cards, flyers or pop up banners your printer will need high resolution files to work with.
If you are on a really tight budget your web designer may suggest choosing an appropriate font for your business name instead which would incur no further costs. As long as you know what the name of the font is you can provide that to your printer.
10. Have you bought your domain name? It’s best if you can buy both .com and .co.uk so that someone else doesn’t snap the other up. Domains are very cheap to purchase at between £5 and £8.
11. How much will web hosting cost? This varies enormously and can depend on your website. The bigger the website is, the more support and bandwidth you need. Your designer will be able to advise you on reliable companies, but unless your site is extremely large this cost should be fairly nominal.