Monthly Archives: February 2016

How to Get A Fair Web Design Quote

If you’re looking at commissioning a web designer to build you a website, one of the first things that you will need to know, is the monetary cost. This article will explain to you why there is such a huge variance between web designers and their quotes and will give you some advice as to how much you can expect to pay to contract a competent web designer in the UK.

First of all you have to have a rough idea of what it is that you want from your website. You have to have thought of what you want to achieve with the website. What are its objectives? You will then need to have thought of a basic structure for your website. There are many website examples out there for you to have a look at; the important thing is to have an idea about what structure you want for the site – meaning a rough outline of the numbers of pages and the content (text and images) that will make up each page.

Once you have your project objectives in mind and a rough idea of your websites structure you are in a position to start contacting suppliers. There are multitudes of web design companies everywhere and in our particular area of the UK – Doncaster there are lots of web design companies to choose from. The key thing to remember is that everyone wants your business. The web design marketplace is completely saturated so you as the buyer have the upper hand!

As in all other industries there are people who provide excellent service, there are people who provide an average service and there are also cowboys (people who sell web design services without the necessary knowledge and experience to do so).

What you have to think to yourself is this: If a person promises me the earth for £1 does that mean to say that they can deliver it? The best advice I can give is to be realistic. There are lots of really good city based web design companies throughout the UK that provide excellent services. They are always there to take your calls and you even get your own personal account manager to handle your requests and hold your hand through the entire web design process. The services of such companies are wonderful but this obviously comes at a price. City based offices, account managers and admin staff are large overheads and the prices charged by large city based web design companies reflect this. If you have a modestly sized website, which needs to be under content management system control, don’t be surprised if the web design quote runs into tens of thousands of pounds from a major city based web design company. If you are looking for a top quality 100% inclusive, comprehensive service and your company can afford this kind of bill then I would suggest using a big city company every time.

Then there are the smaller companies that are made up of just a few individuals. These types of companies have much lower overheads and frequently have very knowledgeable and capable staff. The service level can be much lower than that of major city based web design companies but you can get some excellent work done by such companies at a fraction of cost of the large city based companies.

A much overlooked group of web designers that can produce some excellent web designs are the wide community of freelance web designers. Freelance web designers are private, self employed individuals who work from small offices (they frequently work from home). Freelancers have very low (mostly non existent) overheads. As such they can provide quality web design work for much lower costs than larger web design companies. If you are looking for good quality web design for less money then it definitely work looking at using a quality freelance web designer.

The people that you really need to avoid are the web design cowboys. As stated above cowboys are people who sell web design services without the necessary knowledge and experience to do so. If you are unfortunate enough to have contracted someone like this in the past you will be aware of the low quality work that they produce and the lack of significant results that they achieve. Cowboys invariable promise you the earth for a £1. Use your common sense and if someone is quoting you £100 for something that 5 other companies are charging around £4000 for, you know that something is not quite right. Remember the old adage – buy cheap, buy twice!

Conclusion:

You will find a great deal of variance between web design quotes depending on what level of web designer you choose to contract and what level of service you require. Always make sure to get as many quotes and talk to as many people as you can so a) see what’s available on the market and b) get an unbiased idea of the likely costs involved. There are lots of good web designers out there but there are also a lot of lesser skilled web designers and even some of the proverbial cowboys. Make sure to use good common sense and get a feel for the web designer’s skills and experience when you meet them. No matter how charming a person is, experience is very hard to fake. Ask to see examples of their work and where they have done similar work to your proposed project. Remember – you have the upper hand!

 

Choosing a Web Designer

fHere are some tips in finding the right people for the job and some considerations to be taken into account.

1. Introduction

Many businesses look for a web designer as though they were shopping for a general commodity item such as a light bulb – i.e. All websites are equal and paying the 16 year old student on a computer course to build the site will reap exactly the same dividend as paying a specialist web development agency. Other businesses often feel they have to spend thousands upon thousands of pounds on a website for it to be successful.

Let us dispel these myths

Contrary to what many believe, web design is only one component in the production of your website. Some web designers can talk day and night about how pretty your web site can be, but if it isn’t functional, user-friendly, or capable of helping you meet your online goals, then all the superficial beauty in the world isn’t going to help it serve it’s purpose. The design theme of a website is only one component of building a successful online presence.

Choosing a Web Designer is not an easy task! – Here are some tips…

There is so much more to web design than just making a few web pages look pretty if you want to succeed. You need to consider your target audience, underlying message, content, desired responses, visitor impact, online goals, how you are going to measure the success of the site and more. There is so much more to web design than just making a few web pages look pretty

2. Defining Your Requirements

If you have no idea why you want a website or what you want the website to achieve, it is as well to sit down and think it through, rather than rushing to put up a “White elephant” that doesn’t serve a purpose. Every website must serve a purpose, and that’s usually where many websites falls short. They serve no purpose because the website owner never gave much thought to it. It’s not the website’s fault. A website is inanimate. It is only what you make it. The only life a website has is the one given to it by its designer and owner. If the human element doesn’t do a good job of defining the building blocks, the website will serve no purpose and eventually die a digital death. Every website should have a distinct purpose With that in mind, we’d suggest the first stage would be to define the “Goals” of the website in relation to the requirements and aspirations of the business or organisation involved.

Defining the Goal

Every website should have a distinct goal or number of goals that are measurable. A goal can be anything from communicating with friends and associates through to making profits by selling products or services online (e commerce). Your goal in the first instance may even be to have a web presence so potential clients don’t regard your organisation as being backward! Once you have defined a goal (or number of goals), it’s equally important to define:

  • The target audience. i.e. Who you want/expect to visit your website.
  • The actions you want to result from their visit. i.e. Making an online sale, getting them to make an inquiry etc.
  • What benefits you are giving and receiving from having the website.

Defining the Key Functions (The actions)

Once the goals of the website have been established, it’s important to define the actions required by site visitors to meet the goals. An action is any traceable sequence of events carried out by the end user.

Examples might include:

  • Getting in touch – either by phone, email or via an online form.
  • Disseminating Information.
  • Signing up for a newsletter.
  • Completing a questionnaire
  • Commenting on a Blog
  • Downloading or buying products
  • Using an online tool

Of course, there are other intangible benefits that your website might provide to an end user that don’t result in direct “actions”… i.e. simply providing “peace of mind” to an existing or prospective customer would be considered as such. If you haven’t already done so, then it’s also useful to check out the competition, for ideas, likes and dislikes.

Establishing Your Design & Development Preferences

Once you have formulated the goals and functional requirements for the website, it’s time to start building a picture of how you anticipate the site coming together – with regard to structure and design theme. This doesn’t need to be a definitive exercise – Your web designer should be able to add a lot of input and suggestions at a later stage, but it helps to have some ideas to feed into the requirements you approach the designer with in the first instance.

As follows are a few that we feel should be mandatory:

  • The website should adhere to recognised standards. The site should be written to conform and validate to the standards defined by the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C) – this will in turn, mean your site should be cross-browser friendly (i.e. Appear the same across various different types of web browser).
  • The website should be accessible. In web terms, this means that it conforms to the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA).
  • The website should be clean, crisp and fast loading.
  • The website should be easy to use and inoffensive (see below).

Our Tip: Easy to use and Inoffensive – The WOW factor

Webbies often get asked to produce a website with the “WOW factor”. The “WOW factor” is a term that means different things to different people. Often, the person or business commissioning the website have grandiose plans for extensive animation, splash screens, cartoons, garish designs… This isn’t the WOW factor – A bold garish design with “off the wall” colour schemes may seem bold and innovative to some people, but may really put off other site users – Find the happy medium.

If a person wants to buy a pair of shoes online then their mission is basically to find the desirable pair of shoes at the right price in the quickest possible time. They don’t visit an e-commerce site to watch an animation of shoes tap dancing across the screen. Leave cartoons and needless animation that add zero value to those experts in their own field. People watch the Simpsons for that type of entertainment. They likely won’t be visiting your website for (or be impressed by) to be “dazzled” by irrelevant attempts to stand out.

Our own interpretation of the “WOW factor” is a site that is very simple to use, clean, crisp, user friendly, fast loading with great content. Basically, the site that delivers it’s underlying message quickly and concisely is the most effective. Google has the WOW Factor and you don’t see slow loading animation on that website. The WOW factor should mean Winning on the Web and nothing else.

Ok, so you’ve mapped out some goals and requirements… time to start looking for the right guys to go ahead and implement the solution for you.

3. Selecting a Web Designer / Developer

Initially, the best place to begin is by putting together a shortlist of designers. You may choose to do this in any number of ways but here are some suggestions that you may wish to factor in:

  • The location of the prospective designer. This may or may not be a factor for you. Some people are happy to work remotely and others prefer some face to face interaction. If the latter is essential to you, then you will need to focus on designers in your local area.
  • The designer’s portfolio. This is usually a key factor in any shortlisting process. You may choose to favour designers who have worked specifically in the sector you are targeting, or you may simply like other unrelated websites they have developed.
  • Independent Word of mouth recommendation. You may have received glowing reports on particular designers and their after-sales service. Don’t overlook this.
  • The size of the company. Generally speaking, the size of the company provides you with little idea to the quality or work they can produce or the services they can provide. Some SMEs prefer to work on a more personal level with smaller providers or freelance designers with larger corporates preferring the opposite.
  • The cost – Most professional web designers tend to produce work on a bespoke basis, tailored uniquely for each client – and the vast majority do not publish prices. (We do). However, an initial discussion should be able to provide you with a “ball park” figure at least based on your requirements outline. Some designers are also able to provide cost-effective “out of the box” solutions at a fixed price.

Tip: Get a fixed price quote rather than an hourly rate. Let’s face it… an hourly or daily rate is meaningless as a measuring stick when your consider it may take one designer twice as long as another to complete the same job.

Web designers will typically showcase previous work on their own websites, but be sure to consider that they are gearing a site’s design and structure to requirements presented by another party that likely won’t match your own. It’s more important that you are confident that they can implement your solution than perhaps reading too much into other design work that you might not necessarily like.

Another consideration you may should take into account is the attitude a designer shows when you first make contact. You can often gauge whether they are genuinely interested in the project and whether they are going to be proactive – and if they can offer a high level of support. Designers not providing a landline phone number or a business address may be harder to contact when you need them the most. Trust your instincts and exercise common sense.

Tip: Don’t base everything on price and make sure you compare “like” with “like”. Also, don’t be afraid to share your budget with the designers during initial discussions and then see what they can deliver within it. Time is often wasted if you are discussing the project over days or weeks and then end up being miles apart on pricing expectations.

The more information you give furnish the designer with, relating to your goals, requirements and design preferences, the better. Also make sure that you discuss timescales and payment schedules (most designers will ask for a deposit upfront and a final balance payment when the project is completed. There may also be interim payment milestones for larger projects). Additionally, enquire about any recurring charges for support, future amends, web hosting, domains etc. Neither party will want hidden surprises.

4. Questions You will be Asked

It’s always better to be prepared when you approach web designers… they will also have their own queries to establish a the requirements, gauge the work involved and furnish you with a quote.

Typical questions you might be asked include the following:

  • What does your company do?
  • What are the Unique Selling Points that your company has to offer?
  • What is the purpose of the website?
  • How do you see the website evolving in the future?
  • Do you have any existing branding? i.e. Logo, colour schemes or other marketing materials?
  • Who are your competitors?
  • Do you require e commerce or an online payment mechanism?
  • Can you provide links to other websites that you like from a design perspective?
  • Can you provide links to other websites that you like from a functionality perspective? (i.e. How they work)
  • What is your budget? Don’t be afraid to disclose a budget figure – it can help a lot.

If you aren’t able to get an immediate quote, request that the designer gets back to you and establish a timescale for this to happen. As you can probably tell, choosing a web designer isn’t necessarily a straightforward process if you are seeking the right fit for your project. The more detailed research and preparation that you carry out, the better.

5. Going ahead

When you make a decision on proceeding with a designer, make sure to get the quote in writing and make sure the it’s clear that the copyright of the website is yours once completed. Ensure all charges (including any future and/or recurring charges) are spelled out to avoid any ambiguity and problems further down the line.

Ideally, once you wish to proceed, your web developer should create a test web address, where you can monitor ongoing development and provide feedback throughout.

Part of a wider strategy

Your website should integrate with and complement your other marketing activities. Promote your site address where you can. Consider putting it on your business cards, stationery, merchandise, delivery vans, carrier bags, customer receipts and on your shop front. Drive people to your website through online adverts, search engine marketing and active offline promotion.

Don’t Get Burned By Web Designers

doIf you bring up the subject of web design with small business people, it wouldn’t take long to find someone who has been burned by a web designer. Perhaps they have even come to the conclusion that a web site is not worth the expense. Let’s look at how and why that happens, and outline some success principles that will help you when you need web design services. Since so many web designers get it wrong, the web design principles that actually work may surprise you.

One of the problems with web design is that software programs have made it seem easy to create a web site. If you have the software, it would not take you long to build a web site. There are an abundance of inexpensive templates available to make it even easier to put together a web site. Getting a professional looking web site is not difficult at all. So you may wonder, why is that a problem?

The process of creating a web site does not end with making it look professional. In fact, that could very well be one of the least important aspects of a web site design. Let’s face it, there are ugly web sites that make a lot of money. Since life is not fair, there are great looking web sites that make little or no money. I’m not saying the professionalism of your web site is not important; I am saying it’s not enough.

There is a serious flaw in the web design industry, and small business owners are especially prone to fall victim to it. The problem is that usually, very little business planning goes into a web site design. Too many web designers are more concerned with selling web design than taking the time to build an effective web site.

This deficiency stems from the fact that very few web designers are marketing people. Small business people do not have big advertising budgets, so they are easily attracted to the low rates of average web designers. Good marketing means setting priorities and effectively using your resources to accomplish goals.

The one element I find seriously missing in web design is the very thing that is fundamentally important; that element is uniqueness. A Unique Selling Point (USP) is one of the basic tenets of marketing. You must answer the questions: why should I buy from you, and, what makes you different from my other choices? If you fail in this area, your web site visitor will not be kind to you. They will leave and not come back; they will probably not tell you why they left either.

Read your web site copy to see if it contains another common error. Does it say, “We this,” and, “We that?” Do not “we” on your web site visitors! Your web site copy should speak to the visitor, address their needs, and solve their problem. It must compel them in some way. You need to draw them in and sell them on your solution.

When you take notice of how many web sites violate these basic marketing principles above, you will begin to see how you have the opportunity to rise above your competitors. Just think, if the majority of business web sites are violating even these most basic principles, how much more could you benefit from hiring a web designer who understands marketing?

There is a lot of emphasis placed on search engine optimization (SEO), and there should be, because this is very important if you want to have your web site found by people using the search engines. For most web sites, search engines account for 80% to 95% of all visitors. However, as important as SEO is, if you have a web site that is not creating sales with the visitors you are already getting, SEO is the wrong priority.

The next principle is the one you will probably find the most surprising. People actually read web sites! Yes, they do have a short attention span, and we will look at that point next, but they do read. There have been many studies done to document the way people use web pages. Even though so much attention is given to graphics, the studies show that well over 75% of the time, web page users read the text beforethey notice graphics.

This does not mean that graphics are unimportant. Visual elements are one of the many advantages a web site can provide. When you consider that people use the Internet to seek information, then it does makes sense that they will read your web site’s content. Providing the right information can mean the difference between winning a customer, or surrendering them to your competition.

I also promised to cover the short attention span issue. It is often called the 3 second rule. According to web studies, if you cannot capture the attention of your visitor in approximately 3 seconds, that’s how fast they usually leave your web site. I suspect the reason is because so many web sites are such a horrible waste of time, that people’s patience has been worn down. The solution is to have a fast loading page that quickly clues them in that you can solve their problem. If they can “skim” in a few seconds, and you grab their attention, you have successfully drawn them in so they will stay a while.

Statistically, it takes 7 visits before you make a sale. If your web site is not done correctly, you will have dismal results because you can’t get them to come back seven times. That is why so many web site owners are disappointed with their success. That is why some web designers provide what seems to be a bargain, while other web designers have to charge more to give you a better value. It takes more time to plan and create a good web site design.

The good news is that most of your competitors will go for the bargain and suffer the same fate as everyone else who does not realize the value of an effective web site design. Very few of them will invest the resources needed for success. If you do, you can win. This does not mean you need the big budget of a major corporation, or that it has to be expensive, it just means you need to be willing to do better than average. The rewards are much greater when you stretch beyond the norm.