With products like flat screen TVs, if we see one priced at $1,600 and another at $3,000, we naturally assume that the $3,000 screen has more features, better screen, better power consumption etc.
But if we look at services like Web Design, this rule doesn’t seem to hold true. With services we can choose which features we’d like, and this can make it very difficult to compare one Web Designer with another. How do you know what features of a website represent value? What does “best” mean? Does it mean “fastest”, “cheapest”, “most secure”, “easiest to maintain and update”?
In this article, I’d like to explore two important parts in the Web Design process and look at where the value is and where the hidden costs are;
1) The process itself, from first engagement through to sign-off and delivery of the finished website.
2) The specific features and requirements in the build process itself.
1. Value and Costs in the Web Design Process
First lets look at the following graph displaying the Web Design Process and the time commitment associated with each stage.
I’ve highlighted two areas where Web Designers need to allocate much of their time.
1) The concept Demo and Initial build
The Web Designer will build a draft website (or two) to give you an idea of the styles available. Once you approve of a style they will proceed with the initial build and get the site ready to load your specific content.
2) Loading content and going back and forth with the client making desired changes and adjustments
The Web Designer will coach you on they type of content that will suit your website, often most people already have some idea from looking at competitors websites. They’ll ask you to write draft content for, at a minimum, the home page, about page and contact page. Then you’ll need to start thinking about your product and services pages. Some Web Designers offer copy writing services, providing people to help you write this content.
Opportunities to save money
By identifying the look or website template you’d like to work with and organising the content you’d like to use (a task you’ll need to do anyway) upfront, you can negotiate a very rapid start to the Web Design process. Making sure you have a good idea of what information you want to provide on your website and preparing this content can especially save time and money. Infact, by preparing working on these two things upfront, you’ve cut almost 1/3 of the Web Designers workload.
Asking if you can get a better price if you do this work upfront can save you hundreds of dollars. Some Web Designers work differently to the process I’ve described above. In these cases ask them what extra involvement you can have to minimise costs. Most people are more then happy to work with you to help you achieve the outcome you want.
You can take a look at what I mean by templates here.
2. How to Value the Specific Features and Requirements in the build process itself
The following graph illustrates, from top to bottom, website features that cost the least and represent the most value. Focusing on the lowest cost and highest value features first allows you to get a great website up and running with minimal cost. Allowing you time later to consider other features you might want to implement.
Security is an entry level requirement. Good website hosting providers offer services like constant monitoring for threats and automatic software security updates and patching.
Jargon/Keywords to watch for;
Two Factor Authentication – Another way of ensuring anyone accessing you site as an administrator is who they say they are. This is quite a common feature and should be available for no extra cost.
CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) – in terms of security, they provide a buffer between your site and users accessing your site. This buffer is often used to effectively catch hacking attempts before they reach your site. Use of CDNs in this way is often provided at no extra costs.
Speed – How quickly your website loads
Speed, for a basic website, is not a premium feature. If you were running amazon.com then yes speed would cost money. Why? A basic website represents very little content to serve up – for any worthwhile hosting company, providing this content quickly is part of every day business.
A good tip is to look for hosting companies that specialise in the platform the Web Designer is going to use. For example if they are going to use WordPress, look for hosting providers that specialise in WordPress hosting as they will have optimised the delivery of this service.
CDNs (Content Delivery Networks) are often used to speed up your site by hosting providers. As with security, they are usually provided in this capacity at no cost.
Usability – How easily you can modify your own website
Most websites now are built using Content Management Systems (CMS). This means the data inside the site is stored separately to the layout information. Software is then provided to make modifying the content easy, hiding all the complicated web coding.
The top Content Management Systems are all free. Free for the Web Designer to use and free for you to access. This is not a premium feature and should not be sold to you as one.
Images – stock photos
Cost: 10 high quality **stock photos** are around $100 online.
A Web Designer will add their labour costs to this for showing you their selection, making changes and selecting new images.
Stock photos are licensed photos taken for a specific use often involving people, products. See the image in the next section on layouts for an example of a gym website using stock photos.
Images are what sites are all about. Try removing them in your mind and see what the site actually looks like. It’s just words! So images are important.
When you’re just starting out, the majority of the time the best images to use are your own. Images of your team, your products, your equipment, your premises. Whatever makes the most sense.
Layouts – Changing the positioning and styling of content within your site
Cost: Working within the limits of the template – FREE. Changes to the layout – On average $500-$1000
Getting your site looking just so can be extremely satisfying. It can also be very expensive. All Web Designers use a starters kit (or template) of some sort to build a website. There are often limits to what is easy to do inside these kits and what is not.
For example, take the following website template. It might be easy to change the round green icons to orange icons. However it might be very time consuming to change them to square ones.
Asking questions about what layout options are possible and working within those limits at the start can save you a lot of money. Getting something up and running first before making too many changes can often give you a better feel for how content on your site should be positioned.
Contact Forms – they couldn’t be easier to make – can burn cash styling them
Cost: On average – $300 (depending on integration requirements to services like mailchimp for mailing list management)
Contact forms allow users on your site to fill out a form to contact you. They are popular as they minimise the risk of spam showing by your actual email address directly. They also offer ways for users to add relevant extra detail to the message they send you like a mandatory field for phone number or what type of service they’re inquiring about.
Usually contact forms inherit the styling of the website template, but often people like to change the way they look. Making small changes is fine but be aware that major restyling can cost you extra.
Here’s an example of a contact form;
Opportunities to save money
When you’re starting out, focusing on features that provide real value first can save you from spending on things that may be useful, or they may not. It’s all about testing and adjusting. Do not sacrifice on the style or features you truly want, but don’t wast money of features you don’t need.
By knowing some of the components that go into a website you can ask better questions, you can understand if you’re being charged for features you shouldn’t be and you can confidently shop around knowing that you have the information that will allow you to make better purchasing decisions.
You can see how easily the costs can build up. Most Web Designers sensibly assume a certain level of customisation will be asked for and price their services accordingly.
$1,500-$4,500 is not an uncommon price range to see advertised for a business website.
Knowing some of the elements that make up a website can help you negotiate a better price.
Questions you might ask a Web Designer;
“I don’t want to go overboard on styling just yet, can we get a better price if we keep to simple design modifications?”
“Can we get a better price if I update a lot of the content of the website myself, and you just load some basic placeholder text. That should save us going back and forth with changes so much”
Asking good questions like these, that get to the bottom of how the design costs build up, can lead to significant cost savings.
Free Web Audit & Requirements Assessment
How much are you willing to pay for a website that does not necessarily bring in new customers? $3,000, $5,000, more? Has anyone explained to you how you can measure that without paying $400 a month for special tracking software and ongoing reporting services?
Understanding your requirements means you’ll have the knowledge to correctly choose a package that’s right for you – with whoever you choose to develop your website with.
If you’re wondering how to apply the information you learned above to your specific circumstances, Arctic Web Design offers a FREE no-obligation Web Audit and Requirements Assessment. You’ll get;
- The top 3 things to watch our for in your industry.
- What features you need to focus on.
- What you can cut out up front and include later.
- Information about technical terms that are often used to create fear and convince you to buy feature X or you’ll be missing out / won’t be protected / etc…
- Advice on how you could use images on your site to promote authenticity.
- A guarantee that this is not a hard sell or a sneaky marketing technique.
- To ask us anything.
If you’d like a no-obligation free Web Audit and Requirements Assessment, Fill out the contact form below and we’ll get in touch with you.