This article was actually inspired by an actual potential customer and reflects the various points we discussed with him.
Discussing the right questions with your web developer makes the difference between getting a “tight” and cost-effective quote and getting an inflated quote which includes functionality you actually don’t need or want, or a quote which doesn’t include some of the features you took for granted.
This client had sent me a very comprehensive briefing and had asked me for a quote. It was obvious from the style of the briefing that the template was sent to him by another web developer. It contained very pertinent information regarding positioning, differentiation, competition, messages… all great stuff to actually develop pertinent content for his website…. The problem was that it did not discuss any of the points which actually impact the price of a website… Fair to assume that we think the web developer who sent him that template probably sent him a very “rich” quote as well…
If your web developer doesn’t discuss the elements below with you, you may not get the website you want or the cost-effective quote from him (or her!):
1 – Do you want to be able to do your own updates?
… or will you have the web company do the updates? There are excellent Content Management Systems (CMS) out there now, which are not only more affordable than before, and have built-in Search Engine Optimization tools, to improve your visibility on line. CMS allows you to do your own updates but it can be a little constraining in the design of individual pages, because it works with page templates and a sophisticated text editor to add images and texts. As an example, this website uses WordPress, a powerful CMS system, which just won the 2009 Best Overall Open Source CMS Award, ahead of Drupal and Joomla (other CMS platforms). Our client’s website ClearSky also uses the same WordPress framework.
2- Who will be writing the technical copy for the website?
Once the architecture of the website (pages and their organization) is defined in cooperation with the web developer, who will be writing the technical copy for the website, the web developer or people internally at your company? Do you have a sense of the number of pages the website will have? The size of the website (# of pages) has an impact on the cost if the web developer writes and/or integrates all the content. If a CMS is used, some savings can occur if you, the customer, integrates the content once the CMS is built.
3- Is Search Engine Optimization (SEO) for the website part of the proposal?
A good SEO strategy is essential for the visibility of your website with the search engines. It starts with an analysis of keywords, both in terms of which ones are the most searched for, and which ones have the less competition noise. Such analysis is essential and should drive the way you write your website content. You should make sure to understand if the quote you receive includes such analysis or not. Then, as mentioned above, some CMS systems already integrate some SEO tools. For a website not using the CMS platform, they are additional costs to incorporate SEO on every website page (e.g. metatags). This is just the beginning of a SEO strategy which should include linking strategies, frequent updates, etc…
4- Will the website include things like contact forms, enewsletter subscriptions, blog, social sharing, etc.?
These elements will add costs but will have impact on your future emarketing success. Fortunately, WordPress – again – has what we call plugins which are great help for easy inclusion of these elements.
5- Do you have high quality photography?
…or will you need the web developer to purchase stock photography or hire a professional photographer for some custom photos? Great photography makes a huge impact for the look of a website, and small businesses don’t always have the high quality photography needed. Custom photography or quality stock photography will obviously add costs to the project.
With that information, your web developer should give you a “tight” and cost-effective quote… What have been your experiences?
Obviously in 2017 a pre-requisite is that your website should be responsive, i.e. that the design adapts well to the various devices (desktop, tablet and smart phone).