This guide is to assist you in finding the right quote and selecting the correct designer/developer for your requirements.
What we will cover in this guide:
- Do you want Website Design or Website Development?
- Static Websites V Dynamic Websites
- What should it Cost?
- What’s included in the Quote?
- What computer language will it be written in?
- Can you Update the Content?
- How long will it take to Create?
- Payment Options
- Suppliers Reputation
- Will you appear in Google?
Design or Development
Most people that embark on their first journey into the world of website creation do not realise that there are two types of website creation. Web Design is related to how the website looks, the fonts, colours, style, graphics, icons, images, etc. Web Development is related to the bells and whistles of the website. The database, the programming that retrieves and stores data, the stuff that makes the website interactive.
If you are a small business and you just want a simple 3 page static website then you will want to find a web designer. If your website has to retrieve data based on what a user inputs, includes a gallery, has items for sale, or has to interact with a database in any way then you probably need a web developer.
Designers make it look good, developers make it function correctly.
Luckily most agencies and freelancers have both of these skills and some freelancers will out source their design or development depending on what their own skills is.
Static Website or Dynamic Website
Static websites are usually just pages of information that require not interaction. A brochure website for a small business for instance would be a static website. It would typically consist of 3 to 5 pages and might include the following pages: Home, About Us, Services, FAQs, Contact Us. Static websites are typically written in HTML. It is unlikely that you would need a developer for a static website.
Dynamic websites are where the user has to interact with the website in order to get information or to leave information. Some website examples for instance: Estate Agents, Ticket Booking, Social Networks, Online Shops. Dynamic websites are typically written in HTML and a programming language like PHP. You will need a developer for a dynamic website unless they are using a platform like WordPress that allows them to add pre-written plugins that cater for the functionality you require.
Static websites may also have some dynamic content. The contact page for instance may have a contact form where the user can input their details in order to make an inquiry.
When it comes to dynamic websites you should also consider what computer language your website will be written in. Most CMS systems are PHP based. PHP is the most widely used website language and is recommended because should you wish to switch suppliers this will make it easier to find another developer.
What should it Cost?
Prices vary hugely depending on where you shop. For instance, you can get a static website for £99 and the same website could cost you £500 from elsewhere.
A lot also depends on whether the designer used a bought theme or whether they started the work from scratch. Website themes are a quick and affordable way to get your website online. A lot of designers will buy a theme and then tailor it to your requirements so that it looks unique. This will speed up the design time. If the designer is starting from scratch then this will be reflected in the cost as the design time will be increased.
Medium sized dynamic websites are usually between £1000 and £5000. Social networking websites are usually from £3000.
A 3 page standard brochure website shouldn’t cost any more than £400. Expect to pay at least £200.
Don’t forget to ask if there is VAT to be added to the quote.
Expect to pay an initial amount for work to commence. This is usually 50% up front. If it is a large website then you may then pay the rest in small chunks as the website build progresses. For smaller websites expect to pay final 50% on completion.
Some companies offer payment plans for very large websites so it is always good to ask.
What is Included in the Quote?
It is important that you know what is included in the quote otherwise you may find that you have to spend more money once the website has been completed.
At some time in the future you are going to want to change your content,whether it be to change your contact details, add some new services, or create new pages. Your website should come with a good Content Management System (CMS) that allows you control over your pages. Three of the top CMS packages out there are WordPress, Joomla and Drupal. These give you full access to your page content and will allow you to change almost anything on the website. There is a learning curve here though if you are doing more than just changing a piece of text. Check with your designer how much they charge for minor and major updates. That way you can work out whether it is worth sitting down for an hour an reading a tutorial on how to edit your own website. See this article on the 5 Best Content Management Systems available.
Hosting is where your website resides. This is usually on a server managed by the provider but you can ask to use your own hosting if you know how to go about getting it. You will often be offered free hosting for a year and then charged their fixed rate after this time. Be sure to check what the rate will be after the first year and also whether there is a charge in case you wish to switch your hosting elsewhere.
You might already have a logo for you business so it is good to check whether you get a reduction for providing your own logo. This could be anywhere between £20 and £200 so it makes sense to ask the question.
If you are a small business then you may only need one or two email addresses. Larger businesses may want an email address for each employee. Be sure to check that there aren’t any hidden costs for multiple email addresses and also ask how much it would cost to add more email addresses later.
Most websites these days have a contact page. Some just give a link to an email address, others have a contact form.
Contact forms are a good way of collecting data about the type of enquiry. It is often the case that someone will email you and you will then have to email back and ask questions to find out exactly what it is that they want. This is where contact forms are useful. You can have multiple fields that the user can select. For instance, say you had 4 different services that you offer, you would add these services to a dropdown field where the user could select the service that their question was related to. Within the dropdown field you would also have an option of General Enquiry in case it wasn’t related to a particular service.
You would also collect the users contact details so that you can either call them back or email them.
Once the contact form has been submitted an email with the users contact details and message will be sent to you. If you are able to receive email via your phone then you will be one step ahead and be able to answer any queries quickly before the potential client goes elsewhere.
How Long Will it Take to Create your Website?
Obviously this will depend on the size of the website and whether it is theme based or bespoke. A three page static website is likely to take between 2 to 5 days.
Larger dynamic website can vary hugely. it is best to ask for a completion date and also state whether you have a deadline that you need to keep to.
Most reputable website creators will be able to point you towards some testimonials or at least have a portfolio on their website. If you have time you could also request contact details from some of their clients and find out what their experience was.
Find out how long they have been in business. There are a lot of inexperienced website creators out there and although everyone needs to start somewhere it is best to find someone who has a few years experience.
Will your Website Appear in Google?
In order to appear in Google first of all a user must type in some keywords. It is these keywords that are important when creating your website. For instance, if you are a wedding planner then your website text must be written to include the keywords “wedding” and “planner”. It should also include as many of the other keywords that you think people would type in when looking for your services.
It is the job of the website provider to create your website with SEO in mind. SEO is an acronym meaning Search Engine Optimisation. Ask your website creator whether the website will be optimised for the search engines.
It is usually you that writes the website content but the creator may also offer this service.
So as you can see there are many things to consider. Most companies will offer free advice so ask as many questions as you think necessary.