Why Does Building a Website Cost So Much?

Money ShotThis is a touchy topic for some people because it involves the main thing we’re all battling with in the current economy – MONEY. Depending on how familiar you are with the web world and which side you fall on (user/consumer or developer/geek), the cost of building/creating a website can be a mystery to business owners   Because it’s not just about selling you the service but helping you to understand what goes into the cost and ultimately and why you’re being charged what you are for your businesses website

Most people think its pretty easy to build a website.  And for some that may be true.  But for most, the key considerations are beyond their level of expertise and a designer or developer is the best options.  When contracting a designer or developer, understand that you’re not paying for the technology. You’re paying for their time and knowledge. To be honest, there isn’t anything that a web designer does that anyone else cannot do. So let’s go deeper to understand what the common needs are, clarify some myths about web design and give a clear understanding of what the “time and knowledge” really provides you with.

Small Budget but Big Ideas

There are plenty of you out there that are either thinking of starting a business or at the beginning stages of developing your business. Chances are you don’t have that huge SBA loan or a stockpile of start-up cash, so penny-pinching and sweat equity is you’ll be building on. As a small, budget conscious business owner you might have a great idea in your head but are unable to bring it to life because you don’t know how to or have the necessary tools. You could spend hundreds of dollars on buying a tutorial software program, spend hours to learn from them all in hopes of a “DIY” success.  Just the thought process of designing your own brand takes time.  Then bringing that vision to a digital medium takes some additional time and skills. So what’s more likely is that it might be cheaper and faster (and less of a headache)  to hire a designer who can make your vision a reality with a little less Advil.

Why You Don’t Know-It-All

We love these types of people. Why? Because they likely already have a plan and concepts for what you want your website to look like and convey to your consumers. Which is great that you’re that clear about your market base and what they need or want.  The only drawback, is you usually believe the building process is as simple as copy and paste. Know-It-Alls sometimes will sign up for a trial version of some web-based CMS (Content Management System), built a few pages of a  simple website, and now assume that  it’s a quick and easy process.  Like some .99 cent WYSIWYG app  which can   would work just the same as every app that a seasoned developer must be using.  This couldn’t be further from the truth!  Here’s what that time and knowledge consists of a seasoned web designer and developer offers:

  • Knowing how to build page structures
  • Creating responsive designs for a better user interface and user experience
  • Adapting the website for optimum browser compatibility
  • Ensuring all necessary software updates
  • Typography for a better look and feel
  • SEO
  • Sitemaps
  • Working with image sizing and quality
  • Optimizing page loading times
  • Creating content for landing pages
  • and so much more

If You Want Full Control

I have no argument with clients who want to manage their websites once it is completed. The ability to update content, images, links and so on without having to contact your developer is truly ideal. We used to sell desktop programs for this back when we primarily built HTML websites to allow this indulgence. Now with WordPress, not only is the learning curve smaller, there is no cost for additional software. Now because most people aren’t looking to change the base structure of their websites; WordPress is a great option to self manager. But here’s the warning.  Be aware that with a few wrong clicks or improper coding edits, you can actually break your website.  These types of mistakes can render your site with a 404 error quick and in some cases may not have an easy fix. This is just one of many examples why its better to leave it to the professionals. If we break it you justifiably can yell at us!

When Time is of the Essence

There are plenty fly-by-night and quick turn around website builders out there. Also some software programs available from your local Best Buy or Office Depot, as well as online with quick setups that seem like great financial options. .  I’d like to raise just a small, red flag on this seemingly time and cost-effective option.  You technically don’t “own” the software. What I’ve seen happen countless times is that after purchasing the software, the software developer goes out of business.  Or worse, no longer cares to update their software for the most current browsers and security loopholes.  So you the consumer are left holding the empty bag and spending hours Google’ing how to fix something you had no part in creating.

So what’s the best option when you need to get online with your website within the next few days and don’t have the time to learn, study, design, or build it. Most designers and design firms can accommodate your prompt request, but may entail a slightly higher cost because of the quick turnaround.

BYOS (Bring Your Own Stuff)

If you want to see a designer or developer do a face-palm smack, tell them you need a website, but you’re not sure how many pages; don’t have any content; the pictures you have are all on your cell phone as text messages; and oh your favorite colors are all in the rainbow. Sure my example may seem a bit comical and slightly unrealistic but I can assure you those requests have come to us. Clients who come to web designers unknowingly unprepared should be prepared for higher costs as a result. Additionally some of these issues which may come up haphazardly during the development process, can require redesigns, restructuring and  reorganizations, shooting the cost up even higher.

To keep costs at quoted or at priced levels, clients must BYOS or prepare to PMM (Pay More Money). Lack of preparation can also hold a project at a standstill or cause a push back the launch date. Additionally, when those requested materials are inadequate,  there might be more incurred charges for the designer to find stock imagery, perform research on your industry for content as well as securing a content writing for your website. So before you sign on the dotted line, think about what you’re able bring to the table to mitigate costs, both time and money. If you’re not a great content writer, admit it and pay for someone to write for you. If you don’t have time to take product pictures, let a photographer come in and do that.

The Wrap Up

Know that most designers and developers who have been around for more than a few years, do what they do because they really get joy out of it. We enjoy seeing a happy client at the end of a project that’s excited to tell the world about their new worldwide face and presence on the web.  One of Design Theory’s “theories” is that we don’t treat businesses as a one time sale. Me and each of my team members maintain good working business relationships with each of our clients. They know we’re always looking out for their best interest as we offer the right products and services to make their project a success.

If you have questions about our pricing, (or our competitors), don’t hesitate to call our office at 888.603.1090.

(image credit from RGBStock.com)

Locking In The Deal; While It’s Still Hot

business hand shakeIf you’ve been a freelancer for more than a year or two, the term “consultation” has a personal meaning to you. It means time you’re going to spend with a potential client for free to learn their needs and also your 15 minutes of fame to explain why you’re the best designer they’ll ever meet.

During these initial meetings, you the designer and your prospective client do a little bit of a dance. They initially believe you are good at what you do, but when you finally sit down at that coffee shop to show them your work, you still have to truly impress them. You’re going to say some industry terms to sound a bit techie and sophisticated like “your brand this,” or “corporate identity,” or “responsive web designs.” Things you know they may have heard or Googled but have to idea what they truly mean; though they know they want it.

Once you’re done with your presentation, and answered questions, you’re left with a bit of a pause and silence. This is where you need to be ready to pounce on sealing the deal. During your conversations though, there are a few things you’ll want to pick up on to gauge how you’ll want to seal the deal.

Body Language. This doesn’t necessarily take a psychology degree for you to use, but it is a good thing to keep a focus on. Pay attention to how they are sitting while you’re explaining your graphic process. Do they lean in, do they lock eyes with you while you’re talking. Are they fidgeting with their fingers or hands? These kinds of tells will give you some insight to what they’re actually thinking about.

Design Knowledge. How much of what you do are they already familiar with? Get them to talk about what they want first before you lean in on what you know and do. Its ok here because if you’ve made it this far in meeting with them, they already feel confident enough that you are who your reputation says. So spend a few minutes listening to what they say they’ve done in the past, or what they’d like to have done. This will help you understand the language level you need to be at. You’ll know if you can speak in more “tech-talk” or more in layman’s terms so that you’re not flying way over their heads.

Previous Experiences. Had this person or agency worked with a previous designer; and if so how was that experience. It ended for a reason which is why they’re speaking to you, so find out why. More times it may be a bad client/designer relationship that deteriorated over time. Was that time frame months, weeks, years? Is this potential client needy or expect projects done yesterday? Or do they need a lot of hand holding and persuasion to provide answers and content?

Budget Keywords. This one will pretty much tell you where on your pricing sheet they’ll fall. There are three factors to consider with any design project and that’s quality, price, and time. The client can choose only two out of those three, and you have to direct them there. I usually talk about price a little after I’ve made points to establish a base that myself and my team know what we’re talking about and are good at what we do. See the triangle below:

Project Pyramid

Be Prepared to Sign Today. Have all your necessary documents with you when you have your meetings. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve scheduled meetings thinking it would be casual and mostly informational that turn into “Do you take credit cards?” Our own content and copy writer Yvonne, signed a client while at the hospital visiting a family friend. Always have copies of your most up to date contract, brochures, media kits, business cards, and some form of payment acceptance and receipt system. If your meeting goes well, you’ll want to try to close the deal by the time their coffee cup is on their last sip. And we all know that last sip is the best. Chances are you’ll wow them and inspire them that you’re going to take their business to the next level. That feeling fizzles out with each passing day after your initial meeting, and it’s even harder to recreate that “chemistry” you had from the first meeting.

Really think about these things and see where you may have used some of these techniques before. For me, its something I love to teach to my team members of Design Theory to make them even more confident in themselves and the level of service we provide as a whole. Do you have some other tips you’d like to add? Please share in the comments below.

(featured image credit: 123RF Stock Photos Copyright (c)