Have you ever had a quote for a new website and struggled to understand exactly what was being quoted on?
Chances are you have and chances are also that you are not alone.
Websites are quite unlike anything a smaller business operator has ever had to come to grips with.
Part software, part brochure, part television ad and part shopfront, websites are far more complex than most other non-core business supplies.
So how can you tell that the quotation you’ve been provided covers everything you need for a professional result? And how can you tell there are not going to be any surprises as soon as you’ve published your website to the internet?
Here‘s a list of items that make up a sound website estimate and what each actually means.
The appearance of your site and its ability to communicate a sense of quality. If you want a unique, customised design, be prepared for several hours of designer time to create, refine and implement your design. Alternatively you can select from a growing number of excellent website templates which can for a low price be altered to incorporate your logo and corporate identity.
2. Content development
With all due respect to your creative skills, it‘s highly unlikely that you’ll be able to come up with content that has the quality, language and other factors that make up great website content.
Your quote should include some time spent on editing and refining your content so as to get your message across persuasively and succinctly whilst keeping an eye out for opportunities to optimise it for search engines.
If you have limited information available about your business, you may need to pay for some professional copywriting to fill this breach.
Imagery remains one of the most underrated components of your website, whether it involves hiring a professional photographer, purchasing shots from a stock library or hiring a graphic designer to create illustrations or other graphical components.
The best websites require the investment of a significant sum to get this right. However, those on a limited budget can still get by with clever use of affordable stock imagery.
There‘s no point creating a website if nobody can find it. Search engine optimisation is critical if you want your website to be found by your prospective visitors.
Your estimate should include the time required to ensure this important component is well catered for.
Once your content has been developed and finalised, it needs to be organised and implemented into the website, and once done, fully tested to ensure it all works just fine.
These days many website platforms allow you to complete this phase yourself. However, this requires some skill to get right and so it may be more cost effective to have a web pro do it for you.
6. Co-ordination or project management
Given the relative complexity of creating your website, time must be allocated to the task of co-ordinating its various planning, creation, construction and publication requirements and ensuring these are performed in a co-ordinated and timely manner.
Technology comprises two key components – your website ‘platform’ (presuming it requires one) and its hosting.
The platform is the system required to operate your website and its various features. Typically it will allow you to edit your website and measure all aspects of its visits. It may also be integrated with related features like customer relationship management (integrated customer database), email marketing system, eCommerce functionality, form builders and many others.
You will also require website hosting – essentially your virtual real estate required to allow web users to access your website. Sometimes this is bundled with your website platform and this approach removes a layer of complexity and is likely to reduce maintenance cost and co-ordination time.
8. Training and support
Once your website ‘goes live’, you will need to understand how to use its underlying platform and also ensure you have sufficient support in case you need adjustments or help to use the platform.
It’s also worth getting some idea of your future maintenance and support costs from the outset so as there are no surprises later on.
It’s all well and good for your provider to have the capability to create your website but can they have it done in time for your launch date? Make sure a deadline is specified. If mission critical, you might also like to negotiate penalties for delays caused by your successful provider.
What happens if you are unhappy with your ensuing website or the service provided by your web professional? Are you able to have another professional take over the website at any point either in development or afterwards? And what if their business goes under, or they disappear?
It’s important that you are able to take your website elsewhere in the event of any number of problems or even disasters. A great way to do this is to have a written guarantee that a list of a minimum of say two alternative, qualified providers is provided upon request – providing of course that all your website creation payments are up to date.
If your website estimate doesn’t include these aspects, make sure you go back to your web pro to have them added to your estimate. It may save you considerable heartache down the track.
In addition to being a leading eBusiness educator to the smaller business sector, Craig Reardon is the founder and director of independent web services firm The E Team which was established to address the special website and web marketing needs of SMEs in Melbourne and beyond.