Website design is often a tricky business. An industry that can be full of jargon you don't quite understand poses a heavy risk of miscommunication between you and your designer. While we strongly feel that you should always work with professionals you feel comfortable with (in any industry), there's a few points that come up often when we start working on a new website with a client.
1) Websites can cost more than you think, but not an amount that should require a financial advisor.
Yes- websites can be expensive, and part of the reason is that your designer has to actually host information for you, which isn't free. However, if you get a proposal from a designer that seems extremely expensive for your basic needs, shop around! There are more than enough designers out there that you should be working with a firm/individual you trust and enjoy working with. Often we've heard clients say their previous firm promised that everything was a "one time" cost, until they began receiving invoices every few months for "maintenance fees" that had no explanation when asked further. At FIVE:thirty, we bill per hour rather than a one time package fee, but we provide an estimate before we even begin work. As of today, we've never once gone over the billable hours estimated for a project, and often we're significantly under.
2) Your website should be more than a billboard.
When the web industry was first booming, the goal was to get your name online. Remember how old websites were largely a basic description of the company and a contact section? While those pieces of information are still central to your website, we at FIVE:thirty think a site should do more than a billboard. Make sure you communicate your business practices thoroughly with your web designer. Would it benefit you to have an online payment option? Should clients or customers be able to submit service requests any time of day? Think if there are any headaches that could be avoided in your business with the help of technology. A good designer will be able to think of creative ways to incorporate new tools into your website.
3) The web design industry can be confusing. Ask lots of questions when you're getting started.
If you're starting to build a website with a new designer, be sure to ask lots of questions about your site. Communicate clearly what you will need on your site (see point 2), and don't be afraid to ask why something costs what it does. If your potential designer can't explain things in a way you don't fully understand, look around for another designer. Trust your gut, and if you feel in any way like you're not getting open and honest communication, find someone new.
4) If you have a current website designer, you should be getting itemized invoices.
If you're getting invoices from your current designer, make sure you can clearly understand what everything is for. I can't tell you how many people we've helped with new sites that have showed us invoices from other firms for huge amounts with no explanation. Any invoice claiming "research" of any kind should at least have a description of who was researching and what that research detailed, along with usable data from said research. If you are getting billed for things you don't understand, it might be time to consider a new firm!
5) Have a realistic timeline.
If you have a current website with good photos and content, and only need some updates or a redesign, your website could only take a matter of weeks. If, on the other hand, you're starting from scratch or still need good quality photos and copy, please understand that your site will very likely take at least a month. Be sure to communicate any deadlines or specific dates to your designer, like a grand opening or an open house!
#ConsultingwithCare means we help you stay within your budget, provide creative tools on your website for clients and staff, maintain open and frequent communication about your project, and always take the time to make sure you're comfortable! If you're ready to work with a firm that truly cares, get in touch with us today!