You’ve decided that you can’t go it alone. Now it is time to start your search for a web designer. But before you make that call, send that email or text that message, here are a few things you’ll need to have in place or at least think about before you approach a pro.
Here are a few fees you’ll need to factor into your budget.
- Domain Name Registration – depending on the registrar, registration can run from $10 & up and must be renewed annually as long as you have the site. The renewal rate is the same as the initial registration fee. We’ll talk choosing a domain name a little bit later.
- Hosting Service – Unless your business has its own server you will have to pay a hosting fee. There are TONS of hosting companies available. Either you will need to search online (just Google “web hosting”) for the best deal, or have your web designer make a suggestion. Some designers provide hosting services, too. Prices vary widely. It is very much like purchasing a computer – the more storage, RAM and bandwidth, the higher the cost. Fees can be paid monthly or annually depending on which better meets your budgeting needs. You can start with a very simple site for less than $10 a month or for a larger and more technical site the price can increase exponentially. For instance, if you choose a VPS plan (virtual private server) or a dedicated server, hosting can cost upwards of $1000 a year.
- Web Site Design Fee – you can search online for the average cost of a website and you’ll find wildly differing opinions. Why is this? Because no two businesses are alike and so no two websites will be alike. Not to mention, not all designers charge the same rates. An e-commerce site is likely to be in a higher price range than a blog site. A small business site will have a smaller budget than a corporation, a church website will cost vastly less than a university website, and so on. If your site relies on a database for inventory or membership and/or if you plan to sell products or register for events, you will not only need a designer but a developer to integrate your data. What’s the difference between a designer and developer you ask… a designer creates the visual presence and the developer creates the platform – basically what is under the hood, so to speak – the code that runs the site. Before searching for a designer/developer, think about the functionality of your site – what do you want it to do. Look at what your competition is doing. If you come across a website you find visually appealing or if you find a function that you want to implement on your website – make a note and share it with your prospective designer.How large of a site will you need – how many pages will it have? Do you have graphics, logo and photos or will you need the designer to create them or use stock photos? Will you provide your website content in different languages? All of these factors will affect your bottom line.
I suggest that you set a budget before meeting and see if the designer/developer can work within it. We’ll discuss what to look for in a design team a little later.
- Website maintenance fee – just because your website is up and running doesn’t mean it is “finished.” You don’t visit your Facebook page everyday to read the same posts over and over, do you? Of course not! You want to see fresh posts, new pictures and trending videos. The same goes for your website. You’ll be posting press releases, job openings, introducing new products, welcoming new members, and so on. You’ll need to keep your website content up to date. Most design teams will maintain your website for a retainer fee or on a needs only based fee. A maintenance contract should be agreed upon beforehand. Again, depending on the amount of updates your site will need, the maintenance fee will vary. To avoid a maintenance fee, you’ll need to update your site yourself. In this case, be sure that you factor in a Content Management System (CMS) in your design/development budget. Don’t know what that is – don’t worry we’ll cover it later.
Coming up next…Good Help is Hard to Find
So what’s the next step in this process. Some business owners decide that doing it themselves is the smart way to go. However, it is an option that should be considered carefully. Can you handle the commitment of designing and maintaining a website on your own? Ask these questions before you take that step.
- Do I have the time?
It is not a one and done process. There are several phases in website design – design, development, testing, etc. It could take several weeks or even months to create a website that functions to your specifications. And websites must be constantly updated – inventory changes, news and product updates, press releases… And don’t forget – time is money!
- Will it cause you to neglect other business obligations?
In taking on the project yourself, will your business suffer? Will you spend less time with customers and clients, fall behind in accounting processes, cancel meetings with vendors, employees… Will this really fit in your already busy schedule?
- Do I have the knowledge?
- Do I have the time and budget to invest in training?
If you do need training, can you afford it? You can try to DIY this, too. There are several books at your local library on the subject, and YouTube videos, tutorials and classes online. I find Lynda.com very helpful when I am learning something new. Many options are free. Your local library is a great place to start – they often offer classes and if you have a library card you can use it on Lynda.com! The other option is to find accredited classes online or locally. Either way, be prepared to pay – with your time or your money. Nothing is really free in life.
- Do I have the tools for the job?
A lot of content goes into a website – media files (photos, videos, graphics), text, action scripts (forms, calendars, surveys, slideshows…), menus, posts, databases, and so on. Unless you are an expert in hand coding, you’ll need to depend on different applications to do the dirty work for you. Among the tools you’ll need are: html editor; photo editor; graphics software;
stock image account. You can probably find free applications online but they may not be capable of doing everything you need. Investing in a suite such as Adobe Creative Cloud may be the way to go. But does it fit your budget? A subscription can start at $25 a month and increase exponentially depending on your needs.
If you answered NO to any of these questions, you probably need to reevaluate your decision to do it all yourself. Weigh the costs of training, software and your time against the cost of recruiting a professional website design team. Or you may even consider adding a web designer as a full-time member of your staff.
Coming Next… what to have in place before looking for a professional?
Whether you are a start up business or a well established company, there’s one thing you have in common. BRANDING! What is branding? Branding started back in the day when ranchers and farmers wanted to make sure that if their livestock wandered off or was stolen, they could prove that Bessie the cow was their property. And they did this by putting their mark on the livestock – basically stating “MINE“.
Today’s version of branding is a logo. Your logo should visually express your business -in a nutshell a logo is a symbol or other design adopted by an organization to identify its stuff. And where should your logo go? EVERYWHERE! On your signage, letterhead, business cards, uniforms, vehicles, advertisements, and – you guessed it – your website, your social media pages, your app, and your email.
Consistency is the watchword for branding. Your logo should appear the same in all iterations. It should not be blue on your website and red in your print ads. You should not have a different logo on your business cards than you do on your social media pages. You want your logo to be easily recognizable by your clients, customers and prospective customers.
So before you dive into a website, make sure your branding is in place.
Coming Next… Can You DIY it?