Most of my private work comes from recommendations and often the first thing i’m asked is “how much will it cost?” I then have to ask “well what do you want?” and then references to varying lengths and pieces of string inevitably weave their way into the conversation and no one is much the wiser by the end.
Websites can be very complicated things (although they should never seem complicated to the end users) and getting an accurate quote can be hard. So, here is a list of things that I think will help you get an accurate quote from a Web Designer.
- A solid plan and Mission Statement. As obvious as it may sound, it really really helps inform the project. Occasionally, I have had scenarios where the business plan has changed as the website is started, simply because the process of creating content for a website has informed the client a lot on what they are actually offering.
- A primary objective for the website. What do you want the website to do for you. This should help inform your contents reasons for existing. It is also useful to have second and third objectives available. A simple question to ask yourself is “Why do I need a website?“, you never know, you might not need one at all… I hope you do though.
- Who is the website for? Who do you expect to visit the site or want to visit the site? Knowing who is going to be interacting with your content can help inform some key decisions.
- Create a Sitemap. Whether it is a spider chart or pieces of paper connected by pencils on the kitchen floor, working out your information architecture is a very useful thing to do for you and the Web Designer.
- Write your Content. For many this is the hardest part, especially if you are a one person business. Doing this can really iron out any gaps in your offerings and is worth doing as early as you can. People often ask me to create sites with just titles so they can fill it in later, this is pretty bad practice, because the website should be built around what you have to say and offer, NOT, what other sites offer. Don’t be too English! Us Brits tend to be a bit too apologetic about stuff… Be bold, the web has no time for understatement and chances are you a very good at what you do.
- Photos and imagery. More often than not it is good imagery that makes or breaks a website. Search engine robots love reading through all your text and ranking you accordingly, whilst us humans love nothing more than pretty things and when it comes to websites we are like sparrows with ADHD. Walter Benjamin once said “The illiterate of the future will not be the man who cannot read the alphabet, but the one who cannot take a photograph” so, get your camera out.
- Website Features. Is it a simple online brochure where people can find out more about what you offer? An online shop, a directory site or all three and more? This is all very important from a costing point of view. If you can be as detailed as to say you want slideshows here and quotes there etc we can start to quote with laser guided accuracy.
- User Interaction. How will people interact with your site? What are the user journeys? Quite often these are quite formulaic but it is always worth thinking on and considering how the user experience can be improved.
- Know thy enemy! Who are your competitors and what do they do well and not so well is always worth figuring out
- What are your favourite sites and why? Is it looks or ease of use or is it just that they have pictures of squirrels everywhere. Certainly from a design point of view it is really useful to understand a clients aesthetic.
- I want it Yesterday! Do you have a deadline? Knowing your timeframe is very helpful especially if it is a trade show that you have remortgaged for.
- How Much? Understandably people start to shift in there seats when I ask what the budget is. However, if I know what your budget is and what you want, I’m more inclined to try to make that happen even if it is very tight. In my experience clients who are clear on budgets get more for the money.
These are by no means hard and fast exhaustive rules, but the more informative and concise your plans and materials are, the less we have to err on the side of caution and over quote.