Why your cousin shouldn't build your website20-May-2017 I often hear stories about Business Owners getting 5 quotes from the same brief that range from $500 to $20,000 depending on the company quoting. Website owners don't know how to choose as all the quotes might be contain jargon and impossible to translate and compare. Then they talk to their friends and family and find out that their distant cousin or friend can build websites so they go with them. Big mistake.
Anyone can build a website
The great thing about the web is that, armed with a little bit of knowledge about how to build a website and a free download website program it is relatively easy to make a website.
This is also one of the problems of website development. Given that just about anyone can create a website means there are a lot of sites out there that are below standard in look and in code. We call this "tag soup" because web browsers have historically treated sloppy design and HTML leniently, there has been little pressure for web developers to follow published standards as the most popular web browser in the world, Internet Explorer, has historically not been standards complaint.
So given that is it relatively easy to create a website and there are no official qualifications needed you could end up with something that is totally opposite to what you thought you were getting and in addition to this, you don't know what you should be asking for so you don't ask for it.
It is only later when you start wondering why no one is visiting your site that you ask around and find out that your site is missing basics that every website should have but you didn't ask for so therefore you didn't get.
Why a print designer shouldn't build your website
If you care about your brand and care what kind of impression you make on your clients it is really important to spend the money and get a great design. But often you don't know who to turn too, so you ask the person who created your Business Cards in the hope that they will do a good job. After all they did a good job with your business cards.
The major problem with this is that the web is very different to print. Graphic designers think about design from a fixed print focus eg once the job is done, no changes will be made. Web design is more about creating fluid responsive design by taking advantage of what the web can do eg grow and display in multiple ways through multiple browsers and PC's.
Most Graphic Designers struggle with:
- Using large images that will slow down the site and annoy users who have to wait.
- Want to create something totally unique when there are proven rules to website layout eg logo in top left, menu across the top or down the left
- Get frustrated with the lack of control over the smallest of elements eg Line space or character space
- Want to use unusual fonts, there are really only a few fonts that can be used on the web, although this is slowly changing.
- The idea of flexibility, being able to add new navigation, future growth of the website and different page heights
- Struggle with the limitations from a print point of view but don't understand the flexible nature of the web
How to get the right person to build your website
Before choosing your web builder, ask the following questions:
- How long have they been making websites and can you see their portfolio
- What CMS will they be using
- Have they considered in the design new sections to the site and future growth to the navigation
- Do they know about web standards and do they adhere to them, not necessary but nice have
- Do they do SEO on each page of the website with unique key words on each page
- Can they explain Website Statistics so you know how your site is performing
- Do they have past websites that have proven results.
To give you an idea of why the prices vary so much you need to understand offshore development, pre-made templates and custom design and code.
A lot of companies will say they are Australian, they will say the have a team of designers and developers and they probably do, but they might be from India, Indonesia or Eastern Europe.
A lot of companies do this, however, in my experience the results have always been disastrous. The code is sloppy and often they don't complete the brief, and sometimes you wonder if they even read the brief. So after months of going back to them for changes it has cost your more in your time and the project has blown out of budget.
Most hosting companies and smaller technical development businesses use pre-made templates. There are thousands of templates out there and you can usually choose a template in a few different colour schemes, you drop in your logo and your content and voila, you have yourself a website.
This option is perfect if you want a professional look on a budget, however these are mainly for static sites and I would recommend for the same price you can get a WordPress site, use Wordpress Templates and have them installed and configured to your needs.
Using a pre-build CMS
There are a number of web technologies available, WordPress, Business Catalyst, WIX, Shopify to name a few, that make it easy to customise your website to your needs without re inventing the wheel. Unless you want something very specific that no one in the world has built, then this would be the most flexible and cost effective way to get a new website.
Custom design and custom code
This is probably the most expensive as you will be creating your website from a blank page. Your design, functionality and all coding will be unique and purpose built for your business.
This way of building sites is very rare noways with so many web technologies out there to install and modify, you wouldn't bother with building something from scratch unless you really had to.
In addition to the above there are also the different types of Digital Studios and web builders.
Because the internet has become a necessary part of every business there are a lot of people who offer web services from a wide range of businesses.
From Hosting companies, Advertising Agencies, Graphic Designers, Web Designers, Web Developers, SEO companies the list continues so who do you choose.
Well once again it depends on the type of website you want, below is a rough guide:
Please note: The term web designers is thrown around a lot as there is no clear job title for someone who builds websites and the below are generalisations from my experience only.
Hosting companies - might use templates to build you site with limited customisation
Advertising Agencies - might custom build a site and ongoing marketing strategy to tie in with your marketing efforts
Graphic Designers - might custom build small brochure sites that display information with maybe a form.
Web Designers - might custom build or use templates to buid a brochure site but with more understanding of what the web can do, some can integrate an off the shelf CMS
Web Developers - might use templates to build your site and create a custom back end coding EG shopping carts and databases
SEO Companies - might outsource the website development offshore and possibly the SEO however sometimes they do the SEO in house
So as you can see they do vary, however, just because someone says they are a Web Designer doesn't mean they design the website, they may be a Web Developer as the common misconception is that a Web Designer builds websites when actually it could be any of the above.