14 Apr Make Web Design More Affordable
Frequently, would-be website owners hire a web designer without educating themselves first. They need a website for their Best Blue Widget store, they get some quotes, settle on a price and want to start the process immediately. With web design, as with any other important and potentially costly undertaking, it is wise to be patient. Making decisions hastily and lurching forward recklessly without first becoming an aware consumer, results in poor choices, poor execution, frustration, disappointment and cost.
Everyone wants an affordable website but few are willing to invest the necessary time to do their homework. Affordable web design often means cheap and fast, but frequently, the price of a website will increases as the consumer’s wish list grows because of lack of planning.
Before you hire a Vancouver website design company designer, be aware of the value of patience, education and preparation. A website designer is a business person, if you don’t account for items in your design wish list prior to accepting a quote and then ask for changes later, the designer will, of course, charge for modifications and additions. It pays to be aware that a website designer is trying to earn a living, and some will charge for every change, minor or major and the less scrupulous will charge exorbitantly. “Time is money” as the saying goes. If you are thinking of hiring a website designer, use the following checklist of questions to ensure that you account for all of the features your website may require. Spending more preparation time will decrease frustration and cost:
- Do you have a good idea of how you want your design to look? Visit web design galleries and choose 5-10 examples of designs you like, then narrow that list down to 2 or 3. Show the designer your chosen examples. Letting the designer wing it is the road to frustration and disappointment for both you and the web designer. The web designer can take one of a million roads. Your job is to point her down one or two.
- Did the designer offer to wireframe your website? A wireframe is not a design – it is a skeleton or visual structure that shows the locations of parts of the design: logo, top navigation, sidebar, call-to-action, phone number, address, main content, footer, main images, social media icons and other widgets. A wireframe can save time, and therefore money. It is possible to work without one, but you should have a good idea, prior to starting, what elements must be present in the final design and where they should be located within the design. If not, you may be dissatisfied and request that changes for which you will be charged.
- Do you own the images for your design (have you purchased Royalty Free images)? There are good free image houses and public domain (morguefile.com, stock.xchng) images to keep web design costs down, but be aware that many other stock photo websites charge for images.
- How many mockups will the designer provide? Some web designers will charge per mockup. Others will have their own standard. Make sure you know how many mockups your web designer is providing.
- How many minor and major design changes have been agreed upon? Some web designers allow a few major changes during the course of design, limited in most cases, and often designers will allow several minor changes. Ask your web designer under what circumstances you will be charged for changes.
- Do you need a contact form? If you do, what information do you need to collect? How will that contact information be used and where will it be stored (database, spreadsheet, text file)? When a contact signs up, will they need an automated email response received after they submit the contact request? Do you want that response to be a text-based email or pretty HTML email? Do you want the email to display well on mobile devices? Will you need some sort of opt-in/unsubscribe option?
- Do you require a blog? Blogs must be either worked into a design, installed and configured, or installed as a separate standalone blog, both of which take time. A blog as an afterthought can cost time and money.
- Do you intend to take payments online? There are many ways to accept online payments. If you need to accept payments, find out what works best for you: PayPal.com, 2checkout.com?
- Do you want an online chat feature or online support feature? There are online chat features that allow you to see when you have a visitor to your website, what page they are on, and how long they’ve been there. This feature can be great because you can interact with a potential customer who is on your doorstep. Some customer support chat software have fees, while others are free (like offerchat.com). Make sure you know the difference.
- Would you like to include your latest Facebook posts or Twitter tweets? Many business owners like customers to see information about new services and products, or their thoughts about topics of interest to consumers. Having tweets and posts on your site can increase engagement and loyalty. The decision to have tweets and posts should be made prior to design so they are not tacked on later.
- Would you like to embed videos from your YouTube or Vimeo channel? If you have videos, you may want to embed them on your website. Videos should be accounted for and worked into the design prior to the commencement of design.
- Does your content need editing? Most designers, unless you plan to use a Web CMS (content management system), will insert your content into the pages they create but they will not edit that content unless you pay. It is up to you to edit the content or hire a web copywriter, which is not a bad idea because web editing is an art unto itself.
- Do you want basic on-page SEO (Search Engine Optimization)? Some designers will do a little on-page SEO as they insert your content, others will charge a fee. Make sure you know whether your designer is doing basic on-page SEO as part of her service.
- Do you want your website to be available on mobile-devices? As of 2012, 17 – 20% of website traffic is from visitors on mobile devices. If your website is not mobile-ready, you are effectively shutting your door, or at least making it stick, for a large number of potential customers or visitors. Mobile web design comes in many flavours. There are several options from creating a responsive design (one design that works on desktops and mobile devices) or a second website dedicated to mobile visitors. Ask the web designer about mobile web design before design commences.
- Would you like to add / edit content yourself? Some web designers can incorporate their design into some form of Web CMS, such as WordPress or Joomla, but it takes time, and costs money. You can also have a designer install and quasi-customize a WordPress or Joomla installation. Again, you must find out before design starts because doing so after design is complete can be time consuming and costly.
These are very basic questions that can save a lot of money and frustration for would-be website owners and web designers. People naturally want to get the most affordable web design they can. It’s human nature to want a deal. Affordable, however, frequently means slapped together, or not well organized on the part of both the consumer and the web designer. If you want to save money on web design, educate yourself, be prepared, and avoid costly shortcuts. A good website design requires the interest and involvement of the website buyer as well as the skill of the designer.