Posts Tagged Web design

How much does a web design cost? Real Web Design Costs

It’s over a year since I wrote a similar article to this one on what it costs to design a website. Surprisingly, since that last post and with all the turmoil that is happening with the global and Irish economy, little has changed in terms of pricing. What has changed however, is the number of small web design companies popping up all over the place offering cheap web design solutions. I personally take no issue with these companies, unless of course they start comparing their work to the work a professional web design agency.

The problem with web design is that generally speaking, most people don’t actually understand what it takes to design and develop a website. I know from even my circle of friends, they would expect the building of a website to be something that can be done in a few clicks of a button. Of course this is a possibility and one of the reasons there are so many cheap and nasty web design companies in the market today.

We regularly get people telling us that we are “much more” expensive than other quotes they have received. In this case we always ask them to provide us with the proposal from the other company to see where the difference in price lies. In most cases, they are comparing apples with oranges. The service we offer is far superior to the cheaper alternatives. There are of course the exceptions when I can’t even contemplate why a company is going in so cheaply.

Like with every professional service, I think it’s best to look at things in context when discussing pricing around a service you require. Hopefully this article will open most peoples eyes into how a professional website is cost-ed and why.

Web Design Pricing
When we get a call from someone looking for a website designed, the first thing we ask for is an idea of other sites that the client is trying to emulate for their own business. This isn’t to plagiarise their ideas, but for us to get an idea of what the clients expectations are. Our next question would be related to the websites functionality, e.g. do you need to sell anything online, what level of interactivity do you want with the client etc.

Generally speaking, the answers provided will lead us two ways, one needing more questions answered or two, in a position to put together a proposal for the costs involved in the project. With the information received from the client, we can the plan the time we feel is required to deliver a finished website based on the clients brief. If it’s a complex project, it can take quite sometime to put together time-frames expected.

Time Required to Build a Website
Let’s take a simple brochure type website, with a Content Management System as an example of the time  required to deliver such a website.

  1. Design
    Design is a strange procedure that can’t be timed to an exact time-frame. There’s a massive level of creativity required and therefore, you can’t rush it. A typical design can take anywhere from 2-3 days to meet the initial design brief and at that stage, you will probably have one or two ideas developed.

    In all our projects, we work with our client to get a design that they are 100% happy with. If they don’t like what we have delivered, we will keep working until we get exactly what the client wants. Luckily enough, in most cases we don’t have a problem with it going beyond the 2-3 days allocated.

    Total Days: 2-3

  2. Design preparation for CMS integration
    Once the design has been fully signed off, we move onto preparing the agreed design for the CMS integration. This means developing the necessary HTML, CSS and JS code etc. This can take up to 1 day to complete.

    Total Days: 1

  3. CMS Installation & Design Integration
    As soon as the design has been cut up and is ready to be integrated, we start the process of installing the CMS. Depending on the CMS chosen and the complexity of the design, this can take anywhere from 2-3 days to fully integrate. At this stage, we also look after any functionality issues, such as forms, login systems etc etc.

    Total Days: 3-4

  4. Content Insertion
    The final build stage is the insert the content provided by the client. Typically we do a maximum of 15-20 pages of content for a client and then train them up on how to use the CMS to insert their own content if they require more.

    Total Days: 1-2

So there you have it, that’s a typical example of the time required to build a very basic website with a CMS. I haven’t included the time required for meetings, design briefing or testing. The basic nuts and bolts of building the website will take at least 7-10 days, yet it generally takes 4-6 weeks before the whole process is completed.

Web Design Costs
We charge per project basis. It’s not easy for me to give a set figure for the cost of the design and development of a website because requirements differ so much from client to client. Typically speaking, we would be charging anywhere from €2,500 – €3,500 +VAT for a typical brochure site with CMS.

To some that sounds quite expensive, but let’s break that down further to see where the costs come in.

a) Web Designer / Web Developer

A good web designer/developer’s annual salary will be anywhere from €30-40k per annum depending on experience. Since we need two people working on your website design, let’s take a mean salary of €35k per annum.

It costs the employer just over €790 per week (accounting for holidays) to have someone working on the project. The total cost for a 2 week project is therefore €1580

b) Project Management / Meetings
With any project, there is a certain level of project management required. Project management means meetings. As much as we can, we try to have meetings on-site, but most of the time it makes more sense to meet with the client in their offices. This obviously takes someone’s time and costs money for travel etc.

c) Rent, Calls & Other Misc.
A necessary evil of running a business, but we need to put a roof over our heads and buy PCs, phones broadband connection etc etc. Without all this, we wouldn’t be a web design company.

You can throw your own figures at b and c – but even with the lowest level, you can see there is very little margin in the costs charged for designing a simple website.

Cheap Web Design

So now that you’ve seen what the costs involved in developing a typical website, let’s look at how a cheap web design business operates. I say business as opposed to “company” because a lot of these businesses are one man operations run by self employed individuals working from home with little overheads etc. Other cheap web design companies will outsource their work to cheap labour countries such as India, Pakistan or China.

  1. Design
    Generally speaking, most of these companies do one of three things when it comes to the design aspect of a website.

    a) Download  and use freely available templates from the Internet. They then do some basic customisation of the design such as include your logo and other graphical material.

    b) Purchase already created designs from Templatemonster.com or similar websites. Again, there is a certain level of customisation required in this case.

    c) Outsource off-shore – absolutely nothing wrong with this, but the quality tends to be pretty poor.

  2. CMS Integration
    The majority of the cheap web design companies use one of the many freely available CMS solutions such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal. Apart from being really easy and quick to install, there are thousands of online resources where they can download free templates to use for their website theme.

Typically speaking, someone could put together one of these cheap websites, that will potentially look like thousands of other websites across the Internet in less than 2 days. If it takes them longer than this, either you are a nightmare client that is expecting too much or they don’t know what they are doing!

The bottom line is that if you want your website design from a professional design agency, expect to spend anywhere from €1,500 to €4,000 for a brochure type website. If you want to go the cheap route, don’t spend more than €500 – otherwise you are being ripped off.

I hope all the information above gives you a good idea of the complete disconnect between cheap web design and professional web design. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to use a cheap web design company, but before you start comparing apples and oranges make sure you completely understand what you are getting from your web designer.

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Content Management Systems – The Choice Is Yours

One of the most common questions I am asked is, “What Content Management System (CMS) should I use for my website??. The short answer is, that there is no short answer and there’s certainly no simple one!

Choosing a CMS really comes down to what it is you need to achieve with your website and what it is that you need to be in control of. There are hundreds of CMSs to choose from, all with their own individual capabilities and functionality. For some, a simple basic CMS will be enough to manage their brochure ware type website, but others require more flexibility and functionality.

A lot of web developers will be able to guide you toward the CMS that they feel suits your requirements best. But in a lot of cases, the web developer will usually suggest a CMS he/she is most comfortable using.

What is a Content Management System (CMS)?

A Content Management System is basically a piece of software that allows non-technical users to manage their website and its content. Through a CMS, website owners have the ability to add text, upload images, videos and documents to their website at their leisure without the intervention of a web designer. A CMS takes away the technical knowledge required to update and manage a website by creating an easy to use interface. With some CMS’s, it can be as easy to create a new webpage on your website as it is to create a new Word document.

Content Management Systems were born in the mid 1990s when web designers, bored with the laborious task of updating massive content heavy websites, decided it was time for change. They went about creating simple systems to help maintain the websites they created for their clients. Originally these systems were built for in-house use only and it was only a matter of time before they realised that there was a market for such a product.

Nowadays, it’s common practice for web design companies to install Content Management Systems (CMS) on all websites they develop. Even if you haven’t request a CMS from your web designer, it’s quite possible they have installed one already… mainly for their own sanity!

Paid vs Free

The first major decision you will be faced with when deciding what CMS you should use is whether you should buy one or use one of the many freely available open source CMS’s.

In the Open Source arena, there are hundreds of free CMS’s . Being free obviously has massive benefits, but it also brings its problems too. Because the software and its core code are freely available, it’s more susceptible to security and hacking holes. For this reason, choosing a CMS that is regularly updated and patched regularly is of key importance.

Generally speaking, CMS’s developed in-house by web development companies will occur an annual license fee. Developers of “off-the-shelf? CMS’s are likely to charge you a one off fee for its use and offer you free updates for one year.

Cost

You shouldn’t assume that because you have chosen to use a free CMS, there will be no costs involved in getting up and running. The simple fact is that there will still be costs associated with getting it integrated with your website. Your web developer is likely charge you for the time it takes to install and integrate the CMS with your website design.

If you have chosen a commercial CMS, some companies may waive the integration fee, but you will still have to pay to get a design capable of working with the CMS itself.

It’s really worth researching the cabilities and functionality of all available CMSs before deciding on which one to you use for your website. Here is small list of some of the most popular CMSs.

Recommended Content Management Systems

Typo3
An enterprise level CMS that offers full flexibility and expendability.  Typo3 is freely available to download and use under the GPL License agreement. Typo3 has a good choice of enterprise extensions and plugins available.

www.typo3.com

Technology: PHP, MySQL, Oracle, Postgres

€FREE (GPL License)

Joomla
Joomla is an award winning content management system. Favoured by a lot of developers for it’s easy installation and management capabilities. Joomla’s biggest downfall is probably its popularity. The fact that so many people use it, makes it more prone to abuse from malicious coders.

www.joomla.com

Technology: PHP, MySQL

Cost: FREE (GPL License)

WordPress
Favoured by bloggers as the tool of choice, it is now fast becoming a popular tool for managing smaller websites.

A huge collection of third party plugins are freely available.

www.wordpress.org

Technology: PHP, MySQL

Cost: FREE (GPL License)

Expression Engine
An affordable Content Management System that is feature rich and flexible.

www.expressionengine.com

Technology: PHP, MySQL

From €250.00

Kentico CMS
Kentico is another flexible solution and favoured by developers who are used to developing Microsoft ASP.NET applications.

www.kentico.com

Technology: ASP.NET, SQL

From €1,990.00

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Choosing a web designer to build your website

Nowadays, most people’s first port of call after hearing about your company is to check out your website. For that very simple reason, your website needs to make that all important first impression that will hopefully help them decide if your company is the business they would like to work with. If your website isn’t easy on the eye, clear and concise, you may put them off and ultimately lose the sale.

If this is your first web project, choosing the right web designer may seem like a daunting task. If you’ve been here before, you are likely to be looking for different things from your web designer. There are so many providers to choose from that finding a web design partner that suits your needs best can be like trying to find a needle in a haystack.

But before you go checking out every single web designer in the top of the Google search results, you should first establish what your needs are. Do you need a dynamic eCommerce website where you will sell products online or is your website more of a basic brochure type website that will simply give you an online presence? Personally, I’m not a fan of the latter as I believe the majority of businesses can sell something online.

Choosing the type of web design companies that you’d like to approach can come down to many factors. Can they build the type of website you require? How long have they been in business? What is their portfolio like? And probably most importantly, how much will it cost?

It’s always good to have a budget in mind, especially when prices can differ greatly from designer to designer. Just to give you an idea of realistic budgets, using a reputable web design agency, who deliver quality custom designs you should expect to pay anywhere from €1,500 to €4,000 for a brochure type website. If you are looking for a cheaper option, you can get websites from as little as €300 but they are like to be prebuilt templates with little room for customisation.

When you’ve decided what you need, it’s time to find your new web design partner. The easy thing to do is to run a search in Google, but it’s probably best if you seek recommendations from others. Try and build a shortlist of no more than 3 web design companies that you think you’d like to work with.

One thing to remember is that it’s not important if the design agency hasn’t worked in your industry before. Just because they don’t know your industry doesn’t mean they won’t be able to deliver a quality website. In fact, it’s probably best that you work with a company that haven’t worked with a similar business to yours. The best web designers will want to see the website they build for you succeed. They will be eager to learn about your business and as the relationship grows, you will probably divulge a lot of inside knowledge of how you sell your business to help them understand what you need from your website. Can you imagine if they were telling another client all your secrets? All that hard work you put into making your website a success, simply being passed to a competitor.

When you’ve decided to request a proposal from your chosen web designers, it is important to brief them properly. If they don’t understand your requirements the price they quote will either be too low or too high. If the price is too low, this will lead to problems in the future. Web designers love to call it “feature creep?. This is where the client hasn’t explained their requirements properly, the designer feels that the request is extra work and inform you that they will want to charge extra. This can lead to a breakdown in the relationship which is a common occurrence in web design projects. I’m sure you’ve heard of someone who has a web developer who doesn’t answer calls or has gone missing from the face of the earth, well this is generally the reason why. The other side of that coin is where the designer over estimates your requirements and give you a massive estimate. Web designers are all too aware of this “build me a bebo? syndrome. Bebo of course would cost hundreds of thousands of euros to build, whereas most clients don’t even need 20% of the functionality for their own website.

After you have received your proposal and you like what you see, the next step is to look for references. Ask the web designer to provide you with a list of referees that you can contact and make sure you ring at least one of these. Find out key things like, did they deliver what you requested, did they do it on time, are they good to work with etc.

Finally, you should meet the chosen web designers – just like you would an interview. If you take your website seriously, your web designer will essentially become part of your team. If you want to get the best from them, treat them like you would a good member of staff.

Now you are ready to make your decision. Remember to treat this relationship as a long term one. A good web designer will always respect the clients who respect them. As your project comes to an end there will be changes required, some large and some not so. If you’ve a good relationship with your designer, they will be happy to make these changes without charging. But equally, if your designer tells you that it’s more work than they expected, let them know you are willing to pay them for their extra work. Good web designers aren’t easy to find, so if you’ve found one, cherish them!

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Creating Killer Call-To-Actions for your Website

Possibly one of the most common occurring themes for the majority of Irish websites is the lack of strong “call-to-actions?.

Having great call-to-actions one of the most effective (yet often overlooked) ways in which you can get people to interact with your website visitors. In a nutshell, call to actions make the visitors on your website “do something?. So if you want the person visiting your website to do something, tell them!

Personally, I don’t think you need to read the many studies that show how effective a strong call to action can be to realise that they can greatly improve the response from the visitors to your website. For me it’s quite obvious that by constantly making it clear what you want the person to do when they are on your website, will have an effect.

Developing strong call to actions are not rocket science, but in saying that, you should spend sometime thinking about what you want the button to do and how you will achieve it. Here are three simple steps to help you build a killer call to action:

Colour
The easiest way to make a call to action jump off a page is to emphasise it with colour. There are studies that suggest red, yellow and orange are the best colours to use for many different reasons, but the general rule of thumb should be that it stands out from the background.

Wording
Setting aside time to research what wording is best for your call to action could prove time well spent. If you want someone to do something, tell them this. For example don’t be afraid to say “Click here to…?. Think hard about the effect the wording you are using will have on someone. In reality you should try some split testing to see what wording works best.

Placement
We all know that it’s hard to gauge exactly how small or big the screen of the person visiting your website actually is, but it doesn’t take a whole lot of research to find out what the majority of people on the web are using. Choose your optimum resolution and ensure that all (or those most important) call to actions appear “above the fold?. In other words, make sure the user doesn’t have to scroll to see your call to action.

And the only way to finish off this post is to say… test, play, experiment and test again!

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It’s not all about your homepage!

Are Your Landing Page Forms Naughty or Nice?
Image by HubSpot via Flickr

In trying times, many businesses rightly try to save money where they can. One of the areas that possibly suffers most in a downturn, is the company website.

This is a real shame (of course I’d say that right), especially since your website is possibly the most cost effective tool that you have at your disposal to help promote your business.  And of course, if you decided to invest in a content management system, updating your website shouldn’t be too much hassle!

But what if you don’t have a CMS or you think your website is starting to look a little dated? A lot of companies think that by making “a few amendments” of their homepage will suffice. Generally they don’t understand the amount of work involved and they certainly don’t know how useful it will be when it’s all done. Unfortunately, making even the smallest amendments aren’t that straight forward. In fact, it can sometimes take longer to create a new homepage design with your additions than it was to create your homepage design in the first place!

Regardless of this, it must be noted that improving your website is not all about your homepage. We see this question on a regular basis:

“why does Google show my inside page when I search for X and not my homepage”

The simple answer is that Google will show the most relevant result to the search query performed. So therefore, if your contact page has more relevant information to the query, it will display this page above your homepage (in the majority of cases). For this reason, it is essential that you treat EVERY page as a landing page and not just your homepage.

If you thought you were doing an excellent job by creating many strong call to actions on your homepage, think again. You must include these call to actions on your inside pages too. You simply can’t tell where the user will land on your website after finding your website in the search engines. Of course, by studying your website statistics, you can see where people are coming from and what pages they are landing on after they have found you for a particular search. You should use these statistics to improve your call to actions on those landing pages.

So the next time you plan to make a “few small amendments”, try thinking of the bigger picture and how very likely it will be that you will have to make a lot more than just changes to your homepage!

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