Posts Tagged Web development

My response to your emails about Web Design & Development Costs


I recently turned our Google Adwords campaign on to get 2bscene out there and drum up some more business. It’s not that we’re not busy, but more the fact that I’d really like to see us grow this year after being too worried about consolidation last year. The more business I get in, the more staff I can employ and the feel good factor of that would be just amazing with all the doom and gloom that fills our lives because of the recession.

My Google advert states clearly “Professional Web design from just €1,499”. There are a number reasons we push that price. The main one is that it’s a very competitive price for a professionally designed, custom website and the other key reason is to stop people that aren’t serious about their web presence from contacting us.

I’ve outlined in detail many times before how we cost our websites and why they cost the price they do. But for some that message doesn’t seem to sink in.

Now, more than ever before, we get the “is that really how much it costs? You know we’re in a recession don’t you?” response when someone is presented with an estimate or proposal on the costs involved in developing a website.

The reason for this is simple. Most people just don’t fully understand what is involved in designing and developing a website. The work a professional company puts into designing a custom designed website is not comparable and cannot be compared to a website that costs €300. They are just two totally different things – it’s like comparing apples with oranges.

Some sad person is so ridiculously consumed by it all, feels it’s his duty to inform me that websites can be purchased for as little as €300.

Already he’s filled in the form on our website twice to let us know how he feels about our charges, the economy and how backward he thinks we are. Yet unfortunately, both times he has left non-existent email addresses, which means we can’t respond to him.

We’re pretty confident we know who this person is, I just hope he reads this… so I can let him know that I understand my business, the market place and that we don’t and don’t want to compete with those cheap and nasty web design firms.

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Backend Layout (Grid View) Feature of the New Typo3 4.5 LTS

For anyone who has ever used Typo3 as a CMS, they would be well aware of the limitations associated with the layout of a page (backend layout) in the administration area.

Without hacking or using third party extensions such as TemplaVoila, it was pretty difficult to get anything more than the Left, Normal, Right & Border columns to add content elements to your website. For someone familiar with Typo3, it wasn’t a major problem, but as soon as you put the administration system in front of someone who was about to use it for the first time, it created nothing but confusion.

With the release of Typo3 4.5, Typo3 developers now have the ability to make a more user friendly admin page for content editors through their new core feature Grid View (Backend Layout).

With ease, we can now give the Typo3 user a more user friendly and intuitive admin page just by creating a few simple backend layout views that only helps people make a better association with the websites design.

I found it very hard to find any decent information online about how to implement the Backend Layout feature, so I’ve decided to put together this little tutorial on how you can get started.

Step 1 : Create Backend Layout
The first thing you need to do is create a system folder to store your backend layout templates.

Once you’ve created the new system folder, choose List (on LHS) > the System Folder > Click the “Create Record” button at the top of the RHS page. Then from there, you should choose “Backend Layout”.

On the next screen that loads, enter your Title (used to easily identify the layout) and click the Grid Wizard icon (pencil and notepad) beside the Config field. It is also a good idea to associate a simple graphical icon to help you identify the layout visually.

 

The Grid Wizard allows you to design a layout, in our simple example we use a Top Left, Top Right and Bottom style layout.

 

One thing to note here is that you MUST enter a Name and Column number for each column of the layout grid. If you don’t do this, you will get a “not assigned” error in the admin page.

The Grid View wizard creates the config code required to make it all work!

E.g.

backend_layout {
colCount = 2
rowCount = 2
rows {
1 {
columns {
1 {
name = TopLeft
colPos = 1
}
2 {
name = TopRight
colPos = 2
}
}
}
2 {
columns {
1 {
name = Bottom
colspan = 2
colPos = 3
}
}
}
}
}

Once you are happy with your layout, you can now begin to apply the layout to the backend page.

 

Step 2 : Apply Layout to Backend Page
This step is very simple, all you need to do is access the page properties of the page you would like the Backend Layout applied to. Choose the “Options” tab and at the bottom of this page, you should see the icons (if you’ve applied one to the layout) of the layout options you have available. If not, you can simply choose your layout from the drop down menu.

 

Step 3 : Apply to Front End Template
Nothing hugely changes much from a front end perspective. We all have our own ways of doing this I’m sure. But here’s a simple example of what we would do:

Layout.html File

<!DOCTYPE HTML PUBLIC “-//W3C//DTD HTML 4.0 Transitional//EN”>

<html>
<head>
<title>Untitled</title>
</head>

<body>

<!– ###DOCUMENT_BODY### –>
<div id=”topLeft”>
<!– ###TOPLEFT### –>
TOPLEFT of page
<!– ###TOPLEFT### –>
</div>
<div id=”topRight”>
<!– ###TOPRIGHT### –>
TOPRIGHT of page
<!– ###TOPRIGHT### –>
</div>

<div id=”bottom”>
<!– ###BOTTOM### –>
BOTTOM of page
<!– ###BOTTOM### –>
</div>

<!– ###DOCUMENT_BODY### –>

</body>
</html>

 

TypoScript Set Up
page = PAGE
page.typeNum = 0

page.10 = TEMPLATE
page.10.template = FILE
page.10.template.file = fileadmin/layout.html

page.10 {
workOnSubpart = DOCUMENT_BODY
subparts.TOPLEFT< styles.content.get
subparts.TOPLEFT.select.where = colPos = 1

subparts.TOPRIGHT< styles.content.get
subparts.TOPRIGHT.select.where = colPos = 2

subparts.BOTTOM < styles.content.get
subparts.BOTTOM.select.where = colPos = 3

}

One final thing to do is make sure that you have included the CSS Styled Content in your statics!

That should be enough to get you started with this great new feature! Enjoy!!

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Was 2010 the year for eCommerce? Will Irish retailers begin to smell the coffee?

Supermarket check out, London January 2005 Aut...
Image via Wikipedia

Over the Christmas you probably noticed a lot of retailers out on various news reports complaining about poor sales (as they like to at Christmas) and in most cases with great reason too. I personally still find it hard to believe how many of the retail outlets in Ireland are still in business. The double blow of the recession and the god awful snow that engulfed Ireland and the UK for nearly 3 weeks certainly didn’t do anything to help their falling sales. But, for many reasons, I just can’t bring myself to feeling 100% sorry for these retailers.

It’s not that I am a cynical and bitterly twisted man that makes me feel this way. And I am certainly not a hardcore socialist who would sticks two fingers up at all retailers and say “ha, you should have treated your staff better!”. No, I’m just someone who has worked in the Internet for over 10 years now and have seen so many Irish retailers ignore the great benefits a properly prepared online web strategy.

“Fail to prepare, prepare to fail” is the phrase mentioned by one Irish great that sticks out in my mind when I think of how Irish retailers have ignored such a valuable resource to their business.

In the UK, it’s been reported that 44% of their population upped their online spend this Christmas compared to 2009. The total amount spent online in the UK was £2.8bn !! Another interesting fact is that 86% of UK consumers logged on to the Internet on Christmas and St. Stephens day a 10% increase on the previous year. 62% of those consumers shopped for sale items over those two days!

John Lewis say that their online sales in the 5 weeks to January the first accounted for £500m. And I guess it’s no surprise that the leading retailers online (after Amazon & eBay) were Argos, Next and M&S.

When you see figures like this, it amazes me to think that Irish retail businesses still don’t take their online business serious enough.

Let’s take a list of Irish retailers and see how they compare with their UK counterparts…

Harvey Normanwww.harveynorman.ie
Although it appears to be sitting on an eCommerce system, namingly Magento – there is no option to buy online. Maybe they need the footfall to generate some cross sells – but there are other ways of getting people into the store – and not many people were venturing out in the snow! They don’t seem to have a UK site (if they are even there!)

Curryswww.currys.ie
Much the same as Harvey Norman – display lots of products, but don’t allow you to buy (from what I can see). You can buy online from their websites in the UK.

River Islandwww.riverisland.com
River Island have a nice website and you can purchase online – albeit in sterling and not 100% sure if you can get it delivered to Ireland (or pick up in store!)

Boots www.boots.ie
I don’t know about you, but if I could have bought items online through the Boots website I would have! Anyone who has ever tried to buy perfume through somewhere like Amazon knows that they simply won’t deliver to you. A golden opportunity for someone like Boots to make a few quid online. And can you imagine those great 3 for 2 offers… oh I wish… of course, you can do this online if you live in the UK.

Dunnes Storeswww.dunnesstores.ie
A great Irish brand with, it must be said, a visually appealing website – but no you can’t buy online. A place I would have definitely bought online over the Christmas period as I desperately searched for 2 turkeys for Christmas Dinners!!

I could easily go on and on but I won’t…

There are of course some exceptions to what appears to be the rule. You will find some retailers with decent enough websites, but by on large they just don’t exist.

As usual, it tends to be the smaller, lesser known retailers that appear to take their online presence more serious in Ireland – but even those are far and few between. When we have a country next door to us spending nearly £3bn online at Christmas it seems ridiculous that there aren’t more retailers taking a serious look at trying to grab a piece of this with a proper online marketing strategy.

The Celtic Tiger as we know was really good for Ireland, but the current lack of interest in making a serious online effort to generate business is an indication of how well we actually had it. “Ah sure I don’t need to sell to online, sure there’s plenty of business already….”

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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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Need a web designer? Things you should look out for…

In the past, when fax machines were in mass use… if your business didn’t a fax number, no-one took you seriously. Nowadays, the same can be said about a company without a website. If any company is serious about succeeding, they must have a website. Unfortunately, web design is a lot more complex than plugging in a fax machine and waiting on it to ring.

It is essential that your business website conveys the correct message that will help with the promotion of your business. Whether that is just a simple brochure website that details your services, phone number and opening hours or if you require something a little more advanced like a fully blown eCommerce system, at the very least, it should add value to your business. And the best way to make sure you are getting the best from your web presence is to find the right web designer.

I think it’s fair to say, Web Designers are a strange breed. Everyone seems to know one and has had OR heard of a bad experience with a web designer. Web designers are notorious for falling off the face of the earth, never to be heard from again. Many leave businesses stranded with websites that they can’t even make the simplest of changes. Others are left with designers who charge the sun, moon and stars for the tiniest of changes to a web page. Well unfortunately it is a very common situation. But there is a common reason for this.

In many cases web designers are highly under valued in terms of the work they do. The reality is that most people don’t actually understand how long it takes to make changes to a website. Although many changes are a simple task (to someone who knows) – most of the time, they are still quite time consuming tasks.

If you ask an electrician for an hour of his time to get your electricity back on, you’d probably be happy to spend €90 for this privilege. But with a web designer, someone who sits at a computer screen all day and “presses a few buttons”, paying them €90 for this seems quite outrageous. Especially when as far as you can see, you just want them to move an image to the other side of the screen.

The reality is that many web designers have plenty of work and can’t be bothered working for someone who refuse to value the work involved in getting your “small change” done. A lot of these cheap web designers come straight out of college or initially started working for you as a nixer. Getting that extra bit of cash is great in the early days. But as soon as they try and make a living out of it, they quickly realise that it’s really not worth it. It doen’t take long to realise that the time spent on your project, would be better spent working for McDonalds, because quite simply, they’d earn a lot more money and get more respect from people enjoying that Big Mac meal than having to listen to constantly justify the bill for the work they have done on your website.

If you are only starting out on the road to web success, you should really read this article to get an idea of the typical situation a web designer endures on a near daily basis : http://www.27bslash6.com/p2p.html – if you think you will easily be able to find the best web designer for your website for next to nothing, think again. The good ones simply don’t come cheap!

Here’s another few tips on choosing the right web designer for your business.

  1. Don’t judge the book by its cover
    The first thing most people do when searching for a web designer is look at the company’s portfolio. Although this will give you a good idea of what kind of work they produce, a lot of a web designers work is client driven. Web designers tend to work on the edge of the latest design fashions. They create websites every day and are therefore ahead of most clients taste in terms of design. Generally speaking the clients drive the style they want and most web design companies will give the clients exactly what they want (to a certain extent!).

    However, good web designers will work with the client and help them understand how best to interact with your website visitors. If you find navigating websites on their portfolio to be poor, chances are that they are too.

  2. Clear Communication
    We come across a lot of disgruntled customers who were unhappy with their last web designer. Not because they were bad at their job, but because they didn’t listen to the client and understand their requirements. A lot of web designers have a clear idea of how a website works and believe one size fits all, which it clearly doesn’t. If your web designer doesn’t share the same vision as you, it’s unlikely to be a good working relationship – so don’t waste your time trying to convince them to your way of thinking. Get someone on the same level.
    There is also a major we like to call “feature creep”. This is where the initial brief for the project changes as the project progresses. In most cases they are minor and a lot of the time the web designer will take the hit without any complaints. However, if these requirements grow or change on a number of occasions, that can seriously dent the web designers motivation to complete the project and therefore the the relationship can become soured. To avoid this, make sure you are 90% clear from the outset as to what you’d like to achieve and let the web designer advice you on the best possible way to approach the rest.
  3. Listen & Learn from their experience
    There’s nothing worse from a web designers perspective than to hear “I read that… so we should really do this”. If the web designer is worth their weight in gold, they would have been around the block and heard this numerous times from their clients.

    This doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t question your designer – in fact, it’s the quite opposite. You should constantly ask your web designer for their advice. They will be glad to give it as they will feel happier that they can put their ideas into action and use your website as a great portfolio example.  They work everyday in this business and they have seen what does and doesn’t work.

    Always remember that a lot of what you read is already out of date in terms of web design and web marketing. A good web designer will be ahead of the curve and so detailed in his approach to design that he wouldn’t bore you with the details. But he would get great enjoyment out of explain the reason he used a particular font in a particular part of your site! So my adivce to you is to USE your web designers knowledge as much as possible – but make sure you are prepared to listen and change your mind.

At the end of the day, there’s nothing more a web designer really wants from you other than repeat business and a recommendation to potential clients. It is very much in their interest to make your website a success. It’s the successful clients that recommend them on for more work, which in turn puts food on their table.

The right designer will be passionate about every project they are involved in, to ensure its success. If you don’t feel the passion, don’t use that web designer. Find someone who is – but be very careful, like every industry, there are a lot of fly-by-nights. These web designers just want to make a quick buck from you and they never want to hear from you again. They don’t care if the site succeeds, they are making enough quick cash not to care about repeat business.

At this stage, it’s probably best to wish you all the success with your web project and don’t forget that our company offer web design and web development services – so get in touch if you’d like to discuss your web project with us!

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