Toolbox Blog: resources, tips, tricks & info for creative professionals

Posts Tagged ‘advice’

August 18th, 2009

How Much Does a Website Cost?

4 out of 5 inquiries from new customers begin with some form of the question, “How much does a website cost?”

I think they would be most happy if we could open up the magic website price book and provide them with a useful answer. Instead, we usually say … “Well, that depends upon the type of website you would like to build.”  (How’s that for helpful?)

Actually, it is helpful because such a question begins a discussion that allows both parties to thumbnail out the actual scope of the project at hand.

Here is my firm’s approach to collecting the information necessary to provide initial pricing estimates.  It is a four quadrant model that includes: scale, features & functionality, content development, and interactivity.

Scale – How many sections and pages are we thinking about here?  Is it a redesign of your current site whereby the size of the site might grow by a foreseeable percentage?  Is there a competing site that does a good job capturing the information we’re hoping to capture?  Have you jotted out a preliminary sitemap?  The more thoughts the client can provide on the scale of the site, the quicker we can provide helpful budgetary information.

Features & Functionality – Basically this means “what do you want visitors to be able to do on your site?” – and – “what type of management control and integration are you looking for on the back end?”.   Front end features are usually more obvious.  Are you looking for basic forms, links, and a search feature?  Do you want to post jobs, manage news & events, and host a forum?  Is ecommerce involved? (If so, get ready for a good many more questions.)  Back end features are typically not as thought through.  What degree of content management are you looking for?  Does the site need to integrate with any other software, servers, databases?  One atypical feature request can easily add 50% to the cost of a web project.

Content Development – Content covers both the copy (words on the page) and the images (photos, illustrations, video).  Will the client be providing final website copy?  Or, will you be in need of copywriting and/or copyediting services?  To what degree?  Is there any video production needed for the website?  Will we be using stock photography, client-provided photography, or custom photography?

Interactivity – How much interactivity are we wanting to incorporate into the website?  Hold all other parts equal (scale, features, content), a website with a high degree of interactivity (transitions, multimedia presentations, flash integration) can easily cost 2-3 times more than a basic static website.

To make the “how much?” question even more interesting, the “how much” often depends upon “who” you’re asking.

As you move across the scale from part timers/freelancers/students/friends to very-large-agencies, the cost of a similarly scoped project will increase exponentially.  Experience, team size, and overhead all get factored in and influence the pricing.  On the plus side, you do usually get what you pay for.  Not always.  Usually.  Also, it’s sometimes comforting to know that your web resource will be reliable and won’t be moving/leaving the industry/graduating/you-name-it any time soon.

Technologies used to create your website certainly influence price.  Microsoft licensing costs can add up.  Open source web technology provides a major value, though is not welcome in all organizations.

Lastly, certainly not least, is the degree of search engine optimization effort that is provided with your website.   If a web partner is going to invest the time and effort to identify how people find your business and then incorporate that knowledge into the architecture of the website, be prepared to see at least a few thousand dollars added to the cost of the project.

Some sites cost $1,200.  Others $300,000.  Still others $2MM.   There’s no one price for a website, only a series of trade-offs.

So there we have it, right?

March 19th, 2009

Should Your Web Developer Be Your SEO Consultant As Well?

SEO/Design/Development JuggleMost people not in the industry think about SEO as something that is done outside the actual website, if they’ve done their research then it will be all about link building, blog posting, PPC, etc.  The truth is there are an awful lot of things that can be done within the coding of a site that can make or break any SEO effort – we call this ‘On-page SEO’.  For more specifics take a look at our Simple Guide to SEO post, but it suffices to say that ignoring this type of SEO can kill a campaign before any ‘off-page’ effort has even started.

Ideally your web developer will know about these practices, but you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who has the time to stay up-to-date on the constantly changing SEO world AND continue to move forward with the latest design techniques.  ViceVersa, don’t expect your average SEO consultant to be able to design and code your entire website.

There are people out there who are experts in both areas and can effectively build your site and manage your SEO, but they are few and far between.  Nine times out of ten attempting to cut costs by having one person do both will backfire.  Another option is to hire different people/agencies for each component.  It is a valid strategy, but there are inherent potential problems with this type of set up.  Any SEO consultant worth his salt will want to take a look at your website’s code, and will probably want to make at least a few changes.  Suddenly  issues of file access and permissions pop up that can really complicate, not to mention drastically slow down, the process.

The best possible solution is to have your site designed by an agency who employs both designers/developers and online marketing specialists.  You’ll end up with a coherent and more successful website because of the smooth communication between the two camps.

March 10th, 2009

Land a Job in the Web Industry

Today’s job market is competitive to say the least, and you need to be able to stand out from the stack of resumes to make overwhelmed interviewers sit up and take notice.  Here are a few resume and interview tips that can help you land a position in the web industry.

Resume Tips
  • Be Clear and Focused: Your resume is not the place to tell your life story.  Stick to experience that is relevant to the exact position you are applying for.  Furthermore – within each job or web project listing point out the activities that are relevant to the position you are applying for now and try to leave out the rest.  Also consider using a list format, it’s easier to scan and will force you to leave out superfluous details.  The idea is to strike a balance – make sure its as easy as possible for the people in charge of hiring to get the basics, but have enough information on there to make it clear you are qualified for the job.
  • Promote Yourself: Your resume should make it crystal clear why you deserve the position.  Include everything that adds value i.e. talk about whatever programming language you are an expert on, apps you’ve built, the projects you managed, what exactly you were responsible for and how everything ran smoothly.  Also make sure you keep your language professional, but don’t be afraid to put in a bit of your personality.  It will help you stand out from the stack of resumes you are competing with, and anyone can spot insincere business speak anyway.
  • Quality not Quantity: It’s important to include a portfolio – but it shouldn’t contain every single site you’ve ever worked on.  Pick out a reasonable number of your best sites and include links to the actual sites.  Screenshots are great but won’t cut it alone – most of the people responsible for hiring will want to check out your code, the site’s usability, etc.
Interview Tips
  • Be Professional: An interview is usually the first impression, and you won’t get another chance.  First of all you should dress appropriately.  In the web industry this can be a bit tricky as workplaces are generally more casual, with not much in way of a dress code.  However part of the first impression you make will be based on your appearance – so its best to look good, example: no need to wear a suit, but stay away from jeans and sneakers.
  • Be Informed and Interactive: The ideal interview is a 2-way conversation.  Sure the interviewer will ask questions, but if he doesn’t ask about something you are particularly proud of on your resume speak up and talk about it.  Do some research so that you are able to discuss the organization or website and actually know what you are talking about.  It’s also important to ask questions, remember you are trying to see if the position is a good fit for you, not just vice versa.  Research will also help you know which questions you should be asking.
  • Don’t show up empty-handed: While this is sometimes part of a resume, you should always bring a portfolio to your interview – and you should be prepared to leave it with the interviewer.  Make sure it is put together well (on nice paper, in color, maybe in a folder etc.) and that it serves as evidence of your best work.  This is standard procedure and expected, showing up to the interview empty-handed will imply you are unprepared and/or disorganized.
  • Follow Up: This is perhaps the most over-looked component of the interview process.  A few days after the interview make sure you follow up with the company to re-emphasize your interest and qualifications.  Realistically this won’t make a big difference if the interview didn’t go well, but if the interviewer is deciding between a few people the candidate that follows up will get the job 9 times out of 10.  So whatever you do, make sure you follow up – be it through a thank-you note, email or short phone call.

Once you land the job check out our post: 5 Great Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Web Designers

November 17th, 2008

5 Great Pieces of Advice for Aspiring Web Designers

From the obvious points to the light-bulb-over-the-head moments, there is a lot of advice floating around out there for aspiring web designers.  Here are 5 pieces of advice you’ll get from anyone with experience:

Plan it out! Congrats, you’ve landed the project and now your just itching to go start the build.  But you’ll save time in the long run by having an overview of your design.  It just makes sense to do a site diagram in Visio or, if you’re old school, pick up that pencil and paper.  You’ll catch the obvious mistakes/problems early on and will be able to fix them before its too late.  As an added bonus, it gives clients something tangible to look at while you explain your ideas.

Practice, Practice, Practice. Once you’ve got the basics down practice.  Volunteer (aka do work for free) at first to find your style and build up a portfolio.  Do a site for your church/favorite local pub/barbershop quartet…whatever.  Build up and maintain a few sites of your own – people will generally be more impressed with what you can do rather than where you went to school etc.

Be a “Jack of all Trades”. Web design is a competitive market, so don’t expect to be able to learn the basics and immediately land freelance jobs.  Make yourself attractive to potential clients by learning HTML, XHTML, PHP, SQL, CSS, and Javascript.  Its unrealistic to become an expert in every single one of these – but it pays to be familiar with them all.

Get Inspired! Take a look around the Internet for examples of good design (there are countless galleries around that were created for this purpose).  Find out who designed your favorite sites and seek out their other work.  Don’t steal their designs – but pay attention to the fonts, color schemes, and techniques they are using.  Pay attention to things outside the world of web design as well; posters, menus, art, even graffiti on the street can be great sources of inspiration when your stuck.

Last but not least…

Go the extra mile! Experiment with new techniques and try things that would normally fall outside your comfort zone.  Be available to your clients – this doesn’t mean you have to answer when they call you at 3am (unless your up anyway of course) but being approachable will make the relationship more successful.  While you’re at it back up their site for them, clients will love you if you’re able to give them back lost material if/when something goes wrong.  In short, do everything in your power to continue to grow as a designer and foster great relationships with clients – their recommendations are often the most direct route to your next project!

Any other bits of advice you’ve heard over the years that were particularly helpful?  Let us know!

SEARCH BLOG
DreamTemplate - Web Templates     Host 6 Domains on 1 Account

Graphics.com/Learning    

Website 120x60 Logo    
ARCHIVES

SUBSCRIBESubscribe
ABOUT AGENCYTOOL At its core, AgencyTool exists to serve as a resource for creative agencies, whether they be into web design, print, advertising or anything else. Here on the AgencyTool Blog you'll find a mish-mosh of resources and thoughts that we think are worth sharing.

Feel free to comment on a post or drop us a note if you've got something to say. We love comments, so we don't use nofollow, but we do moderate - you've been warned!
 

 

How is AgencyTool.com different from other web directories?

  Quality Listings. We're selective. We take the time to individually review each submission, so you know the companies listed with us are legitimate and of the highest quality. If you list with us, you know your brand will be associated with the Nation's Premiere Creative Agency Directory. Always above the board, and always there for you... Get Listed Now!