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Posts Tagged ‘agency’

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?

May 23rd, 2008

5 Essential Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Web Design Agency

If you only ask a prospective web design company five questions, here they are…


1. Can I see some examples of your work completed on a similar budget and scope?
Seeing a designer’s portfolio is usually the first and most obvious method to evaluate their design capabilities. But, take it one step further by asking to see projects with a similar budget and scope of work. This should provide you with a clear expectation of what you’ll get for your money.

If you want to go even further than just looking at the designer’s portfolio, ask for two references that you can contact. Once you have the references in hand, give them a call and ask a few questions about the designer:

  • What goals did you have for your website?
  • To what extent did the designer’s work accommodate those goals?
  • How easy is the designer to work with?
  • Was the project completed on time and within budget?

2. What will be delivered? When can I expect it? What will it cost?
Ideally you want to look for a design company that will turn over the complete design and code upon completion, finish your project on-time and within your budget. Communicate your expectations for each of these and see if the company agrees to meet your expectations.

It is important to determine whether the project has a fixed price or billed hourly. In most cases, a fixed price is preferred because it sets your payment expectation and motivates the design team to complete the job quickly.


3. How will the site be managed?
It’s easy to get caught up in the web design process and forget to address the long-term management of the site. The last thing that you want is for your site to be designed and launched and then not know how to manage or update it. Save yourself the hassle and ask how the site will be managed before signing.

You need to determine if there is any software that you will need to manage the site. Furthermore you may also need the designer to provide some level of training on how to manage and update the site when needed.


4. Can you explain some of the technologies that you plan to use for the web design?
The technologies used for developing a website are important, but even more important than the answer itself is how the agency answers your question.

Did the designer talk in a language that you understand? If they use a large amount of technical jargon that is hard for you to follow, this may predict poor communication throughout your project. Effective communication during the design project is critical to getting a final product that meets or exceeds your expectations. Take care to choose a designer can explain their work in a way that you understand.


5. Do you have any questions for me?
Possibly the most important question that you can ask a web designer is if they have any questions for you. This puts the ball in the designer’s court and allows you to see what their approach to the project is.

Any designer worth hiring should at least ask a few clarifying questions (the more, the better). More specifically, you should expect a designer to have at least a few questions that focus on the business goals for the site, the website requirements and how the success of the site will be measured. Hiring a designer that doesn’t have a solid grasp on your expectations is a recipe for web design disaster. If they don’t know what you want and need then you aren’t going to get it.

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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.

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