We routinely get requests like ‘What will you charge me for a website?’…which we don’t mind. That’s a perfectly legitimate way to start a conversation…but, please know that there isn’t a one word answer we can give you because it depends on what you want done exactly. A website is not a static product with a price tag like a bottle of milk at the grocery store. You could have a R7000 website. You could have a R70 000 website.
Fortunately most potential clients already realize this, and anticipate a series of questions from our end so that we can nail down the scope, and ultimately provide them with an accurate quote.
Unfortunately, other potential clients never mail us back those answers. We never hear from them again. I guess they were expecting an answer without anticipating that it would require any thought from their end, or maybe they saw the list of questions and broke out into a cold sweat. Phrases like ‘I know nothing about websites’ start to pop out… And that’s perfectly fine: Nobody expects you to give a technical brief full of web design tech jargon. I’m going to show you an easy and logical way of figuring out and communicating your website needs.
Basic Purpose of the Website
A good place to start is to answer why you need a website in the first place. What is it exactly that you are wanting to promote or sell? Do you just need a simple presence for your business online? Do you want to sell products in an online shop? Do you want a blog where you can post your thoughts?
Functionality of the Website
Once your website no longer has an existential crisis (i.e. it knows its purpose), the next step is to list everything you want your website visitors to be able to do on your website. Maybe visitors only need to be able to read information. Maybe there’s something for them to download. Maybe you want them to register, and if so why?
It’s also a very good idea to have a look at the websites of your competition. What are they offering their website visitors? Analyze those sites, and see what would work for you too, and jot those items down on your list.
Working out the Website’s Pages
Now it’s time to start grouping those ideas into logical pages. This may sound daunting, but just think of your typical experience on any half decent website…you have a menu of options in the form of buttons. Something like: Home | About Us | Products | Contact Us. Let’s say, you choose the products button: On that page you may have a brief summary of 10 products with ‘read more’ links. Etc etc. It takes a bit of time, and thought, but you will find that it’s not difficult. You are literally just listing what you want from your website in a straightforward manner.
What’s it worth to you?
You need to know what you are willing to spend. If a web designer asks you what your budget is, they’re not trying to figure out how much they can shake you down for. They’re merely trying to figure out if they can provide what you need within your budget. If they can’t, they may have suggestions to tweak your website plan in order to cut costs here and there so that you can afford it.
If you’re serious about commissioning a website, then you will have a figure in your mind of what it’s worth to you. If you aren’t serious, and you’re just curious about what it may cost you if you decide to get serious, then say so. At least that way, the web designer can simply provide an estimate or ballpark range which will satisfy your curiosity and save the web designer the time of working out an accurate quote.
A few extras that go hand-in-hand with websites…
Domain Name & Website Hosting
Every website on the internet needs a domain name (website address like yourcompanyname.com) and it needs to be hosted by a web host (company offering a permanently on-line server that the physical files of your website will be located on). The domain name needs to be renewed every year and the hosting service will either be charged monthly or annually. If you haven’t already organized a domain and hosting package, chances are your web designer either offers this service, or will have contacts in this field and will be able to organize this on your behalf.
Do you require it to be optimized for search engines and have it submitted to engines and directories? A good web company will keep search engines in mind when they are designing and optimize it for this purpose at no extra cost. The additional work of actually marketing your website after it has gone live will either be an added cost, or work for a marketing company.
When I say content I’m not referring to the interface (the menu and graphics that appear on every page), but rather the specific images and text that appear on individual pages that form the information for that particular page.
In terms of text, will you supply the content? If not, perhaps the web design company offers copywriting or has contacts in the copywriting industry…either way, if you’re not supplying the text, it will more than likely cost you extra.
When it comes to images, if you’re not supplying them yourself but want specific pictures included, this may be an added expense. The designer may be able to source free stock images, but don’t count on that. The designer may have to purchase stock photos for you or perhaps you will have to contact a photographer (if it’s product photos you need).
Will your website require regular or only sparse updates? If your website is one that will require regular maintenance, you should enquire about a CMS or a retainer.
- A CMS (Content Management System) is special functionality built into the website that allows a non-designer to update it. A good CMS will be expensive, and there will be a slight learning curve as you familiarize yourself with the user interface and controls.
- When you need regular maintenance, but would rather concentrate on your own job, you could enquire about a retainer. A retainer is a fee you pay monthly for a professional designer to maintain your site each month. The rate of the retainer is worked out according to how many hours of their time you have booked each month. It will be a discounted rate from their pay-as-you go rates, but would need to be paid every month, even if no maintenance is needed.
Naturally less regular maintenance could be purchased as needed. The designer will either have a maintenance rate based on time, or will quote you per specification.
Here’s a list of questions your web designer will likely need answered…
- Official name of business to go on quote?
- Full name of person responsible for payment to go on quote?
- Do you have a deadline for this particular job?
- What is your budget for this project (answering this question is potentially a big time saver for both parties)?
- Please summarise the site by listing the names of the pages you want your new site to contain (e.g. home, contact us, etc.) and a brief idea of what is to go on each one.
- Do you require anything out of the ordinary (e.g. shopping cart, content management system, etc.)? If so, please elaborate.
- Do you require any movement on your site (e.g. animated slideshow) )? If so, please elaborate.
- Would you like your site to be mobile and tablet friendly (recommended)?
- For your website, you will need to register a domain and have someone host the website. Have your organised this, or do you need it included in the quote?
- Do you need the website submitted to search engines (recommended)?
Article by Roxane Lapa of .COZA Web Design
This particular article was written in 2006 or so, and first appeared in the article section of www.coza-web.co.za, but we’ve revamped it in 2018, and moved it here for a wider audience.