Pay the right price for your website
It almost goes without saying that these days, every business
needs a good online presence. But if you're not familiar with the
processes involved in getting a website up and running, having one
designed can be confusing, and too often business owners find
themselves being ripped off by slow, bad or plain unscrupulous
You want a good website - so you should be paying a good price.
But how do you know if you're paying too much? Read on for our
guide to how much you should be paying.
Types of website
Before we start, it's worth explaining the different types of
website. Most are variations between three kinds of design. We've
included comments from Smarta's lead developer, Mo, who has
provided helpful hints on timings and little shortcuts you can take
to lower the cost.
- Brochure-style, static websites
These websites generally only have a few pages, with content which
rarely changes. When changes do need to be made, the owner has to
get in touch with the designer. See The Island
Queen's website as an example.
- Ecommerce websites
Similar to the static site, but with an additional shopping cart
which you can make changes to using a content-management system
(CMS) - a bit like the Playlounge website.
- Bells-and-whistles, content-driven websites
If your core business is your website, it's obviously going to
cost a lot more to design than a few pages of images. Smarta's a
good example of this kind of website: lots of content, hundreds of
pages - all driven by a fairly complex CMS. It can include anything
from text-based pages, to videos, to social networking
What will I have to pay for?
When you're costing up a website, take the following into
Registering your domain should be quick and easy - and you should
be able to do it yourself. Use services such as GoDaddy, 1&1internet or 123-reg to register your
Ballpark figure: £10-£20
- Hosting services
Most internet registrars include hosting packages, giving you
around 10GB, as well as a couple of email addresses.
Ballpark figure: £2.50 per month for 10GB
Depending on how complicated you want your site to be, some
businesses choose to pay a separate graphic designer to create a
brand and determine how it will look before they hand it to a
development team to be coded.
Ballpark figure: £250 a day
A note on timings: Your designer will talk about
'templates' - the different types of page on your site. You might
want a blog template, a feature template, a shopping cart template
or even a social networking element with templates for each page of
that. Depending on the complexity of the templates, it could take
between a few hours and a day for each template to be designed. The
important thing is to set goals and agree on a timeframe with your
Tips: Save money by tweaking pre-made templates from
websites like OneDollarTemplates or
instead of having them designed from scratch.
This is the coding process which turns images created by a graphic
designer into HTML code. If you're having a complex, content-driven
website designed, there's a good chance you'll need this done
separately to the design.
Ballpark figure: £300-£400 a day
More on timings: Development is a complex process,
and a lot depends on how advanced your site is. If it's a simple
brochure site, converting the designs into code should be a
relatively straightforward process - whereas if your requirements
are more complicated, the development and testing process could
Tips: The Web
Accessibility Initiative helps website owners to ensure their
code meets accesibility guidelines, giving you advice on producing
SEO-friendly, cross-browser compatible code. If it's a fairly basic
site, save money on development altogether by trying PSD2HTML - it'll turn your
designers' photoshop images into HTML code. Finally, if you want to
add a social networking element, don't try to reinvent the wheel by
building something from scratch. Instead, use pre-built systems
like Pinax, Community Engine or Kickapps - or if you want
something really basic you can build yourself, try Ning.
While in most circumstances, you can probably do this yourself;
you may want to employ a copywriter to make sure your website looks
Ballpark figure: £200-£300 a day
Never underestimate the importance - or the cost - of images.
There are dozens of image libraries out there, charging between
£2-£200 for images. To avoid cringe-inducing stock photography,
hire your own photographer - particularly if you want to showcase
Ballpark figure: £250 a day, plus cost of
Tips: In some cases - for example if you own a cafe
or a shop and want to showcase its interior - hiring a professional
photographer is essential to keep your site looking professional,
although you may be able to rope in a student or a friend for less.
If not, image libraries such as istockphoto.com do images from £2 -
while sxc.hu has them for free. Flickr.com also has some free
images - just make sure you use those licensed under the Creative Commons
and attribute the photographer.
If you want a blog custom-designed for your website, include it in
the brief for your designer. They can usually create templates for
free plugins such as Wordpress, Movable Type or Blogger.
Ballpark figure: free - although you will have to
factor the design cost in.
Tips and tricks: more ways to avoid paying too much
- Spend time looking online for websites you like, then contact
their owners to find out which company they used and how much they
paid - it'll give you a better bargaining tool when it comes to
agreeing a price.
- Get quotes - lots of them. The more quotes you get, the better
idea you will get about how much your should be paying. If you're
in doubt, find out how much other businesses in your industry with
similar websites paid.
- At the beginning of the design process, set a project plan and
agree on delivery dates with your design and development teams.
This will allow you keep track of their progress throughout the
design process and be kept abreast of problems as they arise.
- If you want to use your website to keep your clients up-to-date
with news but don't want to pay to have a content-led site
designed, ask for a basic brochure site and include a blog which is
free to install and simple to update on a regular basis.
- 'Website in a box'-style packages such as Moonfruit can often be a good,
cheap alternative to having one designed.
- If all you want is a basic site, printing companies with
in-house designers can sometimes get the job done for less than
- Try PeoplePerHour to
get quotes from freelancers.
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