Ask Other Site Owners – Website Design Buyers Guide Series
In this series we are providing a buyer’s guide to web design services. To give a more balanced range of advice we have accepted contributions from business owners with experience in buying web design services. In future series we will also cover SEO Services and online marketing. We will also add our input to the guides with the prefix ED:
Comments: Do More Homework Than You Think You Need To
This is my #1 tip when you are thinking about having a website designed. Specific research that is INVALUABLE is to find a website that has similar functionality to what you are looking for, and ask them how they did it. By “functionality” I mean find websites that do what you want your website to do — so, if you want to have a blog that you update yourself, and to sell a downloadable product — find websites that already do that, then get in touch with them and ask for 10 minutes of their time to ask them how they did it.
ED: Great advice Jill, and that is exactly what we are helping with in this buyers guide. We want to help customers be educated when they start looking for these services.
This one approach could save you thousands, if not tens of thousands of dollars. If I had done this when we created our very first website (in 2009), it would have saved me over $12,000. Why? Because I thought I’d done enough research — I had talked to over 7 web designers and felt we had chosen the right person. After all, I know how to do due diligence, right???!!! WRONG!
The first web designer we used charged us over $11,000 to custom build a website that should only have cost less than one third of that. How do I know? Because after we “finished” the website, it became clear it wasn’t performing as they promised. We had the site reviewed (that cost another $1500) and the conclusion was that it had not been “built” correctly. I THEN did what I suggest others do — I got in touch with the owners of websites who were doing what we wanted to do, and they told me how they did it.
And what THEY had done was to purchase off-the-shelf software that they then had some minimal custom-coding done on. We had to have our entire site rebuilt, using that approach (of off-the-shelf software with minial coding). Total cost of the rebuild: $3300.
There is a LOT of off-the-shelf software that will do what most websites require. Having your site custom-coded is often a completely unnecessary, and massive, expense. Money down the drain – literally.
ED: Exactly, there’s no user re-inventing the wheel. If there is a website software that does what you need then it will save a lot of work. We always consider available systems when offering a solution. Custom coding is usually a last resort if the requirement is too complex.
So – don’t just talk to a bunch of web designers. Talk to people who own and operate websites that do what you want yours to do, and ask THEM how they did it. Many people are more than happy for you to cold contact them and ask them for 10 – 15 minutes of their time (I recently had someone from the USA contact me for this very reason, and I happily said yes).
It could save you thousands.