Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Business Website Design - The Right Price

(Part Four of a four part series. And I will be posting two of these each day.)

by Dustin Schwerman

Throughout this set of articles, one point has been central to the discussion: the success of abusiness website design is going to be based on your understanding of your business. Whether providing guidelines for your web designer or writing content for the pages, whether customizing or optimizing, knowing what your business needs from the new site is key to building the best possible site, ranking for the best possible keywords, and getting the best possible result from your visitors. And, as should come as no surprise at this point, it is also quite likely the single most important factor involved in getting the best possible price.

Website design is a highly technical profession. It requires not only an understanding of the proper codes and syntax, but also how to use those codes to create various desired effects. It requires the patience to hunt through lines of code to find where you used a double quote rather than a single quote, or where you missed a semicolon. Of course, it's the typos like that that are easy to deal with; the real problem comes when you open your brand new custom function for the first time...and nothing works. Add to that an understanding of current web standards, proper SEO practices, and differences in browsers and computers, and it should come as no surprise that designers charge significant rates for their expertise.

You probably want a powerful and flexible site for your business, not to mention an attractive one, so you don't expect cheap. Affordable, however, isn't out of the question, and reasonable is more likely still. First, naturally, you have to pick the right designer. Shy away from those who charge by the page count, and think carefully before going with set package deals. The former is simply ludicrous; creating new pages for a website is one of the simplest tasks a web designer can perform. The latter is a bit more viable, but often, these packages are simply "by the page" deals disguised as packages by including additional features that don't scale or do so only slowly. The "value meals" of website design, I tend to call them, since the scaling of easily repeatable features for a higher cost rather than adding more complex and dynamic options bears a strong resemblance to buying for the burger and paying by the french fry.

But bypassing those two options, you come to the types of web designers who charge based on the relative difficulty of the site and complexity of code. This is good in that it allows the prepared businessperson to get exactly the features they want with no wasted expenditure. You don't have to pay for a forum that you never plan to use, or for five graphics that won't have a place on your site. However, in this case, you have to rely on an initial quote to judge the expenditure, and that quote is going to be based on the assumed difficulty of the site. That means providing all the necessary information, because you can't pull a fast one on your web designer. The initial quote is an estimate, and while a good designer will do its utmost to charge only what it said (maybe even less, if the site was particularly easy) additional demands and unforeseen additions will result in a change to the final cost.

By knowing exactly what you want from your website, you can not only choose the options (or, if it comes to it, the package) that will best suit your business, but it also allows you to get the most accurate initial quote. From there, you can enter into negotiations with a good read on what the final charge will be and what sort of things you can add or remove to match it with your budget. You can also make a much clearer comparison with other designers. These advantages will all go far to helping you get the right price.

About the Author

Dustin Schwerman is the head web designer for Truly Unique - Small Business Website Design. Truly Unique works on websites for businesses of all varieties, from office supplies to air conditioning filters.