Want to build that dream website? Here are some critical considerations.
By the CaribFind Team
Understanding the various pieces of the puzzle which come together to create your digital picture on the web is important if –
You want to have a great web presence.
You want to have a good and long lasting relationship with your digital agency or your ‘computer guy’ (or girl).
Getting yourself a great website needs your participation, and it needs cooperation. It involves a partnership between you and the agency (or person) who builds the site for you. For a great website to happen, that partnership has to work well; and for the partnership to work well, there are a few things that you and the agency must get clear:
- Must have a clear idea of exactly what you need.
- Must have the skills required to produce what you want.
- Must have a clear idea of exactly what you need.
- Must understand how easy or difficult it is for the agency to create what you want, what resources and tools they will need, and how long it takes to build the kind of site you want.
Keep reading to find out more about what goes into making a website. By the time you’re finished reading, you’ll have the knowledge you need to do your part in making the partnership work, and in getting your agency to build the great website you need.
WHO IS BUILDING YOUR SITE? A DESIGNER? A DEVELOPER? OR BOTH?
WHAT DO THESE EVEN MEAN?
There are different kinds of sites. Some are more complex than others. The kind of person you need to build your site depends on the kind of site you need.
Here’s an example:
You have a restaurant and you want a website so that customers can find out about you online. You want them to see pictures of your restaurant. You want them to see a map as well as opening hours. You want to post your menu, advertise specials etc. For this kind of site you need a WEB DESIGNER.
Now suppose you want to take your restaurant website to the next level. You want people to be able to order food and pay for it directly from your website. You also want the website to organize the orders as the come in so that you can plan your deliveries and production. These website features might seem simple because we’re used to using sites that have them. In reality, sites that can do these things are much more complex in how they are made, and therefore require a lot more work. They also require in depth knowledge of application programming code. The person who builds this kind of website is called a WEB DEVELOPER.
In the real world there is considerable overlap between these functions, so they are a bit challenging to define.
A Web Designer is a professional who has the skills to build a website for the display of information or data, in a ‘pretty’ and efficient way. The designer is focused on look and feel, navigation and overall attractiveness. Many designers are also developers.
A ‘Developer’ has the ability to dive into code to bring the design to life, to go beyond basic display, to manipulate the screen, to add functionality. Usually when the need of the site gets into the storage of data, filtering of data, deep searches, fetching values and using these values in determining display results, using formulas and calculations etc., then the building of that site enters into web-development territory.
Web design usually refers to the graphic design of the front-end, and web-development usually refers to the building of the ‘back-end’ functionality.
Application Development usually refers to the building of mobile apps, but can also refer to the building of a complete digital solution for a specific vertical need, e.g. an application to process insurance claims, or an application to manage student records in a school. In today’s world most applications are online but an app does not necessarily have to be on the web.
Most websites today are built using templates.
Developing even a simple site from ‘scratch’, i.e. coding from scratch, can take months of work and cost many thousands of dollars. Developers can be very expensive and may charge between $75 and $150 an hour. This is why most sites are template-based. A template is developed by a third party who may take many months to develop it; they then sell the template at a small fraction of the cost, but to hundreds of users.
Templates however have limitations; a designer would have to massage the template and play with the functions it allows to get the result the client wants. A developer can dive deep into the code and effect changes and add new functionality to the template.
Who provides the content for the site? Who writes the script? Who provides the graphic elements? Where does the video come from?
The client is usually responsible for providing content. The client should know exactly what they want and understand that the computer-girl might be a good designer and developer but she does not understand the client’s business, and, even if she did, she may not be able to write a single paragraph of good script; she is a web-designer, not a script writer.
Can the developer design logos? Maybe, maybe not. What about photographs? Are the client’s pictures good enough quality or are they grainy images from ten years ago. Even if you have good images do they have to altered or cropped etc.? Do you need to purchase stock photos?
What about a video? Video creation is a specialized skill and the digital agency might have those skills in-house, or maybe not.
This content may be developed by the agency in conjunction with you the client, but notice the wide array of skill sets required, and third party input might be required.
COSTS AND “SCOPE-CREEP”
How much does a website cost?
Someone can build a ‘free’ website from a service like WIX. A website can also be built for a couple of hundred dollars, or a couple of thousand, or tens of thousands.
For someone who is not tech savvy, the Google site appears to be one page plus search results in secondary pages; all that this Google thing does is ‘search’. Yet Google is one of the largest companies in the world and estimates put the costs of building this ‘site’ to date, at billions (yes with a capital B) of dollars; and there is no end to those costs. There are literally thousands of engineers working on this ‘site’ as we read this page.
An agency will know the requirements and understand its costs when providing a quote for a job, based on the specifications, and the client will accept the quote, or shop around for the best combination of price and performance-expectation.
What is important for the client to understand is the idea of ‘scope-creep’ or ‘design-creep’.
Projects and relationships start to disintegrate when scope-creep starts.
Scope-creep occurs when the client’s requirements or wants keep evolving. This is very common.
There is no harm in this if the client understands that a quotation is based on estimated hours and that changes, (which may seem to be simple), can take many hours or days or weeks of additional work.
If an agency anticipates that a client may be inclined to ‘evolve’ the site as it is being built, they might charge by the hour rather than by the project.
The agency may build into their contract a provision for design-creep or scope-creep.
OTHER COSTS AND CONSIDERATIONS
Other costs that go into site building are:
Graphic and Video costs:
Logo, Image Costs, Image Manipulation, Charts etc. Graphic elements can be expensive, for example Logo costs can go into the hundreds of dollars. Some companies pay thousands for Logo design only. Stock images are costly. Charts are time consuming to build.
Data Entry Costs
For example: A company which allows their customers to configure electronic parts using other parts or kits. These parts can number 1000, or 5000 or 500,000. They all have to be entered into the back-end after the site is built. Who does that?
A store which has an inventory of say 10,000 items in different categories, locations etc. It can take weeks to enter this data.
Web Agencies would usually decline to do this kind of work and, unless it can be automated, would suggest to the client that they retain cheaper labour for this task.
POST SITE-BUILDING FUNCTIONS AND COSTS
After the site build is completed there are some additional functions that have to be considered.
Cost of optimizing the site for search engines and setting up on platforms like Google My Business etc.
This is actually separate from site building and today it is a separate discipline. A site can be built initially with SEO in mind and the basics of SEO incorporated when populating the site. However SEO (Search Engine Optimization) is a function that requires a high level of expertise and it is very time-consuming. It is not a part of the site-build. This is usually quoted separately. There are companies which specialize in SEO exclusively.
Do you already own your domain name? Domain names are not usually expensive to purchase, around ten dollars a year, except if you want to purchase a premium name. e.g something like Insurance.com which might set you back a few hundred thousand. Yes, dollars.
A site is built on a local computer but to make it available to anyone in the world who has a computer or smart-phone, it must reside somewhere, in a place which is always connected to the internet. This place is called a Host, and there are hosting fees attendant to hosting.
Addresses can be basic and free if it is part of a hosting package. It may be a premium service like Google Professional Mail, which attracts monthly fees. It can also takes a fair bit of time to set up. In a case like this the agency might bill this separately.
Sites are built with links to your social media properties if you have them. If you don’t have media like Facebook, Instagram or Twitter, your agency or computer guy might offer to do it, but it is usually at a cost.
They may also offer to do Digital Advertising for you and include the use of your social media properties. Again this is at a cost, usually a monthly fee. This can range from hundreds to thousands of dollars per month depending on your needs.
These notes can help you build a good bridge between you and your digital agency. A key concept to always bear in mind is that your web-presence is a process not a product.
Please invest the time to explore these ideas or functions to ensure the success of your web outreach.
The CaribFind Team wishes you all the best on your journey.
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