So you’re setting up your new small business, or maybe you’ve been trading a while and have decided to get an online presence. You’ve done all the social media stuff – Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and some others you’ve probably never heard of and now you’re thinking it’s time to get a website. You’re probably right of course: there is considerable evidence to support the need for small businesses to have a functional website as part of their online presence. People expect you to have a website and, after recommendations, the internet is the second most popular way for customers to do research and find businesses.
You start looking around and immediately you are overwhelmed with choices. A quick Google search will return literally hundreds of results all promising to build you a great website, many at knock down prices. Before you start calling people you should probably be ready to answer some questions about your new website.
Now of course, as a small business, cost is important to you. I get that, I really do. As the saying goes “Turnover is vanity; profit is sanity” and as a small business owner myself I’m in the same boat as you. To the end user some websites may seem simple. After all there are only a few pages and you don’t require any bells and whistles so “surely you can build me something for around £100”. Let’s take a look at what needs to happen to get your website up and running from that initial contact to the day it goes live:
- One of my core business values is to ensure that I fully understand your business and your requirements before I start any work. To this end we will likely have a meeting or a phone call and quite often clients have not thought about the previously mentioned questions so these are all areas that need working through together.
- Armed with the answers to these initial questions I will come up with some design ideas for your website. This can be quite a lengthy iterative process as we fine tune ideas and come up with something that you are satisfied with. I don’t normally work with off the shelf designs or themes and even where I do these often require significant customisation. Sometimes a design will need tweaking a few times, occasionally we have to start again.
- The majority of my sites are built using WordPress. Whilst there are literally thousands of pre-built themes available it can be difficult to find one that matches your requirements exactly and not all themes are built to the same standard. Another problem with pre-built themes is that they need to include features to cater for as wide an audience as possible and include a lot of redundant code as a result. These features can confuse clients and make the site run slowly which is bad for business and can affect your Google ranking. Therefore most sites I build are coded from the ground up using the latest HTML and CSS frameworks to give you the just the features you require. This is then used as the basis of a bespoke WordPress theme for your website design. The number of lines of code required to achieve this can run in to the thousands, particularly on more complex sites. It can therefore take many hours, especially when testing and bug fixing is taken into account.
- Assets provided by you, such as images etc, will often need editing and optimising before I can use them. In order to make your site look good and run fast I will have to crop, resize and compress images in a program like Photoshop before uploading them. The same goes for video, audio and even documents.
- Having been built and initially tested your website on a development server, the files need to be uploaded to a live web hosting server, then tested and configured so that they work correctly on a wide range of devices and browsers. More tweaking and bug fixing follows this. If I am hosting your website for you then I also need to factor in the cost of doing this when quoting you. My web hosting packages are quite generous and are competitively priced, starting at just £49.95 inc per year.
- If your website design uses WordPress then I also include 2 hours of free training on how to use and update it yourself along with access to a library of over 100 video tutorials to help you get to grips with things.
- On going overheads such as software licences, support, administration and billing all have to be factored into any quote I give you.
The reality is that all of this can take anywhere from 10 hours to 30 hours plus which means that whilst building your £100 website I’m probably working for less than minimum wage! Ok so maybe that’s worse case scenario for a relatively simple web design but it does raise another question you should be asking yourself which is not “why can’t you build me a website for £100” but rather “Why I shouldn’t choose a web designer that only charges £100”.
Hopefully your business and your website is going to be around for a long time so you want your web designer to be around a long time too. Charging £100 for 10-30 hours work is just not sustainable and even companies that have the volume of clients and infrastructure to make that more viable are likely not going to be able to give you the ongoing advice and support you need.
It’s a well worn cliché but you really do get what you pay for.