This is a very common question in the Website-Design industry. The reason is that people don’t understand what goes into designing a quality website. Although there are many DIY (Do It Yourself) tools available today from some of the popular companies like GoDaddy and LightSpeed, etc. they are not a good reflection of how a professional website is developed.
When creating an online solution for a client, there is a process to follow. Think of it as if you were building a house. First and foremost you need a plan or a blueprint. You have to know exactly what you want the website to look like, how you want it to function and what you want it to accomplish. Only after you have those three things can you move forward in a way that makes sense. The content of the website is secondary to design and function. Let’s go back to the house example. When you build a house what everyone see’s first is the shell, the layout, the colors. This is their first impression. Only after they go into the house do they see the contents of the house.
It is the same with a website. The content (pictures, text, video, etc) will change over time and more will be added. The shell must be designed to hold the content, keep it safe, and in a manner that is easy for the viewer (your potential customer) to access and understand. It is this shell that requires, in most cases, many hours of planning. Your website layout and “branding” is an important consideration to keep your company’s message consistent and clear. There are many “cookie-cutter” solutions available. However, these are such that you can not fully customize them and make them your own.
A client needs to work with the developer to convey their vision. Only then will the developer knows exactly what the client wants and can then work to build the website. Although many think it is a matter of just listening to what a client says, the reality is much more work involved. Website Development takes hours of design and redesign, testing and retesting, communicating with the client, confirming the design meets their expectations and making all the required tweaks and adjustments until the client is happy.
These include items such as color choices and branding site-wide. font selection, font sizing, image selection and placement, mobile-ready, retina-ready, video encoding, pdf embedding… the list goes on and on. The challenge for a website designer is conveying an understanding and creating a partnership with the client so they will have an expectation of what the development time will be for the outcome. I believe it is all about setting expectations for the client. Many businesses have budgets for advertising but aren’t fully aware of what goes into developing a website.
Now that the site has been developed, what’s next? Maintenance.
Website maintenance is critical. I often refer to it as “Protecting your investment”. In some cases, businesses and individuals will spend thousands of dollars developing a website and then stop thinking about and move on to another project. I recently had an experience with a client who moved their existing website over to IDS because their developer had moved on to bigger and better things. When I logged into the back end of their website I was shocked. The website software had not been updated in over a year, the website technologies (plugins) were 8 – 10 months outdated. The developer had performed no maintenance on the website in almost a year. This put the clients website in danger of being compromised. It is critical that your website is updated and backed up on a regular basis, especially if you are rotating content. It is imperative that you have a security protocol in place to protect you from the evils of hackers and malware.
So, the question to ask yourself is this:
If my website is developed and maintained properly, is it really expensive?
The answer is it depends. We recommend you talk with the developer and ask them questions. Find out what they are doing for the price and what is included in their development and maintenance package. The only way to know for sure is to get clarity and then you can determine if your getting the best value for your investment.
Interactive Design Studios is a registered Website Design and Social Media Management company located in South Florida.