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Web Design Buyer's Guide eBook by ServiceCrowd


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The Web Design Buyer's Guide is an unbiased guide to outsourcing web design services. It teaches you about how to prepare, find web designers, contracts and more. The ebook also includes a template for a web design brief and a checklist for a web design interview.

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Web Design Buyer's Guide eBook by ServiceCrowd

  1. 1. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 1
  2. 2. CONTENTS 4 CHAPTER 1 How to Plan a Website Design Project and Stay on Budget 8 CHAPTER 2 How to Define Website Goals and Audience 16 CHAPTER 3 5 Must Have Website Features 23 CHAPTER 4 10 Key Ingredients for a Web Design Brief 30 CHAPTER 5 How to Choose the Right Web Designer 35 CHAPTER 6 Understanding Web Design Contracts 41 CHAPTER 7 How Much Does Web Design Cost? Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 2
  3. 3. About this eBook This eBook was written and prepared by Daniel Duckworth from ServiceCrowd Daniel Duckworth Daniel Duckworth is the founder of ServiceCrowd and is the in- house SEO and Content Marketing expert. To learn more about Web Design, visit the Web Hub Blog by ServiceCrowd. To learn more about comparing quotes for local SEO Services visit our Web Design Services page. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 3
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  5. 5. Planning a Web Design Project: How to Stay on Budget If you’ve got a bottomless bank account, no deadlines to worry about and an infinite amount of patience; feel free to skip this first lesson in our 7-part Web Design Buyer’s Guide series. But if you’re like most people who want to know how to cleverly carry out a successful website project – and get a website that actually does what it’s supposed to do – then this lesson will show you the essential basics of website planning. This way, you’ll have a grasp of the basics to avoid any unexpected costs. There are four important steps associated with planning your website project. Let’s get straight into it and begin with the first one. Step 1. Define Your Website’s Primary Purpose Commercial websites can have any combination of the following three goals: • to sell something • to show something • to explain something Ecommerce websites, information products and membership websites sell something; catalogues, portfolios and community websites show something; while industry and review websites explain something. This is the first step because it’s the most important. Don’t leave anything to interpretation. If you change the purpose of your website halfway through the project, there’s a good chance you’ll have to start all over again (different technology, new designs, new sales copy) - which could result in money being wasted. Speaking of money, this brings us to step two… Step 2. Decide Which Website Technologies to Use The more advanced the type of web technologies you need, the more your project is likely to cost. Of course, this will depend on the intention of your website. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 5
  6. 6. Sell a Digital or Physical Product It would be necessary to incorporate an ecommerce software into your website if you’re selling a product – be it digital or physical. You can either choose between some of the more popular platforms (such as Shopify, Magento and Volusion), or elect to have your own custom Ecommerce system created especially for your website. Sell a Service When selling a service, you might need a CMS platform with a blog and lead capture forms. CMS platforms like WordPress and Joomla allow you to easily organise your content, while providing visitors with information about your services. This helps them make an informed purchasing decision. A blog can be used to teach your target audience about topics related to your service (this blog post is a good example) or help them solve problems that relate to their industry. Lead capture forms will capture contact information from visitors and create sales leads and opportunities to turn them into a customer at a later stage. Show Something The best way to ‘show’ something is by utilising a CMS with image, video and content sliders to pique your website’s visitors. Most CMS platforms will either include image gallery tools to showcase images, or at least have plugins available. If there’s no appropriate plugin available in your chosen CMS platform, then you could have a developer create a custom plugin to suit your website’s requirements. Explain Something If you want a website that explains something (such as a tech or restaurant review site, for example) you would likely need a CMS with advanced blog and page management. These types of websites will often have in-excess of 100 pages, and will need to be categorised appropriately. Step 3. Create a Sitemap for Your Website Making a website sitemap is a bit like being an architect for a builder. Essentially, the sitemap is the blueprint for how your website will be pieced together. Creating a blueprint from the very beginning can assist you in two ways: As an effective brainstorming technique for figuring out what pages will be on the website. To ensure that there won’t be any last minute additions which can increase project costs and cause unwanted headaches. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 6
  7. 7. There’s a whole bunch of diagram and flowchart tools available online. For example, is easy to use and you can save the sitemap in PDF format, which you can then include as part of your final design brief. Other popular diagram and flowchart tools include: • LucidChart • Creately • • Cacoo • Gliffy Step 4. Create Website Content Before Production Begins The biggest mistake you can make when carrying out a web design project is to submit content in bits and pieces. The way your web design provider works (to save time and money) is by batching tasks. So, when content changes and starts to come at irregular intervals; it wastes time and costs you money. It annoys your web designer too. As a general guideline, the more content you can provide upfront, the more money you will save. Use the sitemap you created to make a list the pages, then start writing the content for each page and record the names of any images you want to include on the page. This might include descriptions of your services, or descriptions for ecommerce products to be sold online. A quick SEO tip… Write your own compelling product descriptions for ecommerce products (instead of using the descriptions provided by the manufacturer or wholesaler) and Google will reward you with more traffic than your competitors. Fortunately, most web design providers have expert copywriters at their disposal, so this part of the process can also be outsourced. Keep in mind though that it is likely to increase the overall cost of your project – but it’s almost certainly worth it. When these four steps have been completed, your website’s project plan will put you on the right track. The more prepared you are, the less changes will need to be made during the production phase. Fewer changes = fewer expenses. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 7
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  9. 9. How to Define Website Goals and Audience Have you ever browsed the Internet and noticed websites that don’t quite give you what you want? You have to scroll all the way down the page, or click several links on the menu just to find what you’re looking for. Or, maybe you kept browsing and didn’t find what you were looking for at all. You’d be surprised at the number of website owners who don’t consider who is actually visiting their website – or what they should do once getting there. But why is this important? Let’s take a look at two simple questions you should ask yourself when determining who your audience is, and what you want them to do when they visit your website. 1. Who is My Website For? Identify the target audience for your website (better yet, do it for every page or blog post). This is necessary because when you don’t have a clear definition of who the website is for, it becomes impossible to provide relevant information. Consider this example: Dave, a local motel owner, builds a new website. He defines the audience for his website as: “Anyone that wants to stay!” The website has an attractive page that says: “The most affordable accommodation in town”. His motel is near a big university. Dave thinks, great, people from interstate visiting the university can stay. But what Dave hasn’t discovered yet is that his motel is in a pretty hip area with a lot of young party animals. Now Dave’s website is getting two types of visitors. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 9
  10. 10. The party animals and interstate travellers. But neither of them find the website all that relevant… so Dave only gets a few enquiries from both types of visitors. Dave then decides to change the definition for his audience. “Interstate travellers visiting the nearby university.” Dave starts to write more specific information. The web page now has a more specific headline. “Affordable Accommodation for University X Visitors” The page now shows images of the university, and directions from the university to the motel. Now when the party animals arrive at the website, they decide it’s not very cool and move on. While some people might think that is lost revenue, the compensation is increased enquires and sales from the RIGHT audience. When the interstate travellers arrive at the website, they see that the motel suits them perfectly. As a result, Dave gets twice the number of enquiries from the exact customers he’s targeting. A well-defined audience means: • sales copy can be laser targeted • visitors are more likely to contact you • unsuitable customers can be excluded (this actually applies to many industries) • audience specific goals can be defined 2. What Do I Want My Website’s Visitors To Do? Most websites are oversimplified. They often contain a phone number and an enquiry form. Neither of these are visible from the home page, or they don’t provide specific information to the visitor. Defining goals for a website should require goals more specific than just to “make money”. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 10
  11. 11. Here is a list of some of the most common website goals: • Watch a video about a place, product or service • Read a testimonial from a happy customer • Download useful branded information (menus, white papers, brochures and catalogues) • Subscribe to our email list (relevant incentives can increase subscriptions) • Ring our phone number • Complete a web form (contact forms, request a quote, request a demo, etc.) • Spend at least three minutes on the website (this is an indication of whether the content is relevant and interesting) • Educate the visitor about a topic and have them subscribe for more information • Comment on a blog article • Follow or like us on our social media channels You should also prioritise website goals because it helps your web designer with the information design aspect of the project. For example, if it’s important that visitors connect with you through social media, the social media icons will likely appear at the top of the website. A well-defined website audience – in combination with goals – helps direct the design and construction of your website. Having well defined goals also provides you with an easy way to measure the success of your website; month after month. Now that you have a better understanding of WHO your website is for and WHAT you want them to do, you will have a greater chance of building a successful website. Let’s check out some real world examples. 3 Real Life Examples of Cleverly Defined Goals 1. The Content Marketing Institute The primary goal of the Content Marketing Institute (CMI) is to “advance the practise of content marketing” by educating people about content marketing. This quote is on their homepage, making their intention very clear. The CMI makes the majority of it’s money (around 90%) from content marketing events around the world, according to founder Joe Pulizzi. People who attend these events are from a variety of Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 11
  12. 12. organisations, and the CMI knows exactly how to communicate to this audience – by giving valuable stuff away for free. The CMI targets decision makers – usually in the fields of marketing and advertising – from businesses large and small. They always reaffirm that any company regardless of its size can (and should) become an online publisher. The CMI has put a lot of thought into establishing themselves as the primary thought leader in their niche. The aim is to educate their audience about content marketing, and they do this through several channels – most effectively through email marketing and lead nurturing. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 12
  13. 13. 2. ZenDesk ZenDesk is a software company that sells customer service software. Their primary target audience consists of online business owners who wish to communicate with customers through an online ticketing support system, and web developers/designers who create ecommerce websites for their clients. The goal of the front page of ZenDesk’s website is to get people interested in their product by: 1. Watching a demo to see how it works 2. Trying the product out for free Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 13
  14. 14. The ZenDesk website clearly states that over 30,000 businesses use their software (including companies like Disney, Vodafone and government agencies). This gives ZenDesk credibility and makes visitors much more comfortable with trying out the software, with the intention of having them purchase the paid version at some stage. 3. Red Bull Energy In case you didn’t know, Red Bull is a content publishing and production powerhouse… who also happen to sell small cans of energy drink. The intention of the Red Bull website is a little different to the previous two examples we looked at. Your first thought might be that Red Bull just wants to sell sugary drinks – and this is partly true – but it’s the way they do it that makes them unique. Red Bull have become a content publisher. They have a TV channel, a widely circulated magazine (2.5 million p/m), and even a record label. They publish A LOT of content. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 14
  15. 15. People already know who they are and what they sell, so RedBull’s goal is to entertain their audience by telling branded stories in an effort to increase brand awareness. Their audience consists of adventure-seeking millennials (18-35) who enjoy action sports like surfing, motorsport and skateboarding. Red Bull creates content targeting this audience (i.e, “Best Looking Bikes of 2013”), because they know it promotes their audience’s lifestyle. They do this very well. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 15
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  17. 17. 5 Must Have Website Features So you’ve created a sitemap, planned your content and thoughtfully defined your audience. Give yourself a pat on the back. Seriously. It takes time and effort to establish a successful plan for your website project. If you’ve made it this far, you deserve some credit. But don’t take your boots off just yet… If you really want to take things to the next level – and execute your plan effectively – you’ll need to consider what features make a website truly successful. Modern Internet marketing strategies require a lot more thought than simply putting a website online and adding a bunch of articles. Doing this won’t guarantee an influx of visitors to your website. And even if they do come, it doesn’t mean they’ll purchase your product or give you their email address. What you need to do first is to ensure you’ve incorporated each of the five following features into your website. Think of these features as being the bread and butter of your website’s developmental stage. 1. Social Sharing Buttons Gone are the days when people would manually create a new email to send a link to friends. It’s now as simple as clicking the “share” or “like” buttons. You should make it easy for visitors to share interesting content with their friends. Having visible social media buttons at the top of your home page is one way to do this, and they should be at the top and bottom of every article you publish. Your visitors expect a one-click solution. Here’s a few more reasons why it’s important to include social sharing buttons as part of your website project: • helps visitors share your content • generates traffic from social media websites • social share counts tell visitors that other people like your website (also known as ‘social proof’) • increases search engine rankings through social signals Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 17
  18. 18. Some Social Media Sharing Resources: ShareThis AddThis Cunjo for WordPress 2. Email Marketing Opt-in and Management In the world of Internet marketing, there’s a common saying: “the money is in the list”. They’re talking about your list of email subscribers. Developing a list of fans, clients or existing customers is one of the most vital assets your online business will ever have. With this list, you can nurture subscribers through the buying cycle; from initial interest, right up to when (and if) they make a purchase. Every visitor to your website that doesn’t buy something or use a contact form is a lost opportunity. Your list of email subscribers gives you a second chance to engage with your audience, by promoting your product and services through email. At the very least, your website should have opt-in forms and ideally a built-in email marketing system. Platforms like MailChimp (see image below) can provide you with an umbrella solution to create strategic email marketing campaigns. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 18
  19. 19. Some Email Marketing Resources: • MailChimp • Constant Contact • Aweber • Infusionsoft 3. A Mobile Optimised Website In a previous post, we found that mobile web usage is seeing a 300% increase per annum. Adding mobile technology to your website from the outset will save you money in the long run. Aside from numbers, there are more practical marketing advantages to having a mobile-optimised website. • visitors are more likely to stay (the amount of stuff on traditional websites can clutter the smaller mobile screens, creating a poor user experience) • your branding and call-to-action is more visible (visitors will remember you because your imagery will stand out on mobile devices) • Google wants you to have a mobile website (the faster it loads, the better) • your text will be bigger (this means visitors are more likely to read your content, i.e., the task of “pinching and zooming”) A mobile optimised version of your website also provides a more streamlined experience for your visitors. If your website is designed to promote a physical presence – then it’s a necessity. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 19
  20. 20. A common error that many businesses make is thinking their website is completely mobile- optimised. However, mobile device displays vary according to screen size, so it’s not always the same. You need to ensure all bases are covered; so ask yourself these questions first: • Would you bother spending any time on your website if it wasn’t your own? • Is it easy to navigate through each section of your website on a mobile device? • Is the content easily consumable? • Does it load fast? (this is the most important question to ask) • Overall, does it provide a positive user experience? Some Mobile Website Resources: 6 Ways to Get a Mobile Website for Free Dudamobile What to Consider When Creating Responsive Design-Friendly Content 4. A Blog Many small business owners still second guess the value of a blog. If you’re not sure, read our post entitled, Blogging for Business: Make it Work for You. To summarise: a blog provides you with an easy way to generate targeted traffic. This traffic is then used to build up your email subscriber list. For example, I wrote a post about the top Australian business directories that generated around 1000 visitors a month at its peak; and also generated around 50 new email subscribers per month. This allowed us to promote our quote comparison tool for SEO services. The short answer is yes, you do need a blog. Search engines are putting more and more emphasis on the importance of good quality content, and the most effective way to produce content regularly is through a blog. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 20
  21. 21. Your blog should have the following features: • a comment system with moderation (users should be able to log in with their social profile of choice) • automated spam protection • facility for multiple authors and author profiles • support for Google’s Rel=”author” tag (this one is a bit technical, but it’s all-important) • RSS feed for subscriptions • social sharing buttons • SEO optimised URLs • image and video for posts Some Blog Creation Resources: • WordPress • Ghost • Tumblr • WordPress Website for Small Business Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 21
  22. 22. 5. A Landing Page Template Landing pages are stripped down websites with a single sales message. They’re typically used with Google AdWords campaigns. Instead of paid traffic being sent directly to your homepage, you can send it to a well designed page with a tailored sales message (specific to targeted keywords). Sending paid traffic to a landing page instead of the homepage will convert more traffic into sales and leads. Check out our WordPress Website for Small Business Report landing page as a basic example. Some Landing Page Resources: • 3 Simple Reasons to Use Landing Pages • 26 Beautiful Landing Page Designs Critiqued with A/B Testing Tips • Unbounce • Optimizely Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 22
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  24. 24. 8 Key Ingredients for a Web Design Brief When it comes to taking that big leap into the world of purchasing SEO services, many businesses (both large and small) make the mistake of choosing an agency or consultant that has the best sales pitch without evaluating some vital criteria first. A web design brief is a single document that outlines your website project. Upon completion, it’s passed on to a web design provider for evaluation. When a good quality brief is written, a web design provider will either submit a quote, or a detailed proposal explaining how the goals of your brief can be achieved. A design brief doesn’t need to be complicated – but the more detailed your brief is – the more accurate the quoted price will be. This lesson teaches you the 8 key ingredients for a good web design brief. After reading this lesson, download the free Web Design Brief Template so you can easily submit your brief to designers when requesting quotes. Web Design Brief Ingredients If you’ve read the previous lessons in “Web Design Buyer’s Guide”, you’ll already have seven of the ten requirements for a design brief (well done!). 1. Purpose The purpose of a website should be very specific and very clear. Broadly speaking, there are three purposes for a website. • to sell something • to show something • to explain something Of course, a website could be a combination of any of these. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 24
  25. 25. An example would be: “The purpose of this website is to show how our software product works with a video demonstration, and explain how our software can solve industry problems using a blog.” 2. Technology Technology decisions are usually best left to the web design provider. However, having some knowledge is definitely helpful. Depending on the purpose of the website, different technologies and software will be required: • Sell Something (physical or digital) = eCommerce • Sell Something (service) = CMS Platform with Blog and Lead Capture • Show Something = CMS with Image, Video and Content Slider Features • Explain Something = CMS with Advanced Blog and Page Management The most popular CMS platforms are WordPress and Joomla. Depending on how big your website is and whether it needs a CRM (for tracking customers) or email marketing; you might be looking at something similar to an all-in-one platform like Adobe’s Business Catalyst. If you’re not sure about the technology required for your project, just indicate that you want advice based on what you’re trying to achieve. 3. Sitemap A sitemap is an overview of a website’s pages – sort of like a blueprint. Having a sitemap included in a web design brief means the web design team can quickly understand how complex the website should be. It’s a really helpful process to think about what pages there are and how they fit together. This is even more important when planning for SEO purposes. Check out Lucidchart. This is an online tool that helps you create a basic sitemap. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 25
  26. 26. 4. Target audience and website goals This is really important. Understanding the who and what of your website will increase the number of enquiries and sales. First of all, answer this question: “Who is the website (or web page) for?” Example of a bad answer: For small businesses Example of a good answer: HR managers researching new software solutions. Next, answer this question: “What should the website visitors do on the website?” Example of a bad answer: Read our web pages Example of a good answer: Watch a demo video of our software, download an industry white paper or call our phone number. Knowing what your website visitors should do on the website means that your web design team can design it with an emphasis on these parts of the website. If your product or service requires further explanation with a sales rep, then putting the phone number in a prominent position is a good idea. To find out more about defining your audience and goals, check out: How to Define Website Goals and Audience. 5. Required technical features Most modern websites are more than just an online brochure. They allow people to subscribe, compare products, personalise results, search and connect with social networks. It’s a good idea to describe any features you need from a website. The five must have website features I’ve referred to in previous chapters are: • social sharing buttons • email marketing opt-in Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 26
  27. 27. • optimisation for mobile devices • a blog • landing page templates Regardless of what your website is for, it should support these five features. If your brief is for an ecommerce website, then the top 5 Ecommerce features are: • SEO Friendly URLs • product Filtering • recommended products for cross sell and upsell • flexible checkout process that supports guest checkout • product reviews • If your brief is for a CMS website, then the top 5 CMS features are: • flexible page organisation and categorisation • modern content editor (WYSIWYG) • media management (Videos, PDFs, files etc) • flexible content control between pages • form builder If your web design brief refers to these kinds of features, the web designer won’t have to spend as much time asking you questions, and they can give you a more accurate quote. 6. Describing the Design Style of a Website This can be a little tricky if you’re not overly creative. But don’t worry; there are some pretty standard ways of describing style that will make sense for your web design provider. Answer these three questions and you will have enough information to define the style. 1. What is the primary colour for the website’s interface? Blue, Green, Orange… you get the picture. 2. What is the projected image and attitude of the business? Professional, sophisticated, young, friendly, techie. 3. What is the main type of content on the website? Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 27
  28. 28. Images, videos, text or a combination. 7. Finding Examples of Web Design Styles When it comes to finding websites that have a similar style to what you have in mind, there are two very simple methods. 1. Search for your competitors’ websites Write a list of your competitors’ websites and explain what you like and what you don’t like. 2. Browse through a web design gallery Take a look at Dribble to find examples that match your desired style. Dribble has a great feature that allows you to browse by colour. Again, write a list of the designs you like and write down what you like and don’t like. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 28
  29. 29. 8. How Budgeting for Web Design Works Budgets for web design are rarely straightforward. It all depends on the features, design and content. The bulk of your budget will go towards: • implementing technical features • customising the design and interface; and, • integrating the website with 3rd party software (social networks, accounting software, CRMs etc.) All of the above tasks take time, and of course – the more time is spent – the more it will cost. But don’t worry, there are many clever web design studios out there who know how to make amazing websites at very affordable rates. Generally, the best approach is to decide from the start what your maximum budget is, and then create the web design brief and request quotes. The web designers will tell you what can be achieved for what you have. If your budget can’t support what you want, then the web designer will suggest ways to reduce the price. For example, you can opt to have less interface design revisions (this is where you critique their design) which means less time spent on design aspects. If you want to know more about web design costs, take a look at: “How Much Does Web Design Cost?” chapter. Now that you have every ingredient for a tasty web design brief, put it all in one document and send it out to web designers for quotes. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 29
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  31. 31. How to Choose the Right Web Designer OK, let’s start with rule number one. Don’t always choose the cheapest offer. There are many important factors to consider when choosing a web designer; and price is just one of them. Experience, portfolios, testimonials and client reviews aside; the first thing you need to find out about each web design company or freelancer is what their strengths are. There are three areas of web design that each provider will be strongest in: • website interface design (the look and feel of your website) • website construction (technical development) • website marketing (SEO, social media etc) Website Interface Design Specialists Web design providers who specialise in interface design make the most attractive looking websites. These are the sorts of websites you see for music festival and band websites. They’re often creative, artistic and demonstrate the cutting edge of popular trends. If image is important, you’ll want to go with someone that specialises heavily in the interface design aspect. Website Construction Specialists (web developers) Website construction refers to the technical aspect of web design. This includes the way the website is coded (CSS, HTML5, etc). It also includes interactive features like credit card processing, membership features and more sophisticated content. If your website has lots of interactive features (think Facebook), then you will want a team that has great developers (programmers). Website Marketing Specialists Website marketing specialists typically provide very low-cost websites, but can be a little generic. Their strength is in producing websites that sell. They usually have a combination of conversion rate experts and SEO experts. This is a powerful option because a website that doesn’t get traffic (and can’t sell) is undoubtedly useless. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 31
  32. 32. The Perfect Web Design Team The ideal team is one that can cater to all three areas. You’ll want the website to have the right look and feel (interface designers) with the ability to add modern interactive features (developers). However, you will also want a website that gets plenty of traffic which converts into customers (Internet marketers). Evaluating Quotes & Interviewing Web Designers Once you have established the strengths of your web team you will need to compare their quotes and begin a simple interview process. Comparing quotes can be a bit like comparing apples and oranges. Each quote/proposal you are given will have a different idea of how to build your website. This is way simply looking at the final price isn’t helpful. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 32
  33. 33. When evaluating a quote you will want to determine any of the following: • What is the hourly rate? • What is the hourly rate for additional changes? • Is hosting included? • Have reviews and changes been included? • Is help provided for adding content to the website? • Can the hours assigned to tasks be negotiated? Once you begin interviewing web designers you should talk about each of the following: 1. Live Examples of Recent Work It’s important to see a web designers portfolio. But it is even more important to see a client’s website in the wild. When a website is first constructed it looks perfect because the interface is designed around the provided content. After months of content being added and tweaks made a website can begin to show limitations or design flaws. 2. Contact a Recent Client for a Reference It’s pretty common practice for a good web designer to give you some references to call. However be aware that these will be cherry picked references, potentially older clients. Ask to get a reference for their most recent clients to get a better understanding of how they work today. 3. Number of Other Clients Accepted During Production Depending on how quickly you need your website up and running will determine how much attention it needs. Web designers that take on lots of clients can spread themselves too thin and cause production to slow down. Find out how many other clients they will accept so you can get a sense of how much attention your project will receive. 4. Number of Design Revisions Allowed A design revision is a chance for you to see designs and provide feedback before the website is made live. If you are building a large website or a website that requires complex UI then this is particularly important. If there are no design revisions budgeted for then be prepared to accept whatever design you are given. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 33
  34. 34. 5. Ongoing Fees Make sure you talk about any ongoing fees such as web hosting, website maintenance (such as updating WordPress and any plugins) and online marketing (such as SEO or PPC). 6. Schedule for Deliverables Most website projects are completed in stages. Make sure the web designer provides you with a schedule for delivery. It’s best not to used fixed dates, but indicate a number of days per item. This way if there is a legitimate delay in production for whatever reason that pushes delivery past a date, there can be no arguments. 7. Cross Browser Compatibility These days there are lots of browsers. Chrome, Firefox, Safari and Internet Explorer. Then there are the mobile versions for thousands of devices. This can make cross browser compatibility tricky. Find out at the start exactly which desktop and mobile browsers your website will support. 8. Ownership of Assets This can sometimes be a point of contention, but most web designers should happily assign copyright to you. Be aware that in Australian copyright law, the ownership of the assets lies with the web designer and not you. You must sign an agreement that assigns the intellectual property to you. This is true of all subcontractor arrangements. Only employers are assigned the IP of their employs be default. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 34
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  36. 36. 8 Critical Factors for Successful Web Design Contracts OK, so you’ve requested quotes and decided on a web design provider. They’ve given you a web design contract to sign, and it all seems pretty straight forward. Unfortunately, it’s not. A bad web design contract will frustrate you and the web designer. Think lots of stamping of feet and angry demands from both parties. At worst, it will cost you a lot more money than you bargained for. All of this can be avoided by simply understanding the qualities of a good contract, and being able to spot a bad one. But before the specifics of contracts are explained, first you should understand why bad contracts exist. When it comes to contract signing, the web design provider has already invested a lot of time trying to win you over, and they don’t want to scare you away with too many terms and conditions. This has two effects: • The terms in the contact are not properly explained to you. • The contract does not include enough conditions about what is to be delivered and when. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 36
  37. 37. A good contract will ensure both parties completely understand what’s expected of each other, allowing for a successful and smooth operation. By the end of this lesson you will learn to spot a good web design contract, and even make suggestions for improvement that will benefit both parties. This lesson is a pretty long one, but it’s an important one. Qualities of Solid Web Design Contracts 1. Well Defined Specific Deliverables Deliverables are defined as the final piece of work that is delivered to you. But here’s the catch; how specific is the definition for each deliverable? A website is a deliverable, but the problem with simply specifying ‘website’ is that your assumptions about what a website is are going to be different to the web designer’s assumptions. Deliverables need to be very specific. Here’s a great example of a specific website deliverable: “A contact page with a form that forwards form data to an email address.” Here’s the second catch. It’s your responsibility to decide if the definition for each deliverable is detailed enough. During the production phase, if you decide the contact form should save enquiry information to a spreadsheet, CRM or any other 3rd party tools – it’s going to cost more money. Whether your change is accepted without charge is entirely up to the web designer. They’re likely to be flexible with small changes – but if you push it too far – you will be charged. This is known as “feature creep”. Eventually, so many small changes do add up, and the web designer is forced to charge you. Make sure the web design contract includes detailed and specific deliverables. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 37
  38. 38. 2. Number of Design Revisions Specified Websites are interactive – or at least the good ones are. That makes it difficult to imagine exactly how it should look and where everything should be until you see a mockup of the interface. This is where you give your input. Typical suggestions are about colours, size of text, order of information, width of pages and so on. When any suggestions you’ve made are discussed and implemented, this is known as a design revision. If the number of revisions is not specified, expectations about what is reasonable can quickly cause conflict. Your web design contract must specify number of design revisions so that both parties have the same expectations. 3. Delays Caused by the Client (that’s you!) Yes, it does happen. We all live busy lives and sometimes we delay other people. At some point, the web designer will ask you for information or content. If it takes you two weeks to send the information or content, it can potentially delay the whole project. Here’s an example of how this can cause a problem: The delivery date for the website is eight weeks. Waiting for content has delayed the project by two weeks. However, you still expect the website to be finished by the agreed date. Due to the lateness of the content, it’s highly unlikely that it’s still going to be possible to have the website finished by the specified date. Your web design contract must specify what happens if delays caused by you delay the final website. 4. Copyright Over the Website, Assets and Software: Who Owns It? You might not know this, but in most countries copyright belongs to the contractor (the web design provider) unless the contractor explicitly transfers ownership. If you contract a web design company to make a website, they own the copyright. In most cases, the web design provider will happily transfer copyright to you. If it’s a run-of-the- mill small business website without any unique software programming, then there’s no need for the web designer to retain copyright ownership. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 38
  39. 39. If your website has lots of unique features that have been custom developed by the web design provider, then you’ll need to negotiate ownership right from the start. Don’t avoid this conversation, because it will be far more problematic in a few years when the original developers re-purpose the software for your competitors. Some clients don’t understand why they don’t just own the copyright. Think of Microsoft Word. Just because you buy it, doesn’t mean you own the software. What you bought is the right to use the software. Same goes for when you buy a website, unless you negotiate copyright ownership. Your web design contract must specify copyright ownership over assets and software. 5. Access to Source Files and Assets At some point you will use another service provider; perhaps a graphic designer to help with some print marketing. The graphic designer will look at the website, and will likely ask you to provide the ‘source’ files for certain graphics. Source files are the Photoshop file or Illustrator file the original graphic was created with. The reason the graphic designer needs the source files (and not just the graphics on the website) is because website graphics are optimised for web. They look terrible in print. The graphic designer will need the original source files to create print ready images. Your web design contract should specify access to the source files. 6. Client and 3rd Party Changes to the Website Adding and editing content for a website is a daily task for businesses. When adding something new to the website – such as a banner ad promoting your latest offer – the layout of the website can break. The first thing you will think is: “Ahh, the website isn’t working, I’ll call the web designer to fix it.” Here’s yet another catch. If you or someone else makes a change to the website that breaks the design or function, it’s your responsibility. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 39
  40. 40. Depending on your arrangement with the web design provider, you will have to either pay a one off fee to fix it, or it will be included as part of your maintenance and support deal. Your web design contract must specify responsibility over 3rd party changes to the website. 7. Ongoing Maintenance and Technical Support Simple business websites usually don’t require any maintenance or technical support. Websites with technical features absolutely will. Some web design providers will charge a monthly fee, others will provide free support for a specified period. However! All good web design providers should offer free support for the original features they created. If you discover a critical bug that stops certain features from working, then the web design provider should provide support. But be careful. They will not provide free support for bugs that were caused by you, only bugs they didn’t find during production. Your web design contract must define the conditions of maintenance and support. 8. Payment Terms There are all kinds of payment plans for web design. Most will charge a percentage upfront (this is industry standard) and specify progress payments. For example: 30% of the total fee is to be paid before production, 30% is to be paid when deliverable X is complete, and the remainder is to be paid upon completion of all deliverables. Other web design providers might specify time periods rather than deliverables. Your web design contract must clearly state the payment terms and conditions. Download our free Web Design Contract Checklist Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 40
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  42. 42. How Much Does Web Design Cost? As someone who’s been working in the web design field for six years now, I’ve seen web design prices fluctuate wildly, depending on the nature of the website being built. In this article, I’m going to provide you with two explanations for why website prices differ. There are two main ways of understanding prices for web design projects. 1. Website Packages and Prices 2. The Cost of a Web Designer Website Packages and Prices The way many web design companies work is by providing very specific packages that address the needs of most small businesses. A typical small business website package will include at least the following: • content management system software • website Interface • interactive Features • blog The above elements have associated costs, and I‘ve outlined these below. 1. Content Management System Software You may be aware that many of the content management systems used by web designers are free. This is good for you (and your web designer) because it means you’re not paying for proprietary software. There’s also typically a large community supporting and continually improving the software. So why does a CMS cost money if the software is free? CMS software (unlike Microsoft Word) doesn’t work out of the box. It needs to be installed on your web server. It should also be configured to ensure compatibility with a hosting service, and customised to meet your specific requirements. So, even though the software might be free, you’re paying a service fee to make it work. Typical cost: Between $100 – $800. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 42
  43. 43. 2. Website Interface The website interface encompasses the overall look and feel of the website as well as the navigation elements. These two website components are extremely important as they can make the difference between a frustrating navigation experience and an intuitive one. In an attempt to reduce costs, some website packages use a template for the interface. These templates are pre-designed interfaces that can be customised to suit your requirements. Typical cost: $500 – $1000. 3. Interactive Features Interactive features are usually things like contact forms, but can also include maps, booking systems, and ecommerce features. This is where it can get complicated; but let’s assume for the purpose of this guide that your website is for a service that doesn’t require ecommerce features. Typical cost: $500 – $1000. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 43
  44. 44. 4. Blog Many CMS platforms will have a blog built-in, but it still requires configuration. Typical cost: $100 – $300. From this, we can see that you can expect to pay anywhere from $1,200 to $3,000 for a customised website. This raises the question – why do some websites only cost $299? You might pay a very low price, but you’ll lose on lots of the customisation features I just mentioned. Let’s take a look at what the $299 website is missing. No ability to/for: • Store emails from prospects in a CRM • Send email marketing messages to contacts in a CRM • Host or embed videos • Implement a flexible layout for different pages • Google Maps integration • Compatibility across all web browsers • Compatibility with mobile phone browsers You might think you don’t need these features – and in some cases – it’s true. The cheaper website can be a great option when you’re just starting out, but today’s consumer is inundated with choice. If you can’t provide an engaging experience, why would they choose you over your competitors? Cost of a Web Designer Nice work! We’ve covered the cost of web design according to packages and features, so now let’s look at time costs. Your new website is going to take a designer anywhere from 20 to 60 hours, and this will include: 1. CMS install, setup and configuration: 5 – 10 hours 2. Website interface design: 10 – 20 hours 3. Interactive features: 10 – 20 hours 4. Blog set up and design: 5 – 10 hours Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 44
  45. 45. A rookie web designer will typically charge about $30 p/h. So that’s a cost of $900 – $1,800. But of course, no one wants to work at cost, because there are overheads and support time. So a smart web designer will charge a bit over the time it takes to design and build a website. That brings us back to our $1,200 figure from the package perspective. An intermediate web designer – someone who has valuable experience with designing websites – will charge around $60 p/h. So now we’re hitting the $1,800 – $3,600 range. The difference between a beginner and an intermediate web designer is that the more experienced web designer is well-versed in modern web design standards, including coding and layout (HTML5, for example). Poor code can mean your website loads slowly and may even display differently in some browsers. Poor design and layout detracts from a site, and can be a great reason for someone to leave the website and choose a competitor instead. I’ve covered the low-to-mid range websites; but how is it that some websites can cost more than $10,000? Expensive Websites Expensive websites have more requirements than the average small business website. Consider a website like menulog (a popular home delivery food service). Their website includes: • an ordering system • a membership system • an ecommerce system; and, • an email marketing system Each system requires careful interface design to integrate them correctly. When you add up the time required to build something this sophisticated, you’ll be looking at 100+ hours of work. This means your costs are going to reach around the $10,000 mark (at a minimum). With web design, your money is going towards expertise, time and the ‘uniqueness’ of your site (also known as customisation). You get what you pay for, so it might help to check out our chapter 5 How to Choose the Right Web Designer. Web Design Buyer's Guide: How to Successfully Outsource Web Design By 45
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