There is no need to be intimidated by the process of getting your own web site. You will have an ongoing relationship with your web designers, so make sure that they can explain to you in simple terms the answers to the questions you ask. Here’s a few questions you can ask when getting web design quotes.
Website Design Quotes
Running a successful web design agency involves a whole range of different skills that few people are able to offer as a sole operator. Assisting your business with internet marketing also means having some understanding of how your businesses operates, how you promote yourself and what you’re trying to achieve.
How long have you been in business?
There are some businesses that have few barriers to anyone wanting to start up their own operation. In the same way that anyone who can hold a camera can be a “professional” photographer, anyone with a computer has all the equipment they need to be a “professional” web designer. Over the last 17 years, I’ve seen many web designers start up and disappear within a year or so. Where does this leave you if they close down and decide to move away? Unfortunately, it often means that you have no idea where your website is hosted, where your domain name is registered or how to update your website. It’s not unusual for this to happen. I’ve rescued many businesses whose web designers disappeared into think air for a number of reasons.
Where is my website hosted?
Please, please, please, make sure it’s in New Zealand. Overseas hosting can be much cheaper but if something goes wrong and you lose contact with your web designer, contacting overseas companies can be fraught with difficulties. But that’s not all that can go wrong.
Avoid Offshore Hosting
I took over a company in 2015 that hosted everything offshore on a very old, outdated server. Time differences meant that contact was sometimes at inconvenient times but initially service was good. I gradually moved all the websites to our NZ-based servers except one of them that was built in an obsolete software language that meant it was not possible to upgrade the hardware or move the websites to a different server. The client took over the account from me. Unfortunately, the hosting company was bought out by a bigger competitor and customer support took a major dive and it became difficult to resolve problems.
When the hosting account is in the web designer’s name
This is normal as web designers often buy hosting in bulk to on-sell to their clients. They handle the technical stuff and you get (hopefully) hassle-free hosting. But if they go under, it can be problematic to recover your website if it’s stored in an account you don’t have your name on. New Zealand companies are still bound by some privacy rules but I’ve found them to be a lot more helpful than a large overseas host that has little interest in a Kiwi company who doesn’t even have an account with them. If your web designer disappears, you should still have be able to get access to your files. We can provide regular website backups that are emailed to our clients who want ongoing software and security updates.
Is it shared hosting?
Shared website hosting is where the web designer buys only a small portion of space on a much larger hosting server. So they may only have 6 clients hosted on the server but there may be 2000 other websites hosted on there that the web designer has no control over. This can create issues with slow website speeds and crashes due to dodgy software that other users are implementing. It is preferable that the web designer runs a private server that they don’t share.
How often is my web site backed up?
We have an automatic daily back-up for all our clients. Many cheap hosts do no backups as part of your hosting, so if your website is hacked, you may be up for a whole new bill to completely rebuild it.
Will I own my website?
This sounds like an odd question but you’d be amazed at how many businesses have paid thousands of dollars for websites that they don’t really own because they are built on software that the web design company owns rather than you. You should be able to move your website to another host if you want to end your relationship with the web designer.
Another issue around ownership is where clients have opted into an agreement where the website is set up for free (or super cheap) but they pay a larger ongoing hosting fee for it’s use. In this case, the designer retains copyright to the website and you are effectively renting it. Not recommended! You should own the finished web site, although the designer may be offering additional services that you don’t own. Ask about that too.
What other websites have you built?
Check out the web designers work! You can’t expect a silk purse from someone that has lots of experience in making pig’s ears! Sometimes it’s easy to focus on the price and think you’re getting a cheap deal when what you’re actually doing is wasting money on something that won’t make you money and will probably lose you money. Customers judge you on the quality of your website. Invest accordingly! Check their testimonials to see what their clients think of them.
Who writes the text?
We can provide copy-writing for our customers if they would prefer not to write the text themselves. We can even translate it into different languages if they want to! However, most people still prefer to use their existing copy from brochures or other advertising material to save money. This can be a false economy if the copy is inadequate or poorly written. Google do place significant emphasis on the content of the website and customers will judge you on your words.
What about photos?
Photos are often supplied by the client. Sometimes they can be great quality but in the same way that a great hamer doesn’t make you a builder, a great camera doesn’t mean great photos. It’s definitely worth paying a professional photographer if you have a product or service that is very visual. Otherwise, we source imagees from photographic libraries. Sometimes, these can be at no cost and other times, we need to buy them for you.
How do I update my website?
Make sure you know what you are getting. Not all websites have an admin area that you can login to make changes yourself. Static websites (with no admin area) can be cheaper. So if you don’t want to update your website very often, you can save money by getting the web designer to do it rather than pay extra for a content-managed system. If you are paying for a website you can update yourself, ask to be shown how it works. Is it easy or is it too technical? Some website managers are far too complex for customers who only want to change to text and put a few photos on.
What are your charges?
Aside from the website, what will they charge for other work? If you want changes, are they included in the hosting and if so, how much time do you get? Don’t under-estimate how much time your updates take. I’ve lost count of the number of times a customer has said; “It’s a really easy update”, only to find that it means a significant time investment. Web designers don’t (shouldn’t) just copy and paste! We work in programming code. If it was “simple”, you could do it yourself.
What other services can you offer?
There are a huge number of things that may be built into a web site or offered as part of the hosting. For instance, we have a number of specialist websites that we run that we can use to assist them. In particular, our Bay of Islands Travel Guide is the #1 ranked tourism website for the region and all our clients in that area get a free listing on it (worth $225+gst per year).
While talking to the company write everything down. You should have some form of design agreement or at least a written quote. I hope this helps, if you have further queries please call