What price a new website?

Website quote shocks.

A business owner rang up wanting a website to promote her gift-store online. She already had a web designer for an existing business but was horrified to have received what she described as an “over-the-top” quotation to design an e-commerce website from scratch. She wanted to use the prospective website to promote her goods to a wider audience. The quotation that sent her reeling was £600.

I too reeled, but not for the same reasons. Of course, we all want value for money, but would we consider paying bottom dollar for equally important business tools such as our IT hardware, our corporate identity or our management staff? Some business owners still think it’s acceptable to design their own cheap-and-cheerful stationery on-line, or draw their own business logo. I suggest that, unless you have graphic design skills, it’s probably better to leave professional artwork to experienced designers. I also believe that websites should not be ordered as last-minute extras to complement sales activities.

Nothing snobbish…

Similarly, I feel that business websites should not be hosted by cheap-as-chips service providers offering £2.99 a month deals. There is nothing snobbish behind my views, merely a belief that customers deserve better than many businesses are prepared to offer. If you are turning over £250k per annum and you rely heavily on your website for customer acquisition, it would be prudent to fork out more that a fiver a month to a web host. Many highly-qualified business owners see nothing wrong with offering their web visitors pages which load graphics slowly and induce terminal thoughts amongst the end-users.

The truth is that the disadvantages of sharing server space with zillions of other websites amount to far more than a drowsy web-viewing experience. Without naming any of the culprits, I can explain that the systems employed by the cheap-fee web hosts do not employ code which is search engine friendly. To that end, websites on cheap monthly fees are penalised. Try as you might, you cannot fine-tune what you cannot reach.

This is why I am a fan of WordPress as a platform for those who are not in the market to commission a bespoke website. WordPress is great, it has an excellent content management system, it permits a variety of helpful plug-ins (including SEO packs) and you can host your customised WordPress-based site with go-faster web hosts. If you are prepared (and are able to) content manage your own website, you will find WordPress a firm ally.

WordPress is the friend of my recent telephone enquirer. Or rather, it could be her friend if she asks her £600-a site web designer to use WordPress as her platform. Hopefully he may even be able to explain why you get what you pay for in this life.

Poor man.

With the best will in the world, I cannot see the poor man earning the minimum wage at this price once he has completed the initial client meetings; produced a treatment web page or two; suggested a content plan before presenting a wire-frame outline of the proposed website (because very few clients come to the table having mapped out the content in advance of the design); configured a chosen design template to fit the gift shop theme; integrated the e-commerce; sourced library images (because clients rarely bring quality images along); input the content; tested the website across a variety of browsers; made the necessary amends and launched the site. Then, of course there will be the post-launch panic when the business-owner realises that the shopping cart prices don’t include VAT, or that the cart doesn’t work seamlessly with the stock control system.

And you want all of this for £600? Actually, I would like a Mercedes SLK 200 for £600. But I know that the car salesman will laugh in my face at such nonsense. Web designers are not, however, expected to show such brazen incredulity, let alone ridicule. I don’t know why not. I have met a lot of highly-talented web designers over the years, but I have yet to meet a car salesman who fails to disappoint.

So when you seek a quote for a website, ask your designer to break down the web development work into explanatory headings and ask to hear more about the advantages of the proposed web host. If you cannot afford the work, don’t be tempted to buy a second-best website – it will place you in the second division. Consider becoming a Marketplace Seller on an existing retail website until you are in a position to make an impressive entrance online. A hasty decision may cost an even higher price.



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