Do you have web site design questions? Does the process of finding a web development company seem overwhelming? We’ve got some answers here that might help you along with this process. Read the answers to the top questions we get asked day in and day out.
What do I need to provide to start the process?
Essentially, you will need to provide the text, photos and logo that you would like on your site. If you don’t have any of the above, we can work with you to help design a logo or to acquire any image files that would help with the overall look of your site. For a full list of items that you may want to include on your web site, please click web site design checklist.
My friend (or family member) knows HTML, couldn’t he make my web site?
Unless this person is a professional web site developer who also has a strong background in Sales & Marketing, this is NOT the best choice for a commercial site.
Let’s face it, most small businesses work extremely hard to establish their businesses. If they’re also extremely talented in Marketing & Sales, they manage to also grow their business. If they’re just average at Marketing but good at product development, they will typically go out of business within a few short years and lose their shirt in the process, not to mention wasting a few good years of extremely hard work. This is an unfortunate fact of life. In our observation it is a lack of Sales & Marketing knowledge that causes this debacle. Most small businesses are driven by a great product or service but most lack the Marketing knowledge to bring their dreams to reality no matter how “good” the product is. McDonald’s does not offer the BEST hamburger… they simply have mastered MARKETING a below average hamburger.
So the real question is what kind of help do you need at this point? If you’re launching a new business, you need all the help you can get in terms of Marketing, Sales and Internet knowledge. It costs a little more up front but what’s at stake? In our opinion, the success or failure of your business.
In addition to the above, a few other points can be made, not the least of which is that a poorly designed site will reflect poorly on your business and actually drive potential customers away. Furthermore, having a “friend of a friend” attempt your website is typically a disaster in the making. We’ve seen these relationships break down time and time again, leaving both parties in a state of frustration. When it comes to your business, doesn’t it make sense to invest in the tools and providers who will help you take your company to the next level? Can your friend’s son help take your business to the next level? I doubt it.
Having a knowledgeable web design professional is the key to making your web site work for your benefit. As far as the Internet is concerned, it is not just an “if you build it, they will come” scenario. A well-designed and properly marketed web site will increase your revenue and client base. A poorly designed and marketed web site may only hurt your business.
How much does a web site cost with you?
Unfortunately the answer to this question is, “it depends”. The short answer is that our smallest custom website starts at around $2,000. However, we do not build very many of these tiny websites.
As a high-end, custom web site development firm, our focus is on building top quality web sites that position and brand your company as a leader in its industry. Our sites routinely out-perform our competitors because they are developed from a SALES and MARKETING perspective.
Most websites miss the mark because they are thrown together by programmers who know very little about SALES and MARKETING and who use templates as their starting point. Templates are generic website layouts that get used over and over again for many businesses. This is crazy since the whole purpose of a website is to use it as a SALES and MARKETING tool to help you differentiate your company from the competition. How do you achieve that with a generic, cookie cutter template website? You don’t. If you’re not thinking this through thoroughly, you’ll waste money for sure but far worse… you’ll lose a lot more in “lost opportunities” because your site wasn’t a marketing machine.
Our sites are geared to position your company as a dominant player in the industry and to drive visitors, leads and sales and to accomplish the additional goals and objectives of the company we’re representing.
Technically, there are many variables that factor into the costs of a web project. For example, a large number of the projects we are doing these days include complex database and content management systems, animation work and custom programming. In order to provide an accurate quote, we really need to drill down into the details with you to understand what you need and want. Suffice it to say however, that we are not a cookie cutter shop geared toward micro businesses with extremely tight budgets. For these customers there are do-it-yourself options out there that may meet their needs.
Why are the website quotes I am getting all over the map?
A few years ago, websites were a novelty but now more than ever, they are often the VERY FIRST point of interaction with potential clients. As such, you have to be on your “A-GAME” or you risk NOT landing a big important client, a large government project or making that online sale.
The competition on the web is getting fierce in all industries. Your business is now facing lots of competition due to the Internet. Web sites are getting better and better BUT the sites developed by companies using Marketing, Sales and PR techniques are out performing the competition by a large margin.
A decent looking site is NOT ENOUGH today. Sites have to perform and companies who have had any amount of experience with a prior website realize that website performance is not accidental… it is earned through proper planning, strategy and sales and marketing tactics.
Unfortunately most “web designers” cannot engage this need beyond building a site that on the surface looks OK. But ask yourself, what good is a ‘great looking’ restaurant, a ‘great looking’ showroom, a ‘great looking’ business if it can’t sell its services, if it can’t be found and if it can’t pay its staff. It’s worthless.
So the various prices you see for business websites reflect the various levels of skills available in the current market place. These break down into 4 basic categories:
1. Below Average | Cheapest Website Providers
These sites are often built by automated programs, off-shore teams in India & other places, by internal IT staff, poorly skilled and novice web designers, students, friends, neighbors or companies that charge a monthly rate for their template based “web sites”. When built by companies, these types of sites are cranked out, one after the other in mass volume, like a fast food chain makes hamburgers.
These sites are very cheaply built, often using pre-made templates and do not follow modern web standards. They often look several years behind the times, are amateurish and unbeknownst to the purchaser, the designs are often re-used over and over for many companies. As can be expected, these lower quality sites perform very poorly. These websites are a poor way to represent a legitimate established business and an even worse way to establish a new firm. Incidentally, many websites are in this general category simply by the mere fact of having an old, outdated website. By today’s standards these older sites appear to fall into this category.
Due to their extremely low cost of entry, these websites make up probably around 50% – 65% of the business web sites out there.
2. Average | Mediocrity Providers
Better than the “cheapest sites” but not designed for performance. This is your average performing website and the average website does not make any meaningful impact to a company’s sales or marketing efforts. Typically these sites do not get much monthly traffic and the traffic it does get, does not get converted into Leads, Prospects or Sales.
These sites are typically built by a “web designer” who is either a one-man-show working from home or a company who doesn’t care much about your marketing effort but is eager to “sell you a website”. It’s short term thinking at its best and these businesses quickly get a bad reputation (even if you’re not aware of it)
These businesses don’t have sufficient resources to assemble the minimum support team needed to build an above average website OR they simply don’t concern themselves with the performance of the website and how you’re going to actually put this new website to work to increase revenues.
The minimum team would be comprised of an Internet Marketing & Sales Strategist, a Creative Director, a Creative Designer, a Web Programmer, a Quality Assurance tester and a trained Project Manager. Such a team brings a diverse range of talents together to implement and develop your Internet strategy and produce a website that’s worth investing in.
Even a one-man-show with the best of intentions has a problem assembling an above average website. They just can’t wear all the hats simultaneously and even if they could, they don’t have a deep enough skill & experience set in each area, to do it well. So you wind up wearing the art director hat and driving the bus on the project, telling the designer what you want in very great detail.
The skill set required to do a great job is very contradictory; you have Right Brain Skills to handle all the creative stuff, the visuals, the feeling, the buzz, the brand, the vision, etc. & then you have the strong Left Brain skills which are the programming, detail orientation, the logic flow, the practical side of lead generation, making sales and doing business online.
Studies show most people are dominant in one area and weak in the other. Even the very best schizophrenic can’t manage it! So with teams who can’t bring this to the table, you have to make a compromise and this compromise is usually selecting a firm without the strong Sales & Marketing background that really serves as the foundation for the whole website. It’s sort of like building a great looking car with no engine.
Unfortunately most companies seeking to purchase a web site were never educated about what to look for in a web development company and how to evaluate a good purchase in this regard. Confusing the issue further is the wide range of price quotes clients do receive. Buyers end up treating the purchase as a commodity, like buying “computers” or a “printer” and wonder why they’ve gotten no traffic, leads or sales 6 months after they launch their site. Later these same clients come calling again and are ready to scrap what they did and start over a 2nd or 3rd time and get it right this time. What a waste of time, money and lost opportunities.
These sites make up around 20% – 30% of the websites out there. They are built without the crucial Sales, Marketing and PR proposition that is the heart and soul of a website.
3. Results Oriented, Boutique Website Providers
These are the stand out sites and providers in any geographical area. This is the merging of Sales, Marketing and PR Experience with a very skilled Creative approach. These types of sites and the firms that produce them make up less than 5% of the market, possibly even less. These sites make money, drive business, have good traffic and great conversion rates and are the types of sites that ClearTech Interactive Corp. builds.
In any given geographical area, there are only a handful of companies who have the knowledge, experience, capability and team to deliver such a web site. These are the local boutique firms who have typically been in business 10yrs or more with a focus on Internet Strategy, Marketing and Web Development. These companies see the website as a tool to be put to use to accomplish Marketing and Sales goals and not as a commodity or product. These vendors are very engaging during the web site quote process and will spend a lot of up front time learning all about your business, its target marketing, your strengths, weaknesses, your competition and opportunities. They use this information to assemble a comprehensive solution that can have a measurable impact on your business. They will typically have a large referral based business and loyal customers who will have great things to say about them.
From a cost perspective these sites typically provide the best bang for the buck since the sites are long lasting, don’t need costly redesigns and generate two to five times the traffic, conversion, inquiries and sales than a typical website.
Established companies and smart entrepreneurs desire these types of websites as they help propel their own companies forward, ahead of their competition.
4. Premium Providers
This final category of web development providers actually falls within the boutique category as defined above. They produce the same or similar product quality but they are able to charges a lot more. These development firms are referred to as “Premium Providers”.
Premium providers are boutique firms who through their impressive client roster and effective Public Relations campaigns, can demand an additional premium beyond the typical boutique firm fees. Their premium fees are typically 40%-100% over a normal boutique firm estimate.
Why would anyone choose such a firm? Many larger companies are willing to pay the premium due to the provider’s real world experience with top tier clients. However selecting a premium provider does not guarantee the job will be any more competent than a boutique firm. In our experience, often the company staff member making the strong recommendation for such a firm is doing so largely out of self-preservation. By selecting the “most popular” firm in the local area, the staff doesn’t have to do the hard research, interviewing vendors. The company will pay dearly (up to twice as much) but the staff making the recommendation will largely be off the hook for the outcome. In our eyes this is the lazy way of researching firms and selecting a vendor.
What are the deposit requirements?
Generally speaking, we require a 50% deposit on all design work with the other 50% payable at the prototype phase. All web hosting, search engine optimization, professional writing services, logos, 3rd party software purchases and domain name registration are payable at the start of the month or at the start of the project.
How long will it take to get a site developed?
The length of time to create your site depends on the complexity and size of the web design. Generally speaking, once you have approved the layout of the design it will take approximately 3-6 weeks for a traditional website to be built.
What will my web site be named?
Your web site will have a unique domain name. Most often we will try to get www.yourbusinessname.com however, another company may have already registered it. If this is the case we will discuss with you the available, related domain names. If you have already registered a domain name we can use that name for your site.
Can I start with a small site and add to it later?
Sure. Many of our larger projects are planned out in several phases. We can develop your website to fit your current needs and then, as your needs change, your website can be changed to align with them, providing you start off with the correct foundation.
How is a site kept up to date? Can we do the updates in-house?
Every time a prospect returns to your web site they are that much closer to becoming a client. To keep them coming back to your site we recommend updating your content periodically. We can update your site for you for a fee, based on how often you would like to update it and the complexity of the updates. We can also provide a solution whereby you can update your own website by using a Content Management System.
What is a Host?
A Host is the server your website lives on. Typically you will pay a monthly fee to the host, who makes your website available 24/7 to the Internet. The Host also typically provides email services, spam protection, nightly website backups and statistical information to you about your website visitors and your website’s performance. The cost for this service varies but is usually between $20 and $99 a month.
What is a domain name?
A domain name is the specific “www” address of your web site. Because domain names need to be unique you will need to register one for your company so no one else can use your address. The cost for this service is around $30 a year.
Who owns my website once it is finished?
Some web designers retain the rights to the sites they build and may even charge you a fee to take “your” site and move it to another host.
When you purchase our services, we create the web site for you! At the end of the transaction you are the owner of the site. You can move it wherever you would like, copy it, make changes to it – anything you would like. It is yours.