Whether your business is new to the internet or you already have experience of developing an internet solution, we appreciate that you might have lots of questions that you need help answering. We have tried to collate some of the questions that we are often asked here, along with some general answers. We hope these help, but for specific help and advice, why not give us a call or send us an email?
Website planning FAQs
Well, of course we think you’ve made the right start by reading through our website! We can’t run through the whole process here as it requires a lot of time spent working in conjunction with you individually. However, before speaking to anybody, the first thing to do is to think – and put down on paper – what it is you’re trying to achieve through the internet. This might vary from producing online marketing support material, to delivering sales through an online e-commerce site, or to developing intranet systems to manage your business processes.
Taking the example of a shop based retail business, the overall objective might be to produce additional sales revenue through an online e-commerce website. This might then break down into increasing geographical reach, driving increased traffic in-store, promoting loyalty amongst existing customers, targeting new customer profiles and reducing selling overheads.
Having established the ‘Why?’, next establish some constraints: how much time have you got to put into this, how much are you prepared to spend, how soon do you need a website. Words of advice: “Be realistic or else you are doomed to fail.”, “Don’t bite off more than you can chew: develop your solution in small steps if needs be.”, “Keep it simple to start with: you can extend it later.”
Having done this work you will have established an outline requirements plan of what it is that you want. This needs to be fleshed out in considerable detail to ensure that what you end up with gains the maximum possible benefit from your business. Even before this stage many businesses simply go to a group of website design companies and say ‘I want a website’. We feel getting independent advice at this early stage, helping you to develop the outline plan into a detailed requirements specification, is absolutely key to getting a quality, value for money website design.
Costs are clearly going to vary according to what it is you require: what the website does, how many pages it will have, how much design you want etc. Having a detailed requirements specification document will make it far easier to approach website developers and ask them for a quotation (but make sure they read it and respond to ALL points raised in it) – AND easier for them to give you as low a price as possible (the more specific you are, the less they have to allow for specification creep: new requirements coming up later during development and increasing their costs)
We thought long and hard about putting actual cost values in this FAQ because we didn’t want to put people off with high costs when their requirements are simple, nor did we want to put too low a cost in here causing unrealistic expectations. But taking these ballpark figures with a large possible variation you might like to budget £800-£1,400 for a quality design 6 page marketing support website; add from £400 to £1200 for a Content Management System; and £2,500-£4,500 for an online e-commerce solution.
Having a detailed requirements specification will help move things along more quickly. Obviously this depends on the complexity of the site, but typically from awarding the contract to ending up with a finished website can take 2-4 months. Don’t underestimate the time that it will take you to write content for the website and (if an e-commerce website) get product information into the product catalogue. Our experience is that the constraining factor is often the customer trying to find time to deal with the website alongside all their normal work!
Many ‘decent domain names’ have now been grabbed by speculators hoping to sell them on for profit. We find this practice abhorrent but not necessarily a problem. Pick something simple, memorable and mainstream. For UK focused businesses we prefer .co.uk domains, but you might like to get the corresponding .com domain name – if you can – to stop people trying to pass themselves off as you. We prefer to avoid .biz, .cc etc. although if you are selling, or hoping to sell, to a European market then .eu might be a good bet. Use one of the many domain name sellers to find available domain names: cost should be from £5-£10 per year for a .co.uk and £10-£20 per year for a .com.
Paying for your domain name effectively rents you a place in the internet directory. Hosting is effectively paying for renting your website space; your internet shop front. Costs vary dramatically according to your requirements, but budget between £100-£250 per year (at the lower end if you don’t have e-commerce or database functions). Beware low cost solutions: the market is highly competitive and costs tend to be comparable; lower cost usually means they have cut something out which might impact on the effectiveness of your website.
A CMS is a system which lets you edit your own website content after the developer has created the website for you. They use sophisticated programming to allow you to edit just the core content of the site (without disrupting the look and feel, navigation etc.). You will pay extra for a CMS (typically up to £2,000, although we can suggest cheaper solutions for specific circumstances). Without a CMS you must pay the website developer for each change you request (usually on an hourly rate basis, typically £25-35 per hour). You need to balance the extra cost of a CMS against the extra flexibility it gives you; the decision on which way to go depends on your exact circumstances. Note: a CMS can not easily be ‘added’ later, it usually entails developing a whole new website.
- Not planning sufficiently.
- Not planning at all.
- Changing your requirements half way through development.
- Not realising how much time this is going to take you, the client, alongside your normal work
Website design FAQs
There are many great website designers out there (us included, we’d like to think). We would recommend that you get some quotes in and, presuming they are all in roughly the same ballpark, don’t simply go for the lowest price – go for the developer who cares most about delivering a solution to your problem, understanding your business; explains things to you in straighforward language; somebody you can trust and get along with: it’s all about the working relationship.
- We meet with you to understand your business, what your requirements are and what the best way to develop a solution for those requirements is.
- We write a document saying what will be in the website, discuss and agree with you.
- We work on some designs: give you some ‘mocked up’ pages to explore with you how you want your website to look (some people get very closely involved at this stage, others with less graphic design skill less so).
- We refine the design to produce a design that you agree with.
- We give you a document split into sections into which you can enter your content to put on the website. (Depending on your budget we can supply the starting content for you, written by people highly experienced in website marketing to ensure your website delivers the best possible results).
- We build the website, showing you it as it develops and discuss any areas that need clarification or explanation.
- We test the website.
- We ‘handover’ the website and train you in how to use the functionality in it.
- We support you closely during the early days as you launch the website.
- We remain on hand if you need any further help or advice throughout the life of the website.
- Put time aside to discuss your requirements in more depth with us.
- Read, comment and agree on a website specification document.
- Give feedback on design options and agree to a final look and feel.
- Test the final website to make sure you are happy with it.
ASP is a website development technology produced by Microsoft, PHP is a website development technology produced by the ‘open source’ community. We always develop using the latter technology: we feel it is cheaper, better supported and far more widely used, amongst other things: and these benefits all pass on to you.
- Not planning sufficiently.
- Not taking time to understand what will be delivered until it is actually delivered.
- Not allowing sufficient time to write content.
- Writing content that doesn’t sell your benefits and with insufficient calls to action.
- Concentrating too much on the look not the content.
- Not promoting the website once it has been launched.
Internet support FAQs
- Hosting costs yearly.
- Domain name costs.
- Any support costs at an hourly rate for changes you request to the website.
- Try to monitor how it is performing.
- Look for weaknesses.
- Keep an eye on your competitors’ websites.
- Continue to evolve content as you evolve.
- Promote your website at every possible opportunity.
This is an involved process consisting of many different tactics with the overall aim of lifting your website higher up in the search engine results. We tend to think that if you’re not on the first page of a Google search (for example) then you won’t get visited. SEO costs money but delivers results.
- Not continuing to monitor your website.
- Trying to gain new customers and forgetting about retention of existing customers.
- Not continuing to promote your website.
- Not continuing to evolve your website.
Not found what you were looking for? Give us a call or send us an email.