Author: Joshua Eastman
Shopping for a website isn’t easy and understanding what you are getting is crucial to the outcome of the project. It is always hard to know what to ask when you are not a subject matter expert. We wanted to give you some things to ask to fully understand where your money is going!
Understand What You Are Paying For
Ask for a clear scope of work (This is a list of X services = Y dollars to complete)
Sounds simple right? Well make sure when you are making your decision that your estimate states simply what you are asking for. If you are trying to get an e-commerce store make sure it says you can accept credit cards, will have X amount of products before launched, have an e-mail sign up form.
This doesn’t have to be technical and often if it is be cautious as you may be working with a developer who may not know how to communicate with you. When you look at these expenses ask any company providing an estimate to break down tasks into hours and dollar amounts.
When you see the amount of time they bill for understand that smaller time amounts and higher costs often mean you are dealing with a higher level of expertise which could be a positive or a negative depending on how simple the project is.
Ask if it is a flat rate quote
This is important to make sure that if your developer misses something they will still finish the job on the original budget. This is perhaps the most important thing to understand. If you get into the project and start asking for new functionality than you should expect that to alter the cost, but if there was something on your last website or something that should be obvious (Like setting up a shipping solution) that they did not address they should eat the bill on that.
Getting clear terms on what they will and will not do will show you if they are sensitive to customer budgets and understand that making the customer happy is important when they make a mistake. Flat rate quotes show a certain amount of experience and confidence that no hourly estimate can compare to.
Ask if you will get a custom design
More often than not people will get a $5000 bill only to find out they were sold a $60 WordPress template with some photos and text changed. This is totally fine if you understood that what you were paying for was not a custom design as there are a lot of other places money can be spent in building custom sites.
Finding a company that will make a custom template is important if you are very brand focused. We generally let a customer work with a designer and create a 100% unique Design before we start building the site, this sets expectations for everyone and makes it very clear we make something just for you… Here is an example of a template site vs a custom design…. I would tell you which is which but… well you can see for yourself.
The above images should make it pretty obvious why this question was important. One of these is generic and very plain while the other on is branded, speaks to a brand and really shows off what the business owner would want.
Don’t mistake my love of website vanity for bragging. The design above helped with a significant increase in sales from their prior design. It helps people believe in a brand, see what a company is and buy into a culture before they even see a product, this is worth money not just opinion. One design could land you 17-30% lower sales.
Ask If They Have Done Other Sites Like Yours
This should always be asked as it can explain a lot about the estimate. If you got a really low estimate there may be a reason for it. The company may not have any companies in your space and want you as a portfolio example.
The other option is they do not have experience. If you need an informational website you can afford to be a little less picky on who you deal with as long as their website looks good and run quickly. If you get an estimate and they can not display any working competence in e-commerce stores when that is what you are shopping for you should move on regardless of the cost savings.
Making sure you know if you are a test subject for a companies first commerce site is important. If you are and you are okay with it you have a pretty good leverage for negotiation, if you are not okay with it and have an established business than promptly incinerate the estimate and move on.
How to tell if you are being taken
You should always get a few estimates as with anything, it helps you understand if anyone is trying to inflate an estimate. If you see three estimates at $5000 and one at $22,000 you know you need to understand what that difference is. I can promise you there may be companies that will charge $22,000 for a $5,000 website but there are a lot of companies out there that will pay you back in spades and probably already do with their existing customer base.
So What Now?
Call us… We will be happy to help you understand an estimate from another company and if you want one from us, let us know. Just want someone to look over some estimates and advise who to go with, no problem we would love to help you out with anything involving the web and getting your business on it!