With internet growing at a rapid pace along with mobile devices, every business requires a website and if you don’t have a presence on web its like you don’t exist. What is a right investment to ones website and how to ensure you are getting paid for what you are spending for the website design is a question that baffles the most experienced. So this article is written to demystify the complexity involved in today’s website development proposals that come from freelancers to professional agencies.
To keep things simple, lets define the feature list that is required in 2015 for any website so as to call it a feasible solution.
Web Design Feature List for 2015
- Mobile compatibility or multi-device to be more precise. A website should render itself with good amount of readability and layout adapted for mobile viewing. In short it should be responsive.
- An intelligent websites that sends media rich content, text, video, audio, based on the device.
- Fast loading times and hence ability to catch users attention is very important. Everyone is on the move and if your website doesn’t load on time then its lost business.
- Interaction with social networks. Your customers / prospects want to interact with your brand, they want to be heard. Hence web components for social interaction is a must.
- High quality content and management of the same is again a need. One of the most popular solutions for this is a WordPress website. It doesn’t make sense to go any other route when it comes to price vs value.
- A design that goes well with the trend, SEO friendly ( read user friendly )
- Local SEO compatible so that users can find you easily via search engines.
Web Design Platform Choices
Now I have already broken the suspense out by calling out the name of WordPress. Yes it has to be WordPress solution, that ensures your website receives quality code base that is secure. But this also puts enormous responsibility on you to ensure that the developer/agency you are using is knowledgeable of handling such a sophisticated CMS platform. 70% of WordPress hacks are due to poorly coded themes. Wordpress in stock format comes with many free themes and more often than not you will need customization to the layout to properly convey your content. That’s the point where specialized themes comes into picture.
What are my other options, you can go for custom coded HTML which is a static website and that is responsive. To completely code up a custom site with all the items 1 to 7 in our requirement list, is a pretty expensive affair and I wouldn’t recommend the same for a small business unless you have a complex workflow to be implemented with lot of dynamic data coming to the web pages. Then its more of a web application than a website. The overall costs can go up from 2x and up.
Now for WordPress one of the safest options is to stick with the popular theme development companies and stay away from single developer options. At the end of the day new WordPress versions comes and theme updates are also necessary to keep up with the development which one person will invariably find it difficult down the lane.
So stick to the popular frameworks and providers who create themes out of that. Now since you have selected a theme still you will need customization. This is achieved by creating a child theme to take care of the missing parts. A good agency should be able to guide you through this process of selecting a theme that is apt for your business or personal website. Once choice of theme is done you can choose the customization required and inform them to come up with the check list.
Another choice is to go ahead and give them some websites that they like. Then from there the company creates a custom design for you in Photoshop for each of the pages you want on your website. Its called unique pages based on the type of content you have on your website. Common layouts can be there for pages that has similar content format. This is truly customized and showcases the unique identity of your website. For every page a custom child theme page is created and then themed. This is mostly like the custom coded HTML option. You can say its just like a tailor made suit, that gives you the right fit.
Now the next part of the process will be developing custom images for various sections of the website. This will range from original creations of banners, icons for feature lists, call to action images, work flow diagrams and this gives the character to your website. Expect to spend a good amount on this as this is quite important to convey what you want clearly, quickly to your visitors. Engagement is the name of the game, and engaged visitors spend more time on your website and convert as customers.
Key things to look for
- Look for a reputed web design agency with experience and knowledge in developing standard oriented websites.
- Ask for the company from where they are sourcing the theme / theme framework.
- Ask for how many custom pages from ground up will be developed or modified
- See the designs of each page and ensure before getting into this all the content required on the website is ready, hire a quality copywriter.
- Understand the level of detailing that will go into each image on the website i.e for banners and for individual icons.
- Ask for breakup in the estimate on theme development, artistic image creation, image edits ( this is different as it involves only stock image edits ), Project management, content architecture.
- Look for a firm with knowledge on SEO, if not hire one before you engage the content writer. This should save a lot of time down the lane.
An Example Project
For a website with 5 pages, 3 top banners, around 25 images to be configured for blog and web pages. Including content architecture , SEO considerations, the calculations could go like this.
With international rates considered for WordPress development, one could have a website done anywhere from $2000 and up if opted for companies with back-end operations in developing countries such as India.
Its a good idea to develop a web presence solution that includes a website on a strong platform rather than spending on a mediocre system which doesn’t follow the latest standards. The platform should be secure, user friendly, customization friendly and more over easy to enter and modify data. Socially connected, interactive, engaging websites are mandatory to get the attention of today’s discerning web users attention and time. A quality website goes a long way to establish your brand equity in a connected world and its an investment worth making.