The world of web development is unregulated. As with any unregulated industry, every man and his dog will build you a website.
Getting a website is like reading the menu for a restaurant, there’s already 35 things to choose from and turning the page and seeing 45 more choices just makes you say “fuck this give me a battered sav”.
Additionally, people that require a website made for them are often inexperienced with web development themselves, so they’re relying on others to give them information and they might trust the “so called experts”. Remember that assholes will pretend to be your friend at first.
This post provides a rule of thumb for anyone undertaking a website project
Firstly, you need to be very clear on what the website is trying to achieve for you.
If the website is a backbone for your company, and you’re expecting it to generate leads for you for years to come, then you should consider the website an investment, not an expense.
Don’t skimp out, if you use cheap, free, or DIY options, then most of the time, you’ll paint yourself into a corner. The technical aspects of the site will be shit (unbeknown to everyday business owners), and just doing a simple update will lead to a painful 8 back and forth emails with your web developer “Kirk” who’s more concerned with his next Ladbroke bet.
Personally, my pricing is quite high, often 5x that of competitors.
I’ve had prospects scoff at my prices, saying they’ve been quoted $900 elsewhere. Fuck off – go work with “Jimmy the website guy” and make a mess together and end up with a site doing $500 a month.
I also tell them my sites average $20,000 per month, and all of a sudden, my price tag doesn’t seem like such an expense.
As with anything, you get what you pay for.
So if it’s a hobby, you’re fine to build it yourself or get any decent company with a good portfolio.
However, if you want a professional result, then hire a professional.
Your goal is revenue, not just a website
The purpose of a website is to make you revenue, not just be any website printed on the back of your business card.
Experienced web developers that collaborate with marketers know this, and should be able to show you their own projects and the monetary value each of them generates.
You’ll find most web guys just provide a cool design, and have minimal interest on how many SALES it will generate. You’re going to end up with a pretty looking, but shit performing website.
If you meet up with a web guy and his “marketer” and they can’t accurately show you the money their projects make, walk away.
You want some sort of indication the developer understands the end goal for YOUR business, not just their role in the project.
Take a look at the screenshot below:
This is a screenshot from just one of my clients over a 30 day period.
The website generated 43 phone calls, and 10 contact form enquiries.
Additionally, the website has over a 7% conversion rate, meaning 7/100 people convert. Or for every 1000 visitors, 70 people will convert.
Most importantly, the site led to $23,000 in sales.
This is the information business owners actually care about – and it’s what you want to measure from day 1.
How to start the website project
The biggest problem I see, is that people start the website project with the wrong ideas, people talk about nonsense like
- Logo’s (can come after the fact)
- Meeting for 10 coffees to “talk it over”. Seriously, fuck me. A web project should take 4 weeks, at most.
While design elements, branding & personality have their place, they shouldn’t be at the forefront of your project, instead, start the website project with the end goal in mind. Focus on:
- Existing sites you can reverse engineer and extract ideas from
Take the guess work out of it.
I recently had a client, who’s one of Australia’s top 5 online retailers. They were having a hard time choosing a new layout for the site and asked “Rhys, what do you think?”. So, instead of just “thinking” about the new layout and suggesting my opinion, I went online and looked at:
- What Amazon is doing
- What eBay is doing
- What leading competitors are doing
All of these websites used a very similar layout. We can also assume eBay and Amazon have already done a large amount of testing we can benefit from.
It was a simple solution to a large problem. Reverse engineering can be applied to most website projects and challenges. Even yours.
Base your website off successful sites – there’s no need to do everything from scratch.
Agree upon a due date
Setting a due date can potentially save you a lot of headaches. This might be a simple one, but by purely setting a due date you can save a tremendous amount of hassle.
Ask them to include on the invoice “Project to be completed by DD/MM/YYYY”. This helps in many ways
- The developer and you are 100% aware of completion date. There’s nothing vague about it, there’s no “it will be done in March” and you go back and forth with 30 emails type of crap.
- You have an invoice with a due date, should things go pear shaped, you will hold the upper hand
There should be no reason why they shouldn’t agree to this.
Ask about future support
If you’re website’s role is to support your business, then no doubt, you’ll need to update it in the future. Anything from including a chat program, to changes to a contact form, layout changes or re-branding the website in the future. Ask them:
- How many hours of updates do I get in this invoice?
- How much are additional hours, should I need them?
A website is never one time investment. The majority of small to medium businesses, will not have an IT expert on hand, and likely out-source their work to the developer that originally authored the site.
Ensure the developer is able to provide you assistance in the future, and you know exactly how much that will cost.
Quality of workmanship
Every man and his dog can setup your website 1000 different ways.
There’s no two developers the same. It’s also difficult for a business owner to understand the technical differences. With that in mind, every business owner wants a website with the following features:
- A website they can take pride in
- That looks good, and represents the business to the highest degree
- Understand how the website operates, and how it supports their business
- Who they can turn to for help, marketing or updates
By just using common sense, you can browse over the website developer’s portfolio and just assess them.
- Are the websites accurate, compelling and engaging?
- Are the websites seamlessly guiding me through the site?
- Do the websites use a less is more approach, or is there 10,000 things flying around the place?
- Can they show you how much money the site makes?
Thinking about the long term is key.
Sure, you can pay Jimmy $900 and get a website. Jimmy might even say “your exposure is up 300% and we use good SEO practices” to make that $900 feel like a real winner.
Or you can research developers, and understand the long term objective – which is, sales, enquiries and revenue. On-board a web company with a proven record.
Ask yourself, is it a question of money, or value?
Find a reputable web company that knows, with absolute certainty, how well their websites converts, and what your options are moving forward.