I’m sure, every web designer has heard the words:
I talked to somebody who can do it for much less…
When I started in this business many years ago, I began building websites for people at almost no money, just to get some portfolio work. At every college, teachers tell you to do as much free work as you can until you have enough to show in your portfolio, as you won’t have any practical experience yet, when applying for a job in the industry.
The websites I built back then were nice looking and functional, but as I learned more about the website industry, I started seeing the difference between good and badly coded websites. It was noticeable in the way they behaved when you were trying to add more text, or change items, or just in the way they showed up in the search engine results.
At some point, you realize that getting a website online is just not enough.
There is nothing wrong with trying to save money, especially if you are a start-up company or on a budget otherwise. The problem is that most of the time you get what you pay for.
You could literally build the same looking 1 page webpage in 3 hours or 10 hours. To the website visitor, those two would look the same but if you looked at the source code, you would realize that one is optimized for search engines, is cleanly coded so it can be expanded and is accessible to people with disabilities etc.
As time went by, I realized that more and more techniques and functions are required to make a website the best it can be.
Things like search engine friendliness, mobile optimization or mobile redirect, security and firewalls, reduced speed loading time loading time, and many other features mark the distinction between a poorly designed website, and an excellent one.
It is mostly what is “under the hood” that makes the price difference.
Of course, there are differences between what someone charges for their hourly rate. There are always differences due to overhead costs, years of experience, location of business, skills and other factors but when you compare website prices, it has a lot to do with what you can’t actually see.
Responsive websites are websites that scale to the device from which they are being viewed. The website content is scaled to have less width and in most cases a collapsible menu or larger menu buttons to accommodate the size of a finger for the individual buttons. The layout changes and starts stacking the content vertically. Responsive websites take a lot more coding time as they have to be style for 5 views – full desktop size, tablet size (horizontal and vertical) and smart phone size (horizontal and vertical).
Read more about responsive websites >>
Search Engine Optimization
Goggle is not the internet itself but a search directory that sends “spider-bots” out into the internet and then indexes the websites into it’s directory. For the spiders to find you, your website has to have meta information and tags as well as being cleanly coded, otherwise Google won’t know what your website is all about. As the amount of small businesses reaching over 3,4 Million in just California alone, it has become harder and harder for websites to rank organically, but the basics are a must to even get the smallest chance to show up in search results.
Content Management Systems
About 6 years ago, clients started asking for ways to change their website content themselves. The most common way to do that is to implement a content management system. These systems are coded in php and require a database and in general require more advanced techniques. With the popularity of content management systems, the amount of additional security and seo requirements have risen as well.
The loading speed of a website greatly depends on how many images and scripts a server has to load, the hosting company, and the visitors internet connection. Content Management Systems are generally loading slower than standard html websites and need some more tricks to speed up loading times. Implementation of a content delivery network (CDN) is highly recommend with image driven websites. Correctly sized and web optimized images are part of the speed optimization, as well as minified style sheets etc.
Security & Firewall
Security for traditional websites start with the hosting company and the way file permissions are handled. Having good and secure passwords for your hosting account and ftp (file transfer protocol) are most important to keep your website safe. Free website templates are a very large cause of problems, as they can be filled with hidden spam links and backdoor access. As content management systems are meant to be accessed online with user login and passwords, the security measures have to be much higher than regular websites. Common practices are security and firewall plugins, file change monitoring, brute force protection etc.
No website is ever 100% safe. All too often, even hosting companies get hacked. Or you forgot to renew his hosting account or domain, and your website is gone. Hopefully your hosting company has a backup of your files. If you have a html website, keeping a backup is pretty easy, as all you need to do is to re-upload your site files to your server. Content management systems are bit harder to restore, as they require a database as well. Your best bet is to have an automatic backup of your whole content management system installed on your website, so if something should happen, the website can be restored without having to rebuild everything.
Shopping carts are taking a website to a whole other dimension of website building. Costs for e-commerce website can vary greatly, as there are different free and paid platforms you can use to build your website. Luckily, the design of e-commerce website have come a long way and are getting more creative and styled.
Cost deciding factors and options include:
- PayPal and Google Checkout vs. independent credit card processing
- Amount of products
- Price changing variable products
- Tax calculation
- Shipping Calculation
- Quick Books integration
- Re-marketing etc
Search Engine Marketing
Search engine marketing is your only guaranteed way to be on top of Google. As search engine optimization is becoming less successful because of the sheer amount of websites that are out there, this is the best way to rank on top of Google. Search engine marketing companies offer services like ppc campaigns, content creation, video creation, review management and much more. If you are interested in search engine marketing, please contact us and we can connect you with a Google certified specialist.
If your budget doesn’t allow a custom designed website, choosing a premium template can be a valid alternative. Premium templates cost money but they cut down the design and coding time dramatically. I would rather have a client go with a premium template to save money and still get the SEO, security and other items to make the website successful than going with the “cheapest web designer” out there which most likely will require a redo at some point.
The Bottom Line
Most of my work comes from clients who already had websites built at some point (either with a website builder or the “cheapest” web designer) and are now needing a redesign. Good design and good coding takes time and a bit of money.
Ultimately, you will have to decide for yourself which parts of a website are important to you, and which parts you can compromise on, if you need to meet a certain budget.
Contact us to talk to us about your best option. 760.560.7780