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How to know what kind of website to get?

Entering into buying a website is a considered decision with a lot to think about, here’s a few tips on how to find the answer for your organisation.

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A potential minefield to understand…

When asked for an estimate, we often use the car buying analogy, because when you are buying a car you can spend next to nothing or hundreds of thousands of pounds. 

Often, only once you have it, do you realise what you really need from the car, the initial frisson of the beautifully designed dashboard wanes when you realise you don’t have enough space for all the kids in the back. Still, it is a lovely dashboard… 🙂

And how do you know what is really under the bonnet, you could be comparing different ages, models and mileage. This is similar with digital, how do you compare quotes when the options you have aren’t comparable off the shelf items?

Well, Before we get there, firstly it is worth considering investing in speccing out what you need, whoever you speak to will be building up a brief in their mind, but we would advise you to take that a step further and consider a workshop. 

This initial thinking work with a facilitated expert will help you work out the essentials and nice to haves so you can build a spec, this will clarify your ideas, build deliverables for the quote process, making them more comparable, and gives you something contractual to fall back to.

Anyway, here are a few telltale signs to help you identify the right partner for you…

 

Size & Pricing

A good starting point with pricing is to think about who you are gathering quotes from and what the implications maybe? 

A freelancer will likely have none of the overheads of an agency by the same token only a proportion of the skill sets. 

For example, you may get a technically neglected, highly visual site that will look lovely but get no traffic. Or a site that ranks well but looks awful and won’t convert any of its traffic to enquiries. Both of these are lacking the input of the marketeer who will look to understand the audience first and create the right message too.

Comparing agencies, then get the day rate and headcount and try and find someone that makes you feel like a priority to them.

 

Consider support and hosting

On the note of feeling a priority, you need to know the parameters for help after the launch. For example, what happens if your website is down, who is available? How quick is the response time? 

Is this agency entwined in helping your business become a success through other marketing activities, or are they looking for a project to do and then onto the next?

Hosting will likely be discussed but often additional to the website, some packages may include email, spread costs monthly for everything or have extra hosting fees. 

It is worth considering that we don’t get something for nothing in this world, so if there is no upfront cost for your website, emails etc… that you will likely get a poor customer service, poor performance or generic templated site. 

Equally worth considering is that different hosting providers offer different specifications and benefits that may or may not be of value to your business, for example, we are working towards a greener web, so our hosting is green web foundation approved, and runs on renewable energy.

 

Technology

Be sure to consider how the site will be built, hardcoded sites are quick and easy to build, however unless you have coding skills they offer no customisation, it means any tweaks will be billable after the launch.

If you are getting a content management system (CMS), check you won’t be locked into your vendor by seeking “opensource” technology. If you are tied to a vendor and find them hard to work with after launch, then it’s a new website to escape them – opensource is transferable.

We build all of our non-bespoke sites with an opensource content management system.

 

In summary

Like most things we do here at Vu, we advise you move in small steps, often. This is the key to creating an engaging digital presence. 

It’s okay to leave your total vision for the website in a version 2 or 3 document, and get version 1 out to your audience to test. If you gather their feedback, that may well change your vision for the better.

Don’t scope a beautiful or functional web application and leave nothing left for marketing or advertising once you have launched. The energy required to cut through the noise of the web is far greater than ever before.

Have a look through our website packages, they are tailored to meet the needs of our clients over the years based on their positions, whether you are starting out, taking your website seriously or building a bespoke app or integration.

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