Whenever it comes to spending huge chunks of money on something it's only natural to want to fully understand where that money is going and also to make sure that you're buying the right product for you and your business.
You could get 5 different quotes for a website in Darwin, and you could potentially see a price range from $1,000 - to $25,000 even though you're asking each company for the same product. And the worst bit about paying for a website design is that you don't get to see it before you pay!
So to help people around Darwin understand what to ask for and what they get for the difference in price I've created this guide.
WHO MAKES A WEBSITE
What sort of professionals can build a website?
Here are the different types of companies and/or freelancer titles that you might come across when trying to build a website, this list helps you to spot the difference:
Websites need to be coded so that the web browsers can read them. A web developer is the person who creates the code that makes your website. If they're a 'front-end' developer that means they're more focussed on building the code for the part that you see (i.e the design and animations), and if they're called a 'back-end' developer it means that they're more focussed on the hidden things like databases that store customer information.
This is the person who creates the look and feel of your website. They tend to design flat images of the website and send them to the developer to build. They're different to graphic designers because they focus on how the web works and they'll be able to make sure websites are easy to build so that you don't get stuck with a huge development cost. You will be expected to tell a Web Designer what you want on the design and they will create it for you.
User Experience Designer
This is a web designer who approaches the design from a more strategic perspective instead of just a visual perspective. For example they will understand how language and placement of elements on a page can affect how many people will use your website, they also give advice on how to split content up into digestible chunks and lead people through a website more effectively. You will most likely to be given more help creating the website and deciding what should be on there and where.
Information Architect/Digital Strategist
This is someone who focusses purely on your content and how content works. They will offer strategic advice on how to split content and label categories of information and then send this advice to a designer, or developer to interpret. You will usually come across these roles on larger projects and they will create reports and wireframes to help explain their ideas on your project.
What are the different types of websites in Darwin?
There are so many ways to approach websites. There are websites that are designed to do business for you and create online sales, or there websites that are just designed to give you a voice in the online world and allow you to be found if someone searches directly for you. It's hard to know which option to take and it always depends who you ask. Here are some general ideas about what to expect especially in the Northern Territory market.
Single page/one pager or landing page
Perfect for v.small business, e.g market stalls, handyman or 'website coming soon' sites
This is like the business card of the digital world. Visually they look like any other website and are designed to show large banner images, your logo, plus a paragraph or two about what you do with a list of services that you offer. There's generally a contact form or contact details at the bottom and look clean and simple. They can be quite long and spaced out so they feel like a full website.
- Great starting price and means that if someone searches for your website after meeting you, or after being given your web address you're able to tell them a little bit more about yourself with an option of contacting you.
- It gives you a professional voice in the online world
- Fast to create and have live in less than 1-2 weeks
- If you're in a competitive field these websites don't appear high in the search engine results so they reply on external marketing to get people to them.
- They don't fit a lot of content on
- Not as memorable or ground breaking as other websites
Full website on Squarespace or Wix
Perfect for small business, e.g tradies, professional photographers, garden nurseries.
When you want to compete better in the search engines, and have more functionality (for example you might want to be able to update your own website and show news articles or add promotions) then you need something called a 'content management system' or CMS. This will allow you to have a login to your own website and see a dashboard that lets you add new pages, change text/images or add blog posts. This used to be a premium option but now it's pretty standard and you'd be hard pushed to find a website designer who doesn't make it so that you can update your own website after it's been finished.
It became so common to have certain features as standard that companies such as Wix or Squarespace started streamlining the process and created software that lets designers complete their design straight into a system that does the coding for them, e.g you don't need to have a web developer or coding ability to complete a website.
- Not needing to use a developer instantly halves the amount of people needed to work on your project and so immediately halves the amount of money you need to spend.
- You can employ a designer to change the look and feel of the site and build it straight into the same system that lets you add your own content later or you can employ a user experience designer to go into the system and apply the strategy and design at the same time.
- The cost also reflects the fact that these are usually designed by freelancers and not companies. This means that the price is lower again due to the fact that freelancers have fewer overheads. i.e the price may be less than half of a hand coded website but the quality isn't half!
- Ongoing hosting each year is low
- Theses websites include most things that are classed as standard on a website, so for example they will include news feeds/forms/text styles/links/sliding banners/buttons/galleries (even online shops) etc and you will be able to display them in which ever layout, colours, styles, sizes and quantities that the designer can think of.
- Although these perform better than single page websites in search engines, they're still not as good at appearing for general search terms as a fully custom built site would.
- The functionality of the items is limited to which settings are provided, for example the galleries may only have 10 layout options to choose from, the news feed might only allow you to display a snippet that is three lines long, not four etc
- You don't get to see a design before you go to build, as you design straight into the system
Full website through a small-medium agency
Perfect for medium-large business, e.g schools, event management, tourist attractions
Your standard website build for your average company is going to cost around that $11k mark. Generally this price includes everything you could need for the majority of businesses. Visually it would look very similar to the option above but it would be custom built by developers so that anything a designer puts down, can be built. Within this price you will be able to get much more customisation on functionality and much more could be automated for you, for example you might want to automatically email your subscriber list each time you put up a news article instead of having to manually send it yourself.
- These websites allow more customisation which is much better for businesses with a strong brand identity who need designs to look an exact way.
- You can get more complex functionality options and settings
- They perform much better in search engines and are more likely to appear on the first pages of Google for general search terms and not just people looking for you directly
- Companies making websites in this price range tend to be larger so you get the added benefit of more people to collaborate ideas with along with marketing advice
- You get to see your design and make changes before any build takes place
- If you visually compared these websites to the previous options there wouldn't be a striking difference, so your customers wouldn't know that you've spent more money on a website
- Only useful if you definitely need more functionality or you don't have external marketing
Full website through a large agency
Perfect for large-corporation sized business, e.g Government, national companies, marketing campaigns.
If you're looking for larger agencies to do your website then you're probably a larger company with a decent marketing budget wanting an online marketing campaign or something completely new and innovative. This price bracket is above what the standard small-large company needs to pay for a normal company website. You would need to go into this price bracket if you were needing lots of individually customised page designs, new online processes creating that include lots of custom graphics, or a system that's going to hold lots of customer data or documents that need to be properly categorised.
- You will be given a dedicated team assigned to you with project managers, digital strategists, designers and developers
- You will be able to request in-depth team workshops and spend time testing lots of different designs and concepts before you agree on one to be built
- The designs should be groundbreaking, and one of a kind featuring elements that don't exist on other company websites
- Costs a lot of money for smaller businesses
- New features are always tested and can run into problems
- Can be harder to update if they're too customised so you need to commit to an ongoing maintenance fee in some cases
- Can take months to complete
Questions that you need to ask
When you're getting quotes for websites it's like anything, get as many quotes as you can and ask as many questions as possible. The guide above is just for reference and it's important that you check that you're getting what you pay for, so here's some important questions to ask:
- Will I get to meet the people who will design and build my website (this ensures that the company aren't using cheaper offshore options!)
- Will I be able to update my own website
- What are the ongoing costs after build
- What is the process, will I get to see the project at multiple stages?
- How do you ensure that my website will get found?
I need more help!
This is just a quick list to help you get started on making your website feel easier to engage with, and if you'd like to get some personal advice about your website, as always, please get in touch and we'll see what we can do to help!