Buying a website is not like buying a stick of gum. There's so much to consider beside personal tastes; much like buying a car or house. Paying $10,000 for a new car or $100,000 for a new house is not expensive (for a car or house), but it is a lot of money. You want to make sure that you do your research and ask all the right questions. You want to know what to look for before you sign a contract, so you don't lose your shirt in the deal or end up with buyer's regret.
Much like buying a house you need to communicate your needs clearly. You would never ask your real estate agent how many rooms you should get; you would tell them how many people will live in the house and what kind of activities you do on a regular basis. A good agent would then ask about your "must haves" and "deal breakers". In the same way you don't want to hide information from your provider or even your potential provider.
So many people think it's a good idea not to share your budget. This can be a huge mistake. No matter the size of your budget; you want the best solution. If you were pre-approved for a $500,000 home, you would never hide that from your agent. You run the risk of getting shown houses that are too small or too expensive for your needs. You would simply say $500,000 is your max budget. This way they could find you the best home based upon your needs and desired budget. In the same way you want to let your provider know your max budget so they can offer you the best solution to get the most results.
Many people think buying a web site is the same no mater whom you buy it from, so they shop for the lowest price. This could not be further from the truth. Again, like buying a house, the budget determines quite a bit. Location, Square footage, custom features, lot size, number of bed rooms, bathrooms, and conveniences.
Don’t treat the proposal like a contest. Whoever writes the best one wins; you’ll do yourself a huge injustice. Find the provider you’d like to work with then engage in the proposal process. Be ready to ask questions and work to help create the best proposal to fit your needs. Ask for revisions, make suggestions, and tell them what you want to add or take away. After all, it’s about finding the best solution for your business, so why leave it for someone to guess.
Look for a process and consider their strengths and weaknesses. If they don’t have a process of some kind I suggest running, and quickly. Take a look at their value proposition and what makes them different. Don’t fight the process, embrace it. The process is there to help you reach your goals.
- Take a look at our traditional web design process for an example of a more common process for building websites.
- For a more efficient process take a look at Growth Driven Design to maximize your website's full potential.
Here's a list of things that you should think about before you engage with a web design provider:
- Why are you building or redesigning this site?
- What type of site do you need? (Brochure, Lead Generation, Online Store)
- Who will use the site?
- Do you already have content or will it need to be written?
- Do you have an established brand identity?
- How do you plan to market the site?
- What do your competitors' sites do?
- Have you reviewed your analytics?
- What are your goals for the site and how will you measure them?
- What is your Budget?
- How soon can you start? (Sign contract & pay a deposit)
- When do you need it completed? (drop dead date)
- Who on your team will be responsible delivering content, pictures and primary communication?
- How quickly can you provide feedback? (Are you the decision maker, are you too busy?)
Knowing what to consider before you buy a website can save you a ton of time, money and frustration throughout the web design process. Who knows, maybe you don't need to build as big a site as you thought, or maybe you don't need to redesign your site at all. Maybe all you need is a few things added or removed. Discussing the problem with your provider should help identify more specific solutions.