At the first moment of contact with a client, the client usually asks me the same question: “How much is this going to cost to have you build my website?” I always have to answer them with a question: “What do you want your website to do for you?” Often, they are not clear on the answer. So then, I have to probe deeper. But before I can ask another question, I often describe all the things a website can do for them. Sometimes they want a website that is much more robust than they realize. Sometimes, it is just a fancy brochure. Sometimes they have created a lot of the content for the website already. Other times I am expected to do all the work for them. In this article, I hope to at least educate my clients and readers about some general uses applied to websites with a list that covers the most common goals. Here is the list and some definitions.
Brochure websites typically require a Home page that is a simple introduction with nice graphics and a choice or two of where to click next. The next page might be a description of the Services you provide, or the products you create. Then next page might be a Profile of the owner or the staff in your company and their credentials. The next page might be Pricing & Procedures, outlining how much you cost to hire and what the client should do next to engage you. The final important page is Contact, where you provide your location, mailing address, a Form for sending messages, maybe directions to your office, and a phone number.
On the Internet (the Web) a Magazine is basically just a Blog. a Blog is a series of articles arranged in chronological order, which is the same as a magazine. A Blog system is built into every WordPress installation. If you want a Blog, write some articles and gathere some images for each article before calling me. I will install the articles and activate the Blog system, which will fill the Blog and show us what the magazine will look like. In addition to the magazine, you will still need other Pages similar to on a Brochure website.
3. Ecommerce or Shopping Cart
Again, you will probably start with Pages similar to a Brochure, but the Home page is going to look like an online Store, with products listed and available to place into a Cart, then purchase right there online with a credit card or PayPal account. Shopping Cart systems require more setup and a lot of configuration. To build one requires a lot more time and effort for both the website designer and the client. See my Portfolio for an example of an ECommerce website.
4. Classes, Events, Performance Calendars
Again, begin with a Brochure. Then we can add to that the type of Calendar tools you need. Perhaps you need clients to be able to sign up for an event. That would be more work than just a Calendar of events. Sometimes it involves a purchase too, which can be handled in a simple or not so simple way. Let your website designer know that you need these features before expecting an evaluation of the scope of the work and costs. Will the designer be entering a large number of events for you, or are you going to do that maintenance work yourself? Will you need training to know how? Training is another element.
Unless you want your website designer to become a member of your part time company staff, then someone at your company will need to be trained to use the WordPress Dashboard and tools we have installed to run your business. The more tools you have, the more training you will need. This will also affect your estimated cost for website development. Can we train you on the phone, in person, or will you be asking for documentation? These tasks are all different in cost as well.
There are several more possibilities, but this covers the common elements and gives you an idea of how to get prepared. Hopefully this short essay will help you get prepared for making our first conversation productive. Before I can write a proposal and offer a quote or estimate for website design, I need to see all the materials you have gathered and planned to submit for inclusion on the website. The more material you have carefully organized and gathered and sent to me, the less expensive the website will be to price out, and to build.