We Brits may not like it but we’re going to have to talk about money and that means cheap websites..
Last week I was contacted by a potential new customer. They were very specific about what they needed (which is great for me), home page with slides and feedback options, mail chimp sign up, some portfolio pages and an online shop. It had to be responsive, easy to manage and linked to their many social media accounts. Obviously all websites need to be hosted somewhere and it will need a domain name so people can access it. It would need to incorporate SEO ranking tools, after all if potential customers can’t find your website what’s the point of having one? Several emails needed to be set up and of upon completion they required some training and support.
Then came the question we all dread to ask or answer, “how much will it cost”, after confirming what work I would be carrying out and the support I would provide thereafter I presented my detailed proposal. I was immediately informed of that not only had the client expected to pay no more than £250 but they felt that they could do it themselves in a couple of days. I must stress that the nature of their business was neither technical nor IT based in any way. But having seen a few adverts on TV and the internet. You know the kind, promising you a cheap website in record time and they were sure they could achieve what they wanted very quickly for free.
The reality of a cheap website
I explained that they might find that wasn’t the case but no hard feelings and I wished them the best of luck. However before the call ended I was asked just what does a website designer do that justifies the cost of a professional website? Well I can’t speak for every website developer but I’d like to address this issue and clarify just what it is I do:
Designing a great website involves a lot more than installing WordPress and buying a fancy theme. Here’s a list of what I do for a typical eCommerce website project and the approximate time each step takes:
- Meet with the client to discuss their requirements, understand what their business is all about and agree what the purpose of the website is – 2 hours
- Prepare a proposal detailing all of the work to be carried out, what is included, full cost breakdown and T&C’s – 2 hours
- If the proposal is accepted I prepare a welcome pack explaining all of the information I need to start and complete the project. Answer any queries raised upon receipt of the welcome pack and offer further assistance where required. – 2 hours
- Set up hosting account with a reliable UK based provider and purchase the required customer domain name(s), more and more customers now purchase multiple domain names such as mybusiness.co.uk, mybusiness.com, mybusiness.uk, etc. – 1 hour
- Install WordPress, update the settings, set up accounts and install / configure the appropriate plugins; i.e. security, social media, SEO, forms, testimonials, photo galleries, portfolios, shop, shopping cart, checkout, payment options, shipping, etc. 3 hours.
- Find the right premium theme for the client’s website, install it and configure it – 2 hours.
- Re-size, touch up and optimize client’s own photos. – 4 hours
- Place all of the graphic elements on the website and come up with a layout that makes sense for the client’s needs based on our previous discussions. Sometimes I have to start over from scratch a few times, but I won’t count that here. – 8 hours
- Build the navigation and pages from the information supplied to me from the client and populate the content including applying SEO to every page, post picture and product – 12 hours
- During the time I am building the website, I am receiving feedback from the client and usually need to make adjustments – 8 hours
- Populate Products, Variations, categories weights and shipping of items to be sold – 5 hours
- Put together a user guide for the CMS side of WordPress and also a detailed guide for the various plugins unique to this website. All with screen shots and examples. – 3 hours
- Prepare Email Guide for the client with screen shots for setting up email on Android & Apple devices, Outlook and Web Mail. – 1 Hour
- Support the website and customer, ensuring the site is available, dealing with any performance issues with the host and answering any queries the customer has as they maintain the site content. Anything from 10 to 20 hours over the first 12 months so we’ll say an average of 15 hours.
If my math is any good, this is 68 hours of work
which at my hourly rate of £30 comes in at £2,040.00, which is way more than I actually charge for an ecommerce website, but less than many other web developers charge. Out of that £30.00 per hour I have to put some aside for HMRC and of course pay my NI contributions, so it’s not all clear profit
Now let’s consider what it costs me (annual average) to do my job each year.
- Subscriptions to premier WordPress Themes £350
- Premium Plugins I have developer rights to so I can use them on your website £250 a year
- Licences for software I need to build websites, create/amend graphics, format videos and lots of other tasks £200.00
- Training to keep my skills up to date with current web design and SEO: £500.00 a year
- Lots of other stuff I am probably forgetting like accountancy fees, advertising, networking, travel, coffee shop meetings, social media updates, etc.
So there you have it, in a nutshell, what I, and most professional website developers do to earn our money. We all have our own techniques and tools, but there is no getting away from the fact that to build a professional, unique and robust website that will help your business grow, we must be graphic designing, coding, and researching geeks.
If your web developer is going to do all of this for £250, or you think a cheap website will help you cover and complete all of the tasks I have outlined at the start of this article then I’m afraid to say you’re in for a shock. Remember it could take me over 60 hours and I have been designing website for over 15 years.
So ask yourself one simple question; “do you want a website that will benefit your business and make you money. Or do you want a cheap website that will ultimately lose you money?”.