Launching your first website

Thinking about getting your first website? Find it all a bit daunting? Don’t know who can be trusted and who can’t? Read on.

This guide is a comprehensive reference point for anyone who is looking to get a website built, either personally or for business!

We’ll cover.

  1. Realistic targets
  2. Deciding on a budget
  3. Doing your homework
  4. Spend time writing down what you need and why
  5. Revisit this list a week later and add or remove irrelevant specs
  6. Identifying prospective web design companies and agencies
  7. Shopping around
  8. How can you trust web design agencies?
  9. How can you sniff out someone you can’t trust?
  10. Accepting a Quote
  11. Getting a contract drawn up
  12. Making sure your kept in the loop
  13. What to do at project finish

Realistic Targets

It’s important when you start your first website design project that you have clear goals. As a business these goals will usually be image, and performance or lead generation related. We encourage all of our clients to really think long and hard about their website and what it can do for them, and then we’ll add our own ideas and technology knowledge on top.

If your looking for a personal website then your most likely going to perhaps be working on a tighter budget and it is of imperative importance you first spend time working out what and why you need a professional web design company to build for you.

1332497477 Pound 300x300 Launching your first website

Deciding on a budget

Much like any commodity or service, you get what you pay for and Web Design is in general, no different. The bigger the budget, the more time and care that can be spent on your project. This by no means that with a mid range budget you will end up with a poor website, not true at all, infact. But just like when you go hunting for a new motor, you need a budget, without a budget it’s all just a little overwhelming.

But how do I set a budget if I have no idea what it all costs? Good question, check out the next section.

Doing your homework

1332498326 school Launching your first website
Back to school for you! unfortunately much like anything, you need to hit internet and start gathering some information about how much things cost and what sort of things you might be looking for.

At first, you’ll probably find that your overwhelmed with choice and terminology which you just don’t understand! We feel for you. But, if you don’t want to get taken for a ride, you need to know how any Quotes compare to the market and if less or higher than the average local prices, why so?

For many of us this will mean trawling the local listings (so for us, essex web design) for web design companies in Google, but you shouldn’t be fooled that all the companies at the top of these listings can deliver the goods.

Ok, how do I tell then?

The simple answer is you can’t at face value, however you can start to build a picture of every company quite easily, using simple metrics of measurement. Start with do they offer the service you want? If they do, do they advertise a price? If so is it within budget. Good web design companies will show off their portfolio, check that, see what they’ve done recently. See if anything applies to your project, if it does, did they execute it well? Did they get a testimonial from a happy client? If yes, add them to the prospective list.

Spend time writing down what you need and why

This is of the utmost important, you need to know or have a rough idea of what you need doing. This comes from deciding on your budget and doing your homework to work out what you need. I would strongly recommend getting down in writing exactly what you need doing and why in a specification document and add to and improve it over a period of time.

Revisit your specification document

Don’t settle for what you write in one night of madness, revisit it before submitting it to prospective web design agencies at least once more, maybe you’ll be thinking with more or less sense than the first time and can add some value to the project spec.

Shopping around

1332498132 shopping basket red 150x150 Launching your first website
You wouldn’t buy a car without shopping around would you? The same applies to a website, get a minimum of 3 quotes from web design agencies you have hand picked for your projects requirements. Depending on how seriously you took your homework earlier in this process, you’ll find if you send over a concise project spec companies are more likely to be able to in turn provide a concise price back to you.

Vague project specs will be met by scepticism and doubt by web agencies and either we’re likely to not be able to provide a price, or, we’ll provide a ball park figure which is not very accurate given the potential project at hand and inevitably be subject to a full spec being provided.

How can you trust web design agencies?

Being the primitive people we still are, the simplest and best way to gain trust in any company is to meet the people behind it face to face. Organise a meeting with the prospective companies, make the meeting place their offices or place of work, so that you can judge the whole operation, the team and the setup.

I can guarantee you’ll leave the meeting with a re-affirmed perspective of the company and your judgement on their professionalism and capabilities.

How can you sniff out someone you can’t trust?

If you know more than the person your sitting in front of, run away, far away from this company.

Be wary of the so called, “we can take care of that” seller, web design companies by trade often get involved with far more than the web design and development alone. We’ll often be able to offer hosting advice and services, SEO, E-commerce, Payment gateways, E-Marketing campaigns and CPC campaigns.

Be wary of those in the industry who just simply say they can take care of all your needs without evidence of prior work. A companies portfolio is a tangible asset and quite easily measurable. SEO, E-marketing and CPC campaigns and their success rates are a much different story, much harder to prove.

Or are they? No they’re not. Ask for examples of work they have done before in all areas of your projects requirements.

Is it normal for web design agencies to find it hard to price things? No and yes, bespoke elements take time to build and although sometimes simple are quite time consuming. Most companies including ourselves will need to sit down and budget for the hours needed in bespoke areas.

Accepting a Quote

Once you have all your concrete Quotes returned to you (be prepared for this to take a week or so) you need to sit down with your business thinking cap on. You need to make a big decision now. You’ll be fine…take a deep breathe.

You need to choose a winner, heres some helpful tips in choosing:

  • How competitive are the quotes?
  • Do any of the quotes not meet your projects requirements, if so disgard them.
  • If the quote is less than the average, why so? What do you sacrifice because of this?
  • If it’s less do you also sacrifice professionalism and features? Is that acceptable?
  • If it’s more what are you getting extra?
  • Do you hold more confidence in the higher quoting company?
  • Do you think the higher quotes offer higher levels of service and professionalism?
  • Does your project warrant higher levels of professionalism and service?
  • Will you personally be more educated in the field as part of working with a certain company?

Hopefully one of your Quotes will tick all the right boxes and by now after all of the above questions you’ll have a clear winner.

What if you have a tie?

Flip a coin…!? No, no no no wait a minute, time scale, important! How quickly can they turn around your project and why is that important?

Maybe by now you’ll have a winner.

Really, go with whoever you like the most at this stage, maybe just go with your gut.

Getting a contract drawn up

Now you have a clear winner, we recommend getting a contract drawn up, a formal agreement between you and the web design agency about what they are proposing to provide you, how much for and when by. With this small document in place you can legally cover yourself and the agency likewise is covered from potential additional features and additional work quabbles going forward.

Being kept in the loop

At Bytewire we like to involve our clients in as much of the process as possible, by showing them our progress at regular intervals. This not only lets our clients know that we are getting things done, but also lets our clients see the end product as it develops, and possible design tweaks etc can be suggested early on in the process.

At project finish

1332498209 checkered flag Launching your first website
Your site is now finished, it is a really good idea to get your web design agency to send you, your files at this point, so that you have your new website stored locally and in your hands. Incase any future quabbles or mishaps prevent your chosen web design agency being able to provide you with them.

This guide isn’t a representation of Bytewire’s processes, although to tell the truth we do uphold alot of them. Hopefully whether it’s a new project with us here at Bytewire or anywhere else this guide should be super useful for those of you looking to get a professional web design agency to build your first website for you.


Blog written by Dave

I am one of the Directors of Bytewire and I like to blog about lots of different and interesting stuff surrounding the website design and development world.


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