Despite the title, designing a website shouldn’t be painful for either client or developer. However, there are invariably some bumps along the way to bringing your business online. As a designer, one of my jobs is to manage client expectations – but another equally important job I have is to prepare them for the unexpected. Here are some of the common issues that come up.
This can be expensive.
I’ll address this one right away. Web design is not cheap. I realize I may be discouraging people from contacting me by saying this, but I’d rather be up front about it. There are many, many hours involved working on pieces that aren’t readily apparent or even visible to the client. Beware of shops that offer low-cost packages – you’ll probably end up unhappy with the result and have little or no support.
Once over the initial sticker shock, though, there should be no more cost-related surprises. Any decent web designer will lie out a thorough scope of work as well as document how any additional fees that may pop up will be handled, like stock photos or third-party plug-ins. Again, use caution with the firms that offer a $500 all-inclusive package – it’s never that cut and dry.
This takes time.
I’ve alluded to the many hours it takes to build a site – but that’s just on my end. There’s a lot of information we need from the client (explained below), and that’s where the bottleneck often occurs. When you factor in the hours, days or even weeks it takes to get a response on a logo design comp, a question about colors or anything else we ask of you, it’s suddenly a month-long project. I’ve worked on sites that have taken six months to a year to complete. Be prepared – if you need a site running in a few weeks, you’re already behind.
The best advice I can give is to be responsive. I’ll communicate my needs clearly and quickly – the faster you respond with the answers, along with any questions you may have, the faster and smoother it will go.
It’s rare a client comes to me fully prepared, which is expected to a degree. After all, how would you know all the information I need to build a site? But many are still surprised when they realize just how much work they need to do.
For starters, you obviously need to be able to express your ideas to us. We’re good at picking your brains and translating that into the design and content, but the more detailed you can be, the better we’ll nail the initial specs the first time around. Then the real work begins. I always ask my clients for a short list of other websites – and what they love or hate for each. For example, “Mike, take a look at xyz.com. See how they have their image gallery set up? I love it.” Or maybe, “Mike, look at this drop-down menu and how hard it is to navigate – I definitely DO NOT want anything like this.”
So far, not too bad, right? Now you have to write the copy, or content of the site. I don’t know the first thing about HVAC or landscaping or National Dental Honor Societies. All the text on every page needs to be supplied by the client. You may think it’s no big deal, but when you sit down and start writing, you’ll realize that putting together the perfect few paragraphs can be quite a chore.
You won’t be #1 on Google in a week.
I plan to devote another post entirely to my theories around SEO, or Search Engine Optimization, but here it is in a nutshell. It takes a very long time to gain search engine ranking. Sometimes Google, Yahoo, or Bing won’t index a site for weeks after submission. Even then, you need an established network of valid links to your site, among many other things. We’ll help you get started, making sure you’re submitted to the major search engines. We’ll also make sure you understand what you need to do to best promote your site. The rest is up to you.
Still up for the challenge? Drop us a line!