I started my web development path back in the mid-’90s and am self-taught, I have worked on 100’s of projects ranging from simple 5-page static websites up to complex bespoke web-based internal systems, and in 2006 I started my own web design and development company which I had for over 12 years and built up a client base of over 60 clients.
I have heard many horror stories from clients, colleagues, and friends. So, I decided to write this article on what to look out for when you are wanting a website built.
When looking to have a website built there are many factors that you need to consider?
- Choosing a domain name for my website
- Think about my content
- Things to remember
- How many pages do I need?
- Am I going to update the content yourself?
- Will I require new pages going forward?
- Do I want to have a Blog / News section?
- Will I be selling products/services on my website?
- Do I need a flat static website?
- Do I need a content management system website?
- Hosted Content Management Systems
One of the most important items is going to be the domain name or web address for your website (abcdef.com, abcedf.co.uk, etc) don’t just jump in have a good think on what you want, the cost will vary depending on what the extension is (i.e. .co.uk, .com, .uk, etc), here is a rough price guide on what domain names cost on a yearly renewal plan.
- .uk, .co.uk – £11.00
- .com – £13.00
- .me.uk, .org.uk – £11.00
- .net – £16.00
- .org – £16.00
Almost all domain registrars will have an offer for the first year’s costs of a domain name and these could range from as little as £1.00 – £10.00 depending on what extension you choose. To get the best value you can register a domain name for several years and in doing this you would get a discount. Normally the maximum number of years you can register a domain name is 10 years.
The most important part of your website is the content of the pages, it is no good having a great looking website if your content does not make sense, full of spelling mistakes, incorrect grammar, and simply unreadable.
There is no one else who knows your business like you and how you operate, so while the web development company is designing and building your website take time in writing the content for each page.
This is a list of questions
- Make sure that you have briefed the web development company on what you require and all functionality
- If you are not sure about something, then ask. There is no such thing as a daft question, and I know that this type of thing a lot of people have no idea about
- Try and use a reputable company and if not ask for client details so you can contact them and ask about their experiences with the web development company
- Don’t use companies that come to you, I have found in the past these are normally someone in their bedroom trying to make some money but haven’t got a clue and farm the work out to places like India, Poland, and Russia
- Make sure you tell the web development company that you want a responsive design, this is so your website is viewable on mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets
- Ask the web development company if they use templates or would they be creating a bespoke design for your website
- How often will your website be backed up (this may incur an additional charge)
When planning your website, write down the pages you need for your website. If you offer more than one service then you should have a page dedicated to each service you offer as well as a “Services” page which would have a brief description of all of your services.
If you are thinking about having a flat static website then I would suggest not having any more than 10 pages, if you know you are going to have more than 10 pages or you want an online shop, blog or news articles then I would choose a Content Management System (CMS) such as WordPress
If you are planning to update the content of your website then I would have a content management system as this would make updating the content so much easier, CMS’s are built with this in mind so updating your content is nice and easy. As well as updating your content you can add additional pages too.
Even before you have your website build and you have thought about what pages you want, always think about the future for your website. Are you going to need additional pages going forward? If the answer is Yes then make a note of these and then count on how many pages you will need in total, if the answer is 10 or more then start thinking about having a content management system (CMS) as this will make your life a lot easier.
There is nothing worse than spending money and then a bit later you find that you will need to go through the process again and spend even more money getting your website from a flat static website into a CMS. It always pays to plan what you require now and in the future.
If you love your social media and always posting to Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram then definitely have a blog or news section on your website, this is another benefit of having a content management system (CMS) as most CMS’s will have a plugin that you can use to post your blog or news stories straight to your social media account with a link back to the page on your website. This is a great way to build links to your website from your social media.
More and more people/companies are selling online these days and to have your products and or services on your website where people can purchase these from you in just a few clicks is fantastic. With content management systems (CMS) all you do is install the appropriate plugins and within a short amount of time you have your online shop up and running, yes you can have an online shop with a flat static website but I would not recommend this
When it comes to updating a page or a few pages on your website the web development company would need to download the appropriate pages if they don’t already have a copy of your website using an FTP client, make the changes you request and then upload the pages back onto the webserver. This process would happen for every update to request and you would be billed accordingly (approx. between £30 – £60 an hour).
The next thing to consider is the cost of hosting your website, normally the web development company would have ties with several hosting companies and would get a kickback payment from the hosting company for every new client they bring to the hosting company. Again, there is a very wide range of costs I have seen for hosting a website, I would expect to pay around £80 per year at the most.
The big question is “How much should it cost?” that is the $64 million question, for a box standard 5-page static website with a responsive design and has the following pages:
- About Us
- Contact Us (with contact form)
I would expect to pay between £300 and £500 and with a bit of luck, you could get the 1st year’s domain name registration and 1st year’s hosting costs included in the price.
You may be charged additional costs if you change the design, number of pages required, change of colour scheme all these items would require code changes and takes time.
When selecting a content management system whether it is WordPress, Joomla, Drupal or Magento make sure you are happy with it as it is going to be you who will be using it all the time and there is nothing worse than a system that you don’t like or are not comfortable using. Have a read of this article which goes through the Pro’s and Con’s of the best CMS’s of 2020 https://www.wpbeginner.com/showcase/best-cms-platforms-compared/
The beauty of a CMS is that you can change the look and file of your website by downloading and installing new themes, these days themes are pre-built to cater to mobile devices. Another benefit of having a CMS is that you are not limited on how pages you can have.
There is a plugin for everything nowadays eCommerce, search engine optimisation (SEO), payment portals, analytics, keywords, galleries the list goes on and on.
How much would I pay for a CMS for my website, as a starting point I would say £800, and then on what additional items you need such as an online shop or something then the price will go up around the £1,300 mark or so.
We have all seen the adverts on TV now from companies such as IONIS, Square Space and Wix trying to sell you their services and on how you can have your own website up and running within minutes. Yes, you can if you know what you are doing, when you want a website you want it to stand out be different and unique. Can you get that from these services? You choose a template for your website and you think great, but hold on how many other people have got the same template as you? Now you’re thinking my website is not going to be unique and that is a real shame.
All these companies you must pay an amount every month you have your website and these costs could be from £10 to £30 a month so, for example, you had a subscription for 10 years at £30 a month that would be £3,600, you could have had a CMS build with a bespoke responsive design for less money. Something to think about there
If you do use one of these services make sure that you read the Terms and Conditions, especially where they mention who owns the content of your website, if you don’t understand because they are using technical jargon then call them.
I hope that you have found this article interesting and has given you food for thought when planning to have a website designed and built.
Article by Rob Cook