So you need a web guru and don’t know what to do about finding one. Where does one start? Do you get your buddy who makes those flashing webpages we all made in the 1990’s to do it because it’s free?
The first thing you need to do is to figure out your needs. Do you need a creative guy who can make a marvelous looking professional site or do you need the computer nerd who makes incredibly competent websites that are functional but probably lack the creativity.
You don’t need to sacrifice the creative for the technical if you hire a reputable web production company. They will break down your needs into 2 sections; the creative or front-end and the highly skilled technical aspects, the back-end. The back-end gets complicated because most websites today need a little more than just a beautiful interface. A complicated back-end may require things like blogging software integrated into your server, or a subscriber database so down the road when you want to sell advertising you can point to the number of people that follow your website. Perhaps you want to sell something on your site, have content management systems installed; those are other back-end issues
The problem with hiring a freelancer or getting it for free from your buddy is that one person usually doesn’t possess all those skills to pull the entire website together from both a technical and creative side.
Now that you’ve decided you won’t go the cheap route you’ll need to figure out your budget. The high end price for websites with considerable ‘back-end’ work could go for $40,000 from one of those dedicated production houses with the big offices in the center of your city. A freelancer with the skills could easily produce similar results for $5-8000. Lots of people create websites for less but often you get what you pay for. You can even outsource to India for a considerable saving but that opens up another can of worms. An example of some costs you hadn’t anticipated could be a logo redesign that can cost you $3-5000 just to spiff up the one you have and modernize it, or how about a simple PowerPoint on your site for $4000. It adds up doesnâ€™t it?
I usually charge around $18-20,000 for a great site but act as a Project Manager and hire professionals who specialize in each aspect of the project, e.g. database management, Flash production or CSS (style sheets), etc
So let’s go to the web and find a web designer. Not so simple because many freelancers will jazz up their website to make it seem like they are bigger than they are. You also may not see all the back-end stuff that we discussed earlier and get hooked on the creative aspect of this freelancer. I recently talked to a client who needed a comprehensive web developer encompassing almost every bell and whistle going and on a continuing basis – ouch that’s a lot of money -unless he can find a guy like that who can do it for a piece of the action!
I told him that he needs to make a couple of lists to look for when meeting with a techie/possible partner.
- Get References and check them, did he do the work himself or contract it out
- Get Samples of several different projects that show diversity or a style
- What type of Programming does this guy do? All HTML, Java, Flash? Can he do SEO (Search engine Optimization) or has someone to do it for him? Without it you may as well not build the website in the first place
- When is he to meet with you because it will take some time to understand your needs and when and how long will it take to complete the project.
- The COST-of course it’s important- but you’re going to get a couple of quotes anyway, right? Find out if he can give you an ‘all-in’ price versus an hourly rate (hourly will kill your budget)
- Get a Contract, sounds simple but many people don’t have it in writing.
- This may sound silly but make sure you like the guy. Â Personality is a really big issue with me and trust is right up there too. I can call my guys in the middle of the night to fix stuff for me and,yes, they work on weekends too
Now that you have the perfect web developer (is there such a person), be very clear in your mind what you want to see in the website. A good place to start is to find other websites that you like and show them to your contractor
- Have an action plan so you know what is required of you and your contractor. Clients are usually responsible for content.
- Define a timeline for the production, use a GANNT chart to keep you on track (look it up)
- Deliverables; what exactly are you expecting from your contractor and how will you both know when the project is done?
- Make sure you are equally as happy with your choice of Service Providers (your hosting package), make sure the domain of your website is in your name (duh) and finally make sure you have the passwords to your domain and website server. Once the job is done – change it immediately