5 questions to ask when you get a web design quote
It must be so hard comparing website quotes because us web designers seem to describe the same things in all kinds of ways. Also what’s automatically included in one quote, might be considered an added luxury on another. I’ve had conversations with small businesses where their quotes for the same specification differs by tens of thousands and then they are left feeling they don’t know who to trust – is the high cost one overpriced, or is the lowest cost one lacking expertise? The devil, as they say, is in the detail. If you’ve not commissioned a website before, it can be a case of ‘you don’t know what you don’t know’ so actually having the right questions to ask can be half the battle. We like to be transparent in our quotes and pricing, so here’s a few questions you might want to ask a web designer when getting a quote from them.
1. How do you price work and how do you set your prices?
Knowing the pricing strategy will help you compare like with like. As an example we have an hourly rate which we multiply by the number of hours we expect it to take. We offer a fixed price, so if it takes longer at the agreed specification, then we absorb the cost. We also price lower than standard market value because we specifically want to work with independent businesses. Different agencies have all kinds of ways of working out a price.
2. Will you detail the exact technical specification of what’s included?
It still amazes me that companies give out quotes that contain a line or two. If you’re not familiar with technology it can be tempting to think that as you won’t understand it anyway there is no point in having it all spelled out to you. But that leaves you vulnerable to miscommunication or worse. So get a full specification, a web designer worth their salt will interpret that into plain English and should be able to explain why it’s included. Seeing specifications from different companies side-by-side will really help you understand what’s included. Please don’t just assume that if it costs more it includes more. I have an example of a job where we quoted £20,000 LESS than another company and our spec actually offered more – I never did get to the bottom of their crazy price, but we nearly didn’t get the project because our price looked suspiciously cheap! (sigh)
3. Apart from the website itself, what else is included?
This is a really important element, and I believe often separates the solid companies from the low-quality or inexperienced ones. A website lives in the unstable and ever-changing environment that is the internet. That means it needs to begin by being robust and tested well. It also needs someone keeping an eye on it, not just hosting, but it needs software and security updates to help keep it safe. It also needs to be moble-friendly and Google friendly if it stands a chance of surviving and working well for you. On the surface it can look like ‘extras’ are a nice-to-have, and a quote that doesn’t mention support may seem more cost-efficient but some are elements outside of the website itself are actually essential so dig through the detail to ensure you’re getting everything you need.
4. How do you work, what is your process?
The process used can make or break a project, it’s as simple as that. If the designer takes no control over the stages of a project, is haphazard or just reactive then projects can fizzle-out. You also need to be aware of your role and responsiblities in the project, what project stages or milestones there are, what the process is if you don’t like any of the designs. These are just of a few of the areas that should be uncovered when considering the process.
5. Do you have examples of your track record on budgets and timescales?
Funnily enough we often get asked how well we keep on track with timescales, but no one has ever asked us to prove it. In our early days I was frustrated when we missed out on a couple of projects because our timescale estimate was longer than a competitor. Worse still in the end they actually took longer than we would have done! But their empty promises won them the work. To avoid getting messed about I would ask that question, and ask for proof. All designers should have a client or three willing to vouch for them, so it shouldn’t be too difficult.
Of course this is not definitive, these are just 5 of the more probing questions that I think should be scrutinised when looking at a web design quote. If you ever get a quote from us, I’d welcome your questions, because I’m proud of how we work, so I’d expect others to be the same.
To discuss your website project, email me firstname.lastname@example.org