“Know thyself.” This ancient Greek aphorism is as true today as it ever has been. And also good advice to consider next time you ask for a web design estimate.
Before you ask a web designer how much a job will cost, first ask yourself some questions so you know the complete picture. How can you evaluate an estimate if you don’t know the project’s true cost?
You might say that you want to give your site a clean, contemporary design —the old one is so old-fashioned. But is the real issue that you are losing customers to new competition with a better website? Or you may be telling your designer to add a registration form when the problem really is that handling event registration has become too cumbersome and some of the registrations are falling between the cracks?
Ideally every good web designer is going to ask you these questions before giving you a price. But you can start the process by asking yourself these five questions:
- First the basics. You probably have done answered this already. Define the project and set a timeline for it. What is it and when are you looking to have it done by?
- Next, ask yourself what instigated this project. How did your business change, or what happened, that made you think you needed work done on your website?. Was it because you had a drop off in business, a change in demand, or a new product or service that people don’t know about?
- Then ask, What problem is this project solving? You may have some thoughts about this but have kept it to yourself thinking it this is a business issue not a design issue. But you are spending good money here on one of the most important marketing tools your business has. Design is a business issue. In order to address your needs effectively a designer needs to know what they are trying to fix. (If there are some issues that your would rather not be public consider having the designer sign a non-disclosure agreement.)
- Once you know what the problem is then you can begin to measure the return on investment. How will you know if the problem is addressed? What will be the results? Can they be measured? If it is more people visiting your website, then how many people? If it is saving time in handling new orders, then how much time does an order take now and and how much time would you like to take? What will it take to make this project a success? Setting a measurable goal here might take a little more work here but will help you know the true value of the work you are paying for.
- Finally ask yourself what is the cost or risk of not addressing the problem? How will it impact your business, your bottom line, or your reputation not to take any action? If possible, set a dollar or hour amount so you can track how things change
The point here is to keep the big picture before you get involved in the details. The money spent on your website is not an expense item, it is an investment. And to justify an investment you have to know that it will bring in more benefits than its cost. Make sure you know the true value of the work being done on your website, before you send out an RFP.