…that’s what it sounds like when a client comes with an unclear idea of what he wants, asking for a quote. It is not always easy to get one’s finger on something one knows little about, and clients often need to do extensive research before even starting to think about their website’s needs and target groups. I’ll sum up a few main points that should help you define the basics of your web presentation and make it easier to get an answer to the often-asked question “How much will my website cost”.

What is your target group/audience?

Are you making a site for young people? Businessmen? Women? Teenagers? People who love chocolate or travelling? The options are numerous, and you should know your customers well before trying to put them in a mold.

You should also have good knowledge of you target group’s habits: do they use smartphones a lot, or are they more likely to access the internet from their desktops? That information can be useful for deciding whether you need a separate mobile version (or just a mobile app), or if you’ll play it safe with a responsive site that displays well on all devices and is well regarded by search engines.

What will the purpose of the website be?

It is difficult to miss this step, but it is always easier to answer a question when the answers are already suggested. I categorised the sites into three different categories, that should also help understand the complexity of the site in question.

1. Presentation of the company/retail/artist

This one is easy. Also, it is usually well defined. You know what your business is, know exactly how much info about it is needed for the site, and will easily put all the different pages and sections of the site on a piece of paper.

2. Presentation of products

You have products and you want to present them to your customers. Apart from having quantities and classification in mind, when it comes to your products, you also need to think about how much info about each one should be displayed to site visitors, and what should be searchable. Big databases HAVE TO be well designed BEFORE front end design starts (i.e. before you see any results), and this part can be more time consuming and costly. A step further to product presentation is an online shop.

3. The website is the product

If you’re planning on making a web community, news portal, forum, educational or gaming site, the definition of the site structure usually becomes more blurry. In these cases, it’s often useful to pre-define other elements, such as target groups, available elements, scope of website, desired CMS, etc. and come to solutions together with your developer.

These categories are rarely distinct: they often overlap. Take a bank’s site as example: in a big and complex menu, banks usually have an “about” section which covers the first category, but the rest of the site represents their products. In banks cases, there’s usually not much that needs to be done with these products, apart from displaying information, but sometimes a functionality is added: loan or savings calculator, branch search, web assistant and more.

What do you want your site to communicate?

Will your site have modern or timeless design? Will it be there mainly to give visitors access to useful information? Will your site aim to create a network of like-minded people? Will it encourage users to leave their comments, suggestions, pictures?

When you’re representing your company or your products, it is quite clear what you want to communicate to the world: here we are, this is what we do and what we have to offer, and it is great. Problems arise when it comes to sites that are meant to be products on their own. If that is the case, you have to think carefully about your audience and their needs.

To sum it all up: will you give or take?

What will the size of the website be?

You might know straight away if you want a big or a small site. However, there are a few things to consider in any case, and the size of your website relies on them:

  • Can you draw/design the site structure (menus of the site)? This should give the developers a clear idea of the job in question.
  • What kind of materials (copy and pictures) do you have at hand and can supply straight away? Will you be trying to get hold more materials throughout the process of site development? Bear in mind: the bigger the company, the more people involved in the process, the bigger the chance of last minute changes and additions. In some cases this can influence the cost of the site.
  • What audiovisual materials will you use on your site?The back-end needs to have full support for it, and your server has to have enough room for your needs.
  • What about updating? We’re talking about completely different classes here, but: do you have a team of journalists working on the site full time every day, or do you want to make small changes to your copy once in a few weeks?
  • Depending on what the previous answer was, the preferred CMS is chosen. In my earlier blog post I analised different types of CMS and what they are good for, so check it out if you’re unsure of the way to go. Also, be aware that the back-end development time can depend on your chosen content management platform.

Will you add any special functionalities?

Most of the sites functions will be already defined by this point. However, you should mention if there are any special contact forms, job application submit forms or other simple or complex user-website communication points in your site.

Last but not least: what should the technology be?

Will the site be programmed in asp or php? Will it be hosted on a Linux or a Windows server? Will it maybe be a native app for an android phone? Flash is avoided these days, so if you want any dynamics on your frontend, your website should be created with HTML5/CSS3/JavaScript. Some of the points above will have influence on this decision (chosen CMS, devices).

So now you know it: wanting a website is a job on its own. This post is just an example of what things you should think about before asking for a quote.

Remember: if someone gives you a quote without asking for some of these elements, it is probably OK. If they give you a quote without asking for any: something is wrong. I won’t say don’t accept it, maybe you have stumbled across a seer. You never know.

Best of luck in your search for designers and developers. Or try us, we’re good.