Web Design FAQs
Every web designer and agency has different policies, procedures, and methods for tackling a web design project. Below are common questions about the cost, warranty, updates, security, and other common questions most often asked. To read the answer to a question click the plus sign next to the question. If you have a question I didn’t answer please contact me.
Q: How much will this cost?
Unfortunately, that is a lot like asking a car dealership how much A car will cost without being more specific than you want it to have 4 wheels and an engine? Do you want a Honda Civic, Minivan, Corvette, SUV, or Mercedes? It all depends on what your specific needs are. A website that runs an eCommerce platform, customer portal, affiliate program, or membership backend are far more complex than a site that is designed to deliver basic information to a customer. Large sites with a lot of pages and content and carefully designed sales funnels will take more time than a 7 page site that has the basic website pages a business might want.
Because A website can be so diverse in terms of its size and complexities we will spend whatever time is necessary upfront scoping out the needs of your business and customers. We will completely outline the project before we begin. Our projects are based on upfront and known project costs. We believe that being as open and honest about what we can deliver and what you can expect is the best policy. As long as the project scope doesn’t change we guarantee our price.
We have no incentive to sell you unrealistic expectations that can’t possibly be met. Our business growth depends on providing long term value to clients that are satisfied, can measure the value we provide, and will provide referrals to us.
Q: How long will this take?
Every project is different. A large complex site with a lot of back end programming will take much longer to complete than a web site with less content or programming needs. Sometimes a client has a team that must review every element of a site or asks for complex revisions that can delay timelines. A good guideline is smaller projects are about 4 weeks to complete and large complex projects can take 8-16 weeks, again based on the actual scope of work.
Once we create a project scope we can deliver a solid time estimate to complete the work. A project timeline will come with the initial proposal. Because we have a lot of experience with a talented team, our timelines are typically shorter than other developers and our estimates of time to complete are more accurate.
Q: Do you have a warranty on work completed?
Yes, we provide a warranty on any work completed for 60 days after the web site goes live. After 60 days anything that needs to be fixed or changed is billed at our hourly rate. Please note any requested changes, even within the warranty period, that are outside the scope of the original project will be billed at our hourly rate. If we can estimate the repair time in advance we will, but many times we have to chase down an issue and that takes time. Once we have identified the problem we can fix it. You can certainly give us a limit on how much time to spend to fix or research an issue upfront and if we can solve the problem quicker, we will. Again, our purpose is not to make as much money off unfortunate events as possible. Our business model depends on satisfied clients that continue to work with us and refer others to us.
Q: If I pay you to build me a website why don’t you fix it for free forever?
Some people ask why we don’t fix a website we built for as long as you own it at no cost to you. We simply can’t offer such a service because technology is always changing. On a regular basis, there are updates to browsers, operating systems, databases, plugins, WordPress. Generally, these improvements are a good thing and necessary, but sometimes they create side effects like breaking a working web site. In addition, you can have malicious events that occur like hackers attacking a site or a server your site is hosted on, which can also cause website problems. Any of these updates or malicious events can cause a website to break.
Because we can’t know what possible technology changes or events will occur in the future we cannot guarantee that your site won’t experience a breakdown in the future. An analogy we use is that if you are sick and go to your doctor and ask them to make you well once that job is done you wouldn’t ask your doctor to guarantee you stay well forever and if you get sick again you expect the doctor to provide their services for free since you had originally paid them before to make you well. The human body gets viruses, ages, changes, etc. and those things can and do cause you to get sick occasionally. It is no different from a website or any piece of software for that matter. Further, changes in technology can cause obsolescence.
One exception to this rule is clients that are on our monthly retainer program. Almost all of our retainers include maintenance and support, which includes fixing a website that breaks down for any reason. If you are interested in constant protection against future issues we suggest you look into our retainer programs. Our retainers provide considerable value and many services to keep your web site and business moving forward and leaving the technology issues to us so you can focus on running your business.
Q: Will I be able to update my website or will I have to call you every time I need something changed?
If you choose a monthly retainer plan there will be a plan level where many/most changes to your website are included.
However, for the DIY business or the business not on any type of monthly retainer; many of our sites are built on a CMS platform (Content Management System) that will allow you to login credentials to your web site and with just a little training, make many updates to content on your own. Both options are available depending on your needs.
Q: Can you guarantee that my website will never get hacked?
Unfortunately, we cannot. The software we use is always being updated and while those updates are often done to fix security flaws they invariably create new ones in the process or fail to find others that may already exist. Nothing we can do will ever reduce your risk to zero, but there are many things that we can do that will significantly reduce your risk profile. There are some definite common-sense steps every website owner can and should do to make their website as secure as possible. It starts with a proper set up of the web site in the first place and continues by keeping software patched and current, running security software, using reliable hosting companies and when all else fails maintaining current backups. Doing all of these things will “harden” your website against hacking, but still can’t reduce it to zero.
Defending against hackers is an ongoing battle that everyone from national governments down to individual small business websites must do. Hackers never stop trying to find and exploit weaknesses and we never stop working to keep them at bay. So while we can’t guarantee you will never get hacked, and nobody else can either, we provide a lot of products and services to mitigate your risk as much as possible and should you experience a successful attack restore you from a backup to minimize the damage.
Q: I went out and got 3 website quotes with 3 totally different prices, shouldn’t I just go with the cheapest quote?
Building a website isn’t like fixing a car or installing a furnace or fixing a leaky faucet. With those types of activities, the quotes are generally close and there are only a couple of ways to do the job. Not so with web development. In web development, there are as many ways to get “a” website as there are websites. The cheapest provider doesn’t mean they are providing the best website for your needs, generally, they are not. You could also make a critical mistake because you didn’t know what you didn’t know and end up costing yourself a lot more money in the long run by having to re-develop a website the correct way after doing it wrong with an inexperienced or cheap developer without the skills and experience to know better.
“Traveling through hyperspace ain’t like dusting crops, boy! Without precise calculations, we could fly right through a star or bounce too close to a supernova and that’d end your trip real quick, wouldn’t it?” – Han Solo, Star Wars
The value in working with an expert in web development with almost 2 decades of experience and a talented team is that they can help you through the process of figuring out not only what you need, but the strengths and weaknesses of various approaches and solutions. In addition and possibly most importantly they can explain why the solution they are proposing is the best in terms you can easily understand.
As an example, if you decided you wanted an e-commerce website and you received 3 quotes of differing amounts. One quote says they will do it in Magento. One quote says they will do it in WordPress. One quote says they will set it up in Shopify. Beyond simply choosing the one that may be the cheapest or the one the developer says you should do, which is generally because they don’t know how to do other ways, do you know which of these 3 options is the best? Do you know why you should choose one over the other? Do you know what the long term consequences of this decision will be or cost? We do.
A good design firm can answer the questions you didn’t know to ask and create the solution you didn’t know you needed and be able to tell you why. They can provide marketing, quality design and a website that will not only grow your business, but save you money in the long run and help you avoid some very costly mistakes.
Finally, we have been in business for almost 20 years. We didn’t start building web sites last week because we lost our nice corporate gig we are looking to replace. We are also not a “techie” high school student doing this out of our parent’s basement for extra money. Both of these examples are real situations we have run into over the years. Both situations ended badly. Who are you going to call when your designer gets a new job or the high school student stops answering his text messages? You might save some money upfront and think you got a great deal, but you will end up paying for it in the long run when your site breaks, gets hacked, or you need some changes to the site. We have been in business for two decades. This is the only work we do and we are here for the long run.
Q: If I choose your monthly retainer plan will I ever “own” my website?
Depending on the complexity of the site you need will determine the length of the retainer agreement we will need you to sign, but after that agreement time frame is up you are free to leave and take your website with you. You will “own” it and can do with it as you please. This is completely different from Wix, Go Daddy, etc. where the minute you stop paying your fee your site and anything you had on it is gone, no matter how long you have been paying it for.
We want to earn your business and continue to provide additional value in maintenance, hosting and marketing services as well as continual improvements to your site over the contract period. We believe you will see value in increased awareness, traffic and business in continuing the contract and less of your web site as a piece of property that you “own”.
A website, regardless of who “owns” it, is only valuable because it brings in new customers and adds value to your business. If it doesn’t do those basic things than it really doesn’t matter who “owns” it because you aren’t getting anything out of it anyway. It would be akin to owning a sports car without the engine. You might “own” the car, but you aren’t using it to go anywhere.
Q: What technology or platforms do you use for creating websites?
We build our solutions on WordPress. WordPress runs approximately 40-45% of the websites worldwide and there is a large diversified community that surrounds the software. This community creates an incredible knowledge base, great plugins that extend the functionality in ways that allow WordPress to meet the needs of just about any business.
If you have a very specific need that requires a website to be built on something other than WordPress or a high level of customization we may take on the project as we have programmers with experience in a variety of programming languages and platforms, but more likely than not we would simply refer you to a different agency.
Q: What shopping carts and eCommerce software do you use?
We use a variety of packages depending on the specific project. However, since the vast majority of our projects are built on WordPress we will typically use WooCommerce, but there are other eCommerce solutions that are designed to work with WordPress.
Regarding the payment gateway or processors, we can use almost anyone. We have used Stripe, Pay Pal, Authorize.net and others. The choice here is more dependent on the customer and their needs, but if there is no preference we will typically use Stripe as it works very well with the various eCommerce solutions that run on WordPress.
Q: I don’t have time to create all the content I need for my web site, what should I do?
We provide a full portfolio of content creation services. We can create well-written copy, images, animation and/or video content depending on your needs and budget. There are some resource requirements on your part to help us develop this content as you know your business and customers best. We would need access to someone to help guide us in creating that content, but we do the heavy lifting by actually creating it.
Q: My budget is only “X” dollars can you still work with me?
Because we have such a diverse set of technologies, we can work with a variety of budgets to build you a solution. We have flexibility in how we can structure a solution and are confident that if we can sit down and discuss your needs that we can find a way to work together.
Q: What is the main way you are different from other web designers?
We are business people first and web developers second. We understand digital marketing and web design are undertaken to solve a specific business problem. We help you uncover the problem(s), put a cost to it, generate a variety of solutions, and figure out how to implement a solution(s) that will meet your specific issue(s). Too many developers need you to tell them what the issue is and what you want to do to fix it. These types of developers are basically order takers and not solution generators. They can build whatever you tell them to build, but only if you can define it and spell it out for them. We use a completely different paradigm by helping you figure out the problem and then proposing the solution in terms and methods you can understand.
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