Questions to ask about a new website

Article by May 26, 2012 lienhard

New Website? Ask yourself these questions first.

Question #1 – How tech/design savvy are you?

Building a website requires two different skills – the technical experience to get your site functioning correctly and the design awareness needed to make it look good.

For this reason, the obvious first step in deciding whether or not you should work with a web designer is to assess your skills in these areas.

If you don’t know a thing about HTML, CSS or Javascript, or you’ve never made design decisions beyond choosing the paint colors in your home, it’s probably best to farm out the web design process to a professional.  Sure, you can learn these skills, but be aware that the time this will take is likely better invested into other areas of your growing business.

Alternatively, if you do have experience in both of these areas, you may be able to take on more of the web design process yourself.  Be aware that building an entirely new site from scratch may still be beyond your capabilities or the time you’re able to commit to the project.  However, having a baseline familiarity with these processes means you might be able to take advantage of various “roll your own” website builders, such as wix.com.

Question #2 – What’s your budget?

Whether your lack of tech and design skills will prevent you from designing your own new website or you simply can’t commit the time necessary to do so, the next consideration you’ll need to make is the budget you have for the process.

There’s no way around it – hiring a website designer to put together your new site is always going to be more expensive than doing it yourself or working with a website design platform.

Just how expensive?  Although average prices vary by region and depend on whether you hire a design agency, a freelancer or an overseas designer, you’ll be hard-pressed to spend less than $1,000 on a very simple, five-page website.  If you anticipate needing more pages or interactive features (for example, ecommerce solutions or complex forms integration), it isn’t uncommon for business owners to spend $10,000-$50,000 or more on a new website.

Question #3 – What do you envision in your final site?

Obviously, if you don’t have this kind of money, a website design platform – which lets you customize your own template web designs – may be a better choice.  These solutions are usually much less expensive than professionally-created custom designs and take significantly less time to construct on your own.

However, they do have limitations.  Most website design platforms offer only a certain number of templates, and the features they integrate are often limited.  Adding a feature such as a blog, social media, appointment scheduling, etc. generally requires an additional monthly fee, which quickly adds up.

If you’re only planning a static content website, this might not be an issue.  But if you envision a massive ecommerce engine built to rival Amazon.com, a website design platform may not give you the features and flexibility you need.

For this reason, it’s important to spend some time brainstorming what exactly you envision in your final website.  Even if you’re planning to start small, how do you see your site growing over time?  Which website features are essential to achieving these goals and which integrations can be put off until your website is earning a profit and able to sustain its own upgrades?

Another important issue to consider is scalability.  If you plan on starting small, but growing your website into a much larger, thriving web business, it may make sense to invest in the services of a website design professional upfront so that your site can be built on a framework that can be easily grown, instead of being transferred from platform to platform over time.

Question #4 – How much time can you dedicate to the design process?

Finally, it’s important to consider how much time you’re able to devote to the website design process.

If you’re reading this article, you’re probably not a professional website designer.  So whether you’re a small business owner trying to develop a website for your offline company, an internet entrepreneur or simply someone putting up a website for personal purposes, it’s worth keeping in mind that you’ve got a hundred other things sitting on your “to do” list.

Your time is valuable, which is why this element should be considered as a critical part of your decision on whether to hire a website designer or work with a website design platform.

For example, suppose you’re an accountant putting up a new website for your practice.  Because your website needs are relatively simple, you get a quote from a designer for a new custom site for $1,000.

Since that’s a pretty big chunk of change, you decide to save the money and learn website design yourself – it can’t be that difficult, right?!  After slogging through coding and design tutorials, you’re able to get a site up and running with about 40 hours of time invested.  Unfortunately, if you typically bill your clients at a rate of $85/hour, you’ve effectively just spent $3,400 on your site – losing time and money over the professional designer’s quote!

Of course, an alternative scenario is that, instead of learning coding and design from scratch, you decide to use an established website design platform.  Although there’s an upfront cost to using the service, your relatively simple needs mean you’re able to get a professional-looking site up with just a few hours of effort – saving both time and money.

Clearly, there are a number of different factors you’ll want to take into consideration when it comes to determining how to move forward with your website’s design or redevelopment.  Although there are advantages and disadvantages to hiring a website designer versus doing everything yourself , the exact decision that’s right for your business will only become apparent after thinking through these four questions.