Paying for Web Designs – How Much Should You Pay for Design Work?

E-Commerce and other Web Development these days can be quick and easy, for the people with the right skill. An open source shopping cart can be downloaded and installed in about 30minutes, the same works for most content management systems also. A domain name and hosting can be setup in about the same time.

Then if you change the theme a little, replace the logos, and maybe the color of some text, borders, backgrounds etc. you can really make the shopping cart your own.

All in just a few hours, now I have my own little web design company. And we do things in about 2x this time. With all the checks and other internal business processes we go through.

I might also add, we have university graduates, qualified and with a minim of 5 years commercial experience with portfolios to match.

A quality design should not take a long time, though some may take more time to produce something truly amazing. To the most part you can achieve high quality of work without the time excuses. If you are paying for someone to spend all day to create a logo, it sounds to me like they are really inefficient or pulling your leg.

Something I tend to think of when dealing with people who take too long is, are you paying them to learn? you see I had some issues with a car some time back, the engine seized up and I needed to replace it, I had offers as much as $4000 to replace the engine, and as little as $1000 to do the same thing. And you know what; some of the better more professional offers were also to the most part cheaper (It was BMW 730iL for those who wonder).

Now I can’t say this is the same in every industry and can only speculate as to what was really going on. But this is often a thought when I’m paying for someone’s time. Are you paying them to learn? Now you may get offers that are simply out of your price range, and hourly rates that make your jaw drop. In this case just think, can you pay someone half as much per hour to take just a little longer? If you can, that’s a clear way to bring costs back.

Once you are confident with the amount of time they are spending, you should really check out their portfolio. Once you are happy with the time/price and quality of their works. That should be just about all you need to worry about. Though one thing that may be worth noting is designers are like artists, when you get to know a designer and there work. You can pick their creations from others just the same as you would an artist. In saying this it is also good to keep this in mind when giving a designer your creative ideas, most good designers will come up with better designs when left to their own devices.

In summary, find a designer that does not take a long time to produce something. Check the quality of their previous works. And hire away, for simple graphic work direct from a designer should cost no more than $100 USD for a design does not matter where you are from. You might pay more to have designs turned into a webpage, though this part is can usually be done by a basic web-developer without much design experience. Most graphic designers can have this done also.

Let’s Hear It For Web 0.1!

It’s November 2006. So far the Web 2.0 bubble hasn’t burst. Here’s my attempt to put a pin-prick in it.

Don’t know what Web 2.0 is? It’s the notion that the next phase of web development is based on user-generated content. _You_ don’t have to write it, your visitors will.

– You get a CMS (a Content Management System, like PHPNuke).

– Users write reviews, blogs, forum posts (Webmasterworld.com).

– Search engines index this stuff (Google.com).

– Users tell their pals about it (MySpace.Com).

– You spend a few thousand bucks, or a few million, depending on how good your chief coder is.

– The thing sells itself (Digg.Com).

– You add contextual ads (Google Adsense).

– Fire off a couple of emails a day, and bank your cheques.

For the small-to-medium webmaster, this can be the route to disaster. Here’s my experience.

See, I was in favour of user contribution. Gives people something to _do_ on a site. If it’s any good, they’ll tell their pals. More traffic.

So I have chat rooms, a forum, a MySpace clone, a dating service, contact forms, ebooks, free software, the whole shebang. All humming away, all bringing in links, all keeping my visitors amused and informed.

Only problem is, the set-up time. The maintenance. The customisation. The search engine optimisation. The hacking attempts. The anti-hacking. The bug fixes. The security updates. The swearing filters. The troll kicking. The screeching. The spamming.

More bandwidth, more databases, more time, more money, more worry.

YouTube.com is a good example. Their business model is using pirated content. They have to police users. Bandwidth costs must be huge. Where’s the money going to come from: ads in pirated videos? Gimme a break.

For any web business, the basic questions are:

– What makes the money?

– What helps make the money?

– Where is the net profit coming from?

Could your site be better served by static HTML pages which you update once every six months? If your site is purely informational, it’s worth considering.

My epiphany came when first some Bahraini hackers clobbered a site of mine. I fixed it. Then some Turkish ones had a go. So I changed to a different CMS. So far, so good, until I realised I would have to constantly update this thing.

It then dawned on me that using a text-to-HTML converter (Text2html) and an index generator (dirhtml) meant simple text files could be turned into a basic site quickly.

You write it, format it, tart it up in Dreamweaver, index it, FTP it and voila!; a mini site without the upgrade headaches.

A CMS has some handy features, but pure HTML lets you sleep easier. Easier to move when the poop hits the air-conditioning, too.

Put it this way: which would you rather own when the Nazis are closing in? Damien Hirst’s ‘Shark In A Tank’ or the Mona Lisa?

I’m starting to think before I put stuff up now. Would simple HTML do just as well? Suppose I have to move web hosts? Will I be able to find one that’ll give me ten MySQL databases at the same price as my current host? And all the other features I need? (Answer: No, I’ve looked).

The first rule of computing is KISS; Keep It Simple, Stupid. With all the brouhaha about Web 2.0, I say, let’s hear it for Web 0.1!

SEO and Web Design: What Does One Have to Do With the Other?

For beginning web designers, this is a common question. Many still think of search engine optimization (SEO) and web design as two exclusive issues. They don’t see them as two separate jobs, rather than one being a part of the other. The reality is, every web designer needs to know at least the very basics of SEO before they design a website today.

What is SEO?

SEO is the art of communicating with the search engines. Websites that want real people to actually find their website and visit need to work with the search engines, since those engines are used by millions of people every single day to find websites of value. If the top search engines like Google and Yahoo do not see value in a website, then it is doomed. No exaggeration.

So, you need to communicate with the search engines if you want your website to do well. How do you do that? You do it through SEO strategies like picking the right keywords and having them woven into your website and designing every element of the site to say something about your content.

You can’t just pick up the phone and tell Google all about your great new website. The website has to do the talking on its own behalf. That’s why SEO is so crucial today.

What Does SEO Have to Do with Web Design?

SEO has a lot to do with web design because some of the most important elements of speaking to the search engines involve basic design elements. For instance, did you know that you need your primary keyword in the URL of your site? You do! This means some SEO needs to take place before you even have the web designer register your domain name.

SEO starts before the design process in most cases, and there’s a reason for that!

A designer needs to know a lot more than how you want your website to look. They need a good idea of what this site needs to do in a functional capacity. They need to know what keywords you are trying to rank highly on with the search engines. They can then use the right words for your URL and in other elements of the design.

Finding a Web Designer Who Knows SEO

Basic web design doesn’t incorporate a ton of SEO, but you can find web design services that are also pros on SEO. This is the best type of service to use because they can be hired to design the site with SEO in mind. This sets your site up for success with the search engines right from its birth.

You may pay more for these services, especially if you are hiring them for extensive optimization involving your content as well as elements of design. It is well worth it in the end!

At the very least, learn about SEO and do some keyword research before you even hand your website project off to the designer. Make sure you know what your primary keywords are going to be and then make sure your chosen URL name reflects at least one major keyword for your site.

Of course, that URL name should have something of interest in there for the humans as well, since they are the ones choosing to click or not from the search results pages.