Website design and understanding the cost around it can be quite overwhelming for the average person or business who simply wants a website, a "new look", some graphic design, or additional functionality. The market is overwhelming with everyone being able to offer website design. You then start asking questions like, "Who do I choose?, "How do I choose?", and "How much will it cost?."
To start, think of a web designer or web design firm as an artist. They each have unique styles that vary accordingly. Check out the web design firm's website and see if you like it. They should be their own client. Do not let them tell you they have not had time to update their website because that simply means they will not have time for you either. Then look at their portfolio as well to see if you like their style. Call them up and see if you like them. Are they looking for a quick dollar or a business relationship.
Now, let us think of your website or website design in a different way.
What are you trying to convey with your website design? How do you differ or want to differ from your competition? Who are you targeting? Are you targeting those with incomes higher than $100,000? If so, your website better reflect high-end. Are you claiming that your service is an experience like none other? Trying to look very professional from a service perspective? What is that worth to you?
Question: How much does a website actually cost already?
Answer: The range really varies out there. You do get what you pay for.
Question: Should I just go with the cheapest offer?
Answer: No because chances are you will be dissatisfied with the website or it won't include everything you are looking for. What kind of car do you drive? Did you buy the cheapest one? Why not? You would be better off waiting until you had more money and do it right from the beginning. This is an investment in your business, brand/image, and future.
Question: My hosting provider offers website building tools-should I just use that?
Answer: Probably not depending on what you are trying to accomplish. They are often limited, not scalable, and cause headaches down the road.
Question: Can I break the cost into payments?
Answer: The right designer/firm will let you do 50% upfront & 50% upon completion
Question: How long does a typical website take?
Answer: 6-8 weeks on average- the more scope or more function, the longer it takes
Question: Where is the best place to register my domain name?
Question: What is the deal with SEO (search engine optimization-where your website ranks on Google)?
Answer: SEO is like going to the gym-it's an ongoing process. You will not be in shape with one visit to the gym and you will not be on page 1 with Google by picking keywords out. Talk to the web designer or web design firm to see if they can set your website up to be optimized for SEO and the costs around that. Typically they offer an ongoing monthly package.
Question: I have made my selection, now what?
Answer: Get a proposal in writing that shows the project scope, cost, and a timeline.