The marketing of web design is probably not something you know a lot about. Turns out, it’s pretty laden with buzzwords and jargon that is not only confusing, it can cost you time, money, and your hairline.
I went through a few of the biggest names in DIY websites, compared them to the big web shops that I know about, and pulled out a few choice excerpts bound to cause problems.
#1: Get Started/Try Now
There is absolutely nothing wrong with free trials. The problem comes in when you are just getting started and have a huge array of options. Add to this that you don’t get to see what the website software looks like before you dive in. That means that short of a geek to guide your path, you’ll be stuck in trial hell (duplicating your site and content on every platform under the sun) until you make a choice – and you often can’t do that based on what you see on the intro pages.
Worse: your content might get stuck in a particular platform. Can you export it easily? Can you take your content with you when you want to switch in the future?
Many of these DIY “drag and drop” website creators charge a monthly fee, and worse – most “DIY”-type services vary widely in cost, making it next to impossible to compare features against price and price against value.
At the time of this writing:
- SquareSpace: $8-$24/mo
- WordPress.com: Free, $99-$299/yr (for “plans” which get you discounted or included premium features)
- Wix: $0-$25/mo
- Zoho Sites: $0 to $89/year
- Yahoo! Small Business: $4-$9/mo
- VistaPrint: $3-$17/mo
Contrast this to a variety of prices I ascertained from various “done for you” shops, and our own pricing:
- Pixelated on Purpose: $500 (entry-level) to $6,500 (high-end custom WordPress)
- Design Shop 1: $1,000 to $1,500 (modest modification of WordPress themes with fully custom design)
- Design Shop 2: $3,500 to $8,500 (mostly WordPress with modest modification and also custom BigCommerce)
- Design Shop 3: $5,000 (modest modification of WordPress themes only with fully custom design)
- Design Shop 4: $1,750 to $4,500 (entry-level to modest WordPress modification)
Represented here is a wide range of skills, abilities, and locations (proximity to a big city can double or triple a service pricetag). There’s no easy comparison, there – either. In fact, comparing “done for you” shops can be a LOT more difficult because you don’t know how much care or consideration is given. You don’t know how much up-front work it takes, the cost of their graphic designers, the experience of their developers, their preferred hosting providers, their backup and update policies, etc.
I’ve tried to make this process a bit easier to figure out by creating some educational materials: 12 things your Web Person wishes you knew, How to be a Kick-Ass Client, and 10 Questions to Vet your next Consultant. I highly recommend reading these before hiring another “done for you” company of any sort – a good consultant will not only respect your props for asking smart questions, they’ll love you for being so prepared. If they balk, take your money and walk.
#3: Drag & Drop
I get it. Not everybody is a coder – the problem is that a drag-and-drop solution is going to do two things: give you generally muddled code (hurts your search engine results) and give you less fine-tuning ability over your look and feel (hurts your brand image).
Drag & Drop might mean infinite tweak ability down to the pixel placement of a button, or it might mean you get to put a widget in a specially made box for that widget. Short of diving in, it’s hard to make a distinction.
Stock websites don’t represent your brand well – and they can do more harm than good in most cases. Our ethical competitors and good friends NerdyMind Marketing won’t build a website without doing a User Scenario exercise first to make sure the site pulls its own weight when your customers click.
This is jargon that actually will save you a ton of money, but without diving in deeper, you’re likely to bounce right over it. Take the time to really dig in and ask the right questions.
#4: Mobile Friendly
There are a lot of different versions of “mobile friendly”. To some of the DIY sites, it means “we give you an app”. An app is pretty useless in most situations – most users download an app once and forget about it (unless you’re Candy Crush. And you’re not Candy Crush). What you’re really looking for is called: RESPONSIVE DESIGN.
Responsive design is adaptive; it scales the website, content, and icons to fit the screen size of the device the user is using.
iPad? Cool. Got it covered. iPhone? You betcha. Desktop with three monitors? Hells to the yes. Also: that so-many-pixels-you-can’t-see-any-jaggies high-res monitor? That’s covered too (in most cases).
So what does it all mean?!
You’ve gotta do your homework on all these phrases, unfortunately. That’s why it’s always best to have a geek help you out. Your needs and milage may vary, but just like buying a car – buying a website is very much a “buyer beware” experience.
Did I miss something? Let me know!