My design philosphy
Over the past 21 years I've spoken with hundreds of business owners who will re-design their websites, roughly every 2 or 3 years, and then complain bitterly that the new site performs as poorly as the last one. The new site doesn't increase sales either, so it's more money thrown away. Yet they'll repeat the very same process they went through the last time they hired someone to build their site. They'll trot out the local talent, request proposals from several designers, pick one of the lowest quotes (statistically, the second lowest is the most popular), and get another quick, cheap and ill-conceived site thrown onto the world wide web.*
The tendering process is hopelessly flawed, because it views a website as nothing more than a commodity. Choosing the lowest price for the longest list of perceived features is the same as picking the cereal box at the supermarket, with the most features advertised on the box, at the most competitive price. The question that should be asked is whether that website — or box of cereal for that matter — is actually good for you. Enough unhealthy boxes of cheap sugary cereal will probably kill you, and choosing a web design or re-design for all the wrong reasons will almost certainly hurt company profits. Marketing guru and author Seth Godin said that content marketing is the only marketing left. That being the case, it's surprising that business owners choose their content platform as casually as they pick a breakfast cereal.
Why a re-design won't improve sales for most companies: I believe that a website has no intrinsic value in itself. Throwing a new skin on the same content that failed to deliver thus far is akin to putting lipstick on a pig. If your re-designed website doesn't bring in a steady stream of qualified visitors, and then convert those visitors into buyers, it's been a waste of time, effort and money. Over 95% of all small business websites would qualify as "useless", or even worse, as liabilities on the balance sheet.* Most web re-designs aren't warranted, and what the company actually needs is a complete revamp of the content that's not working for them. That's something we could talk about.
What is a "good" website? A good website will deliver a solid return on investment. The net profit realized on sales, that can be directly attributed to the website in the first year, should exceed the cost of the website. A functional website presents content in such a way that it attracts qualified visitors, and the marketing copy is written in a way that it converts those visitors into buyers.
Good web design is all about presenting the right words, to the right people and the search engines, in the most effective way. It's good copy and content that actually grow your business, contributing to profits, not overhead. The internet is not an art show, and your visitors and Google could care less about "design".
My process and web design pricing
Discovery On a custom web design/development project, I begin by discussing your needs, goals and vision, your target market, content requirements and conversion copywriting you're likely to need. (Sadly, most small business websites are quoted, and even built, before the designer/developer even understands the company, its customers and how to effectively reach them.)
Content Strategy / Planning A sitemap is created, to map out your website's architecture. A functional specification document is prepared to set out in detail everything the website must do. I then create wireframes (simple visual layouts) of each of the page types I will be building. I'll outline the content strategy we'll use to earn search engine rankings, attract quality visitors and subscribers, and the copy that needs to be written to convert visitors into customers. An effective website is not a 'set it and forget it' proposition; it involves a commitment to the process.
Design In the design phase I produce mock-ups in Photoshop, based upon all the requirements approved in the Discovery process. Mock-ups are reviewed by you and refined/revised until approved. Upon sign-off on the design, the project is ready to move to production.
The discovery and design process can take anywhere from a few days, to a month or more, depending on the complexity of the design, the number of decision makers that must approve the work and how easy clients are to work with. The first two phases typically come in between $1,200 and $3,500 CAD. (Canadian dollar)
Production (Web Development) In the production, or "code" phase of the project, the approved design is converted from the Photoshop (PSD) layouts into a functional website. I build sites on our local server. Upon completion, I provide a video walk-through of the entire site, with commentary. (On local projects, I can bring the laptop server to your office.) Upon approval, the website is completed, and it's ready for population with content. When the content has been entered, there's a final approval by you, and the new site is launched.
The development process typically takes about 10 to 15 days, and starts at $2,000 CAD. Where there are more than the standard templates, add-on components like e-commerce, or special features, the process can take a bit longer, and that will affect the price.
Content Populating your pages and blog posts with content can vary greatly from project to project, and therefore is separate from the design and development process. On most ROI-centric web design projects, I am also hired as the copywriter, and will provide a quote for the initial content and then also release regular content as the content strategy is rolled out, under a retainer agreement, for months or years to come.
Would we be a good fit?
If you're looking for a slick pitch, low-ball price, and about the same disappointing results you've become accustomed to, I'm not your guy. I'm not going to come in with the lowest bid, and we'd be wasting each others time. But if you're looking for a seasoned online marketer, copywriter and content strategist, who can help grow your business, I'm probably the person you want to work with, and we should begin the discovery process.
* Note: I have designed and developed quite a few custom websites, where there was no content strategy, but I'm not likely to be one of the lowest bidders in that space. I simply can't compete with offshore outsourcing and so-called "designers" who actually buy and use off-the-shelf themes. I have assembled/configured sites with off-the-shelf themes, but do not believe they serve the customer well. To make a theme 'universal', it must be able to work in many different applications. Providing all that 'flexibility' generally leads to 'code bloat', which can make the site load very slowly, and it can also negatively impact search engine rankings.