Our business recently started using WordPress themes as a means of constructing websites for clients. Using themes provides an time-cost efficient method of producing powerful websites without sacrificing functionality. Since our costs stay down, we can reduce our price for the client and ultimately become a stronger competitor in the marketplace.
But these WordPress “themes” only cost about $45 on average, and we are turning around and charging clients upwards of $1500 for their website. So the ethical question then becomes, “Are we overcharging?” Well I did some research and found out that we are actually quite reasonable. It is common to see some web developers charging up to $8000 for websites built with the foundation of a purchased theme. The basis of the justification lies in the knowledge and tools of a web developer. In the same way a home owner would willingly pay a contractor significantly more than the cost of the materials to renovate a home, so a client is perfectly content with paying a web developer the agreed upon amount so long as the expectations of the project are met within a timely fashion.
So what are these “tools & skills” of the modern-day web developer that allows for such a high mark-up on website projects. Well first, we need to look at the tools in terms of quantitative measure, money for this case. Most developers utilize the adobe creative suite as their basis for developing online content. The cost of the entire package is a whopping $1700, but for a developer, this is an investment in the job and will pay for itself in time.
The creation of a new website entails various steps starting initially with an idea, and (hopefully) ending with an attractive, functional website that communicates the desired message to the correct audience.
Sounds simply enough when it’s described in one sentence, but the above process involves very distinct steps that all add together to create the “pillars” that form a website.
If you are familiar with Web Design/Photoshop, then I’m sure you’ve seen those brilliant, graphic designs, that contain multiple lighting effects and heavy image content to illustrate key points or main features. Well this all looks pleasing to the eye, but when we flip the page to developing the design, problems are bound to occur.
With the current standards for Web Development, quite a few of these “lighting effects” such a nice glow behind an image, are not supported with any of the web languages. The only way to achieve such effects would be to slice certain bits or your PSD file specifically for those lighting/pattern/etc effects and inserting them into the site as background images or some other kind of image.
Now that being said, heavy image based websites require more delicacy in development for the sake of optimization. You should be asking question like, “Do we really want to sacrifice optimization/time for these minute details that only add marginal attraction to the design?” The answer is for you to decide.
So tip of the Week? Design and Development should have some overlap. As a developer, knowing how to use the basics of Photoshop is required (slicing and dicing PSDs for the web) in order to build the design. However, when we look at designers, many of them work solely from the perspective of looks and ignore functionality.
It would be much better, from an optimization perspective, if designers took into consideration HOW their designs are going to be built. Now I know that is the job of the developer, but all I suggest it that designers understand basics elements of what it means to convert a static image to a live website. This is especially critical for web development teams who operate on deadlines to meet client needs.
So I’ve run into an interesting issue with our latest web development strategy, how wide should the site be in terms of pixel count? Is it best to do a liquid style CSS approach to have the site fit the browser screen, or to have the website set at a fixed with?
While there are several factors that go into this decision, I think one of the more underrated aspects is the TARGET MARKET. Who are you trying to reach (age, demographic, location, social class, etc.)? For example, if you know that the majority of your online customers are older folks who are yet fairly computer literate, there is a high probability that they are using an older 15″ monitor to surf the web. Or are you trying to target the younger, modern, designer/entrepreneur who is much more likely to have a larger screen.
With all this focus on SEO (not to belittle it), I think that at times, people forget fundamental marketing techniques that are by no means “outdated” just because we live in a technology era. Google analytics is a great example of the shift in the fundamentals to the virtual world, seeing where people come from, how long they stay on each page, etc. It’s online consumer behavior 101.