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How to Ask for a Website Estimate

Technology of any kind is scary. If you need technology for your business, it means handing over thousands of dollars to another business who will build the technology for you. Meanwhile, you (yourself) don’t really understand the technology and don’t know how to tell if the technology has been built well or is what you need. It’s a scary proposition no matter how you look at it. So, what I am going to give you are “questions.” Questions to ask when requesting a website design quote. These questions will help you get the correct cost and also help you build trust with the company you are working with.

Q. What screen resolution should the website be built in?

A. A careful analysis of the analytics on your website will tell you what screen resolution your current viewers are using. Build the website so that 85% of your viewers can see the screen. Standard for the time being is 1024 x 768

Q. What browser do you build the website for?

A. Again, a careful analysis of your current website will tell you the browsers that your current viewers are using. I recommend building for IE 7, 8 but if you have 20% of your traffic on IE 6, you need to build for all 3 – which is an added expense (more development time). Plus, if your viewers are a “MAC’ group, you may also want to build for Chrome or FireFox and so on. The analytics will tell the story.

Q. How will you write the code for the website? Will you use a template, or a program like Dreamweaver, to build the website?

A. This will vary: HTML, PHP, ASP (what version? .net?), Cold Fusion? Once you determine what they are using, ask is you can review the code in 3 of their client websites. Find a consultant who understands that technology and have them look at the code and let you know what they think. This may cost you a few hundred dollars, but well worth it.  If a company is writing bad code, you may have to pay for a new website down the road.

Q. What is the process for building a website?

A. The firm should be able to tell you from start to finish, what tasks and deliverables will occur throughout. There should be several times when you are given responsibilities to provide content, images and review time. A successful website project requires a lot of time from both client and web development firm. You (client) should be able to see and talk about the progress throughout the process.

Q. Do you have an Information Architect (IA)?

A. They may not, but if they know what that discipline is, the creative or development team may handle that responsibility. It’s important that they know what IA is and the importance it has for each project. The IA will build a sitemap and wireframes (functions on each page) prior to any design or development. This creates a clear definition and minimizes additional costs at the end of the project. This also creates a user-friendly site (one where you can find what you are looking for)

This is just the beginning. Please look for part 2 with some more questions about design, testing, content development and SEO upcoming! If you have any more questions, please contact