In this post, we want to touch on the template and theme industry and how there are some agencies who are taking advantage of clients by fooling them into thinking they are getting something custom when, in fact, they are being sold something pre-made.
Now, honestly speaking, there is nothing wrong with choosing a template for your website and modifying it to suit your needs. There are a lot, heck maybe too many, great themes out there for you to choose from and for as low as $17.00, but be cautious and ask the right questions before you hire an agency or freelancer to build your site. Make sure you are getting exactly what you are paying for.
On the contrary, should your budget allow, having a custom designed website is the best way to ensure your brand and messaging get across in the most effective way. We touch upon these details in our article titled Benefits Of A Professional Website Design.
Comparing a custom built website to a theme is the same concept as comparing an old house to a new house. In an old house you may live with its layout but wish you could knock a few walls down and add on to it, while a new house is built to the current modern standards from the ground up with its walls exactly where you want them.
Below are a few points you should ask your website designer before starting to ensure you are getting exactly what you are paying for:
1. Experience is Everything
It is important to make sure you are choosing someone who has experience in the niche you are involved in. If they have done something similar in the past, it will not only help your project move quickly and smoothly, but will also ensure your project is completed at a high level. Experience is everything when it comes to web design and development.
2. Case Studies & Samples
Ask to see samples of work they have done in the past and make sure you understand what they did for them. Most agencies will have proper case studies done for each part of production. As mentioned in point 1 having someone educated within your niche will only save you money. (Drive Digital)
3. Is This A Template?
Are you being sold a template/theme or is this something custom designed and developed? This is probably one of the most important things to ask and where a lot of people are tricked. If you are being sold a template ask to know the cost of the template and the hours it will take to achieve what you are looking for. Then ask how many hours it would be to design something from scratch and compare the two. You’d be surprised how similar the two are.
4. Production Details
Make sure you have all areas of production broken down in detail as to what they are doing in each stage; If you can have them associate a price for each section, even better.
Website Design – Do you get wireframes? Do you get responsive stage designs? How many initial mock ups will you get? How many page layouts after approval on initial design?
CSS/HTML – Which CSS version is being used? Is it going to be HTML5? Which Responsive Framework will you be using?
CMS Integration – Which content management system would best suit your needs? Which features are going to be plugins and which will be custom?
Testing & Launch – What type of testing and QA process is used? Is all the code validated? Which browsers and their versions will the site be tested in? What is the launch process?
5. Timeline & Payment Schedule
Make sure to get a detailed timeline with payment schedule. Never pay more then 50% up front for a project. This protects both parties involved. For larger projects pay 25% up front, 25% on design approvals and then 50% on completion (make sure to set very clear guidelines as to when a project is considered complete – get it in writing).
6. Final Creative Working Files
Do you get all working files (Photoshop files, Illustrator files and site backups) once the site is complete? Some companies hold files ransom, so this is vital even if you have no idea what to do with them. It’s your property; you paid for them and are entitled to them.
Always remember to ask the right questions when you are looking for your next web designer and be sure to get everything in writing. Never make the mistake of diving in head first or providing any sort of payment until you have done the proper research into who you are using and what you will be getting.