14th December 2011

Cutting the cost of Web Design

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As more and more businesses and services migrate their operations into an ever growing digital world, it seems like the need for Digital Agencies has never been greater. The requirement for great designers, developers, account/project managers etc by a large number of agencies seems to be defying the current statistics regarding jobs and unemployment. However as an organisation not familiar to this world, how can you ensure that your digital costs don’t start to spiral out of control?

1. Establish your budget

Whether you have £500 or £500,000 to spend on your next digital project, there will be some sort of solution out there for you. By establishing your budget early, and informing your chosen agency of this, you can ensure that you are not expecting an Aston Martin when you can only really afford a Fiesta.

2. Establish your requirements

It is surprising the number of companies that aren’t really sure what they want from a new website or digital campaign. This can add a huge amount of time into the Research & Development / Exploration phases of the process, costing you more money. Work out a list of needs, wants and possibles and run through these with your agency (they may add things you have forgotten). For each item, question whether it is in the correct category and what it will add to the project and/or your business if it is included. Some features may be better suited to after launch.

3. Do some leg work

Even for the biggest digital novices, there is a lot of work that can be done by you; the client, that can reduce agency time/cost and help guide the project to a more successful outcome. Finding out details such as demographic of primary audience(s), current analytics/web traffic, making a list of websites/apps you like or dislike, highlighting examples of successful companies in your industry, providing your agency with a company background etc will all be invaluable information in curating the project. Not only that, but it may actually help you establish what your (realistic) goals are for 6, 12 or 24 months after project launch.

4. Establish responsibility

Be honest about exactly who the project stakeholders are, who the decision makers are and who the trouble makers are. Make this clear to your agency. If the MD is the only person that can sign off on each stage of the project and he/she is overseas for 2/3 weeks a month then this will inevitably impact on the project and potentially increase the cost due to overruns. Likewise, there will likely be a number of people in your organisation that love nothing more than voicing their opinion. Whilst some of their comments may be valid, always ensure that any suggestions are for the best of the project outcome and not just to make sure everyone gets their way (Camel – Committee springs to mind).

5. Stick to timelines

Put simply, time is money. The longer a project goes on, the later it is that your product can be used and the more time your company is without a potentially valuable resource. Your agency will no doubt provide a timeline for the project, allowing time at various stages to gather feedback from you. If the agreement is that this is carried out in 48 hours and it takes you 72 to get back to the agency, then an extra day has been added to the project and therefore in most cases the product could be delivered a day later. If you feel there are occasions where you cannot stick to turnaround times like this then be honest upfront and let your agency know. You could be charged extra penalty fees for allowing the project to overrun if you don’t.

6. Establish Resources

Starting a new digital project is not a simple task, and is certainly not something that can just be handed over to an agency and left until completion date. Prepare yourself that as key contact, you will be expected to put a lot of time into the project. Establish early on what your jobs will be throughout the duration and allocate yourself time accordingly. Pencil in meetings with the agency, stakeholders and other members of the company for review meetings and updates. Additionally there will be a lot of resources that your agency will ask for ranging from things like copy/imagery to bodies for research and possibly information from 3rd parties. Ensure you can access these resources as required, and if you need to set the ball rolling early to make sure you receive information on time, then highlight this as a key risk to the project and resolve quickly.

7. Establish Licenses

By reducing the number of commercial licenses your new project uses, you may not only cut the project cost but also your ongoing annual cost. Question the use of commercial software over open-source (it may suit needs better anyway), stock imagery/graphics, font licenses etc. Do you need all of these things or would your project be just as good if you weren’t paying for the commercial products.

8. Sign off means Signed Off

During a project there will be a number of occasions where your agency will ask you to sign off on particular elements. Normally these are documents, designs and the final developed product. By doing so, you are agreeing that everything presented is correct. Once signed off, any further amends to these items is likely to be chargeable at the agencies standard hourly/daily rate. Ensure that when an item requires sign off, it has been seen by all stakeholders and everyone is in agreement that the item is as expected.

Please feel free to add anymore top tips below for stopping excessive spending on a digital project.