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Do’s and Don’ts When Hunting For a Web Agency

22 DEC 2010

It is imperative that any web agency MUST NOT blindly offer customers a web package just for the sake of quick close for profit. A good web agency MUST take time to study the project requirements in detail, be honest, offer a workable solution and price according to the work involved.

Below information will give you general idea of what to look out for when selecting your web agency and in the estimation of costs. Please keep in mind that this is based on full-time professional web agency based in Malaysia. Web agencies’ prices for different countries may vary.

  1. Hosting – The truth is that hosting space is not expensive; you can source a hosting account with some of the major hosting providers in the world for RM300 a year and often less.  You will generally have to pay a little extra for Windows Hosting but not substantially more.  If your Web Design company is quoting more than RM300 a year for hosting then it’s time to question them and find out what added value they are giving you to justify the need for highest cost. An acceptable justification could be that your existing web site’s traffic analysis is showing high visitor rates, which means you will indeed need a hosting with higher resources eg. hosting packages with lesser accounts per server.
     
  2. Domain - You can buy a .com domain name for between RM55 – RM75 per year, and for .com.my  you should be paying between RM80-100. Those with slightly higher charges  often provide value added auto-renewal so you will not risk having your domain expired due to negligence. If your Web agency  is quoting more, ask why?

    Sometimes you will be placed in a situation when the domain you absolutely must use has been registered by someone. The game plan then will be for your web agency to assist you to explore whether the domain is for sale. If it is for sale, to help negotiate for the best value as most (if not all) of these domains are purchased by domain speculators intending for very high profit. Their initial offers are often purposely set very high to hook the ignorant. 
     
  3. Design Concept - it should take about 7-10 working days for an experienced creative director working with skilled designers to come up with “original” design concept. Please do not accept copied or plagiarized design no matter how much it costs as it is very shameful when your clients or visitors to your web site identify that. A decent range would be in the RM5000-8,000 range.

    Very often, the temptation to save cost by buying a pre-made template from one of the many free-lance graphic artists/template designers on the internet is high.  However, think and re-think carefully before committing to these design costs as your web site is your online marketing front-end, available to billions of internet users out there. The first impression you portray will make or break a deal. Imagine a physical shop or office front that looks shabby and badly designed will not be something you will look forward to when attracting clientele.
     
  4. HTML Development – This involves taking the completed design, chopping up the images and converting it to a web page for your website. A website designer is required to create professionally done, clean and cross-browser compliant code.  The last thing you will want is to have any visitor coming to your web site only to find that certain images are not appearing; or the layout looks strange and worse of all page does not load. It is imperative thus to have an experienced web designer run detailed tests on ALL browsers to ensure compatibility.
     
  5. Site Structure –Your website structure is the way in which pages link together to both benefit your visitor and the search engine robots that visit your website. A well thought out site structure should help to give a good conversion ratio of visitors to customers as well as help the search engines to find a correct placement for your web pages in the search engine results. Most importantly your site structure is totally dependent on what pages YOU want to include as part of your website. Your structure should be encompassed in a website map that should be reflected in the menu system you use to navigate your website. To any website designer that has knowledge of search rankings, Google’s Page Rank algorithm and experience of designing marketing webistes that drive customers then the website structure should be almost second nature and be heavily in mind when developing a web site.
     
  6. Customer Enquiry/Feedback / Form Submission – All web sites MUST HAVE a call-to-action. Very often for corporate web sites, that will be to encourage feedback or enquiry. So when you do get the visitor to take the call-to-action, the last thing you want happening is that the submissions do not get to you. It will be a double insult because firstly, it is a lost in opportunity where that  submission could possibly be the BIG enquiry of the year you were waiting for; Secondly, to add salt to wound, because you did not get the submission you do not revert, the visitor is going to have a very bad impression of your organization. There is nothing worse that bad etiquette of not responding to enquiries.

    The correct way to attend to these submission is to (i) have the submission sent securely to at least 2 reliable emails; and (ii) have that submission  saved onto a database so you could export that data for daily/weekly audits.
     
  7. All encompassing quotation – This is a golden rule. Please ensure your web agency provides you with a final quote that is all encompassing.  This is where you actually want to make sure your budget permits the project. Very often, I have heard of experiences where the customer was introduced to extra costs or variation costs which were not highlighted at the very beginning.  This could be a very simple way of adding hundreds to even thousands of pounds onto the cost of your website. Whether  agencies do it due to under-handed sales tactic or due to bad
     

So that’s about it really. Remember that costs in your area may be different but I hope that you find this as a useful indication to web agencies’ costs.

By Daniel Ng

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