Ep 81 | How to Understand Website Contracts
Don't go into another contract around your website without listening to this episode. These questions will help you better understand what you're getting (and what you're not).
In this episode you'll learn:
→ differences between designers and developers.
→ why interviewing multiple people is important.
→ how to figure out the time and effort you want to put into your website project.
Want to skip ahead? Here are some key takeaways:
[3:12] Designers and developers can be one in the same, but often they are different people. One will help make the website look visually appealing and the other will make sure it functions technically.
[8:14] Think long and hard about how much effort you want to put into the project. This will affect the price of the project as well as additional expenses you might need in hiring someone for things like copy, photography, graphic design, etc.
[12:00] Different companies will have their own tech stack that they feel comfortable with. Knowing what you need will help you in the interview process to feel good about the software they're using and how it's going to impact you in the future with your website. We use WordPress and Divi by Elegant Themes. We love GiveWP for our donation pages. For email we use ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit. There are lots of options and it's important you understand each one – but don't get overwhelmed.
[14:06] Be very clear on the scope of the project. Anything outside of this will add additional expense. Things can change during the process, but the less it does the better off you'll be cost wise. One way to understand is to take a look at your business goals and what success looks with regards to your website.
[12:14] Turn your donors into advocates. Have them help spread your message and get more donors into your circle. Make them feel special like they're in the inner circle. The more important they feel the more likely they'll be empowered to share about you and continue to donate.
[15:45] Who owns the website after its launched is also really important. This also comes into play with your domain registration and your hosting.
Website (re)Design Workbook
EP 34 | 3 Core Elements you 1 Page Website Needs
EP 18 | Understanding what Needs to be on your Website with Penelope Silver
EP 6 | 4 Essential Homepage Copy Tips with Storybrand Certified Writer Sarah Cook
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[INTRO] Hey everyone, Sami here, your host of the Digital Marketing Therapy podcast. And today we are talking about contracts with web designers and web developers. We've done an episode about this before, but it's been a long time. And I just wanted to kind of have this conversation again, because we've been, again, finding like a huge influx of people coming in and asking us, you know, about what's in their contract, why they're not getting the results that they want, how do they get their designer or developer to get the work done on time, and there's so many different things that can come into play? Why is the pricing this way? Like, what, you know, how do I know what I'm getting, or they've come to us, you know, and we're number four, of their developer or number three, or whatever, and they've worked with several people and, and not had the results or not gotten the experience that they wanted. And so they're upset, and now they've come to us, and they've spent a lot of money. And we're trying to wade through kind of how to fix, you know, give them what they want, make it work and, and stay within kind of a budget because they didn't get things that they wanted the first time around, which is really unfortunate. And we don't like to hear these kinds of stories. And so because recently, I feel like this has come up several times, I wanted to kind of revisit this conversation and share with you some things to think about some ways to go about your website, some ways to go about understanding what you need and want from it. And so that you can have a better contract, have a better experience and have a better relationship with whomever is building, designing, writing, copy all of those things. So that's what we're going to talk about today. I hope you enjoy.
But before we get into it, this episode is brought to you by our Website (re)Design Workbook. This workbook walks you through all the things that you need to consider before starting a new website or considering a redesign. And whether you choose to do the website yourself or hire it out, it will give you all of the things that you need to hand over to somebody all the things that you need to think about. So it'll save you time, money, and a whole lot of stress, to kind of have a game plan to kind of know what you're going into to be able to talk clearly about what it is that you're looking to achieve. And the workbook is on sale right now for $27. It's normally $47 through the end of 2020. So I hope that you'll check it out. The https://www.thefirstclick.net/website-redesign-workbook. I know it's kind of a long URL, but we will link it up in the show notes at https://www.thefirstclick.net/podcast. So check it out. And let me know how it works for you and how it provides clarity for you when it comes to getting ready to design your website. But for now, let's get into the episode.
[CANNED INTRODUCTION] You're listening to the Digital Marketing Therapy Podcast. I'm your host, Sami Bedell-Mulhern. And each week, I bring you tips from myself and other experts, as well as hot seats with small business owners and entrepreneurs to demystify digital marketing and get you on your way to generating more leads and growing your business.
[BODY] Okay, so before we really jump into contracts, and pricing, and all of that good stuff, I did want to kind of just talk a little bit about the difference between a designer or a developer and everybody's going to have their own language around this. So you know, take it with a grain of salt, and some flexibility. But generally, a website designer is going to be more of a graphic designer or somebody who's going to make your words in your website look pretty, they're going to make it visually appealing. And a developer is somebody that has more of a technical or coding background. So they're the ones that are going to make sure that the technical side the infrastructure of your website is functioning works well. And, you know, is fast and is mobile optimized and you know, gives the customers that great experience. From a technical standpoint, sometimes you'll hire both sometimes you'll go to a designer first and have them lay out all the designs that you can then take to a developer to implement. Sometimes they're on the same team. In our case, I'm very blessed that we are one in the same we have both elements that we bring to the table at the same time in all of our website build.
And I think this is really important for you to understand the difference because you can have a website that's beautiful, but the words or the images or you know, it doesn't convert people in the way that you would expect or the functionality doesn't provide that experience for customers that is going to you know, get them to donate or get them to buy more or whatever. And the flip side can be reversed. You might have an extremely clean technical well-performing website. But again, the design and the copy and everything just isn't quite matching up to your brand or your vision and long term. It's just not going to be a functioning site. So you definitely want to make sure that you have your bases covered on both sides. And again, it can look like a whole bunch of different pieces.
So, you know, we're going to talk a little bit about some of the different types of people you might need to hire throughout this process. But just remember that a designer and a developer are going to be different people, they might be the same person. So like, in our case, I'm client-facing and we have a designer developer who is very talented on both sides. It might be two different agencies, it might be the same agency, but just you really want to be clear on that part of the piece before you even like, that's just, I want you to understand the difference between the two.
The other thing that I really want to make sure that you are thinking about is, you know, we definitely recommend interviewing at least three different people. Now, the reason for this, especially if you're just starting out is as you start to have conversations with people different things are going to come up different companies are going to bring different questions to the table, they're going to bring different ideas to the table. And as you start to work through those, it's going to help you kind of figure out exactly what the right fit is for you. Now, if you've gone through the workbook, and you know exactly what you need, and want, I still recommend interviewing at least three people. Because again, it's still going to give you clarity around what you're doing. And because so many different people have different pricing strategies, it's going to just help you really understand and feel comfortable with what you're doing. Now, some of it is absolutely going to go off your gut who you feel good with, but also understanding that this is a relationship. You know, if you're working with somebody on your website, this is going to be one of the bigger investments that you make in your business. And, you know, you don't necessarily need to go with the most expensive person, I wouldn't go with the cheapest person. And we're going to talk a little bit about that here, as well. But you, you know, you need to know that you can work well with someone, are they going to hear kind of what you need? Are they going to be the right balance for you to help kind of push you or to step back when they need to, to let you make the decisions? Do you feel good about spending a good deal of time, because this isn't something that you can just say, Okay, here's everything, you go build a website, right, there's going to be a lot of back and forth, there's going to be a lot of conversation, there's going to be a lot of working together on this. And it doesn't have to be local. And there's a lot of work, we do work with clients all the time all over the country. So there's a lot of things you can do there. But make sure you feel good that you can have a relationship with this person that you can get them the information that they understand you and your business because they can build the best technical, beautiful, great performing web sites. But if you guys don't have a strong working relationship together, it's going to be a painful process. And, and we don't want that for you. We don't want that for anyone. And in fact, there have been clients that we've turned away, there are clients, you know, that we've just pushed off, not pushed off that we've encouraged to go with other web designers that we know are going to be better fits for their industry, or that we just know might not, or might be frustrated with our style. So that's just an important thing to consider.
Okay. So with that out of the way, I want you to really think about first how much time and effort you really want to put into your website. And I want you to do this before you even think about how much money you have to spend. Because, you know, a lot of times we go into things thinking, why should say I want you to think about how much time you want to spend on it and your timeline. Because you might have a launch, you might have a hard launch, you might have a flexible launch. And if you let's say you know, you need to have your website, I'm recording this in October. And let's say you want to have your website up and running in January. But maybe you have a ton of things that are happening in your business between now and then. And you know, you don't have a lot of time and energy to give to this part of the business. That's important to know. And vice versa.
Let's say that you have a lot of time. And this is the priority that you are placing your time and energy on to write copy to find images, you know all of that good stuff. That's really important to know, because that's going to dramatically affect the price and the cost of the project and the style of company that you want to work with or agency. So really be honest with yourself, do you have staff that can support kind of putting effort towards this? Do you have time yourself to put towards it? And if you don't do you have the budget to support getting that project done, because the reason why our websites get held up the most is because we have clients that want to put more time into it to lower their cost, which is totally great. But then we don't get the materials, the information, the copy whatever in time, on time or on schedule in order to help them get in meet their deadline. So be really honest with yourself, really think about it. And then the next thing that you want to do before you really think about talking to any companies is really think about what are the types of services that you're going to need? What are the types of things that you need your website to do? So do you have a lot of copy written for your website? Or are you going to need a hire copywriter, if you're not willing to write it yourself, right? That might be a separate contract or depending on the size of the company that you choose to work with. They might have copywriters on staff they might recommend copywriters for you to work with. Maybe you're in a very specific industry, like healthcare or finance, or education or something, and you really want to make sure you have somebody geared towards your industry, that might be an additional expense.
Do you have all your branding pulled together? If you don't, then that might be an additional expense, making sure you have a logo and brand colors and fonts and that consistency within what you have going on so that your website is clean? And all of that stuff is pulled through every single page?
Do you need ecommerce? Do you need to have a donation page? Do you have donation software already? Do you have a membership or an online course like really make a list of all of the parts of your business that you need reflected in your website.
And I really feel strongly that you start with your business goals. So your short term and long term goals and have that at the forefront as you're putting all this together. Because your website should reflect your business goals, it shouldn't just be kind of a business card brochure of all of the things that you do, you really want to make sure that you are putting the you know the best things forward on the front of your homepage. And we talked about that in the workbook, you can definitely check that out. We also have a couple other episodes that talk about so I will link those up in the show notes for you. So you can review that I'm not going to dive deep into that today. But all of those things are important. So just put all that down on paper.
And I want you to have all of this in your brain before you even talk to a company about building out your website. So once you know that it's time to start the interview process. And there's a couple key questions that you're going to want to make sure that you understand. So one is a lot of developers are going to have their specific tech stack that they utilize. So for example, we build off of WordPress, using the Divi Theme specifically we love WooCommerce for memberships and online courses we love Give WP for donation pages we love ActiveCampaign and ConvertKit for so we have some that were like more, like well versed in not to say that we haven't used other platforms to help build client websites. But those are the ones that we are most comfortable in. You know, so you need to decide do you want Squarespace? Or do you want a WordPress site? Do you want to have it on a platform if you're doing a bunch of online courses like Kajabi? So kind of thinking about that, as you interview companies, and they'll probably give you their recommended platforms?
Once they do I highly recommend you do your research on those platforms. And while you're doing that research, you're asking yourself, okay, how much time and effort do I want to put into maintaining and making updates and changes to my website? This is critical for a couple of reasons. One is you want to make sure you have a platform that you feel comfortable in if you want to make a bunch of changes. And if you don't, then maybe it doesn't matter. But again, that's an expense that you're going to want to pay attention to. So interviewing when you're interviewing your companies understanding the platforms that they use, and maybe it'll take you more than three or four. But don't go down a huge rabbit hole of like then researching a bunch of different things, right? For the most part, there's several options for all things, you're going to be fine with whatever option you choose, it's just more about feeling comfortable and trusting in the person that you are working with.
Now, you're going to want to make sure you really are clear with them about the scope of your project, and letting them know exactly what you need. And maybe you don't know the tech that you need. But these are the results that I need. One of the questions we ask is a year from now if we sit down and celebrate the first year anniversary of your website, what does that look like? And so really understanding those specific metrics will be really helpful in getting a quote that's correct and accurate. Now, as things go, and if this is your first time working with a company to build your website, there are going to be things that change evolve, whatever, and that's okay. So you're going to want to ask them about what to do you know, what is what does the process look like if we need to change the scope of the project? You know, we realized Okay, now we need to add a few more pages or we need to add a forum option or we need to add online enrollment or registration or we need to add events, whatever it is, what happens if we make a change. So for us, it's this is the scope that we decided on.
Anytime things change or evolve with that project, then we're going to create a different quote for that specific part of the project. And know that it might delay the launch. Or you can say, you know, I want to launch the project as is. And then let's do that afterwards. Whatever it is in your world, the more you can communicate the better. But also understand that if you do add things to the to the project, it's only right, that that is going to be an additional cost added to your project as well.
Now, it's really important to understand who owns the website after it's launched. And this comes into play in a couple different ways. One is with the domain and hosting. So the domain is where you buy your URL. So www.my business.com, right, that is your domain, and you're probably going to buy it from somewhere like GoDaddy, we always recommend SiteGround. But you probably purchased it separately, you might have had it for a while, whatever. And then your hosting is what keeps that website up that people can view it. And again, we recommend SiteGround for that, but who knows, there's a ton of different companies out there that you can work with.
So an understanding how that works. With the company that is building your site, you'll want to ask them what that looks like. So we have website hosting maintenance plans, care plans that happen after you go in your after your website launches, we recommend taking a look at those a little bit earlier. So you can see what kinds of things are in there. So, for example, some companies, especially those that are going to put you on a monthly rate, you really want to take a look at because they might be leasing you your hosting or taking part of your hosting or leasing you their domain. And what that means is then after the project is done, what if you choose to discontinue that relationship, they might own your website, they might just be able to keep it and then all the work that you did is no longer yours. So it's critical, I really feel the feeling, I really truly feel that having a company that lets you own your website after it's done that teaches you how to maintain it after it's done is super important. Now what you do with it afterwards is totally your call. But you really want to have that control. So keep your domain, keep your hosting or allow somebody to have your hosting, like we have some clients that we host, but make sure it's in the contract that should you terminate your relationship that you can then transfer hosting, either for a small fee, or at no additional charge, so that you can still maintain and control your website.
The other thing with pricing, I think, you know, like I said, the cheapest company, usually it has some sort of end game. So they usually have a different model where they're getting that recurring revenue afterwards to continue to still make that rate. So really just take a look at don't just take a look at the bottom line pricing. Take a look at everything that happens afterwards. Everything that it adds up to be in the long run and really be open and honest and asking those questions so that you know exactly what your expenses are going to be during development, post development and on an ongoing basis. And that kind of goes into what happens after you launch? Do they stay and maintain your website for the next two weeks or 30 days so that you can make sure there's nothing that goes wrong? Or do they just pass it off to you? Do they give you some ideas for how to showcase your launch? Like all of those things? There's lots of different ways that companies handle this. So that's another question that you're going to want to ask Do they offer training on the website? Or is that an additional fee, so that you can maintain and manage it on your own? All of those things are going to be important. And again, just going back to how much time do you want to spend? How much effort Do you want to spend on it a lot, a little whatever. That's totally up to you and your budget and your staffing. But be really honest with yourself on what that looks like.
Some other questions that you're going to want to think about or ask them are WordPress, if specifically operates with a lot of plugins, and some of them are premium plugins. Sometimes, like with us, you get the benefit of some premium plugins that we have that we just give, we just use on our client websites at no additional cost to you which is great. But what are those costs gonna be? Which ones do they pay for? Which ones do you have to pay for? Are they annual are they you know, one time things like all of that because that can add up and be expensive. So you're going to want to ask you know kind of what plugins are available to you that you don't have to pay for and what additional plugins may need to be utilized in order to get you the results that you want to get.
So, that's a lot of information right now I'm sure I forgot something. Because different conversations happen all the time, where we find out new things that our clients have had to deal with, which is really sad and frustrating to us, which is why I want to do this episode. So really, make sure you're interviewing at least three companies, trusting your gut. And, you know, getting in line with somebody that is, feels good to you from a relationship standpoint, that you can enjoy working with. And then just remember that your website is a constantly evolving, living, breathing thing. And it's going to change over time, your business goals are going to change all the time. And so it's something that you're going to want to maintain and stay on top of on a regular basis.
So again, just pushing that the relationship with the company that you build your website with is critical because it's going to hopefully be something that can be long term, which is most beneficial for both parties. Because the company that builds your website knows that inside and out and can make changes in kind of tweak it for you much faster than having to hire somebody new every time you want to go about making changes.
So I hope that this was helpful for you. Please head on over to the show notes at https://www.thefirstclick.net/podcast. I will have some resources there for you. But yeah, make sure you subscribe wherever you listen so you don't miss out on a single episode. And I thank you so much for listening to my podcast. I really appreciate it. I know there's a lot going on and thank you for taking the time. I'll see you in the next one.