When you take on a web development project, you have more to worry about than just keeping those creative juices flowing., Time and energy go into the work in abundance, and so does money. It takes real cash to keep things running, and while there is always hope that the investment will be returned in revenue, there is no guarantee that it will even out, much less that a profit will be made.
But you don’t have to lose hope of keeping some of your savings and seed money. Minimizing costs is simple, as long as you go into it with your eyes open and a budget in mind. Saving that initial grant will keep you from having to put in more over the base cost, which is a huge help.
You will want to take a real look at your expected costs, and then try to think of ways it can be trimmed. This should be done before you sell your income (and soul) to a developer, as it will also assist you in finding one in your price range who will be able to handle the project on budget.
Unfortunately, that first price you are quoted or establish won’t be all of it. It will just be the up-front figure for the initial development. But if you follow these tips, you could save a bundle.
Money Saving Tip #1 – Get A Good Developer – The FIRST Time
I am sure you have heard the phrase You get what you pay for. It is very true, especially in the world of website development. Every sleazy wannabe who knows a few lines of CSS and XHTML can pretend to be a programmer and developer. All it takes is an account on a freelancing or webmaster forum, and you can be off to hiring the wrong person.
One of my most common reasons for being hired on by a new client is to fix up the mistakes made on a past web project. I have done so much recoding on sloppy jobs that it seems like it is more a part of my work than my own creative process at this point, which means more hours for me…and more work for the person who hired me to take care of it.
The truth is that starting from scratch is much easier than starting off with bad coding. No developer can just go in and erase it all to start fresh; the basics have to be fixed, information has to be maintained, and then it has to be rebuilt once you are done getting it back to where it should have been in the first place. This takes two, sometimes three times as long to do.
What does this mean for you? Not only did you pay the crappy developer for the original slice-up of a job they performed, but now you will be paying the new one three times as much to fix it. That is a lot of cash, which could have avoided if you just chose someone good and priced decently from the beginning.
Money Saving Tip #2 – Utilize The Open Source Movement
Professional services are great, but they are expensive. Usually, they are needlessly so. I have met plenty of people who prefer GIMP with user-made add-on’s to Photoshop, and writers and students who will swear by OpenOffice over Office or Excel.
These are examples of opensource content, which are free programs created for use by anyone who chooses to download it. They ask for donations, but that is completely optional. I always try to drop $50 per year for each program I use regularly, but it is a matter of to each his own.
If you want to save a lot, you can find these open source platforms to run your project. Options like WordPress have gained a great deal of momentum, especially since they are simple to use. If you are hiring a developer, you probably aren’t too savvy with coding yourself. Or else, you really don’t have the time to be bothered with it, which is another reason that these user-friendly platforms are great…they have built-in features to render
In the end, you won’t need someone else to run the site for you. By doing it yourself, you will save a bundle. That will allow your cash to go toward the initial development, and keep you running things from there.
Be sure to also check out paid themes. You can find them for between $60 and $100, and they are a great way to generate a professional look without a professional price tag.
Money Saving Tip #3 – Know What You’re Paying For
No one will expect you to know the in’s and out’s of design. But if you are informed about the current trends and practices in web development, you will be able to make sure you are hiring the right person.
For example, does the person you are considering understand CSS-driven design, and the benefits of that format? Can they save you time and money by providing comments in their coding for future updates? What does their portfolio look like, and can they give good references to prove they have handled your kind of site in the past?
Know what you are looking for before you hire anyone, and make sure these questions are part of the interview process. If they have never handled a site in your niche or with your needs, look elsewhere. Untested developers are too risky.
Money Saving Tip #4 – Keep Involved In The Process
You have to be involved in the process of developing your site. Yes, I know you have other things to do and authorizing drafts and changes can be frustrating. But you are only going to get what you want the first time by keeping up with the building as it goes. You have to be on hand to tell the developer any things you want changed along the way, or any thoughts you may have, not to mention, to answer questions.
If you suddenly fall out of contact, you are going to lose the contract you have initiated. Most developers, good or bad, won’t continue working if you don’t keep in touch for regular updates. Since maintaining that connection is 100% up to you, you could lose your deposit or even trigger a lawsuit if you don’t make it a priority.
While you don’t have to sit there every step of the way, keeping yourself informed will save them time, you money, and ensure that you get exactly what you want. After all, most web designers won’t give you coding changes for free unless they made the mistake.
Money Saving Tip #5 – Keep The Flash Light
Not that many people know Flash. It is coming back, but for awhile it fell to the wayside as HTML became the Kind Code of Webland. This isn’t a huge shock, as HTML is lighter, easier to use and has some incredible effects. If you have seen the experiments done lately with HTML 5. you know what I mean.
Because of this, Flash is more expensive to use. Developers charge more, and it takes longer to create a site using it, which will once again jack up your price. Maybe not by a huge amount, but enough to make a difference. Plus, you will have to overhaul the site again shortly after it is launched; Flash is not SEO friendly by any stretch of the imagination.
So before you go gaga over the examples of Flash website design on a blog’s Top 10 list, keep all of this in mind. It might look pretty, but unless you are going for something really basic, it isn’t recommended.
Photo Credit: Jas.