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How Can I Avoid Cost Overruns?

monthly budget and finance tracking documents lying on a table

No matter if you operate a large organization or a small business, one thing is certain: your bottom line matters. Even the smallest additional cost can negatively affect your bottom line and push back your financial goals. When you begin working on a website project with a freelancer or designer, it’s easy to see cost overruns accrue quickly if you don’t take the time to properly write out your goals and specifications.

Here’s what you need to know about best practices to avoid those cost overruns when working on your next website project.

Know Your Goals

Before you can even begin to think about your website design specifications, you need to have a good grasp of your goals for the project.

Taking time to think about and write down your goals for the website project is a wise first step, as your designer will use your goals as guideposts for their design.

Here are a few questions to ask yourself when trying to nail down your goals for your new website project:

  • Who is my intended audience for this project?
  • What does my intended audience want when they spend time online?
  • How do I want to engage online browsers or customers to make a purchase or contact us for services?
  • How do I expect my business to grow (or milestone to be met) with this website project?

Think About the Audience’s Experience

Now that you have nailed down your project goals, it’s time to put yourself in the shoes of your audience. We are all online browsers, and while we all have different preferences for interacting online, you can make better project decisions if you understand what type of experience you want your audience to have online. Here are a few questions to consider:

  • Is my current website easy to navigate? How could I make it even easier to drive browsers through the sales funnel?
  • Are there other websites that have features my audience might like, such as chatboxes, interactive quizzes, etc.?
  • What are a few websites that you love, and why?

Begin Working on an Accurate Scope of Work

Now you can work with your designer to write down an accurate scope of work. This document works hand-in-hand with the contract and is the easiest way to keep everyone on the same page. A realistic scope of work also allows you to better anticipate pricing and avoid those cost overruns that can set back your budget.

Your scope of work document should be thorough, and not just a few sentences that describe your vision. It should include how many revisions and drafts are included for each web page as well as the features you want to be included in the project.

Don’t worry – you don’t have to be very tech-savvy to be a part of the scope of work process. In many cases, a freelancer or designer will work with you to listen to your goals and your project specifications and use that information to begin the scoping process. You’ll be involved from the beginning and can ask questions as well as add in different specifications, milestones, or preferences.

Respect the Scope

Finally, once your designer has started the process, remember to respect the scope of work. You need to know how much that extra phone call will cost you at an hourly rate if you have already used up the allotted contact time in the scope of work, or that if you request a last-minute change, you might be billed for it.

If you aren’t sure what is covered and what isn’t, consult the original scope document. This can help you avoid cost overruns or at least plan for them if you need that last-minute change made.

Taking the time to nail down your goals and expectations before you begin working with a designer on a website project can help to minimize unexpected cost overruns. It’s worth it to devote your energy to a well-designed scope of work. Good luck!

 

hanging sign saying everyone can code

I Don’t Understand Technology or Code. How Do I Get What I Need?

green letters and symbols running down the screen

Perhaps one of the biggest obstacles or challenges for business owners who are ready to increase their online footprint is the intimidation that goes along with dipping their toe into the website design space. It’s one thing to know that your business needs a new or better website. It’s an entirely different thing to know how to make that new or better website happen.

Unfortunately, the intimidation surrounding technology, web design, and coding often makes business owners completely freeze in their tracks. Those who freeze end up completely unable to make a decision and much too intimidated to learn how to create a website on their own.

The good news? You don’t have to feel paralyzed and unable to take the next steps in your online business plan. You just need to find someone to create your new or better website for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind as you build your confidence, choose a designer, and get what you want.

You Don’t Need Technology Training

The average business owner doesn’t know a whole lot about web design or coding, let alone optimization strategies or navigation options. It’s okay if you don’t either.

You don’t have to have a wide base of knowledge to effectively communicate with potential designers. Instead, you just need to have a solid knowledge of your audience and the goals of your website.

Fortunately, most business owners are excellent at pinpointing their current and intended audience, as well as their business goals. Now you just need to work on creating a website that appeals to your audience and contributes to your goals. In order to find ideas of how to make that happen, check out some other websites to see how your experience is while visiting. Consider your competitor’s sites, but don’t stop there; find a few sites you love and jot down why you love them. These observations can help you articulate to your designer what kind of functionality you want in your scope.

When you are able to give details about your audience, goals, and functionality hopes, your web developer will be able to work out the best technology to make it happen.

Write a Scope of Work

Your designer cannot give you the website you want without knowing what you want from your website. Even the best designer is not a mind-reader, though their experience can work for you as a guide.

Compiling a scope of work is the best way to tell a designer what you need, and you don’t need to use tech-savvy words to give them that information. Instead, you are going to talk about what you already know very well: your audience, your goals, and what you want the user-experience to be like.

Choose an Experienced Designer

Now that you have a scope of work ready to go, it’s time to find a designer that meets your budget and can meet your desired timeline. You’ll want to find someone that is experienced as well as one that understands your company’s niche or online personality. While that quality is not necessary, it can make the process a bit easier for everyone.

When choosing a designer, give them your scope of work. They will use this document to create a more accurate bid for their work. Further, you can benefit from their expertise when they ask you questions or clarifications on the scope you have written.

Getting What You Want

Once you choose a designer, they will begin work on your site based on the scope of work you have both agreed to. This document makes expectations clear for both of you, but it doesn’t mean that you both are locked into it.

The design process will include drafts and revisions, remember to give concrete feedback or express any concerns during this time in order for the designer to make the appropriate changes.

Remember, don’t freeze! Make decisions about your online business experience just like you make decisions for other parts of your company: based on customer service, your audience, and your product or service.

piece of paper on a table with various types of charts displayed on it

My Website Isn’t Getting the Results I Wanted for My Business

graphs and analytics scores on a computer screen

To be a successful business nowadays, you need to run more than a busy brick-and-mortar office or storefront. Your online presence, from an engaging website to a personable social media feed, is just as important to generating new sales or gaining new clients. Of course, you already know this, which is why you have put some time and effort into building your business website.

There is nothing quite as frustrating as spending all that time and money on a website to then have it disappoint you in the short or long term. Here’s the good news, though: websites are adjustable and you can mold the content and design to suit your business moving forward. However, in order to fix the problems with your website and maximize its performance, you must know the reasons why it is failing.

Here are a few common reasons why business websites don’t live up to the expectations of owners.

You Built a Website to Meet a Different Goal

If you are hoping to increase client engagement, you must build a website that helps you meet that goal. Unfortunately, many business owners start building a website before they nail down their goals, which means the finished product often doesn’t give them the outcome they anticipated.

The bottom line? A website built without clear goals and outcomes in mind will never be as effective as it could be.

You Don’t Know Your Audience

The audience you are catering to online might be quite different than the audience you are reaching with print campaigns or while out networking. Unfortunately, many business owners build a website without knowing their target personas or by targeting the incorrect audience altogether.

Remember, your ideal customers are not always the same as your existing customers and that is okay. Your website must speak to the correct audience in order to maximize engagement and turn browsers into customers.

Your Website is Confusing

Have you ever been on a website that is downright difficult to navigate? It’s frustrating and often causes you to just click out of it before you spend any more time trying to find what you are looking for. Internet browsers are fickle, and any website that is confusing or makes navigation difficult will never get meaningful traffic.

Your website can be confusing if it:

  • Contains missing links
  • Buries your business mission and contact information
  • Doesn’t have call to action buttons or other “easy-click” navigation systems

Your Content Is Boring or Nonexistent

Finally, customers will not necessarily engage with your business on the first visit to your site. It can take multiple “touches” in order for them to finally pick up the phone or send you an email to inquire about services or products. If you don’t give them a reason to continue returning for your expertise, you are decreasing the chances of converting them to a sale.

Your content is key for bringing browsers back again. Successful websites have content that is easy to read and interesting. Make sure your content is fresh and you are putting out well-thought-out pieces consistently.

Your Next Steps

stairs colored in the colors of the rainbow

If your website isn’t giving you the results you hoped for, it’s time to sit down and think about why. Begin by quantifying the goals and outcomes for your website before planning more about the components and design. Fleshing out a comprehensive scope of work can be helpful for you and your design team, whether you use an in-house team or a freelancer.

It is well worth the effort to create a scope of work that will make your new website more successful for your business and for your potential customers. Further, the actual project will run more smoothly and efficiently.