websites on a budget: negotiation and collaboration strategies that work

time, quality, money

A time-honored project management principal is that you can pick only two of the above for any project. Whether this is idea is true or not, the concept of framing your next web project as a balancing act can help you save time and money. Here are some simple strategies for creating websites on a budget.

create and deliver an asset library at the first meeting

Create a library of images, documents, and similar assets that the site will use and make sure they are easily accessible, organized, and high quality. Have these ready at your first meeting. The process of gathering and organizing content is sometimes very difficult and prolonged. Delivering a library of assets early in the process communicates that you are organized, production-oriented, and ready to solve problems.

know your budget in advance and avoid a prolonged sales cycle

Knowing your budget in advance will help you make decisions in a prompt way. Communicating to your designer that you are able to make and commit to decisions will help your position when negotiating. Asking for more than one or two sales meetings may put you at risk for appearing high maintenance or indecisive.

carefully, strategically, identify your team and resources

Identify at the outset who will be involved in working on the website. If you have writers on your team, for example, you can undertake responsibility for creating much of the site’s copywriting and can dramatically lower your costs. Identifying decision makers early in the process will also help simplify the process, further reducing costs.

Other resources you bring to the table can include photographers, designers, social media specialists, media planners, and other roles.

For some web developers, a team of client-chosen “experts” can raise huge red flags because of the risk of creating a complicated, impossible-to-manage process. Others will embrace the concept without pause. Our recommendation would be to discuss it and see what’s the best fit. It’s important to make sure your agreement with the designer works for both you.

communicate your willingness to have a flexible schedule

Many creative businesses have periods of high and low activity. If you let your designer know that you can wait a few months to begin, then they can tackle your project at a slow period.

have a brand

A documented brand, including elements such as a logo, standards, messages, assets, can greatly simplify the web design process.

be easy to work with

If your last interaction with a web designer was a disaster, avoid mentioning it. Also, avoid mentioning your son in law who “knows the web,” or is a “great designer” since it communicates that the process may end up being difficult to manage. Be prepared to be given chores (like gathering photos or documents). Your ability to deliver the goods on  time will have a major impact on the process and the result.

do some research

Check out a variety of companies and look at their documented processes and case studies. It is increasingly common for creative companies to list costs and to offer free estimates.

Eric Shew is a graphic designer and front end developer living in Bellingham, Washington.

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Bellingham, WA 98225

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