What's NOT Included in Your DesignDesign companies are unique across the board. You can’t expect uniformity in how they look and operate or in all the services they offer. Some companies deliver the full package while other may only specialize in a few areas related to website creation, in which case you might need to seek out additional help from another company.
Even if a design company does offer all the services you could possibly need to maintain that asset to your company (your website), services may come at separate charges. It’s imperative to understand upfront what might NOT be included in your initial website quote to avoid feeling disappointed upon leaving an interview with your potential design team.

Below you’ll find a list of 7 services that are not necessarily included in the website building estimate. Focus on these points when interviewing design companies to help judge whether or not they’re a compatible company for you to work with based on your specific needs.

1. SEO

Simply put, search engine optimization (SEO) is about tweaking a website’s content to help produce high ranking on a search engine results page. The higher your business shows up on the list, the more likely it is that customers will find your website.

SEO services are often not included in website proposals unless requested, so don’t expect a design company to optimize your website by default as the process is tedious and can take a while depending on how many pages you optimize. . If you can’t afford to have the design company perform SEO services at the moment, ensure that your website is designed using progressive techniques that search engines like so that if you ever want to optimize it in the future, it will not need to be rebuilt.

Even without requesting SEO services from a design company, your site should show up when you search for the name of your business. If this doesn’t work right away, don’t despair. It often takes time for a site to acclimate itself and be picked up by search engines.

A Few Quick Tips to Get the Ball Rollin’

  • Submit Your Site to Search Engines. This is something you can do on your own for free. You can manually submit your website to Google here. For additional help with submitting your site to other search engines, check out this article from Smart Solutions.
  • Register Your Company with the Google Local Business Center. This is a free service which will tremendously help with your placement on the web by getting you listed on Google maps.
  • Seek Professional Help. If your site still doesn’t show up by searching for your business name after a few months you’ll need to consult a professional company, preferably one that specializes in optimization, to correct the problem.

2. Hosting

Hosting is another aspect of website creation that may not be included with the price of your design. In simple terms, you have to pay for the “space” on the Internet where your website lives, where it’s being hosted. On average it costs about $3 per month.

Ask your designer which hosting companies they prefer to work with. Often hosting packages are available through your local Internet service provider and may already be included with your monthly Internet service package.

3. Domain Name

This is essentially the nickname for your website, so make sure you have a good domain name. It should be short and easy to remember.

Domain names have to be purchased, and typically, your design company probably won’t be purchasing this for you. (But they might! It’s a good question to ask.) Find out from the get-go if the design company is going to purchase it and if the cost is included in your website estimate.

Items to consider when purchasing a domain name:

  1. You can buy more than one domain name and direct them all to the main domain if needed.
  2. If you can find your business name as a .com address, buy it. For instance, if your business is named Schumate Orchard, purchase schumateorchard.com.
  3. Is your business name commonly misspelled? If this is the case buy the misspelled domain name as well, such as shoemateorchard.com.
  4. Look for a domain name that best describes your business services. For example, if you grow apples and you find that appleorchard.com, applegrower.com, applefarm.com or applefarmer.com are all available, consider purchasing those as well. If you are marketing on a regional or national level those domain names may be easier for potential customers to remember after hearing a TV or radio advertisement if they’ve never heard your name previously.

4. Marketing

Once you have the most amazingly cool business generating site on Earth you just need to make sure everyone can find it. Often times design companies don’t include marketing services in the proposal, but it’s not impossible either.

Driving traffic to your site is a responsibility that is shouldered through your other marketing efforts, both online and off.

Online Marketing Techniques

Click to view a larger image.

Online marketing efforts may include promoting your business through:

  • Social Media
  • Email Marketing
  • Banner Ads
  • Blogging/Content Marketing

Promote your business offline with:

  • Magazine/Print Advertisements
  • Billboards
  • Brochures/Pamphlets
  • TV and Radio Commercials

Regardless of which marketing strategies your business uses, all marketing efforts should work to funnel your audience back to your website. Then enjoy the benefits it will bring to your company.

5. Updates

Most website proposals are for the development of the initial site, not the regular monthly or yearly maintenance. Updates can include anything from software updates to optimizing for new internet browsers and browser updates as they are released.

Some companies may offer a lower introductory price to regular maintenance updates and standard monthly fees thereafter. Be sure to compare these fees among several design companies to get the best deal.

6. Photography

Some of the best websites are ones that are very image-driven. If you need professional photos to spice up your site, ask if the company offers the service. If they don’t, photographers are fairly easy to find.

Look for a photographer with a good portfolio of work shooting the types of photos you need. For example, a good portrait photographer may not excel at or have the proper equipment for food or product photography.

7. Mobile Website

The use of smart phones to surf the web is steadily increasing. According to the Pew Research Mobile Technology Fact Sheet, nearly 2/3 of phone owners use their phone to go online. If your business is in an industry that typically receives a lot of mobile traffic you’re going to want a website that is responsive, or optimized for mobile devices. These days, most design companies automatically include responsiveness when building sites, however, it’s always best to double-check that this is included in your estimate to avoid extra charges if this isn’t the case.

Many mobile sites include:

  • smaller graphics,
  • alternate layouts, and
  • modified site navigation.

For these reasons building an alternate view for mobile phone users takes additional time and expertise. Remember, ask your design company if responsiveness is included in your initial estimate to make sure you won’t accrue extra charges.

If you’re unsure whether or not it will be worth it to spend the extra money on a mobile site right away, use Google Analytics to track your mobile visitors. If you notice that more than 25% of your website visitors are accessing your site from a mobile device after a few months then it’s time to invest in a mobile website.

Scope Out Your Perfect Match

Knowing there are a lot of services that may not be included in the initial estimate for your website puts you ahead of the game when it comes to finding the perfect design company for your business to collaborate with. Arriving to a design interview with this knowledge in your back pocket will also keep you from being duped into paying more for everything you need than you originally planned for. Bring your magnifying glass and keep your eyes peeled for the fine print when interviewing design companies so you can leave with a clear idea of what IS included with your design.

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