Where can I find some good "arguments" online for paying more for web design?
February 18, 2006 5:37 PM   Subscribe

I'm looking for factual arguments to my boss that paying good money for a good website is worthwhile.

My boss is a very successful entrepreneur and his latest project has taken off in a big way. He has decided that the current website needs a redesign and went ahead and hired a freelancer to do everything from developing a strategy to building the site. I happen to know that we could do much better than this designer- there are small design firms that could really make our site great- but they will inevitably charge more than this fellow. Additionally, my boss seems to have a distrust of design studios or branding teams and prefers an individual.

So where can I find some good "arguments" online in order to persuade him to change his mind? I need clear cut facts about successful design and ROI that speak to a businessman's way of thinking.
posted by jeremias to Work & Money (11 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
What really matters is these few questions:

1) What type of business do you have?

2) Will you be conducting business on/through this website?

3) If not, what is the purpose of this website? Is it a "brochureware" piece? Is it a way for people to find more out about you and contact you? Do you hope for more people to find out about you (having never heard of you before) because of your website and then do business with you as a result?

Really, you need to answer these questions before any sort of assessment on the benefit of a good website make sense... You need to assess the purpose of the website and determine if that's really crucial to your long term business goals...

If it IS - then if you define the purpose of the site, I can probably help you craft a pretty good argument.

Mind you: I'm also under the assumption that the freelancer may not be the best, but won't make a "bad website" that makes you look crappy/unprofessional. If he/she might cause you that problem, we have other fish to fry with this question!
posted by twiggy at 6:19 PM on February 18, 2006

Oh, full disclosure: I'm a freelance web developer myself.
posted by twiggy at 6:19 PM on February 18, 2006

I agree with your boss that it's a waste of time spending good money on a website when you can get it done for one fifth of the price by an Eastern European or Indian via one of the freelancing sites on the internet.
posted by DirtyCreature at 6:36 PM on February 18, 2006

If the website is a point of sale, it should be obvious that a better designed site is better for sales. Your boss is successful, so presumably he isn't an idiot. Given the choice between purchasing the same item at the same price on two different sites, one of which takes him a tenth of the time to find the item he wants and put his transaction through, which would he choose?

You can make the argument that web site development is increasingly complex and benefits from specialization (graphics, coding, usability, seo, etc.) which a firm can offer but obviously an individual cannot, but this doesn't answer the real question of whether it increases sales significantly enough to offset the cost of going with a more expensive firm. I think the answer to that question is going to depend a lot on the circumstances of your business and it's not likely that you'll find any hard and fast metrics to back you up in that regard.
posted by juv3nal at 6:47 PM on February 18, 2006

Should have been a bit more specific. This site is not an e-commerce site, thus there are no transactions involved. This is a website for a training center and the purpose of the redesign is to attract potential students.

The current site isn't exactly broken: 80% of the center's leads come through the web. I think the motivation for the redesign is that it doesn't feel "flashy" enough based on what competitor's sites display.
posted by jeremias at 7:09 PM on February 18, 2006

Additionally, my boss seems to have a distrust of design studios or branding teams and prefers an individual.

It is really hard to get good results from an external team when you distrust them. If your boss thinks he can get sufficient results from the guy for cheap, why not let him do that?

Often entrepreneurs like to work incrementally - get some result now for price X, then get more result for price Y, etc. The total cost might be higher than going for price Y in the first place, but more is learned along the way. Also, there might be financing milestones that make it easier to spend a little now and more later.
posted by b1tr0t at 7:45 PM on February 18, 2006

The current site isn't exactly broken: 80% of the center's leads come through the web. I think the motivation for the redesign is that it doesn't feel "flashy" enough based on what competitor's sites display.

If it's working there is no reason to do a complete overhaul. Instead change things slowly one thing at a time and do some a/b split testing to see if the improvement really is.

By this I mean at the point right before the change have a script divide the visitors into 2 equal parts, send one to the new page (headline, background color, photo, copy, etc) and one to old.

Then track to see which one generates more leads.

You can take the tracking several steps further by seeing which one creates more profitable leads by extending the tracking 30, 60, 90 days. Page A might convert at 7% and Page B at 4.5% but the Page B customers spend twice as much over a 90 day period.
posted by Mick at 7:46 PM on February 18, 2006

jeremias: you say your "leads" come through the site... so why are you overhauling it?

do you think you have potential leads showing up and walking away without filling out a form or whatever it is they're doing?

do you think leads are getting through, and you're contacting them, but they do not have a high enough level of trust due to the quality (or lack thereof) of your website?

do you think that it needs to be made easier for these potential leads to find what they need, give you information, etc?

Tell you what -- just email me and we can IM and I can help you out if you want... I have a zillion questions to ask you, and provided you are equipped to answer them all (and better yet, share the website address with me in private) - I can help you build your case.
posted by twiggy at 8:25 PM on February 18, 2006

If the "small design firms" can't answer this question for you, they won't do a better job.

Ask them.
posted by Caviar at 9:34 AM on February 19, 2006

You shouldn't be making a distinction between "solo designer" and "small firm" -- many solo site builders produce far higher quality work than many small (or even large) design firms. And vice-versa of course.

The real distinction you're looking for is between "cheap" and "quality".

Your requirements sound like brochureware. Nothing wrong with that, but it means "cheap" might well be all you need: if it looks good enough, it doesn't really matter what's under the hood. (This is assuming you don't care about things like 508-compliance, etc., which you probably don't.)

The only exception to this would be if the site is going to be updated frequently with new content: a quality designer or team will build a site that can be maintained more easily, either through a template-generated CMS or just through standards-compliant layout... a cheap designer or team will churn out a bunch of heavy table-based layouts and won't know what a template is.

I agree with everyone else that -- unless your current site is butt-ugly and completely unusable -- incremental redesigns are more likely to be successful than a total overhaul.

Also, Caviar is right on the money.
posted by ook at 11:45 AM on February 19, 2006

The design of a website is only half of the story (if that). A single skilled freelance designer/coder can make you a fantastic looking website - no doubt about it.

But if that small team you're evaluating includes a talented copywriter I'd go with the team every time. A good writer is going to be able to get your message into the heads of your potential audience and a good designer can help make it stick.
posted by ssmith at 6:14 PM on February 19, 2006

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