Tuesday, September 22nd, 2009

Lets face it: there are a lot of articles about Twitter, about business, about Twitter and business and so on.  Were even writing an article on using Twitter but before doing that, we thought wed make it more practical.

Turbo Lemon Media is on a mission to look beyond the sunny confines of Preston, Lancashire to find work.  More specifically, were heading to the Twitterverse.

Simple premise: can we acquire work through using Twitter?

Well be applying the much-touted theory thats out there.   Whether were building followers or  following trends, were hoping to discover the real power of Twitter for SMEs like us.

So, follow Turbo Lemon Media on Twitter and lets see what all the fuss is about!

Monday, September 7th, 2009

Q: How Much Does a Website Cost?
A: How Much Does a House Cost?

Actually, the answer for both of these is, ‘it depends.’ It’s a pertinent and perfectly acceptable question but not one we can ever answer easily. You think we’re copping out, we’re not. Let’s say we told you we could build it for x amount. Great. You don’t have any images? Right, so that’ll be a little bit more. You wanted to be able to update your front page? Okay, that’ll be more. You never mentioned you wanted a form for newsletter sign-ups and data capture. We can do it, but suddenly, that amount we mentioned looks bigger and now you think we’re being a bit sneaky.

So how about we rethink the question: what is your website for?

Is it a shop window? A place to herald your existence to the market at large? Somewhere for people to verify your existence and integrity? In which case, the odds are that you’re looking at a simple static site; a website with fixed content which can only be updated by your web guys (that’ll be us then). There are super-cheap solutions for static sites. There are even free options, but if you’re hoping to look a little less identikit and more astute and professional, then you should think about bespoke web design (that’ll be us then. How convenient!). By bespoke web design, we mean looking at aesthetics designed to reflect your brand, navigation to best suit your customers and functionality that has been given thorough consideration. We start from scratch with you. We don’t do bish-bash-bosh (though there are lots of people who do).

We’ve found that our clients are becoming more savvy with this interweb guff, and are increasingly learning that content is king. They want to add to and update pages themselves. It may be some or all pages, but what we’re talking about here is a Content Management System, which is bandied around more commonly as a CMS. You manage the content. We make it look pretty. There are existing off-the-shelf solutions (free or chargeable) – Joomla anyone? For the technophobic amongst us, these can be quite intimidating – all those buttons, options, things to break – which is why sometimes, a bespoke CMS could be for you. They are likely to cost you more but if they’re built to your exact needs and requirements, you could save a lot of time, which you could otherwise spend selling or doing what you do for your business. For example (gratuitous up-sell of ourselves coming right up), we built an eCommerce site for a client. Somewhere to add items, take payment, get emails for newsletters, somewhere to show off the kind words customers had to say and somewhere change the written parts of the site. Our Turbo Lemon CMS was used to fulfil these exact requirements. When our client came back to us explaining the woes of managing stock levels on a spreadsheet, we developed an integrated stock and customer account management system as part of her site. We saw the pain, we fixed the pain.

I want a really good site that costs very little

So we’ll ask again, what is your website for?

Once you’ve established what you want it to do, odds are you might get excited by the myriad of other things you could do with your site. And all these other interesting little nuggets are likely increase the price tag of your website. A forum, an RSS feed, a Twitter feed, audio, video, file downloads, photo gallery/slideshows, a guest book, press releases, commenting/feedback, specialised calculators, contact forms, polls/surveys, site search, chat, user accounts, multi-lingual support, links – it all adds up.

These are all the things we get our clients to think about. We don’t just build their site, we help to plan it so it’s everything it ought to be.

What about my web name thingy?

Your URL. That’s going to cost you and will depend on how many variations you buy (.com, .co.uk etc) and where you buy them from. Some companies will buy and manage them for you, and in most cases you can go somewhere like 123reg.co.uk and buy your own from as little as £2.99.

So I’ve planned my site. I know what it’s for now and I know what it’s going to be called. What next?

Well, it’s worth asking your web guys/gals what level of SEO they’ll integrate at the point of building your site. SEO helps you to be seen by more people. More people means more contact means more sales. We can help identify the right keywords for your site, optimise your site and get your site seen. Bingo. You’ll need to keep on top of if your SEO is effective, which is why we include analytical tools to allow you to track visitors, page popularity and to see where your visitors are coming in from. Once you understand this, you can meld your site to better suit their needs.

At the very least, you should be asking if and where your site is going to be submitted to once it’s live. Be ready to market your site yourself, or, be ready to pay somebody to market for you. Yes, more potential costs.

The cost that usually surprises people is hosting, which in essence is rent for the space your where your website will live. ‘Why should I pay for hosting?’ is a question I’ve heard from a few irritated faces. Well, probably for the same reason you pay for your phone line. Are you expecting billions of people to visit? Maybe then you should set a few more pennies aside to allow for the sheer volume of traffic. Talk to your web guys about your options. If you’re a local business, touting for local people, then you could assume that you don’t need the all singing, all dancing cloud computing, versatile solution. See what’s out there. For example, our hosting starts at £125 per year (including an e-mail inbox, accessible via web-mail, POP or IMAP, ad-hoc basic support by e-mail and phone, configuration of domain name (DNS), co-located file and database backups). That was another plug, but it gives you an idea that you should be looking at what’s included in your costs. Don’t be scared to ask questions.

It costs how much??

We know your mate or your cousin’s mate’s Dad’s workmate can build it for a seeming fraction of what we might propose. We know that you could get a template and try do it yourself. What sets us apart is the level of service, expertise, skill and experience. From small sites to larger complex projects, we have the know-how. There is no doubt that your site is going to take longer to build than what you had hoped (we don’t do bish-bash-bosh, remember?) People often underestimate (and often perilously so) this crucial element of the design process. As much as you might hate to hear it, yours won’t be the only project the team is committing themselves to while it’s being built. That doesn’t mean it will receive any less attention than it deserves – what it means is that we won’t be delivering your site in the 3 weeks from now date you first had in mind.

We have overheads to pay too. Okay, so that isn’t the most mind-boggling revelation but people do overlook this. When we can, we want to meet you face to face and understand you and your business. We prepare for those meetings, we meet at those meetings and then we learn from those meeting – that’s a few hours right there to factor in.

can you just ass this in as well for me?

So when you’ve built it you’ll add bits to it for me, right?

Of course we will, as per our Service Level Agreement (SLA). In short, this is a document we develop which outlines a mutual agreement regarding subsequent update costs, services, priorities, responsibilities, guarantees and warranties. Our SLA’s are tailored to our client’s needs and requirements to ensure everyone’s happy. For example, we might factor in x amount of updates to be included in the initial build cost, or we might offer a fixed amount of updates at a reduced rate. This is definitely an area to bear in mind if you’ve found yourself an űber-cheap designer to knock your page up.

How much does a website cost then?

If you want a site that is designed, coded and implemented by qualified experts, that takes into account usability, functionality and accessibility, which complies with current regulations and applies current techniques, then you’ll be looking at very similar costs to ours! If we seem reluctant to give a price, it’s because we are. If you’re still wondering, get in touch with us and we can have a chat about what you want, what you need and indeed, what it might cost.

Copyright 2009 Turbo Lemon Media Ltd. 4th Floor, Media Factory, UCLan, Preston, Lancashire, PR1 2HE. UK Company No: 6649279.

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