You wouldn't phone up a plumber and say "Please can you give me a quote on a small plumbing job", and then expect him/her to get back to you with an exact figure and how long it's going to take him/her. Web design company, however face this obstacle from a good 80% of their clients. A potential client will email/phone up a web designer and say "what will you charge to design me a small website? And when can you have it done by?" If you want a concise quote, you will need to give them a concise brief, and here's how...
What Type of Website is it?
First specify what type of website you're after...HTML, Flash, database enabled or e-commerce. HTML would be your average standard website. Flash would be 'flashy' with animation, database enabled is for either very large catalogue type websites or websites that the owner would like to be able to update themselves, and for forums, portals, blogs etc. E-commerce web design is for online shopping capability.
Do you Have/Need a Domain or Web Host?
If you do not already have a domain name or web host, chances are your website design company either offers this service or will have contacts in this field and will be able to organize this for you at a decent rate. But first you need to ask yourself if you really need it. If the website is an intranet (internal company website...not viewable on the World Wide Web), you will not need a domain or a webhost. All you will need here is to confirm with your IT department whether they are able to host the site on the company server. If, however, the website does need to be viewable by the World Wide Web, you will need firstly a domain, which would be the website address, usually yourcompanyname.com and a webhost, which is the permanently on-line server that the physical files of your website will be located on. A domain name has a yearly fee and the price depends on the extension (.com .net .org .co. in etc) and what marks up you are charged by whoever registers it for you. A webhost will also charge you on a monthly basis, and prices vary drastically.
How Many Pages?
Determining this is not as easy as it sounds...many clients make the mistake by counting the number of sections they want on the site and imagining this will be the number of pages. A page is defined by every time you click on a link and see different information in the browser. So, if you have a product page, with three products on, that when the user clicks on the product they see more information, then you already have four pages. Usually web design company will charge you less for a sub page than a main section page, so a good, concise way to ask for a brief is to state how many main sections the website will have and how many pages per section.
Does it need to be Marketed?
Do you require it to be optimized for search engines and have it submitted to engines and directories? A good web design company will keep search engines in mind when they are designing and optimize it for this purpose, but actually submitting it to engines and directories is quite time consuming and usually requires an extra cost. Also submission is not a once off task, and in order for good rankings to be obtained, you will need to contract the web design company to do submissions on a regular basis. Every 2 or 3 months is a good option, but anything more regular than that can result in penalization from engines.
In terms text, will you supply the content? If not, perhaps the web design company offers copywriting or has contacts in the copywriting industry...either way, it will more than likely cost you extra. Pictures especially can be a pricey ordeal, if you yourself are not supplying them but want specific pictures included. Unless the web designer offers photographic services, he/she will have to purchase the pictures from a stock art company.
Would you like your website designed for a specific resolution? The industry standard is 1024x768 but is slowly shifting to 1360x768. If you have an entirely flash website, it can be scaled up or down to fit any resolution, but the drawback is that many search engines can't read flash so your ranking will suffer. Another way to achieve this scaling is if your websites design company uses relatively sized tables in the design, but this is not always possible and it almost always looks bad in the very high resolutions of 1600x1200. The best option is to ask your web designer to design for either 1024x768 or 1360x768 but to centre the website in the browser with attractive scalable borders. This way your site will look great in all resolutions, and it avoids the problem of that stretched look.
Here's a brief checklist to go through before asking for a quote or supplying a brief...
- Is it going to be plain HTML, Flash, Database enabled or e-commerce?
- Are you in need of a domain and/or web host?
- Exactly how many sections, subsections and pages are there going to be?
- Do you need your site submitted to engines & directories?
- Are you going to supply all the content?
- What resolution would you like the site to be designed for?