FAQ - Website Design & Development
How much does it cost to build a website?
It depends on what you want. If you search online, you'll see prices ranging from as little as $995 for a starter website to tens of thousands of dollars for a large site with all the bells and whistles.
A few years ago a prospective client was referred to us after they were quoted a price of $90,000 by a competing web development firm. We sat down with this prospective client and determined we could develop what they wanted for a fraction of that amount. Obviously they hired us, and they got exactly what they wanted--but for substantially less than $90k.
Most of the sites we develop for clients are less than $10,000 ... often between $3,000-6,000. Every so often we do larger projects like the one mentioned above. But the vast majority of sites we develop are well within the range of what most small businesses can afford.
For more information on website pricing, please click here.
What factors determine the cost to build a website?
Two things >> volume and customization.
Volume is simply the # of pages on your site. All things being equal, a 10-page website is going to be less expensive to develop than a 95-page site.
Customization can apply to numerous aspects of a web development project. For example ...
- Custom content. Do you already have written content for your site or does it have to be developed from scratch? Is your existing content kind of "rough", needing a lot of editing and refinement?
- Custom design. Are you wanting a highly unique or unusual layout for your site that'll require modification to the standard site architecture of the theme we are using to develop your site?
- Custom images and graphics. Do your images and graphics require specialized Photoshop effects, above and beyond standard cropping and resizing?
- Custom programming. Does your site require integration and rigorous testing with a 3rd-party application like a shopping cart or client scheduling system?
It's totally fine if you want a high degree of customization for your site. Just know that it will increase the overall cost of your project.
How does the web development process work?
Building a website is a lot like building a house. There are multiple, well-defined steps. Here’s how our website development process works:
- Diagnosis. What’s not working? What don’t you like about your current site? How would you like your new site to look and function?
- Discovery. What media and assets do you currently have to work with to build your new site? What’s missing and still needs to be gathered or created?
- Content. This is where we map out your website content so you project a strong, coherent message that explains who you are and what you do.
- Design. In the design phase we draft the blueprint (i.e. create a mockup) for your new website so you can see what it’s going to look like and make any changes before it’s actually built.
- Develop. At this point your work is done. Now it’s in the hands of the web developer where they’ll actually build your site.
- Launch. Once your site is built and thoroughly tested, it’s time to go live on the internet.
Start to finish, our website projects typically take 30-60 days. If it takes longer than this, it’s usually due to a delay in our client getting us the media (ad copy, images, videos, etc) we need to build their site.
For additional information, get a free copy of Mark Brinker’s book, “The Modern Website Makeover”. (Note: The information in Mark’s book is valid for website redesigns as well as brand new website construction.)
Do you build new websites from scratch or only redesign existing websites?
We do both.
What’s your website design/development philosophy?
It’s always a balance between form and function. Obviously you want your site to look good, but you also want it to provide prospects with useful information. The goal of your site is always to establish trust and credibility, and to demonstrate that you can genuinely help them solve their problem or help them get the result they’re looking for.
The 3 biggest problems we see with websites are:
- It's all glitz and glamour, with very little substance. Sure, it might be a pretty website with dazzling graphics and special effects but it’s very thin on useful, helpful content. I'll bet you know a few *human beings* that fit this description. :-)
- It looks like it was built by a 6th grader. Either the business owner thought they couldn’t afford professional help with their site or they thought, “How hard could this be?”, so they tried to build their site themselves. In either case, the result is an amateurish site that makes them look bad and turns off prospective clients.
- It's a confusing, frustrating user experience. The site is (a) unorganized, or (b) slow to load, or (c) not user-friendly. In general, it's just not a pleasant experience. Remember, people begin to form their opinion about you as they interact with your website. Do you really want prospective clients leaving your website with a feeling of “yuck” about you or your business?
This sites we build for clients are modern and stylish, but they’re also engineered to provide visitors with a good user experience (UX). We also take tremendous pride in our craftsmanship and attention to detail which means your site is built to last.
What types of clients do you typically work with?
Small business owners and professional service providers – the kind that are routinely ignored and underserved by large web development firms. Our clients come from a variety of industries including medical, dental, financial, spa/salon, industrial/manufacturing to name a few.
Do I have to be in the Detroit area to work with you?
No. All of our work can be done remotely. In fact, we have clients here locally in the Detroit area that we’ve never met in person.
What forms of payment do you accept?
Credit card, PayPal or company check. Cash in a brown paper bag works, too. We're not picky.
Do I pay upfront for your services?
You can but it’s not required. If you do decide to pay the full project amount upfront, you will receive a pre-payment discount and save yourself a few dollars.
Do you offer financing?
Yes. Financing is available to qualified clients.
Is there an objective way to determine if I need a website redesign?”
Yes. We have a detailed blog post titled, "How To Decide When It’s Time For A Website Redesign" that will help you answer this question. This blog post also contains a comprehensive Website Redesign Checklist to help you assess and score your site.
Why shouldn't I just build my website with an inexpensive site builder like Wix, SquareSpace, GoDaddy or Weebly?
Maybe you should. That's for you to decide. However, here are some things you need to be aware of:
- The rug can be pulled out from under you at any time. Companies like Wix can take your site down at any time and for any reason. You’re never in full control. Your site is built on their property, not yours. It's like building a house on property you don't own, knowing that your family could be forced to move at any time. Your fate lies completely in the hands of that property owner.
- Limited design customization. Yes, these types of site builders have lots of themes to choose from, but once your site is built you can't change your theme. You're stuck with it. In addition, it may be difficult if not impossible to customize your theme exactly as you'd like.
- Search engine optimization. Not all designs are SEO-friendly. Getting ranked in a search engine like Google can take months of time and effort. So you need to make sure your website is compatible with your SEO efforts right out of the gate, otherwise a lot of hard work could be wasted.
- Limited expandability. You cannot install 3rd-party plugins (like Gravity Forms or Envira Gallery, for example) to add new features and custom functionality to your site. Your choices are limited to what they give you.
- Your site is not portable. When you use a company like Wix, SquareSpace, GoDaddy or Weebly you are building your site with their proprietary technology that only works on their system. It's not universally compatible. So if you outgrow their capabilities or you decide you want to move your site to a different web hosting provider at some point in the future, you'll have to rebuild your entire website from scratch.
- You're pretty much on your own. Sure, there are documents and manuals you can read. And I'm sure limited tech support is available. But if you're not a "techie" person, and you don't have the time or desire to figure it all out, you're going to be much better off hiring a professional that knows what they're doing -- and you'll thank me later.
Why is it so important to have a good website?
Two words – trust and credibility. If you want colleagues and prospective clients to take you seriously, you need a modern, professional website. In addition, if you want to use any type of digital advertising or marketing to promote your business online, you’re going to need a good website.
What exactly does responsive web design mean?
A responsive website means that it “responds” and automatically adapts to the size of the device it’s being viewed on. Specifically, that means a responsive site is easy to read and navigate whether you’re viewing it on a desktop, tablet or phone.
Why do I need a mobile responsive website?
Having a website that’s not mobile responsive (i.e. mobile-friendly) is one of the quickest ways to make people feel you’re behind the times and out of touch. It’s all about perception.
- A 2016 report from comScore shows that 65% of all digital media time is spent on mobile and 35% on desktop.
- In late 2016 the mobile tipping point was reached, meaning mobile/tablet internet usage overtook desktop usage for the first time worldwide.
A mobile-ready website is no longer “a nice thing to have”. People now expect to have a good experience when visiting your website on their phone.
What if I don’t have photos for my website?
Then you’ll need to get some because in 2017 your site absolutely needs pictures. There are 3 ways to get images for your site:
- Buy them. You can purchase affordable, high-quality, royalty-free images from sites like BigStockPhoto, iStockPhoto or ShutterStock.
- Take them yourself. The cameras on today’s smartphones are amazing. It’s entirely possible to quickly and inexpensively get all the photos (and videos) you’ll ever need with just your phone.
- Hire a professional. If it’s in your budget, you can always hire a professional photographer or videographer to produce the digital media needed for your site.
Are you easy to get in contact with?
Yes. You can get in touch with us via phone or email very easily during normal business hours, Mon-Fri, 8am-6pm (E).
Do you respond to requests quickly?
Yes. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, clients can always expect a reply from us within 1 business day – and usually the same day.
How long have you been a web development firm?
Mark Brinker & Associates was established in 2011. Mark Brinker himself has been designing and developing business websites since 1999.
Do you listen to ideas from the customer or just design the website you envision?
We TOTALLY want to build the type of site you want. But if you’re not exactly sure what you want, we’re more than happy to provide you with ideas and recommendations. The best sites we build are always when our clients are engaged and we collaborate.
Why do you use StudioPress themes exclusively to build clients' sites?
It's not that we haven't developed sites with themes from other developers. We have. Lots of them. Avada, Karma, Thesis, Divi ... to name a few.
The reasons why we like StudioPress are:
- Well-engineered on the inside. Solid, clean code "under the hood". It's build on the Genesis framework which powers over 500,000 sites. Seamlessly works with most 3rd-party plugins and integrations.
- Well-designed on the outside. StudioPress has some of the most talented designers in the industry creating sites that are both modern & stylish, as well as functional and highly-customizable.
- Solid company. The digital landscape is constantly changing and you want a company like StudioPress that's going to be around to support their products and update them when needed. There's no worse feeling than when a company suddenly goes out of business leaving you high and dry to fend for yourself.
- Consistency. All WordPress themes are not created equal and theme developers have their own way of doing things such as internal coding and organization of their sites. When you build and support as many client sites as we do, it's important to have consistency to maintain a smooth and steady workflow. Consistency is also important for quickly answering clients' questions if they are self-managing their own sites. We want to know exactly where everything is located and how it works. And if we're ever thrown a curveball, there's a huge developer community well-versed in StudioPress themes and the Genesis framework.
Do you build all of your clients’ websites using the WordPress platform?
What is WordPress?
Think of WordPress as the “operating system” of your website, just like a desktop PC uses Windows as its operating system or an iPhone uses iOS or a Samsung Galaxy uses Android. WordPress is simply the platform we use exclusively to build websites, and it’s used on millions of sites worldwide.
Who creates the content for my new website?
Ultimately our client is responsible for the content on their site. However, from years of experience we know that developing content can be very difficult for 3 reasons:
- How do you know what to write? When you’re an expert at what you do it’s hard to remember what it was like to not know what you currently know. Some call this the Curse of Knowledge. So you end of staring at a blank computer screen for hours with Writer’s Block wondering what information is important to prospective clients.
- It’s very time-consuming. If you’ve ever produced content, I mean a really good epic piece of valuable content you know how time consuming it is with all the edits (and re-edits and further re-edits). A 2,000 word piece of high quality content can easily take 10-15 hours or more.
- It requires a lot mental bandwidth. Producing content for your website whether it be text, audio or video requires loads of focused thought to communicate a clear, coherent message. But if you’re already running on fumes between your responsibilities at work as well as at home, it’s going to be hard to generate the mental energy needed to create the caliber of content your website deserves.
For these reasons, we offer services to help our clients develop professional-grade content for their site.
Do you offer email setup with your web hosting services?
Yes. We provide our clients with step-by-step tutorial videos to help them quickly set up and begin using their POP3 email accounts we provide as part of their web hosting package.
If you want to have your email synced between all your devices, many of our clients are very happy using Office 365 Mail (aka Office 365 Business Essentials) from Microsoft for only $5/mo. If you need help setting up your Office 365 Mail, our tech support team can assist you for a nominal fee.
Will my website have technology that will last for several years?
Yes. Unless some new technology unexpectedly comes out of nowhere and takes the world by storm, your website technology will be good for years.
What exactly is a CMS (Content Management System)?
A CMS allows you to add, remove or update content on your website without high level technical training. WordPress is an example of a CMS.
Do you outsource your work to overseas workers or do you do everything in house?
We do not outsource our work to overseas workers. All work is performed either in-house by us or occasionally with the assistance of experienced subcontractors/specialists based here in the U.S.
What exactly is web hosting?
In order for your website to be live on the internet, it needs to be hosted on a web server. It’s kind of like if you want to build a house (i.e. website), you need a piece of land (i.e. web hosting) to build your house on.
Do you offer hosting services for my website?
Yes. We offer managed website hosting for our clients so they don’t have to waste time messing around with confusing web technology.
Is your website hosting fast and reliable?
Yes. Our server hardware has more than enough power for 99% of our clients. If and when your website starts getting tons of traffic, we can always upgrade you to a higher capacity web server to handle the increased demand.
Do you have security to protect against viruses and hackers?
Yes. We take website security very seriously because unfortunately small business websites are now regular targets of hackers and malware bots. So we install active malware monitoring software on all sites we host, and employ other industry best practices to keep our clients’ sites secure.
How do I update and manage my website after it launches?”
There are two ways to handle this:
- For tech-savvy clients wanting to make updates and add new content to their site themselves, we can show you what to do via an online virtual meeting and/or provide you with access to detailed video tutorials.
- For those clients who cringe at the thought of learning the technical skills needed to update and maintain their site, or simply don’t have the time (or desire), we can manage your site for you.