Nowadays all businesses need to have a website of some kind. Whether that is a comprehensive online store or a simple splash page with company information and a way to contact them. But what frustrates the shit out of us is how website design companies prey on unknowing business owners selling them inferior website developments for way too much money.
The process usually goes like this. A local business contacts a website design company and says “how much does it cost to get a website made for us?” And then the design company provides a quote without any context on how they came up with the quote or what’s involved. As the local business is not hip to what’s involved with developing a website correctly, they get confused with all the technical jargon and buy into the geek speak instead of really understanding what they are getting for their money.
To answer the question ‘how much does it cost to build a website’ you must have the same mindset of ‘how much does it cost to build a house.’ Obviously there are tons of variables depending on what the local business needs for their website. It is the responsibility of website design companies to explain things in a way that makes sense. Using language that anyone can understand.
Now, getting back to things to keep in mind when getting a website designed for yourself. You will want to have the designer create a treegraph for you to show you how customers interact with your website and how the layout and sections will drive them to purchasing or contacting behaviours. If the designer you are working with does not understand this, they do not know what they are doing and you should find another designer to work with.
Basic Steps to Getting a Website Designed Correctly
- Meet with the design company on the phone or video conference and explain your business to them, they should write down the key points and create a flow of content and calls to actions that will best serve your needs, after which they can give you a written quotation before the next steps
- After the phone call the design company should send you a rough treegraph of what they feel the website will look like, from which you can create text and visual content to fill in the appropriate places and frame the user experience, at this stage you approve the website design costs
- While framing the website layout you will come up with ideas for unique semantic rich text content to best build trust with your customers while getting them to do purchasing or contacting actions, this part helps with local seo in Google and Bing
- Now once all of this theory is finished and you have your logo and branding ready in hand (not necessarily created by the website design company), you will want to pay the web designer a 50% deposit on the work that they will be doing for you, make sure to get this all in writing in advance before payment
- The website designer will then create a rough website for you, and include you on the decision making processes, do not pay any more money until you see a rough finished website that you can interact with on a test server environment
- Once you are happy with this pay another 25% of the total and hold onto the 25% last payment until the very end when you are happy with the end results, never pay for a website design in full up front from the onset, that’s a sure fire way to get ripped off
- Your website should work on mobile and desktop devices and be usable in all browsers and viewing environments, that is a necessity nowadays and any good website design company will be able to handle that for you, plus you should be able to update content such as blog posts easily yourself after the designer gives you the final website, any good content management system will allow this
- You want to make sure your website loads in under 2 seconds, everything is easy to understand and interact with, and your business contact information is available on every page of the website, that way no matter how people are reading they can contact you easily
Of course there is much more to doing a website then the bullet points above, but those are the key things to keep in mind for a local business such as a mechanic, plumber or restaurant. Always ask for referrals from previous design work that the company may have completed and never pay more then 50% up front to get to see a live working website on a test server.
It grinds our gears how much the website design industry takes advantage of local business owners who do not know better. As a business owner here in North Vancouver if you feel something isn’t right or it’s not being explained to you in a way that you can understand, always listen to your heart and demand a detailed explanation before money leaves your hands.
Lastly, you are in control of your website, hosting, domain and brand. Make sure the domain and website hosting is setup in your name so in the future you can use any website designer to make changes to your website. The designer does not need to own those assets or control them. If the design company you are working with wants monthly payments (outside of maintenance) or if they want to register the hosting or domains in their name, that’s not advisable.
In this feature we get to chat with the team at SparkLabs who will be working with our local business contacts to provide website design services and other supporting areas. Checkout the interview we did with founder Michael Sanghara to get to know their company better and consider working with them for your website needs.
*Make sure to mention that Lonsdale Avenue Magazine sent you to them to get the best prices and priority service.
How did SparkLabs get started and what is your vision for the company?
SparkLabs was brought to fruition with the vision of helping Business Owners (like us) who wanted good exposure online for their respective community and audience in the noisy digital era. Ever been to a car mechanic or computer store where you felt ripped off or talked down to because you didn’t understand the language and jargon of the industry? We did too! Everyone is a respective genius in their own field, and we wanted to bring about an agency that cared for their clients, empathized with their pain points and made the process of building websites and digital presence a seamless process. For far too long, web design, digital marketing, and branding have been a hire and fire industry. We built SparkLabs as a company that bridged those gaps by managing clear expectations, being fully transparent, educational, and priding ourselves on good ethics and integrity. Our team is full of passionate and purpose driven souls who share this vision from a heart-centric place and who are committed to results.
What are the website design and development services that you offer to your customers?
We have an array of different solutions for different customers depending on their needs. We even offer a brainstorming session to help our clients get more clarity and understand what they need for their website project, whether it’s with us or another company (we are all about providing the best insight and value so they can make the best decision to take forward).
We offer simple 3 page sites that get the job done, while being aesthetic, industry focused, and is always mobile friendly. We also offer a few different tiers of more professional and complex websites for multiple pages all the way up to a top tier site that has all the UX and UI intentionality with many rounds of revisions to get a clients vision down pat. Even more complex sites we’ve built include tech applications, educational platforms (with tests and certificates), public company portfolio websites, publications and e-commerce.
What are some popular trends in user experience optimization currently?
There has been a shift in creating more minimalist websites that are really sharp, clean and easy to navigate through. Some other trends in 2021 for websites we have been keen on is an inclusion of retro fonts, abstract art compositions, parallax animations, horizontal scrolling, 3d visuals and icons, and great multimedia experiences. However, we generally like to tailor our web designs according to several factors including industry, demographics, target audience, buyer personas, and of course, client requirements. We believe each industry is unique in the way we structure and optimize the user experience.
When onboarding a new customer for a website build, what does that process look like?
Firstly, we take only half of the payment up front and the latter half at the end of the project scope when the client is satisfied. From here, the onboarding form and the process depends on the type of website tier the client purchases. Generally, for simpler web design projects, we fill out an onboarding form together with the client (through Zoom these days) that captures their ideas with a thorough and clear process of determining who the end user is, the objective and intention of the site, and any other functions that may be required.
For a more complex web design project, we provide wireframes of different layouts first, given that creativity and vision are subjective. We like to make sure that we are crystal clear on what the client is after, so we start with an onboarding form that dives deeper into a rabbit hole of questions to get them thinking from both an analytical or logical mind and also from a creative angle.
In any tier, we gather all that data and begin the building phase. Content (written and images) are generally last in the process as those can be easier to maneuver when all the other moving parts and functionalities are handled. Once the client agrees on the final product, the last half of the payment is obtained.
Why do you feel that doing a SWOT analysis is a critical aspect of a successful website?
The SWOT analysis is done from multiple perspectives on our team (generally at least one analytical mind and a creative individual). Taking an objective stance, our team dissects and highlights the business edges and strengths and makes them very prominent as the first thing showcased on the website. Weaknesses allow us to know which service or areas of the business we need to put next to attention towards (example if they don’t have any or minimal social media, we wouldn’t post the icons anywhere too visible). Opportunities give way to vision and mission pages that emphasize what the company is moving towards and how they are adaptive and forward thinking, if the case may be. Threats give us another way to understand and frame words that lean away from fear and towards trust and sustainability.
What are the main benefits to a well designed and functional business website?
It gives customers a good indication of how your business is run – a fast quality website generally means a fast and quality driven experience or service when they show up to your storefront. Especially during these unusual times, a website is like a virtual office or storefront. On average, most people visit websites more often from their mobile phones, so we make it a priority to test and build experiences that are seamless for mobile, desktop and even tablets.
Why do you primarily work with the WordPress content management system for websites?
WordPress has a lot of themes and customized plugins that can be manipulated. So in a sense, it’s pretty much, custom coded (unless you have hundreds of thousands of users). WordPress is great for mobile designed websites (and yes we intentionally build them for mobile and tablets – not just selecting mobile-responsive on the back end – because that just slightly adjusts things) so that customers have a very user-friendly and simple site to navigate through when using their phones. WordPress is also much more Google or search engine friendly than the Wix or Squarespace platforms. So all in all, WordPress is the most cost effective and value driven way to build a website in today’s day and age. It still requires a lot of tedious work, and is not easy for the average person to figure out, unless it’s so simple of a site. Even then so, it can be quite frustrating and very time consuming to get the simplest stuff out there.
How is your company different than other companies in your space here in Vancouver?
At SparkLabs, we are hyper focused and committed to results. We do not over promise or guarantee results (when it comes to digital marketing). We combine the feeling of a small business (our team is a family) with the results, communications and systems of a large agency to deliver home runs for our clients. At every step of the way, we are dialed in, we believe in building trust built relationships and the refreshing power of honesty. We set clear expectations so that no one is left in the dark, and we teach and guide our clients with thoughtful simple ways of explaining the complex.
Outside of operating SparkLabs, what do you get up to for activities in your free time?
Outside of work, I enjoy playing sports – hockey, beach volleyball, spike ball, and kickboxing to name a few. I love to R&R (rest and relax) too and take time to meditate, do performing arts, and read about psychology, fiction, and business (social entrepreneurship & philanthropreneurship). Spending time with my family, friends and my tribe is of highest priority in my life whether it’s playing board games (katan, chess, and monopoly are my favs) or cooking good food and enjoying each other’s presence. I choose to live a life of service and adventure – playing games with patients at GF Strong, skydiving, swimming with sharks, I’ve flown a plane, and I look forward to knocking more items off the bucket list. I love to Visit good vineyards, I’m a big foodie and also a scotch connoisseur. I love music of all genres – 90’s rock, jazz, hip hop, 60’s rock, house music, and even classical. I also take a deep interest in personal development, spiritual courses and workshops, masterminds, and retreats. To me, life is all about learning, exploring our passions and living by purpose.
Lastly, is there anything else you would like our readers to know about you or your business?
Yes, we are an agency that specializes in web design, and also online advertising and branding (through social media platforms). We generally love to work with a client from the web design side of things first, as we believe in building long term, loyal relationships built on truth, good ethics, and integrity. From the internal side, we are huge on building a company culture around fun, love and performance. We care deeply about our team, our clients and our community.
For more info and to get a quote or ask questions visit their website
Connect with them using social media app Instagram
Office location is #300 – 1055 W Hastings St in Vancouver
Customer service is email@example.com or 604 999 5795