Here are answers to some of the most commonly-asked questions about bespoke design, how it works and the costs involved.
How does the design process work?
The first step is to define what you need and the scope of the job: usually we would do this with a phone conversation, though it is possible to communicate by email if that’s more practical. I then put together some initial ideas that are sent on approval and you can decide based on them whether you want to continue and commit to the work.
Using your feedback the preferred design is then refined to adjust the layout, choice of images, colours and fonts. This feedback can continue for as many rounds as you feel comfortable with and at each stage you will be kept aware of costs, so the amount of time we spend here is very much in your hands.
Once the design is ready it needs to be applied, with a working version built online and tested to make sure it behaves properly in the most common web browsers and across a range of desktop, tablet and mobile devices. This is usually the largest part of the work.
Once we’re all happy with how it looks the new design needs to be built onto your own live website and any relevant changes to the content on its pages carried out. Finally, the design needs to be validated and the job signed off.
Are there limits to how much we can change?
While bespoke design gives us a lot of flexibility to change the way a website looks, once we are finished you still need to be able to edit it without the site ‘breaking’; that places some limits on what is possible. We also need to make sure important things like search engine optimisation remain untouched, or if possible are improved.
Have a look at these websites which are all built onto the same basic architecture and see if you can tell where there are common elements to them all, and where bespoke design has been used to create a very different, unique look:
What are the costs of bespoke design?
All of my work is charged at £35 per hour.
The examples above all use the Social ColourMAX theme, which offers an improved viewing experience for people with mobile devices as well as a more sophisticated layout for desktop users. As an average work on bespoke Social ColourMAX designs takes 9-14 hours, plus image costs. This is quite a broad estimate though as image sourcing and customisation, artworking and content work are often integral to this theme and vary in the amount of input they require.
This estimate also doesn’t include adding content to the individual pages of the website which the client usually manages at their end, though I can help with this, with styling content or with adding other features like location maps, videos or a contact form.
If you are looking to keep to a more limited budget it is possible to make changes to the Social ColourMAX theme that are focussed around styling, fonts and colours, rather than building a new layout. These kinds of jobs usually take somewhere from 5-8 hours, and here are some examples:
Note that I give a guide to the cost of a job based on past experience and supposing an average amount of client contact, but work is charged to the time spent.
How are the costs spread out?
Here are the four main areas of cost, with some detail of the work involved:
Initial ideas and client feedback are turned into something visual that can be discussed and developed: if a design is going to include signature banner images or a picture-based theme, work on that would probably begin now. This stage is the most open part of the job and costs depend to a large extent on the degree of client feedback and the number of revisions we make to a design, as we work towards a final version.
The agreed design becomes a working test website. It is finished and broken down into its parts, the layout is planned and built for desktop, tablet and mobile sizes and the graphics and styling are added to bring it all together. The design is tested across a wide range of devices and screens, so any troubleshooting is carried out before going live. As the descriptions suggests, this is usually the biggest part of the work in terms of cost.
If the website is going to include a map, a form for client contact, payment options like Paypal or embedded video like YouTube, this would be called content work. Image sourcing can also be included here if pictures are intended to go onto individual pages, though image work often has more bearing on the overall look of the site and would be considered as part of that.
This is about explaining and discussing the process of design and the ideas we are exploring, where we go with those ideas and being unambiguous on any feedback and changes. Communicating what is happening across a job and being concise and clear in any discussion is as important as the work itself.
Note that advice, feedback and support provided by email or phone is a charged part of any design.
How long does it take?
Some clients know what they want and like to work quickly or to a deadline; others prefer to be more considered in their responses or are involved in group decisions. I usually try to work to a client’s pace, though the length of time a job takes can depend on a few variable factors:
- producing original artwork or photography
- sourcing and agreeing on images or other material for the design that can require extra rounds of feedback
- novel layouts or additions to page content like forms or payment options, which can require testing and troubleshooting
For a fully bespoke website a couple of weeks is about the minimum time needed, working at a relatively fast pace; budget design options are usually a bit quicker by nature. In the end though it’s best to invest time and money wisely and avoid the temptation to rush.
Can I edit my website after the work is finished?
If you have a 'content management' website a new bespoke design does not affect the ability to edit its pages; if possible the design work will look to enhance some of the more important aspects of your site like readability, clear layout and search engine optimisation.
A website's design repeats itself on every page and automatically appears on any new pages that are added, so in that respect there shouldn't be any need for fresh design work in the future. If we are basing your new design around the use of images it's worth keeping in mind that you might want to add more pages to your site in the future though, and plan for that by having some extra pictures spare, just in case.