We’re pretty sure that there are dozens upon, dozens of articles dedicated to this topic. And we’re sure advice on building and purchasing a web site has been covered at nausea by “dozens of companies”:http://www.cairril.com/articles/webdesigner.html. But we here at Armadillo Studios thought we’d provide our own little spin on the topic. So here is the first part of our three part series:


*Shopping For a Web Site? Six Useful Tips for Businesses Looking to Set-Up a Web Site.*

1. What Should You Look for in a Designer/Studio?

First and foremost when looking to hire a Web Designer/Studio, you have to remember that you are not paying for the Web Site itself, but for your _Design Studio (or Designer’s) experience and time_.

This is probably the biggest conceptual block we run across when people inquire about our services.

It is a given that most of our economy functions by paying for physical products. For example, a basic white T-shirt has universally accepted cost of about $15 dollars, so you expect to pay anywhere between $10-20 dollars for your basic run of the mill white T-Shirt. If you pay $1.50 for the T-shirt you know its bad quality and you would only pay $200 for a white T-shirt if it was something really, really special.

Unfortunately, Web Site Design is *a service* rather than a product based industry. Sure your Web Designer/Studio will produce a product (_A Web Site, Business Cards, Banners, etc.,_), but the price you’ll be paying is for the _service the company provides_, rather than the web site itself. While that might appear to be the same thing as the T-Shirt examples, the truth is that they are two different ideas.

So with that in mind, a web site from a large established design firm is going to cost you far more than the same web site from a struggling freelancer. It could be the same amount of pages, content and functionality, but again you’re paying for *their* experience, expertise and time.

It’s best to find a studio/designer that you feel comfortable with. Explore their portfolio and previous work. Visit the sites they have previously built. Look to see how active these sites are? Are the current customers using these sites on a constant basis? Search the designer/studio’s name in your favorite Search Engine. Do they have any published articles or blog posts that explain some of their philosophies?

*Armadillo Tip*: _The business cards of any potential studio/designer are a great gauge of the type of product you can expect._

_The swankier and more detail orientated the appearance of the business cards the greater likely hood of a decent product. Rounded corners, imaginative colors, a good stock quality, and a nice finish will demonstrate their commitment to detail. Also be sure to check their email address. Is it a generic email address (hotmail.com, gmail.com, or yahoo.com) or is it a company email address. A studio/designer with their own domain and email address is more likely to provide you with a great product. Plus, if they can’t even create-up their own email account, what makes you think they’ll be able to set-up an account for you?_

2. So How Much Should You Spend on a Web Site?

The first thing you’ll notice about every _studio/agency web site_ is that they *never* reveal their rates and or have a *fixed price for a web site*.

It may seem like that we only do this to be elitist and mysterious; but the truth of the matter is you can’t put a standard quantitative price on our industries services.

For example a four page web site can potentially require far more billable hours than a 10-15 page web site. It all depends on the features, layout, requirements and design. Therefore most reputable companies won’t provide a flat rate, but will charge a hourly rate based on the requirements.

Does that answer the question? Not really? Okay.

So if your looking for a good quality web site, one that will let you standout above your competition, expect to pay somewhere in the *thousands rather than hundreds*. Be very weary of any company that promises a site and hosting for $500. It will be a waste of money, a major headache and you’ll eventually have to contact a more established studio/designer in a few months.

Trust us on this we’ve rescued a few clients in the two years that we’ve been operational.

*Armadillo Tip*: _If you need a web site and you don’t have that much money to spend, we suggest that you stake out your nearest Art College/Graphic Design school._

_Hey! Art school is expensive and those plus those kids are dying for experience. They’ll be able to provide you with some high quality work for a little bit of cash and another piece to bump up their portfolio_.

The 2nd article in this series will discuss “The Difference between Flash & HTML web sites and What Trends you need to know about”:http://www.armadillostudios.ca/shopping-for-a-web-site-part-2/.