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Author Topic: Web Site Development Costs  (Read 4859 times)
Remo Nonaz
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« on: April 04, 2012, 12:16:47 PM »
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I have been thinking about a photography-related buisness idea and have gone so far as to begin a writing a business plan. One of the key items I would need is a web site, which would need to be fairly sophisticated - certainly much more complicated than anything I could even dream of cobbling together. However, I have no idea what this would cost to have developed.

Are there guidelines or rules of thumb that can be used for budgeting web site development? What is the best way to approach web site development?

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I really enjoy using old primes on my m4/3 camera. There's something about having to choose your aperture and actually focusing your camera that makes it so much more like... like... PHOTOGRAPHY!
michael
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« Reply #1 on: April 04, 2012, 02:55:46 PM »
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There's no simple or single answer to that. A lot can be put together from inexpensive and open source components, but even then it takes a good developer to make it all work, and then there will be ongoing maintenance costs.

Custom development can cost $10-$20,000 / month, and take as much as six months to a year. It really all depends on the scope of the work.

My suggestion would be to search out a custom web developer nearby and sit down with them for a day or so to scope out the project. It will cost a bit, but help scale the project meaningfully.

Michael
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Justan
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« Reply #2 on: April 06, 2012, 09:23:28 AM »
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Michael has it covered fairly well. DO NOT be afraid to pay for the consultation time but most developers will offer a free initial consult and from that you should be able to get a fair approximation of costs and time involvement.

Find 2 or 3 local developers and talk with them about your plans. Sometimes ISPs offer this service and other times developers can be found………well……nearly everywhere. Try the local art schools, post an ad at a nearby community college or U.

Sometimes one can partner with a developer to save some initial cost in trade for a piece of the action later on.

Note that once someone plays with web design and actually produces a web page, they become a web “developer” or “architect” almost as fast as someone becomes a “photographer” after buying their first dslr. So definitely go with someone who has several sites under their belt.
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Tom Frerichs
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« Reply #3 on: April 06, 2012, 12:18:41 PM »
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Note that once someone plays with web design and actually produces a web page, they become a web “developer” or “architect” almost as fast as someone becomes a “photographer” after buying their first dslr. So definitely go with someone who has several sites under their belt.


Also make sure that the developer will be around next year...and the year after. The fancier the site, the more the maintenance work that may be necessary.

Tom
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Johnny_Boy
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« Reply #4 on: April 06, 2012, 03:02:50 PM »
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What do you need to do with the website? Much of the stuff can be purchased "cheaply" and configured to your needs. I won't write anything from scratch. But pre-made packages that are closed to what you are looking for. Assuming you are doing something that has been already done.
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AndreG
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« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2012, 05:55:49 AM »
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I have written quite a few. If you do not require other than an English site then as Michael points out. There are specialized services that cater to photographers needs. If you need special needs then, open you pocket book or save time and give it to the Developper right away... Smiley One wedding photographer's site took a year and a half before full optimisation was successfull, pleased the photographer and the site was making the telephone ring on a constant basis.

Plan your interview with a Developper, come in with a plan, a storyboard will save you money and time. Dont hold back when you meet him. Your first costs will be the developpement, the media (the web browsers, cells, ipad...) then modifications, the webhoster (They are not equal, a 5$ a month does beging to cover your real needs) based on the technologies, the services you requirer from the webhoster, the use of the webhoster server, the size of the photos equal storage size, static or dynamic site, the cost of creditcard services, etc.

No, I am not trying to discourage you. Just pointing out some questions to ask depending on your projet.

In conclusion, say it all but develop your project in integrated modules. Wireframe, prototype, design, create, test.  More than 70% of big project fail for different reasons. The successfull ones go in methodically.

I wish you well.

 
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Justan
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« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2012, 09:36:45 AM »
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^ and also make sure that your developer knows about search engine optimization or SEO, and is willing to demonstrate how it is used. SEO amounts to some design related features in the code that make all the difference in how the pages of the site are ranked by the various search engines.

Even with the prettiest web design possible, without SEO related details, the site will probably never make it into the top listings.

I spent about the last week doing research in SEO and learned a lot along the way. I’m now in the process of making additions and changes to accommodate the needs of SEO. If anyone is interested I can post some useful links.
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Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2012, 10:17:58 AM »
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I would be interested, Justan.

Sharon
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Justan
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« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2012, 11:35:15 AM »
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Here ya go...

Following is an overly summarized review, but one which will get the reader off to a good start. Once you understand the basics (it’s really not all that involved), then go on to get a sense of what is done for specific types of web presentations (programs), such as a single page, when using dot.net, or when using other database driven applications.

A great overview for SEO. Read all the content through once or twice and take notes. http://www.wordsinarow.com/seo.html . This covers the techniques for most kinds of tags, both those found in the meta tags and those found by the header tags within the text of a web site itself.

There is some debate about which meta tags produce SEO results. If you look at top pages, many use all typical elements. My interpretation is that it’s better to have it and not need it, than the other way around. There is a consensus that each indexed page should have its own unique meta-tags, and not just a repeat of the tags on the home page.

Meta tags are not necessarily seen by visitors to a page as much as they are seen by the search engines. In addition to the meta tags, the use of header tags within the page(s) is seen by viewers and search engines. Header tags are the <h1>_______</h1>, <h2>_______</h2>, and so on tags that appear as page and section headers within the page content itself.  Here is a link to a site that discusses this in detail. http://www.w3schools.com/tags/tag_hn.asp . Note that for the best results, there needs to be a degree of redundancy between the meta tags and the <hx> tags.

Not all web pages can have the SEO content on specific pages. The pages for many sites, as example, were developed using dot.net and they employ what is called master pages. The following link shows something of how to program for that kind of environment. http://msdn.microsoft.com/en-us/library/wtxbf3hh.aspx#HowMasterPagesWork

This site describes the kinds of meta tags that are used and their typical use.
http://www.metatags.org/meta_name_keywords

The following link describes the kinds changes needed for some web forum based sites:
http://www.vbseo.com/f34/understanding-seo-vbulletin-2628/

What I did was to use the top search engines and looked for specific key words in my searches. I then looked at the top pages that were produced from the searches, and used the developer tools that come with IE9 to do an analysis of the page. You can do this by pressing the F12 key and then look at the script tab. This shows the actual code that’s used by the page. Then, simply do what the people did who got the top results did, but improve upon it.

Also Google webmaster tools is a very good resource for a number of things. http://www.google.com/webmasters/edu/quickstartguide/index.html

In addition to above, one of the best ways to help boost one’s page rank is to have other sites provide a link to your site. But before this will be successful, one needs to develop a site map or site index and submit that index to the web search indexes. That way you can put your favorite content and links on subordinate pages at your site, and the search engines will find the content. The following link shows some basic info on what a sitemap is: http://www.sitemaps.org/

Edit: As one last note: BEFORE PLAYING WITH ANY OF THIS MAKE A COMPLETE BACKUP OF YOUR SITE. MAKE ONE CHANGE AT A TIME AND TEST THAT IT WORKS before continuing. Even an errant space character can cause disastrous appearing results.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2012, 11:38:10 AM by Justan » Logged

Sharon Van Lieu
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« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2012, 12:25:09 PM »
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Thank you, Justan. Much appreciated.

Sharon
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Jim Coda
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« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2012, 03:34:59 PM »
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I have been thinking about a photography-related buisness idea and have gone so far as to begin a writing a business plan. One of the key items I would need is a web site, which would need to be fairly sophisticated - certainly much more complicated than anything I could even dream of cobbling together. However, I have no idea what this would cost to have developed.

Are there guidelines or rules of thumb that can be used for budgeting web site development? What is the best way to approach web site development?



It's hard to comment without more info.  You say it's a photography-related business.  What are the most important things the site needs to do?  Does it need to be able to display a lot of images?  You say fairly sophisticated.  Do you need a shopping cart?  They can vary in cost.  What is your budget for web design?  Some sites can be created for free and others cost a lot of money.   



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Steve Weldon
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« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2012, 04:14:44 PM »
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There's no simple or single answer to that. A lot can be put together from inexpensive and open source components, but even then it takes a good developer to make it all work, and then there will be ongoing maintenance costs.

Custom development can cost $10-$20,000 / month, and take as much as six months to a year. It really all depends on the scope of the work.

My suggestion would be to search out a custom web developer nearby
and sit down with them for a day or so to scope out the project. It will cost a bit, but help scale the project meaningfully.

Michael


1.  I've done this.  What I've found is that most developers tend to push the platform they use the most, or products they've already invested in Enterprise versions of software, or because their "network" revolves around that platform.  It works with doctors too.. Smiley  Go to a neurologist for a headache and you get catscans and drugs, go to a chiropractor for a headache and you get put on the rack, go to a acupuncturist and you get needles, proctologist.. well.. let's leave you with that thought. 

Web design is fairly straightforward, how you develop the design varies greatly.  Some platforms like DNN have an open source version which is fine for many people and even small businesses, while their professional version has better security and more features for a full on retail site.  Joomla the same.  Wordpress gets recommended a lot because it's an easy way to start blogging and the plugin industry has all types of cool stuff.  There are even totally flash based web builders you can use from 100% inside Lightroom.. which (if you like flash) nicely supports some great image galleries, sales module, and even blogging.

We all go through this immersion process at some point.  Three years ago I was a customer, and just recently a client talked me into building a site for a fee.. never thought I'd go there, but it was a fun challenge and will go on line in the next week.. so it's possible.

What you have to expect, is either spending a lot (and I really mean enough to take over your life for a while) of time learning to do this yourself and maintaining it yourself, or like Mike says.. paying someone some pretty stiff fees to spend their time building it.. and then a monthly maintenance to keep it updated.

Don't sit down with just one developer.. sit down with ten.  And don't strive to understand how to build a site.  Instead, try to understand why these ten developers will charge you such wildly different rates and use different platforms.  If you can understand these differences you'll be an educated client.. so make them explain it.  If they're not willing to spend time explaining these differences.. to your understanding.. then they'll be useless to you if you want any input/control at all with your site.

Good luck with it.. it's like following the yellow brick road.  Takes a while to see what's behind the curtain.
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Justan
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« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2012, 09:53:25 AM »
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Thank you, Justan. Much appreciated.

Sharon

Yer welcome Sharon.

It was a good opportunity to summarize some research.
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Anders_HK
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« Reply #13 on: April 08, 2012, 11:33:06 AM »
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I have been thinking about a photography-related buisness idea and have gone so far as to begin a writing a business plan. One of the key items I would need is a web site, which would need to be fairly sophisticated - certainly much more complicated than anything I could even dream of cobbling together. However, I have no idea what this would cost to have developed.

Are there guidelines or rules of thumb that can be used for budgeting web site development? What is the best way to approach web site development?



Remo,

Before you do anything costly as per the above suggestions, I recommend you to take a really careful and close look at bigblackbag.com.

It may very well be all you need for a fraction of cost. It will look professional. The limit is their building blocks per say, but they also feature tools for online sales, marketing and search engine optimization!

Best regards,
Anders

P.S. Cost for URL and hosting is included in their price.
« Last Edit: April 09, 2012, 11:51:41 AM by Anders_HK » Logged
JonathanRimmel
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« Reply #14 on: April 09, 2012, 11:17:45 AM »
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Though I consider myself more a "web designer" than "web developer" I may have something valuable to add here. Your cost depends all on your needs. There are quite a number of questions that need to be answered first. For my own sites, I would charge anywhere from $750 up to $30,000+. Now I doubt you need a site that costs $30,000. Either way I would talk with a developer about your specific needs. For example, how many pages, forms, custom scripts, etc. Do you need a Content Management System to make edits yourself? These any many other factors go into how a site is designed and built. Additionally you will need to think of domain and hosting costs, as well as regular site maintenance. Some charge for every change made, others let you pay a monthly fee for a certain number of hours for maintenance. I'll do either one, whatever ends up being cheaper for my clients. The number one thing you can do is research. One thing I don't recommend is any of those do it yourself sites. Except perhaps using Wordpress. But to have a truly successful website, I would still consult with a developer/designer either way.
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Remo Nonaz
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« Reply #15 on: April 11, 2012, 03:34:42 PM »
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Thank you all for your considered responses. As usual, the real answere is, "it depends". Which, means I need to define my requirements in more detail and start working seriously with people who know more about these things than I do.

I'm early in my planning process; I'll budget the web site cost as 'significant'.

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I really enjoy using old primes on my m4/3 camera. There's something about having to choose your aperture and actually focusing your camera that makes it so much more like... like... PHOTOGRAPHY!
biggiesnows
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« Reply #16 on: April 16, 2012, 10:33:18 AM »
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Perhaps consider going with Smugmug or Photoshelter. I went with Smugmug and got an excellent customization done for about $1000. I really like the tools that came with the site. If you want to see the outcome the address is www.beautifuloutdoorphotos.com.

biggiesnows
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