Frequently Asked Web Development Questions

Have questions about web development? Here are some answers that I hope you can find useful based on my seven years in the industry.

Question: Okay, tell me straight. How much does a site cost?

Answer: That will depend on what you are looking for. just like with any product the more features you want and the more complex the design the bigger the cost gets. If you are looking for a real number to work from then a basic bare bones site with a few pages and a simple email contact form will run you around $1,500 from start to finish (minus hosting fees and domain registration). Keep in mind that is my ballpark figure. Other web development firms will have their own pricing structure.

Question: Why should I use you (or any web developer) and not one of the online services that practically builds the website for you like Squarespace or use CMS software?

Answer: An online service can be a valid option. If I believe that one would serve you better than I could for your needs I will simply tell you that during the initial interview process. If you are looking to just get some content online and you are willing to do the work yourself then I would go with one of a number of good options. Hiring a web developer/designer gives you a partner to go through the process with you. Someone who knows the good paths to take and the pitfalls to avoid and, most importantly, knows the right questions to ask. The other advantage to hiring a web developer is the ability to customize to your personal needs and tastes. With an online service or CMS you are confined inside of a defined system. This may be a good thing and may work for you but going with a developer allows you to work outside the box. There is also nothing stopping you from learning to code yourself and there are a number of excellent resources to get you started. Some people do there own car maintenance and that is totally fine. It all comes down to how much time and effort do you want to put into the learning process versus just hiring it out.

Question: How long does it take to develop a new website?

Answer: That depends on many factors. Cooperation and information gathering is key to a speedy development process. If the copy is already available along with a good version of the logo and images then things can move along more quickly. If the website is simple and everything goes smoothly a website can be finished in a month from start to finish. I should also point out that if I have other projects going on at the same time that will also affect the timeline.

Question: Which browsers do you test and support?

Answer: By default I will test the current versions of Firefox, Chrome, and the Mac version of Safari. I will also test the current version of Internet Explorer and test back to version 8. I will specifically test other browsers for additional cost. Developing the site to be responsive will also cost extra and will include testing on an Android and IOS platform. My philosophy on browser support is that most people understand that older technology is not going to be able to match newer technology. For example: a person knows that if they are watching a movie on a 5 year old TV the experience is not going to compare with a brand new TV with a similar cost. Developing a site to look the same on an older browser as it does on a newer one adds greatly to the effort and cost with little long term gain. The sites I create will be functional on older browsers but will probably not look the same.

Question: What about Flash?

Answer: Whenever possible I strongly discourage it. While still widely used in some areas of the web, Flash is quickly falling out of favor aided by the rise of mobile web traffic. Technologies centered around the newer HTML5 and CSS3 standards can do much of what Flash was able to do in the past and without the need for proprietary software or browser plugins. Since mobile is becoming an ever increasing part of the browser market it would be unwise to ignore them. Additionally, Google cannot index text that is contained inside of Flash so it significantly affects how search engine friendly your site is.

Question: I want to start an online business. How about I have you build the website for free and then I give you a cut of the profits once I start making money?

Answer: Sorry, can't do it. I've been approached with this before and have actually seriously considered doing it because the project sounded good. In my experience it doesn't work out very well even with good intentions. This setup breaks down because motivation is in short supply on both sides. This is because little has been invested on the client side and there is only a small chance of actual success on the developer side even if many hours have been contributed. If you have a great idea and want to see it happen then you will need to scrape together some starting capitol or build something basic on your own. Once proven that it can be successful, then hire a developer like me to help refine the site.