Why you won’t get your website in a day

We saw a newspaper article where someone was saying that she delivers websites in a day. When we checked up a bit more, all she was really doing was modifying a not so great WordPress theme and modifying it. From the works we’ve read, and what we’ve seen of her code and designs, she has little understanding or knowledge of how to actually design or program a quality website. To have someone like this promise a one day website, we find, is an insult to the web development industry, and makes the life of designers and developers that much harder.

What a one day website really is.

Usually a one day website is a template (or based on a template). There is little to no cross browser verification, there is little to no research into the customer, and more importantly there is very little interaction with the customer. It’s like going to fast food restaurant and ordering a burger. You go in, ask for a website, they ask if you want SEO with that, than scream it into a mic, and some guy grabs a template that fits the order plugs it in, next customer please.

Sure it’s cheap, but are you getting a quality product that will help your business, or are you just getting a page on the internet like everybody else. Buried amongst the other pages just like it. If you got a really bad company, they might have even used some of the same text they used on another customers site (I have actually seen this). There is also very little follow up (unless it’s to sell you something more).

What a quality website offers

Any good website company will take a look at what your goal is, your company image, what your competition is doing, and discuss with you different options and strategies as well as provide you with a tentative schedule and cost. They don’t have one size fits all plans, as they understand that each customer has different needs.

They will take several hours if not days doing research, coming up with design concepts and planning how to build your website.

They will insist on quality content. Some companies may write it for you, others might offer you advise and pointers on how to write it, or suggest a copywriter to you. In all cases, good content is the key to any website (even the 1 day websites).

They will test that it works to an acceptable level on all browsers. An acceptable level being defined in that it is usable. Many companies no longer support older browsers (including Google, Facebook, Yahoo, and other big companies). They will however ensure that people viewing your site with an older browser will still be able to access the information, and use your site even if it isn’t as pretty.

They will ensure that it will work properly in a screen reader. For the visually impaired, visiting a site that is not properly made is a nightmare. We suggest installing Fangs in Firefox and trying to open a few sites. (take a look at http://webdesigner.xara.com/ – the output of a site builder, as an example of poor coding and pay attention to the links and images), or take a look at our coding comparison, between this website builder and what a well coded site should look like.

They will ensure that it will perform well with search engines. Like the visually impaired, a search engine has absolutely no visual reference as to what items are what, so they rely heavily on the code. The more information and context the code can provide, the better the search engine will be able to determine what your site is about. Using proper techniques, the right tags for the right job, as well as using microdata, microformat, or RDFa (as discussed in this post), will give search engines a better idea as to what is going on.

They will optimize it. They will look at ways to improve the pages performance, not just in terms of loading times, but also in terms of content. Within a few months (sometimes weeks or days depending on traffic) they will be able to offer you advice on how your tweak your content or strategies to perform better. It can sometimes be as small a change as changing a word, or as drastic as redesigning elements.

This list does go on, but the most important thing to understand is that all this takes longer than one day to accomplish. In fact, it should ideally be an ongoing process, after the website has launched.

Why one page websites hurt the industry

One day websites hurt the industry because they instill in customers the thought that if Company A can deliver a website in a day, why can’t every other company. What clients don’t understand, is how much they lose when they go for a 1 day website, and then they expect us to keep the same level of standards and quality that we provide, in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost, simply because Company A can throw something together in a few hours.

What’s worse is when they customers end up going for Company A, only to come back to us later, and we have to deal with all the messes that Company A created. Sometimes the damage isn’t too bad, but here are some of the things that we’ve had to deal with at Last Rose Studios.

A lot of these companies get residual income by providing hosting, so losing a customer loses them that income, and they are reluctant to let go of them. This makes making changes to the site difficult if not impossible. This brings us to our next problem
Domain names
There are times we need to make changes, for example when are are changing hosts, and the clients find out that they don’t actually own their domain name. This is an unscrupulous practice that can inflict thousands of dollars in legal fees, and throw us in the middle. Not all 1 day website companies do that though, and some higher end companies do, it just seems to occur more often with the 1 day website companies (usually done in the name of making it easier for the customer). More on this subject here.
Poor Coding
Usually what the client received is so poorly done, that we are unable to salvage any of it. It takes a bit of time for us to assess what was done, however the bigger loser in this situation is usually the client who has, essentially wasted money on the site we scrap.
Unreal Expectations
Since Company A managed to get it done in a day for peanuts, we are expected to do the same. It usually takes a while to explain to the client that not all websites are created equal, and that a good website takes time and effort to put together. We had one person who wanted a complete dating site built. She had something that was a bunch of free plugins poorly cobbled together; calling it barely functional would be a bit of a leap. When I informed her that the project would take roughly 3 months and cost around $40,000 to $50,000 she flipped out, asked that I do it for $500. Sadly she decided to continue on with her current site.

In Conclusion…

We have made 1 day websites, and we won’t deny it, however the clients not only knew what they where getting, in most cases they specifically requested it. In one case the client just needed things setup and was able to take it from there. We won’t say that there should be absolutely no 1 day websites, and that it is a myth that it can be done, because that simply isn’t the truth of it. The point is that a quality website can’t be designed, developed, and delivered in a day. There are cases where a simple 1 day website can work very well, a personal blog for example doesn’t need to be all that complicated. A super simple landing page for an upcoming product or service can probably be churned out in maybe a day or two. What it really comes down to though is how effective do you want the site to be and what your goals for that site are.