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Competition: Reasonable templates, content editors, plus goodies OR my persuasive skills? - Web Developer

About Competition: Reasonable templates, content editors, plus goodies OR my persuasive skills?

Previous Entry Competition: Reasonable templates, content editors, plus goodies OR my persuasive skills? Feb. 22nd, 2005 @ 10:26 pm Next Entry
A potential new client/acquaintance casually contacted me inquiring about having me design a professional web site for her company....Shortly thereafter - before the sit down ironing out details discussion - she sends me an e-mail inquiring about another company who offers 50 MB hosting, 2 GB month transfer, domain name registration, web site design (generic template, mind you), a do-it-yourself content editor, 10 e-mail addresses, a professional description/write up of the company for "about us," "services," etc., AND a dial up internet connection for only.... $39.99 per month.

That's cheap.

I can recommend a good hosting company to her who only charges $4.00 per month for 500MB hosting, 25 GB data transfer, and.... like who needs 100 e-mail addresses, but it's included........BUT my regular web/graphic rates are between $25 and $40 per hour!!!

Her inquiry regarding this $39.99 a month company with a $39.99 set-up fee really seems like a better deal for a simple web site....only $480-$500 per YEAR if she wants a basic web site to start out with for her company, plus all the extra goodies.

How can I woo her away from wow of hosting, domain name, template design, do-it-yourself content editor, e-mail, content, AND an internet connection included in the cost? *scratches head* She's a good acquaintance and she's coming to me for advice, but I want her business!

What do you think of my e-mail reply to her? How does it come across???


Hi Mrs. Kenny,

I've never heard of "so-and-so company" but I am am familiar with the type of web site editor program they offer (a design firm I do contract work for also provides the same service). "Unlimited updates with our easy-to-use online Website editor" - which means, the web site design is a generic template (some other company can also use the same design/layout/look - the web site design is not unique to your business/company identity) and is powered by a semi-user-friendly, but very basic "back-end/behind the scenes" type of web based program so you can update the content within the web site (mind you, only basic pictures and text, not the design itself) from your own computer without needing to know complicated web design coding language.

Personally I am not a big fan of the do-it-yourself web site editors/programs - I can see how it is a neat feature, but it is very basic and limited. The do-it-yourself web editor programs seem like a good idea because the client can have control over updating the content (text) of the web site themselves whenever they want....however, based on my past experiences with previous clients and these programs, most of the clients I've set up template web sites for and trained to use the program (on behalf of the company I contract with) end up feeling stifled because:

1) perhaps they are computer novices and find the web site editor program is challenging to use
2) feel limited by the basic features and the plain, generic web site design; not having creative freedom to change things around
3) have to pay a lot extra if they decide they do want to change things (or have to pay extra for services like search engine optimization)
4) stuck in an expensive, long-term monthly contract they cannot break

I must admit though, Mrs. Kenny, $39.99 per month with a one-time set-up fee of $39.99 (in comparison to other companies I know about who offer almost the same type of full package deal but charge a $1500 start up fee plus an additional $88 per month for hosting/domain fee), "so-and-so company" does seem very reasonable at $480-$500 per year and might be a good way to start with a basic web presence......that is, if you feel comfortable with the template look of the web site design promoting your business and if you feel comfortable updating the content/text yourself.

It really depends on what you have in mind for the design/layout/content of your business web site, your goals, your audience, how often you want to update it or if you would like to update it yourself, and what your budget is.


How do I dissuade her from the cheapy company? Any suggestions? I really appreciate your thoughts, comments, ideas, and wooing effort suggestions!
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Date:February 23rd, 2005 05:02 am (UTC)

Show her a competitor with a well designed website.
Then show her a competitor with a crappy template site builder page.
Show her what these pages look like in an up-and-coming browser like Firefox. Maybe even Pocket IE 2003 (you can get a PIE emulator free from MS, for Windows XP). Hopefully the template designed site fares badly against fringe browsers.

Also focus on load times for those competitor websites.

Then show her what you can do (portfolio).
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Date:February 23rd, 2005 05:08 am (UTC)
I am a Sr. Interactive Developer (i.e. I write custom web app frameworks which allow things like client administration, content modifications, etc.) and have been doing web work for about 8 years.

There is NO way to design a generic, everything-to-everyone, easy-to-use dynamic DIY web template.

I would imaging that sites like the one that you are describing look absolutely horrible.

She might already know this and is simply trying to get you to come down a bit on your price.

My advice would be to call her bluff. If she is serious about having a presence on the web then she will *not* be happy with a cookie-cutter site.
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Date:February 23rd, 2005 05:15 am (UTC)
PLUS you can custom tailor codes that those so-called DIY web site builders do not have. Believe me. Most of my contracts are for custom-made form processors, special javascript and PHP coding.

*now that's a thought. I should raise my prices on custom codes. scribbles note to self...*
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Date:February 23rd, 2005 05:40 am (UTC)
Never budge on your prices when comparing apples and oranges. If you go down on your price, any additional work that you get through that client is going to be stuck at that price and you're going to undercut yourself out of business.

Is a BMW dealer going to slash the prices on their mid=line model just because the customer mentions that the Yugo dealership across the street is selling cars for under $10k?

no, they tell the customer to enjoy their little car and to get the fuck off the lot.

Chances are she's trying to get you to drop your prices. I wouldn't fall for it. Just reiterate what services you provide and the advantages and let the client know that the decision is ultimately theirs.
Date:February 23rd, 2005 06:14 am (UTC)
Tell her to read the bottom line.

I've been in this business for a bit, and every single one of those "deals" includes a multi-year contract. While it looks like only 39.99 per month, it's actually $200 worth of website and $200 worth of web-hosting for the bargain price of $1,000 - $1,500. They offer domain registration, which means that if you use their service and don't like it, they won't let you transfer the domain.

Generally the templates that they use are ok, but not great, and the hosting will be very basic. They won't really have any server control aside from email (if they even have that) and if they ever want to expand their site, they're screwed.
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Date:February 23rd, 2005 02:35 pm (UTC)
Also, the pricing alone is a thing that stuck out. $480-$500 per year for them, yet add that up over the years. Being inexperienced - even with the content editor - they're not going to be able to add in all those little 'extra things' over the years without extra help. Also, sites need to stay original. It's all about quality over quantity. Most places will settle for less, but no reason to follow the trend. As drfardook wrote, "they tell the customer to enjoy their little car and to get the fuck off the lot." :-) Good luck!
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Date:February 23rd, 2005 04:25 pm (UTC)
In addition to all the good points above, consider matching the price.

I agree with drfardook that you shouldn't budge on price when comparing apples and oranges, but you might not have too. What do you estimate it would take you (in hours) to meet the client's requirements/expectations?

She's already told you she is willing to spend at least $480 a year. If she will sign a two-year hosting contract, that means, she's willing to spend $960 to get the site built and hosted for two years.

You said you can get it hosted for $4 a month, and you'll work for as little as $25 an hour. That's $96 for hosting and enough money to pay you $25/hour for 34.5 hours. If she's willing to settle for a template-driven auto-site, you could probably blow her socks off with 34 hours of work!

A bonus to this approach is that she may keep paying you the $40 a month for a few extra years. Then you're getting a $480 residual check every year!
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