The Chicken or the Egg?

When you work with Haden Interactive, you decide to hire us, make a deposit, and then meet with us (physically or virtually) so we can learn all about you and create your website and/or web strategy. There is another way, though: you can ask a web firm to create a mockup for you and pitch it, the way the guys in Mad Men pitch to clients. Since much of my knowledge of old style marketing firms is based on that TV show, I’m ready to believe that this is what advertising companies used to do. Maybe even what they still do. I don’t know anyone who works this way, though.

We don’t build things before we’re hired. We need a relationship before we’ll create something. That doesn’t mean we don’t put in any work before we send you a proposal.

Here are the things we do before we send a proposal to a prospective client:

  • Determine their primary goals for the website, since this determines the path to success.
  • Analyze their website for usability and effectiveness so we’ll know whether they need a redesign.
  • Check their code to see whether they need a complete rebuild or could manage with a content refresh.
  • Check their competitive space so we know how hard their competitors are working online and which keywords they can expect to rank well for, and to see how we’ll need to differentiate them from the others.
  • Check their analytics (if available) to see how well the site is currently working for them.
  • Identify any special functionality their site demands, so we’ll know which team members will need to be involved and what plugins or media elements we’ll need to buy.
  • Listen to their ideas and preferences so we’ll know which designer would be the best fit.

Once we do this, we can set up a timeline and a budget.

Where does the budget come from?

Here are some things that affect the price of a website:

  • Is it a standard website, or will there be lots of extra bells and whistles? Our raw materials are things like colors, ideas, and electricity, so the price and timeline of a site build or site management is all about the hours. An ordinary website with five to seven main pages and a typical number of subpages takes a very predictable amount of time to design, code, and write. Editing client copy usually takes the same amount of time as writing from scratch, and we know from experience how long that will be. Updating several hundred pages and moving them to a new site takes a lot more time, creating videos takes more time, building an extensive e-commerce section takes more time… Design Quote has a calculator that lays out times for a variety of things (yeah, I have no idea how they spend four hours writing one page of content, but the concept is there) if you want to get a sense of it.
  • Are there additional direct costs? If we need to buy stock photos, design a logo, fly out for training, or create videos, there will be additional costs. Buying special plugins can also involve additional costs. We can usually see these things coming; if not, we’ll discuss your options with you.
  • Is the client decisive and articulate? We don’t charge more for indecisive, inarticulate clients, but they certainly slow down the process and increase the costs on our side. A client who makes quick decisions, gives clear feedback, and provides everything they said they would is bound to get their website finished faster.

What about the multiple mockups?

If a web firm has several mockups to show you before you hire them, they’re probably showing pretty much the same thing to everyone. We’re not saying that’s a bad thing. If you, as a client, would prefer to choose from products rather than having a custom site built for you as a service, that’s the way to go. 

And here’s where the metaphor breaks down. It doesn’t really matter whether the chicken or the egg comes first, because eggs are pretty standard. You can start with the egg and wait quite a while for further eggs, or pay a bit more to start with the chicken and get eggs pretty quickly. You’ll never get a special custom egg, designed and written and built to meet your needs.

Contact us to start the conversation.






3 responses to “The Chicken or the Egg?”

  1. Eric Huber Avatar

    Yes….that is old school advertising. It’s also old school ad agency mentality to require the clients to go through you when they need letterhead, business cards, ads, and/or changes to their website.

    Worked for many years, and some businesses like doing things that way. But not most.

    Nice article!


    1. Rebecca Haden Avatar

      Thanks! Excellent point, too, about the factors that made that business model worthwhile to the agency.

  2. DesignFirms Avatar

    I don’t care what anyone says, it’s the right way to do things. The reason why most clients are dissatisfied is because the right questions weren’t asked up front, thus causing problems in the long run.

    I’ve been trying to decide between the chicken and the egg for quite some time now and all I can come up with is they both are there, it’s up to us to determine the order with each new opportunity!

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