1) Be upfront about your price range. No client wants to mention a dollar amount right away, for fear of getting ripped off. Who wants to pay $10K for a website that they could have gotten for $5K? But refusing to give any price guidance won’t help you either: design firms won’t know whether you want a Kia or a Mercedes. Your best strategy is to present a realistic range of prices, and see how the proposals best match up. You’ll be surprised how willing designers will be to work with you to meet your budget.
2) Be decisive. Endless revisions – especially revisions after you’ve nominally approved something – will add to costs. Have a sense of what you want to accomplish, give definite approvals or rejections (or better yet, rejections with explanations), and let the designer execute.
3) Appoint a project champion. Empower one person, or a team of two, to make the decisions about your website. Don’t put a committee in charge. Committees inevitably require extra revisions, and drag out the timeline. Nothing drives up your price like a committee. (If you want to know why it costs $1M for GM to develop a new logo, the one-word answer is “committees.”)
4) Communicate promptly. Designers build in time in the calendar for feedback, but not limitless time. Remember, they cannot press on while they’re waiting for feedback. So if you wait 5 days to get back with feedback on a project with a 7-day deadline, the designers will have to spend the next 48 hours in a frenzy to stay on track. That could push up the price, or push the timeline, or both.
5) Beware of Mizewells. I got this term from an architect I knew. She said that clients would tell her, “Might as well replace the counter tops when you’re replacing the cabinets,” and “Might as well put in new floors now that the new counters are in,” and she just started referring to these changes as “Mizewells.” There are a lot of “Mizewells” on websites too. “Mizewell split this section into three pages,” “Mizewell add in a video library,” “Mizewell add a members-only section,” etc. They add up.