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When?

Welcome to the “back office” of Plan B (Part #2). You’re here probably asking something to do with…

When can I get my site up ‘n running?

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The answer to the question “When can I get my site up ‘n running?” lies in the need for content, resources and time. So the first determinate is you… yes, you… reading this.

If you’re actively looking for a website, then it’s likely that you have the very first ingredient all sites require… content.

If you’re in anyway uncertain of your content (i.e. what’s going on the site), then it’s possible that your reasons for wanting a site are not yet fully formed and you would do well to sketch out what you feel you want your site to say about you, your business or your reason for wanting a site.
If you have content, or know (almost) exactly what your content is going to be, then this will drive the remaining aspects which determine “When can I get my site up ‘n running?” And if you have art work, logos or are looking to migrate an older site, then this will help greatly.

 
The “When?” of this question is also closely connected to your other question… “How much will it cost?” …or did you ask this question first? Either way these questions are inextricably linked.


What are the costs and where does the time/money go?

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Pricing a website is not easy and a site can truly cost almost anything, depending on what it’s intended to do.

As with all things in life…

  • • “time is money
  • • “resources come at a cost

To address the second element, “resources come at a cost“, while WordPress is indeed free, the following requirements for any website have both a purchase cost and a subscription.

NB. Subscriptions are renewable and go on to become annual costs associated with maintaining your website.

Purchase Costs

• We use, and recommend you use, “premium themes.” The theme provides the shape of your website, before you add your content.

The use of themes is what has driven the costs of providing websites to a more reasonable level and shortened the delivery time, as the theme provides the site’s functionality and “look ‘n feel” without needing to be coded from scratch.

Choosing the right theme can be crucial, but it’s not a permanent decision as themes can be swapped in and out as the site changes.

Subscription Costs

• Obtain a domain name (the “www.” bit). Ownership of a domain name usually runs for 1 or 2 years, needing a renewal to retain the use of the name.

• Rent some space… or “hosting.” This where your site will exist. Hosting usually runs for 1 or 2 years, needing a renewal to retain the use of the space.

You may have one or other of these already, which is absolutely fine.

With these items above we’re ready to start spending the time… the second of the two cost elements.

Where is the time spent?

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Cost and time are two sides of the same coin, given the only sane way to budget a project is with reference to the time it’s expected to take, multiplied by an (explicit or implied) hourly rate.

And allocating firm numbers is a hugely imperfect best-guess – but they’re the closest we can get, and can all grow or shrink wildly based on dozens of variables that are impossible to predict.

But in any and every site there’s Common Tasks – a list of commonly performed activities in every site, which drive a minimum time requirement. Often simple, most tasks can grow unpredictably in complexity if something unusual crops up.

  • • Obtain the domain name (where required)
  • • Purchase hosting and prepare it for a WordPress install (set up username and password, FTP credentials, etc.) (where required)
  • • Troubleshoot a hosting/registrar/backend problem (improperly set memory limits, bad .htaccess rules, wrong DNS, etc.)
  • • Install WordPress on a given hosting account (including database creation) (where required)
  • • Update WordPress and all plugins, test to make sure nothing’s broken
  • • Install a plugin/solve a problem that revolves around a plugin install (e.g. Akismet for comment spam)
  • • Use a plugin’s interface to create what it’s designed to create (a contact form, a social button bar, etc.)
  • • Migrate a previous site (where required)
  • • Set up a domain-specific email account or onward email forward
  • • Change a post’s contents, rearrange the site nav menu, etc.
  • • Site administration, add a user, etc.
  • • Any individual CSS changes (change the color of an object, change a font, re-position an object, give it a shadow)
  • • Create any accounts in other systems, applications or websites, e.g. Twitter or Facebook (where required)
  • • Then add anything else which could crop up, stalling and delaying progress, or is made a new requirement in the project

 

How long should it take?

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The Shortest Possible Development Cycle is the smallest amount of active development work that is feasible to set up a WordPress site that could potentially be used.

Projects can feel like they’re “almost done” for much of their actual duration. This is because the transition from “building the project” to “putting it live for the world to see” reveals a lot of details and complexities that may not come up beforehand. For example, client testing & feedback, bug-fixes & improvements not in original spec, late troubleshooting, add-on features, the list can seem endless.

These estimates contain only development work and no overhead (initial consultations, planning, estimates, feedback, invoicing, etc.). As such, they basically break down into items from the list above, such as “choose hosting and install WordPress on the hosting” plus some amount of more idiosyncratic work to make the whole thing usable (like fiddling with the homepage layout).

A dead-simple blog on a simple blog theme, no customisations.

This would entail installing WordPress and some theme on a particular hosting and domain configuration, setting a site title and permalinks, and that’s it, and could be done in under a day.

An informational site (Home, About page, Contact page, maybe a blog) on a very lightly customised premium theme.

This would be the absolute minimum time to launch a simple informational site that you could use for a small business and could include bare necessities like a contact form, but very little custom design work, could be done in under a week.

A simple e-commerce site.

This would be a fairly minimal WordPress site running WooCommerce that is able to properly list and categorise products and process customer transactions… hmmmm…


What are the time overheads?

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“Overhead”, as defined here, is time worked on a project that is not actual development work – that is, tasks that don’t involve working directly with the technologies used to build websites. Overhead could be either non-billable (e.g. an initial phone consultation), or billable (involving some form of work or activity).

• Total initial conversation and consultations before work can commence can run to a good couple of hours, to fully understand your expectations from your site.
• Time to draw up a project estimate – an idea of what’s needed and how to go about the development work.
• Additional communications, including progress reports, feedback, invoicing, etc.
• “Curveballs” – these could be anything from having troublesome obsolete hosting, frequently needs or requirement changes, desires for a logo or other photgraphy to be included (but isn’t able to send these in a usable file format), etc.


So, in conclusion…

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The information presented here is intended to inform rather than deter further interest, and to explain where cost/time is required in creating/advancing your website. So we trust this has helped to inform you about what goes on “behind the curtain” when building a website.

To recap and answer the questions as best as is possible, “When can I get my site up ‘n running?” and/or “How much will it cost?“, the answer to both questions lies in the need for content, resources and time.

• Whilst the upper end of any cost estimate is entirely variable, it’s reasonable to expect the lower end to start at £500.
• And don’t forget the annual subscription renewals ! For annual subscriptions, again these will be variable, but it’s reasonable to expect the lower end to start at £75.
• From a time perspective, the upper end of any time estimate is entirely variable, it’s reasonable to expect the lower end to start at a week.