At some point during the design and build of your website you will probably need help from web professionals.
Find out what resources are available in your own college, university or department. Some universities have a central web team, while in others individual departments make their own arrangements. Even if there are no internal resources available, your colleagues may be able to point you in the right direction of good web companies who can help.
You may need help with one or more of the following:
- scoping your detailed requirements
- designing the site
- building the site
- registering and marketing the site
- hosting and technical support
- maintaining the site.
Scoping your requirements
If you seek specialist help, begin by being very clear what your requirements are. When preparing your requirements, you should think about your audiences and what they need to achieve using your website.
The best approach is to keep your website simple to start with and only buy what you actually need. This will vary from project to project but as a minimum you are likely to need:
- a good design
- a clear structure
- a search engine
- good security measures
- hosting, with 24 hour support and 99 per cent guaranteed uptime.
You may also want to think about features like:
- integrating social media with your website
- user registration for email updates
- online forms, for example to book an event or buy a publication
- using evaluation and feedback to help develop the site, eg use visitor stats.
Depending on how often you will need to update your site you may also want to invest in a content management system. This is software that that allows non-technical people to update the content on a website easily.
Setting a budget
Costs for building a website can vary widely. You can expect to spend anything from £2,000 to £50,000 depending on the size and complexity of the site and the amount of help you need.
For smaller projects, these costs may seem prohibitive. Some ways to reduce costs include:
- Considering developing your own website using freely available packages like WordPress.
- Speaking to colleagues in similar projects to find out how much they spend on their website and if they are willing to share expertise, resources and systems.
- Selecting the contractor who can give you the most for your money based on your available budget. Most organisations contract on the basis of the lowest price for a fixed specification – a good contractor will give you options and help prioritise what you can achieve within your budget.
- Developing in-house skills. Some aspects of web design and build are so specialist that you need outside help. For other aspects, you can either train existing staff or recruit new people.
- Negotiating a rate to have your site built and hosted by another project or department in the university or college.