Nexxis was introduced by another client more than 6 months before we began this project because they were finding that their website didn’t serve their market and they were at a loss to what to do next.
After many meetings and much discussion, it was clear that there was a disconnect and the only way forward was to reconsider the site structure, content and purpose.
The outcome was a site that they feel explains their process better and lets people explore products by both industry and use. Their quote form is also far more simple yet effective.
As with any digital project, the launch is just the beginning. But of course, it’s always great to celebrate!
In my past life, I was a client of Clever Starfish and many other agencies and spent a great deal of my time sifting through website and digital quotes for employers and clients. I was given the task of shortlisting and/or ‘decoding’ what website companies were offering and why the cost of a website seemed to vary so much.
As I am now a quoter and not a recipient, I thought it might be helpful to share my personal approach (and opinion) to making the right choice for you and your company.
So where do you start?
Good question! From the hundreds of websites I have been involved in (as a client, supplier, collaborator, representative of the client) the most successful websites were produced by a website company with passion in what they do and show a true interest in your business challenges and goals with the talent to back it up. To find these companies you should Google, ask friends, ask colleagues and find sites that you like. I suggest that you get at least two quotes.
The checklist below is designed to help you once you have a shortlist of companies you think might be a good match.
The checklist is suitable for individuals, boards, committees and groups who need to make a choice on supplier with little or no knowledge of web projects.
If the final decision is in the hands of a group who don’t get to meet the supplier they should be able to use the checklist against the shortlisted quotes. All the decision makers need to know is what your company needs and what sort of supplier would suit you to provide this service. Easy, right? Well it is easi-er, with this checklist!
Part 1: Basic skills checklist
I promise you that the right company will demonstrate that they have considered your unique business challenges and should include some of these proposed solutions in the document. They should be a yes for at least 5 of the 6 questions below to make it to the next checklist.
Have they included a suggested site map and does it look suitable for you? If yes, this shows that they have taken the time to consider the structure of your website.
Have they identified your business problems and suggested appropriate solutions? For example, they have may suggest functions, features and sections. If yes, this shows they are focused on solving your business problems and not just making you a ‘pretty web brochure’.
Are they a personality match for you? This should be reflected in the way they have communicated the quote and how they dealt with the quote process.
Is their business approach a match to you? This should be reflected in the way they interact with you and their methodology or process. For example, if you like to work face-to-face and deadlines are your thing, did they come and meet anyone in the team and did they communicate well and meet all the deadlines? The approach to the quote process is often demonstrative of how they will continue to work with you.
Have they demonstrated that they can design great websites? You can often view these on their website portfolio or can be found by Googling the company name.
Have they been awarded for their websites? If yes, this may show that they are practicing good design and development that is endorsed by peers and experts. If not, sometimes its worth asking if they enter their sites in awards. Some companies do not choose to enter their sites. *For reference, the Australian Web Awards is the most prestigious award in Australia.
Part 2: Budget and priority checklist
Web design companies vary in focus and expertise. The best companies have a balanced approach to content, design, development, project management, testing and training. Quotes usually reflect the balance of their skill set. A new website needs to have a holistic and balanced approach. A rejuvenation of a website might need a little bit of a different balance, depending on the issues that are being overcome.
What is the balance of design, development, project management, testing and training?Are they too focused on one area at the expense of another? This can help you to compare the approach each company will take to your project and make sure it with the weighting of what you see as your problem areas. If you don’t know your problem areas, look for a balanced quote.
What is their ongoing hourly rate? Sometimes the rate for the website build is low but the ongoing “maintenance” rates are very high and part of a 12-month contract. This may work for you, but in my personal experience it doesn’t.
Have they included enough time to design a unique solution for your needs? A low percentage of the overall budget is reflective of design being a low priority. This often means they intend to reuse a template for your site, which can be restrictive. To work this out, compare the actual hours (budget divided by hourly rate) being put to design for each web design company.
Have they quoted for a responsive website that adapts the layout, content and interactions to the needs of tablets and mobile phones? This increases the cost of a website by 20-40% so check that this is included in their fixed quote if this is a priority for you. Also, confirm that they have completed responsive site design projects before as this is a specialised skill set. Get them to explain what a responsive entails for them and what they have included. There are so many ways of designing and building responsive websites so be prepared.
How do ‘apples’ compare with ‘apples’? There is always a huge variation in costs for websites and the solutions put forward can vary. This is normal. When looking at the overall cost, try and compare a few features or skill sets to get a sense of how they quote. Cheaper quotes may have missed out features and more expensive ones are sometimes not tailored to your needs and are a broad stroke solution. If in doubt, most web companies will be happy to take 30 mins to present their quote to you and explain their approach.
Is their quote a fixed quote? There are many companies that offer packages, estimates and other approaches which are often rounded to $8,000 or $10,000 or $12,000. These aren’t always fixed. Be wary of anything with the word estimate UNLESS you feel they are the perfect match in every other way. You don’t want to find yourselves making a decision on price when they aren’t a match in any other ways for your website and regretting it later.
What happens after the website is launched? It’s important to understand what ongoing services are offered (for example: further design, content, backups, maintenance, additional development, strategy, content support and site performance reporting) and what the ongoing costs could be.
You will notice that the question “does this quote fit my budget” isn’t in the checklist. This is because quotes are often flexible. If they match the rest of the checklist, you should be able to approach them to discuss their costs.
Part 3: Customer Service checklist
Web design companies don’t all have a single person that is responsible for your project. If you want someone to help you through the process, make sure there is a person and budget allocated to this. Many web companies don’t offer this as a service because it raises the cost. If you want a person looking out for you from the inside, choose a company that cost this out as a service.
Check that they have included a budget (or enough budget) for a dedicated project manager This is not a sales person, designer or developer. This is an account manager, project manager (or producer) with training in this area. Many agencies do not see project management as a priority, but having a project without a manager will lead to delays and possible miscommunication.
What do their clients say about them? It’s really important to get a list of references and make some phone calls because good relationships make the project a positive and fun experience for everyone involved. If the person was recommended, approach the referee and ask if they are customer-focused and not just after a “sales success”. Social media is a good place to see if a company has advocates if you are too shy or time-poor to call references.
What was the experience like during the quote process? Did/would they come and meet the team to quote and who do you deal with? Is it a sales person or account manager or designer/developer direct? Many agencies send out a sales person and then move the project to a junior once the quote is approved. Be sure of how their process works.
So that’s it! Good luck and may you find your perfect match :)
We are so happy to be the recipients of the 2014 Australian Web Award in the eCommerce category for Just In Time Gourmet!
Other winners this year were The Western Australian Museum, Tim Oliver, Humaan, Juicebox Creative, Moble and Clarity Communications.
We are so proud of this site and did a full wrap up of why WE love it in our WA Award blog. Thank again to all those who support us, our clients whom we love to work with and agencies that collaborate with us.
On Wednesday night, some of the gang here strolled down from our new office in Money Street (moving in party coming soon!) to enjoy the Australian Web Awards State event. It’s a great opportunity to say hello to our peers, competitors and friends – something which is a bit of a rarity, making this night a not-to-miss event. It never fails to reaffirm the ever-increasing standard of award-winning websites in WA!
We had 6 sites up for awards including Fly By Night and My Emporium featured below, all of which we are very proud – something that we celebrated before heading to the awards.
You can read all about it in our launch blog for the site, when you have a moment.
The spread of recipients was broader this year (which was great!) and included Hancock Creative, Bam Creative, Juicebox Creative, Longtail, The WA Museum, Humaan, Clarity Communications, Tom Oliver and Jesse Yuen.
Although winning an award on the night is great recognition for the work we are putting out, we still find the biggest reward is feedback from the client that the site has made the impact we planned together, which in this case included the following;
For the Just In Time Gourmet customers
increased efficiency for searching and finding products and hampers
fuss-free and error-free ordering of loose products and pre-made hampers
the ability to add more than one recipient address to an order
the ability for a customer to build their own hamper
all of the above to be simple, easy and intuitive on a phone, tablet or computer
For the Just In Time Gourmet team
easy management of orders and streamlined payment processes
easy syncing of products and orders with MYOB
flexible and fuss-free management of products, categories and product features
enjoyment not pain, when doing anything with the site
build in SEO-friendly layout with flexible and easily-editable content
Who doesn’t like receiving gifts? What’s more, gifts packed full of foodie treats? Just In Time Gourmet’s products and hampers are truly divine and yes, we’re speaking from experience!
We had the privilege of working with this family business and owners Jodee and Justin Wearne to redesign and develop their new website. The existing site had been tarnished with black hat SEO and outsourcing by a local provider so Jodee and Justin very cautiously handed their baby over to us.
The new responsive website showcases some exciting features.
Our primary goal was to promote Just In Time Gourmet’s 3 core services: Individual Products, Hampers and Create Your Own Hampers. This was achieved by creating a primary and secondary navigation, you’ll see that the site actually has a quite a few pages but these have been streamlined into tidy menus all accessible from the home page. Customers are able to shop for one of these services or combine all three. The process of this is key and is explained quite simply on the Create Your Own Hamper page.
We cleverly transformed our cart and checkout system and created a super cart (My Order) that allows custom packages to be created. Customers can purchase individual hampers, customise Just In Time Gourmet hampers or create their own hampers. These orders are collated all within the My Order page and makes the ordering process nice and easy.
Also unique to Just In Time Gourmet’s checkout is the ability to send orders to numerous delivery addresses. This means that I can spoil myself with some truffles and create my own hamper with only the products that my family like in Melbourne – no olives, no crackers and definitely no turkish delights! The bonus is that my truffles will be delivered for free! because free shipping applies to orders within Perth Metro. Win win!
Ah, the beauty of Tentacle! It has the wonderful ability of adapting to our clients needs and means we can create the perfect solution for the day-to-day operation of any business. It makes life so easy and earns us lots of points – it’s out of the box hampers made easy!
We think you’ll agree, the website is beautifully designed and totally functional. We’d love to hear your thoughts but most of all we encourage you to visit the site, who knows this maybe the perfect gift for the next birthday, thank you or get well gift that you need to buy.
We are pleased to announce some of the most intricately detailed work we have done yet has now launched!
Sugar Blue Burlesque is a performance troupe and a burlesque academy that was established in 2007. They have a great looking brand identity and fabulous photos but their previous site did not show this. Clever Starfish worked with the director of the company Melanie Piantoni (aka A’dora Derriere) to rejuvenate and responsify the burlesque websites as well as being able to better manage the addition of shows, products in the store, performer profiles, academy classes and blogs. Our solution to managing all of the things was to split Sugar Blue Burlesque’s offerings into three sites.
Sugar Blue Burlesque – For performer management, bookings of dance troupes, featuring events and purchasing products
Sugar Blue Academy – For course management and the sale of drop in classes, courses and workshops
These sites were all built on WordPress and our custom catalogue/e-commerce platform Tentacle for store products and academy courses. The sites have been designed and developed to provide a user experience with subtle animations, punches of colour and detailed imagery – Refresh the home page to see the girls in the header change!
The Sugar Blue site really showcases the talent behind Sugar Blue Burlesque which includes some internationally recognised performers. We have developed glamourous profile pages for each performer that shows off their videos and photo gallery, linked to all of their performances, latest blog, tweets, courses and acts they are associated with. Have a look yourself at the lady in charge of Sugar Blue—Adora Derriere—and see what acts she performs in.
Sugar has a gorgeous new shop featuring products made locally in Australia and in Europe, including items designed exclusively for Sugar Blue Burlesque. Need a gift for someone who has everything? Do they have a Sugar Blue Burlesque voucher? No? We didn’t think so. You can buy them to use in the shop and for academy courses right on the site.
Want to know the ins and outs of what has been happening in Sugar Blue? Have a look at the blog and browse by topic or Author to see what your favourite Burlesque star has been talking about.
Ever dreamt of being a burlesque star yourself? The Burlesque Academy offers a huge selection of courses to get you shimmying, shaking, undulating, bumping, grinding, wiggling, jiggly twirling and swirling through classic burlesque moves. Be a Burlesque megastar for the day by enrolling in one of the many burlesque make up classes where you will be transformed into a vintage pinup in the morning for a professional glamour photography session in the afternoon. Use the filter to find the course that suits you. You can filter by course type, location, course name, location, teacher and course level.
There’s a whole lot going on in this site…take a look around and let us know what you think!
Perth-based practice The Architecture Group (aka TAG Architects) recently launched their first website. As you’d expect from an architectural company, the site was to be crisp with plenty of white space and a focus on the content.
Responsibly Responsive Design
Given their holistic approach to architecture and creating spaces that suit the people that will inhabit them, it’s fitting that they chose to have a responsive website created. Browsing the site on a mobile is just as easy as on a tablet or desktop, with the all the content changing fluidly to suit the user’s screen size.
One Page Love
One-page websites are so hot right now, but they definitely don’t suit everyone. They’re great for venues or portfolios with a small amount of content; not good if you have lots of pages to wrangle. The brief from TAG was to put the work ‘front and centre’ as soon as someone visits the site as well as have a practice profile. A reveal-on-click section allows the profile to appear in a high position without taking up space when not needed. A filterable portfolio gallery teases projects, with full content appearing in the large project viewer above the gallery when clicked.
Switch Homes is a residential builder that creates beautiful homes without scary price tags.
The existing website did not match the elegance of their home designs and they wanted potential customers to easily find a home design that suits them. The result of this is a crisp-looking responsive website that includes a home finder with several useful refining options. As potential customers often do ‘couch research’ on tablet devices, the site was created to be responsive to smaller device sizes. This also makes it much easier to find a display home’s address when out and about with only a mobile phone.
The ‘real time’ search refine controls help users narrow down the home designs that are suitable for them.
We love making it easy for users to find the information they need, and it’s great working with a client who knows their audience well enough to understand what that information is. Large home plans and specifications are displayed along with the home description and gallery, removing the need to download brochures to see all the important details of a home layout.
This project was the outcome of a really successful collaboration with Intersect Communications in Nedlands.
Last night was the WA state round of the Australian Web Awards – run in parallel with events in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane.
It was held at SpaceCubed in St Georges Terrace – and was a great chance to catch up with other web nerds in our industry.
After a focus on accessibility, we got into the business of the awards – kicking off with our first of two wins for The Seventh Duchess in the eCommerce category! This followed with another award in the non-profit category for Perth Theatre Company.
There were multiple awards in some of the categories and other winners included The Frontier Group, Humaan, JuiceBox Creative, Bam Creative, 303 Lowe, Red Meets Blue, Michael Bollig and Sumo.
We thought that you might want to have a little sneak peak at the new Ashe WordPress website and online store set to launch this week. To be the first in the know, sign up to her newsletter on her current site.
The Retro Rumble is a two day festival of all things retro, with 11 soul, R&B, 60’s garage, rockabilly, blues and swing bands facing off against each other for Rumble in the Underground and a free public event with more bands, markets, food stalls, popup wine bars, fashion shows and plenty more goings on.
To complement traditional print promotional materials, we created a website with a poster look to it, but with more interactivity so that each band’s profile can be viewed. The result is this bold, bright and energetic responsive website. The really impressive part—if you’re part-nerd like us—is that the band lineup and event details are all editable in WordPress, and get automagically fitted into the list thanks to some fancy coding by devmaster Kieran.
Even though I had nothing to do with the project, on behalf of ryhme-lovers everywhere I declared that the Launchcake for Rumble must be Apple Crumble. To match the colour themes for the two events, we ended up having double crumble; one with rhubarb, one with blueberries. It just felt right.
The Take5 Temp app is a collaborative project that was scoped, managed and designed by Clever Starfish and developed by The Frontier Group.
We are very excited to finally announce the launch of this app. This project was completed early in the year, but always planned to follow the launch of their first app, Take5 Feedback.
The solution comprises of both a web app and a phone app – much like Xero and other extremely successful business apps that have hit the market in the past 5 years. So what is it? – I hear you ask! It is an app that allows you to monitor the temperature of food and store the results in the cloud. From there, you can review the results over time and generate reports.
What problem were they trying to solve with this app, you may ask… Businesses have to rely on staff to routinely record temperatures to ensure that food storage temperatures are within the safe means at all times at the point when food is delivered to their cafe, restaurant or venue. The classic way of doing this is with a clipboard or notepad. These get very grubby in the kitchen and are not very easy to review – should you have a problem that may have occurred from incorrect storage of a food. This method is also very easy for staff to cover their tracks. Risky business in food.
So how did we come up with the solution? We all put our heads together to solve the problem;
Jeremy Wolf, Director of Take5 Temp is a trained chef, so he was aware of the strengths and weaknesses of the current systems.
Jane Farrow, our Managing Director, has more than 10 years of experience designing websites and web-apps so is aware of the best way to structure content and create use pathways.
Colin Paterson, Strategic Marketing Director of Ready for Liftoff, has decades of experience launching new products to the market and bringing together the best team to solve the issues at hand.
Adam Fitzgerald, CEO of The Frontier Group, has extensive experience in web apps and has been in the market of iPhone apps and Android Apps since their inception.
We spent an appropriate amount of time producing a scoping document and then ensuring the use-case was strong. We worked on a name and brand that would hold true (great work RFLO and Milkable) and a structure that will present the simplest pathways and structure for users. Once we all agreed that was sorted, we then moved into design then development.
So now its LIVE! Who needs it? If you know someone who runs a cafe, restaurant or venue – they need this app. So tell them about it! Take5 Temp enables the use of existing phones or a work-supplied device (computer, tablet, phone, iPod!) to measure the food temperature on delivery in a flash. No fancy new equipment required! Alerts are raised for temperatures that are above or below the recommended food storage temperature and staff are notified when temperatures need to be monitored again.
Take5 Temp information is stored securely in the cloud, so it eliminates the need for paper recordings. Temperature data is tracked in real time and can be accessed anywhere with online access, so you don’t even need to be in the venue. This gives business owners the freedom to be on top of things, no matter where they are.
Below are screen captures of the website, where you can preview the app and watch the fabulous video, produced by Milkable.