When a repair or update to your home is needed you have three options: 1) hire a professional, 2) fix it yourself, or 3) live with it. Okay, I suppose you could also call in a favor and have friends, relatives, or neighbors give you a hand too, but you get what you pay for.
Your choice can depend on several factors. How much will it cost? Do you have the tools? Do you know anyone who could help that has the skills? Do you have the skills yourself? How critical is it? What happens if you do nothing?
There are times when fixing it yourself is an option, such as when it’s not critical and you have some expertise, or at least interest in learning. Other times you might just live with it. It’s not that important and you’re worried that you might even make things worse. But other times you know that it has to be dealt with, and sometimes right now, whether you can afford it or not.
No one but you can make that call. But talking with a professional and letting them know the full situation – what you want to achieve or avoid and the budget you have to work with – can be a good place to start to get the information you need to make the best decision.
straightTALK: You always have choices – and choices always have consequences. With good information you can choose wisely.
Houses come in a lot of different shapes and sizes – and budgets. Not everyone is able to build the custom home of their dreams and most people begin small (and cheap) and move up over time.
Websites can follow the same path. You might begin with a free blog (like Blogger or Tumblr) or a templated, hosted site with limited options as a starter (like SquareSpace, Wix, or Weebly). Perhaps later you move up to a premium, self-hosted website. It could be awhile – or perhaps never – that you have the need, and the budget, for a custom-built solution.
Whatever home is right for your situation, you can still decorate it stylishly and organize it effectively to get the most out of the situation. Custom homes, block homes, modular homes, heck even tents provide shelter.
straightTALK: Not everyone needs a palace. Modest accommodations can be made to work well too.
“I just want to replace the carpet…”
So it begins. The old carpet comes up which uncovers… rotting flooring? Neglected hardwood floors? Asbestos tiles?
You never know what you’ll find when you start to remodel. Your carpet layer doesn’t have x-ray vision to see what might be underneath. It’s nobody’s fault that removing the carpet unveiled structural problems. But it has to be dealt with before moving on.
Redesigning websites can be the same way. Until the developer gets in there and gets their hands dirty with the code, they’re operating blind. If they’ve provided an estimate based on “the price of the carpet” don’t be shocked when there’s now talk of “fixing the floorboards.” There are times when an estimate is just that… an estimate. If the assumptions that estimate was based on prove to be inadequate, things will change.
straightTALK: Estimates are always based on assumptions. When the situation changes, so will the estimate.
It’s one thing to build a home to live in, it’s a completely different thing to build for a business establishment. And while businesses are run from homes and homes can be converted for commercial use, if you’re building new you have one or the other in mind. The requirements, expectations, materials, and designs for each can be quite different. I mean, just think of the difference in the bathrooms!
If your website is going to be carrying commercial traffic, i.e., you want to make money from your website, you should have completely different expectations than if it’s simply to house your travel blog. Things like security, backups, and privacy / data policies become much more critical. So does hosting reliability – downtime becomes much less acceptable because it costs you money.
Knowing before you begin whether your site will be – or if it ever could be in the future – used for business can help get the foundation laid right to make it work just as hard as you do.
straightTALK: Commercial websites, like commercial buildings, are held to different standards.
Even the best built homes in will need a bit of refreshing every so often. Paint gets chipped, carpets get dirty, and furniture, well, it just gets old. The house itself may not need remodeling, but a nice bit of redecorating could have it looking brand new.
In the world of websites, redecorating means a new design, a new theme. Just changing up the colors and graphics, perhaps rearranging the layout slightly, can make your site ready for service for the next few years.
Redecorating projects can be quick and cheap, like a new coat of paint for the back bedroom, or they can be more extensive, like replacing all the flooring in the house. It all depends on how much you’d like to change, and how much you’ve got budgeted for it.
If you have a limited budget for redecorating, you’ll want to spend it so that it has the greatest impact. Sometimes that means new paint for the living room and sometimes that means new shelves in the closet. It all depends on where your greatest “pain point” lies. What’s going to make the biggest difference to the people using the place? Is the greatest “pain” felt by you or your visitors? Only you can decide.
Just remember that styles change, including for websites, and time marches on.
straightTALK: If you’re not redecorating every few years, you’re likely falling behind.
Have you ever moved into a new place and thought “what am I going to do with all this room?” only to find a few short years later that it’s just too small for you? While you might find the perfect place for your current needs, it can be surprising how quickly things change. You reach a point where redecorating, remodeling, or even adding on just aren’t going to cut it any more.
You’ve outgrown the place.
It’s time to pack up everything and everyone and move to a different location. It’s disruptive. It’s expensive. And you can’t put it off any longer. As painful as it might be, it has to be done.
Your website can be the same. No matter how much planning ahead you did and how much flexibility is built in, it’s just not working for you any more. You basically need to start from scratch and build anew. It’s disruptive. It can be expensive. And it has to be done.
straightTALK: Know when it’s time to move on.
While there are many homes on the market, there’s nothing quite like building your own custom home. You get to make the decisions – ALL the decisions. From what material to use for the foundation, to the height of the ceilings, or whether the bathroom faucet will have one handle or two, your opinion counts.
Are you ready for that? Do you know enough to make those decisions? Do you care enough to bother with them? Do you have the time to devote to researching and making those choices? Are you ready to accept responsibility and consequences of those decisions?
Whether you go for a custom build, a move-in ready existing home, a fixer-upper, or a DIY adventure depends on your expertise, skill, interest, time, and budget. There’s no one “right” solution.
The same applies to websites. A custom build will take time and money, but it will be built to match your wants and needs and be built to last. Or you can work with existing themes and plugins to get something that will suit just fine in much quicker time frame. You can go the DIY route too, if you’ve got the time, interest, and skills and want that experience.
straightTALK: Custom, move-in, fixer-upper, or DIY. Whether a home or a website, each choice comes with expertise, skill, time and money trade-offs.
When building a house it’s fun to look at the catalogs of all the shiny accessories that can be added. There’s a seemingly infinite variety of cabinets, bathroom fixtures, and tiles to choose from. And a seemingly infinite variety of price points.
Since you have to work within your budget, you may be tempted to go with some of the lower priced / lower quality options to get more bling for the buck. While that’s one approach, it’s likely to cost more in the end.
While it would be nice to have an unlimited budget where you could get everything exactly as you want it, that’s rarely the case. Knowing your budget up front, and communicating it to your contractor, can help keep you from cutting corners in the wrong places.
Your contractor, whether for a house or a website, will know where to save and where not to compromise. Quality materials always last longer. And sometimes it’s the ones you can’t see that make the biggest difference. It’s relatively easy and cheap to swap out carpet, not so much for floor joists and foundations.
The same is true for websites. Often it’s the hosting and the theme and plugin code quality that make the biggest difference in the long run. You may have to pay more for quality and customization, but it’s money well spent.
straightTALK: Cutting corners always costs in the long run.
The first rule of real estate is “Location! Location! Location!” Where you build can have an impact on your budget, your security, even your future.
For a website, the “location” is the hosting company and service package you choose to go with. As in most things in life, you get what you pay for. While cheap hosting can get you by for a while, and it might even be okay for a “storage shed” of a website, but when your “home” is important to you, you’ll want to have it in a location where it will be safe from the bad guys (as much as possible) and “insured” against the worst. Translated, that means security and backups.
You can choose to manage security and backups yourself, but be prepared to invest time for learning, keeping up, and doing the actual tasks, plus probably a little bit of money as well. Or you can pay someone to take this responsibility off your shoulders.
Which direction you go can depend on how important your site is to you, how much time you have available to deal with it, or how much money you have in the budget. But like homeowner’s insurance, this isn’t an area to skimp on and should be the first thing added to and the last thing cut from the budget.
straightTALK: When it comes to website hosting, you get what you pay for. Set your expectations accordingly.
You wouldn’t dream of building a house without a set of good blueprints. A website should be no different.
Blueprints not only provide technical details for the builders, but they are the first step in helping to visualize the finished product. They are critical to determining the materials needed and therefore a large part of the budget. Blueprints can also help to identify problems before a single 2×4 is cut or a single pixel is placed. The more time spent getting the blueprints right, the faster and cheaper the actual build will be.
It might take a bit of effort to read and understand blueprints if you’re not familiar with them, but doing so will save confusion and disappointment in the long run. Blueprints (which for websites are mockups, wireframes, and style tiles) are a critical means of defining and communicating the end goal.
Remember that the communication is meant to be two-way. If there’s something that’s confusing or doesn’t seem right, don’t be afraid to ask for clarification or make suggestions.
straightTALK: The clearer the plan, the better the result.
One of the scariest parts when looking at hiring professionals to help you with your website is the question of how much it will cost. Everyone involved needs to know, and usually everyone is afraid to talk about it.
In an effort to help you understand the market I would like to share this great article on what to expect regarding market rates. As it states, it makes many assumptions and the answer is always “it depends,” but it does provide some great background into what to expect.
How Much Should a Custom WordPress Website Cost, by Brian Krosgard on Post Status
Two things to add, though. First, if you have a set budget, letting the professional know what it is up front can help them get you the most bang for your buck and avoid a lot of frustration. Two, if you really have no idea what something costs, but are willing to find the resources to make it happen, well I hope the information in the article provides some guidance for you. If this is the case, then having a chat with a professional to have them help you define what your likely budget might be can be very helpful. Once again, let them know that you’re just looking for information rather than a full-on proposal and that you might not be ready to move forward just yet — because “straightforward” works both ways.