Building a website is similar to building a house.
Imagine calling up your local home builder, and asking for a quote to build your dream house.
Can he give you a quote over the phone? Probably not.
I suspect one of his first questions will be “do you have a plan for the house?“.
Why does the builder ask this question?
Because it is much easier to give you a quote if he can see the size of the home, the number of bedrooms, bathrooms, whether it is single/multiple storey, the number of garages, etc).
What if you don’t have a plan? Some builders could ask you about a dozen questions (determining the factors above), and could perhaps give you an idea of the cost over the phone.
Would you trust that builder though?
What would he be basing his guesstimate on?
In the same way that your dream home will start with an architect drawing up a plan, your website should start the same way. You need to know what you want to build, before a developer can give you a quote.
A website wireframe is like a blueprint for your website.
If a web development agency gives you a website quote, without having done the homework to create a plan you absolutely have to ask yourself “how did they come to this price?”
Did they add padding to the quote to cover for what they don’t know? This could lead to you paying more than you should. That’s not right.
Did they create a quote without really knowing what you are trying to do? There is a good chance that this could to additional invoices halfway into the project. I call these surprise invoices, and I despise them myself. Surprise invoices are just plain wrong.
A website quote should be based on a proper plan. And that plan must not live in your web developer’s head.
As the client, you play a massive role in creating that plan. You might not think so right now, but you have all the answers. It is your web designer’s job task to ask all the right questions, and to guide you through what is achievable, and what is not achievable.
So, next time a web designer sends you a quote over email without having spoken to you, ask yourself would a reputable home builder have done the same?
Or would they have wanted to see the plan first?