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Frequently Asked Questions

Wednesday, 29 July 2015, Written by  Chris Hood

There are few things in life quite as cliché - and incredibly useful - as a good old FAQ. Therefore it's about time we cave in to demand, and present the Q's we get A'd most F'ly.

1. Website Design

This varies; but in all cases, it's fast. Pay monthly websites benefit no-one while stuck in purgatory, so our developers design and build them as quickly as we can while retaining the best quality standards. There are 2 distinct phases:

Phase 1 - The Visual Design: 2-4 days.

This is the initial phase in which our developers take your guidance (or lack thereof - free reign with a blank canvas is fine, too) and create a Visual Design for you. This is an image of how we would propose your home page to look.

Amendments

We give you as much opportunity as you want to request amendments to the visual to make it perfect for you. We want this website to last a long time and be absolutely perfect from the outset, so let's get it right. This takes as long as want to send the amendments over, plus a day or so for us to amend the visual.

Phase 2 - The Build

The time taken for a build depends on the type of site we are building. As a general rule, Professional sites take 3 days, while CMS sites take 5 days and Ecommerce sites take 7 days. If there are any significant departures from these timescales expected for your site, we'll let you know at the start of the build.

Amendments

Like the stage 1 amendments, we want the site to be in a good place when it goes live. Here you get as much opportunity as you like to tweak the site, the content and how it works. We action amendments very quickly.

In summary, the fastest normal time for a Vibe site to go live from start to finish is 5 days for Pro, 7 days for CMS and 9 days for Ecommerce.

In the vast majority of cases, we recommend having one responsive website built, rather than separates.

Separate desktop & mobile websites were popular 5-10 years ago but are now somewhat passé, in that they don't take into account medium-sized device screens (such as tablets), or indeed huge screens. That is, of course, unless the desktop version is responsive to all screen sizes - which negates the requirement for a mobile website. Mobile websites these days are only really suited to specialist applications that need to function significantly differently on mobiles, such as online banking.

2. Website Building

Yes, always. For professional sites we refresh the sitemap once every 6 months, or on your request, while CMS and Ecommerce sitemaps keep themselves automatically updated. We instruct Google and popular search engines on the location of every sitemap, so there's no need to link to it in your footer.

We only consider Vibe websites to be secure and a viable for us to provide once they are live. Until that time, it's a risk for us to work on them, as every hour of development can take a month for the site to pay back (depending on the development cost - we pay our developers well!). Therefore we actively push for websites to go live in a timely manner.

Development can be paused for up to 2 weeks to account for customer holidays, or time taken to prepare content. Beyond 2 weeks we can pause development for as long as you like, but have to request that you enter into a written agreement to guarantee the site for the paused period. For example, if you need to pause development for 6 months, we'll ask that you agree to a 6 month contract.

Bear in mind - due to the 2 years it takes a Vibe site to pay back its upfront cost to us, we can only provide websites that we believe will succeed - and a website has no reason to succeed if it's shelved.

3. SEO

All of our Pay Monthly Websites are built fully optimised, so ongoing web-code SEO is already taken care of with the build, and not strictly required going forward. Generally speaking, a Vibe Website on its own will perform strongly in web searches, and one with additional SEO will perform very strongly. SEO is beneficial no matter how good the website.

Yes. We provide in-house SEO tailored entirely to the sites we build. Our packages start from £15 per month (for Vibe Customers only) and are a great enhancement for Vibe sites. We've seen some real strong businesses grow out of our SEO programmes, and can highly recommend considering SEO with us. Note - we only provide SEO for Vibe websites. Our comprehensive understanding of our own website allows us to provide SEO much more effectively and efficiently.

Generating Website Enquiries

At this point your website will be fully indexed in Google, compliant and scoring highly on site checkers, and will have a green light for quality. Where we need to look is your promotion of the site, and we'd recommend the following as key areas to consider:

  • SEO – consider whether you are undertaking Search Engine Optimisation (such as social media, setting yourself up on directories such as Yell, Thomson Local etc). If you don't fancy the idea of doing your own SEO (it's exceptionally dull), consider our SEO packages - they are very effective and often pay themselves back multiple times over in increased business.
  • Domain age – web domains don’t start to reach maturity until they are 6 months old, so if your domain is younger than this it’ll only just be coming into its performance window.
  • Content – try to expand on your content by adding to it as much as possible. Google rewards good, relevant and plentiful content above all other factors
  • Marketing – websites need to have traffic driven to them, and only once they have established themselves do hits become autonomous. Consider your marketing of the website such as advertisement, leafleting etc
  • Social Media and online activity – The best free way to get people visiting your website and talking about your company is by communicating in public. Social media and forums would be excellent for this.

We tend to use the analogy of having a new home built; a property developer can build someone a beautiful home in a prime area, but it doesn’t mean people will come to your parties. Similarly, we as web developers build very high quality websites, but you the operator need to give people a reason to visit, and it doesn’t replace marketing as a necessity; otherwise, marketing wouldn’t exist as an activity in 2015.

We provide SEO packages to any Vibe customer looking to boost their site’s performance and speed up its growth. These packages start at £15+VAT per month (which provides fundamental growth to the site through setting up social media, directory submissions and code optimisation). If you’d be interested in having us look at doing some SEO for you, contact your Vibe developer.

4. Hosting

Yes - we provide free hosting on all of our Vibe Websites, using a UK-located Enterprise grade server. It's a very high specification server, built in late 2014 and specified for high-demand Ecommerce and multimedia websites.

In short, yes, and yes - very. Vibe Websites are high-end, demanding websites which really shine when given the best hosting possible, and as it's a premium product, we can't afford any down-time. We don't mess around with bad hosting; it would be like serving a 5-course meal on a paper plate.

We can handle this in its entirety, at no charge, apart from cases where the provider needs to speak with the account holder (you). This might just be the initial notification of cancellation, where you can authorise us to act on your behalf. It varies from case to case. But the general rule is that if it helps the process along or if it's technically taxing, we are more than happy to do this for you.

5. Ecommerce

At the time of writing, the demo area for our Opencart package is at demo.opencart.com/admin - Username: demo Password: demo

£40+VAT per year, paid at the start of each certificate. This is paid separately to the monthly website cost.

We only recommend implementing https for Ecommerce baskets, checkouts, secured forms and other areas with a very high security-integrity requirement. The additional load on the server to load an https page is very intense, increases bandwidth drastically, and slows down the site a great deal. There’s no real need for product pages as they don’t present any security targets on our Ecommerce platforms.

Yes - this is a standard feature of our Ecommerce package. It includes the ability to allow you to select the relevant products to send through to Google Shopping.

In most cases, yes. It's best to talk to one of our developers and let us take a look at your product data, just to make sure.

We only enter products if there are very few of them (up to 10, which we would do for testing & formatting purposes only), if we can mass-upload them (as above), or if you want to outsource your product admin to us (ongoing or one-off at the start of the site). The factors that go into the cost of this are varied and numerous, so if you're interested in us looking after your product admin, it's best to talk to one of our developers.

6. How we provide websites

Discounted Pay Monthly Websites

Under normal circumstances we can't provide websites at a discount. In order to ensure we have a continual flow of website customers, Vibe Websites are provided at the lowest feasible cost for their provision to be possible. We therefore operate with a packed diary of fully-priced website builds at any one time, and it isn't cost effective for us to take on discounted work. This includes instances where a design is provided to us, or where the website is hosted by another provider, as these costs only amount to a marginal proportion of the cost to provide the website.

One instance in which we can provide a discount is when providing multiple websites on the same fundamental platform, whereupon we can discount subsequent sites by 10-25%, depending on the development time saved from using the common platform. For full details of how this would work for you, please speak with one of our developers.

New Customer Discounts

We don't provide any discounts or deals on our websites. We believe in looking after all our customers for a long and successful future, and at the forefront of that is making sure all our existing customers get the same deal as our new customers.

What we do offer are referral rewards to existing customers, and reductions for having multiple websites with us. This fits into our culture of caring for our long term customers. So our offer to new customers is to become an existing customer - at which point you'll have Vibe right by your side, and we'll do everything we can to say thank-you.

Monthly cost breakdown

The monthly cost for an average Vibe website can be proportioned as follows:

  • 15% covers the development cost of the Visual Design
  • 65% covers the cost of the initial website build, including amendments
  • 10% covers the for the Go-Live process, technical administration and set-up
  • 10% is assigned to cover ongoing maintenance, support and amendments

On average, the above covers the labour cost to us only for the first two years of provision, after which the website becomes a returning investment, until its 3-year redesign and rebuild. As an example:

A Professional Website costing £30 per month will cost, on average:

  • £470 for us to build (based on an upfront cost of paying a mid-grade Vibe developer for 30 hours of work - sorry to give your salary away, guys).
  • £100 to pay a Vibe Designer to create the visual
  • £70 for a technical developer to launch the site, set up hosting, create guides etc, and;
  • About £70 to host, support and maintain the website for 2 years (around £5 per month).

The total upfront budgeted cost to us is therefore £710, plus £10 for tea bags (our developers are the expensive British kind), which over 2 years is £30 per month. That's how we price our websites; it's pretty handy that they come to nice round figures.

Once a site has reached its second birthday, it starts to return our investment and becomes part of the reason Vibe can exist. That's why we really want websites to succeed for a long time. And then they turns 3 years old, and it's back to covering costs after their second iteration. And how quickly they grow up!

Note - The upfront cost of the above may be higher to us, depending on the grade of the assigned developer and specifics of the build, but we never pass this cost on unless discussed and agreed with our customers. These are usually exceptional cases where the customer has changed the requirements of the website during the build process. We also don't charge for customer communication or incidental advice. If it really starts costing us money, we'll let you know.

Upfront Charges

There are some exceptional circumstances in which we may need to charge you upfront for certain requests. These may include:

  • A volume of regular work which pushes the upfront labour past a point that can reasonably be covered by the standard monthly cost (£30, £45 or £60 per month as appropriate)
  • Installing systems that need to be purchased externally by Vibe
  • Pioneering or high-complexity work that will engage a high-grade Vibe developer for a significant amount of time

Why do Vibe need to charge in these instances?

Our monthly cost is based purely on paying back the initial cost of the website to us over 2 years, including labour and purchases. If this goes considerably past our reasonable estimates for a 2-year payback, we need to make sure that cost is covered upfront.

Can the cost be added to my monthly payment to spread it over 2 or 3 years?

Under normal circumstances, no. All of our customers' websites are considered as 3-year investments, and with no contract in place there is an investment risk assigned to every website. As a standard policy, the maximum amount of risk we can take on is reflected in our normal monthly package costs - IE £30, £45 and £60 per month. Beyond those costs, websites become bigger investments with bigger costs if they fail, and with no contract the risk is considered too great. It's a similar principle to limiting yourself when gambling - we only deal in lots of small-to-medium-sized investments. As an example:

The Groom Cupboard is an Ecommerce Website which sells wedding outfits for men. The company was running for 6 months before approaching us for a website, and its outlook is good. The website is now 80% of the way through development after 2 weeks, and is progressing as a normal Ecommerce website would. By completion it'll cost us around £1,500 in developer's salaries, as a standard online shop normally would, putting it in line roughly to be covered after 2 years at £60 per month.

We then receive a request from the customer asking for a custom system whereby visitors can design elements of their clothing, with graphical animations to show the products altering. This isn't a standard feature for an Ecommerce site, so it needs to be custom built or bought from another developer.

Looking into this requirement, we can either build the system which would take around 25 hours of labour for a high-grade Vibe developer (say £500, without giving their exact salary away), or buy a ready-built system in, again for £500. We estimate that a bought-in system would take 2 hours of labour to set up on the site, which can be absorbed into the site's regular cost.

We therefore will need to make an upfront charge of £500. If the customer chooses the system custom built by Vibe, that upfront charge prevents the investment getting too big to warrant a no-contract arrangement. If the customer chooses the bought-in solution, we need to cover the cost to us, as we have a strict policy of not allowing websites to go into a negative balance.

To fully explain the risk and why we don't take it, the obvious risk here is that The Groom Cupboard could fail. An example instance: The website sees a successful first 2 months. The customer then badly breaks his/her arm, and can't fulfil orders any more. The business needs to close, and The Groom Cupboard goes offline with 30 days' notice. Including the £500 upfront charge, it's paid back £680 (£500 + (£60 x 3 months total) of the £2,000 upfront cost to us, so the unaccounted cost is £1,320. We suck it up, hold back the tears and eat wafer sliced ham for Christmas - that's our risk.

If we built the complex system and didn't make any upfront charge, but instead spread the cost over 3 years (+ £14 per month), the now-offline website has paid back £222 of £2,000, which is a net loss of £1,788 - the kind of figure that breaks businesses with enough regularity. If we bought the system in, without passing on the cost, the website has actually cost us £278 upfront, plus the significant labour cost.

Instances like the above are rare, but they do happen on a regular enough basis that we need to prepare for them. Businesses close - particularly young businesses - and the Vibe product appeals strongly to young businesses, given its affordability. Often, not even the best website in the world can stop a business from closing. Therefore we need to keep a fair policy to all customers of keeping our products controlled, and responsibly charging for requests which go above and beyond what we can reasonably put our investment into. If we didn't, Vibe Websites probably wouldn't be here.

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