How can a B&B save money or limit their expenses on web site design?
I am often asked what an innkeeper can do to keep the cost of designing and producing their website to a minimum. There are a number of things that can be done. The only one I specifically do not recommend is designing it themselves, unless of course they have a lot of experience in commercial web design AND true search engine optimization. Even most professional designers come up short on search engine optimization. They routinely make some of the most common mistakes (see the list of them on the advice page) and prevent the website from reaching as many guests as you need it to. This is all despite the fact that they swear up and down they know how to make sites search engines can find. The proof is only in the sites they design. Read through the top mistakes of Bed and Breakfast web sites in the advice section and then go look at some of their sites and see if they measure up.
When it comes to saving money on web site design, there is a lot that can be done to help reduce the costs. Keep in mind, what you are paying for is the designer's time, that's why they usually bill by the hour. If there are simple tasks that you can do, it means the designer doesn't have to do them, so his time on the job is less and he should be willing to pass that savings on to you. However, you need to work this out in advance. Here are some suggestions of how you can save money on your design.
- Utilize the B&B artwork you have already paid for.
- If you are planning on hiring a graphic designer to produce a brochure or rack card, have them do it before your website is designed. Make sure you tell your graphic designer for the brochure that you want all the "source files" when he or she is done. Source files are the files that were used to create the artwork, not just the final file that gets sent to the printer. Your web designer may be able to use some of those source files to create you inn's website. This will mean the designer doesn't have to spend hours creating new imagery. It also means there will be some similarity between the look of the brochure and the appearance of the website.
- Write descriptions of your B&B yourself.
- Paying your designer his hourly rate to be a typist, is where a lot of money gets wasted. Do your best to write the descriptions you want used on your website ahead of time. They may need to be fine tuned by a marketing person or search engine optimizer, but at least you are giving them something to start with. Write them in a word processor or an email file so they can quickly copy and paste them into your site where they are needed. Don't give them to the designer on a handwritten piece of paper, or you will have yourself one very expensive typist.
- Do area research and link collection yourself.
- Lets say you want a page of local restaurant information to be a service to your guests. Don't pay your designer or promoter their hourly rate to be a web searcher. Collect the names and descriptions of the restaurants you want to include and be sure to look up and write down all the web site addresses of each of the restaurants too. Paying a designer to do this level of information collection is silly, Write it up in a word processor or email program so they can just copy and paste it where it is needed on your web site.
- Collect the pictures you are going to want on your site in digital format (as many as you can).
- If the images you want used are in digital format they will be easier for your designer to use. Easier, means faster, faster means cheaper. If you give them paper photos, they will have to scan them and that takes time. However, don't cut corners and give them lousy looking photos because that is all you have that is digital. If better images are available on paper, then use them. Photo quality is important whether you are using digital images or paper based ones.
- Organize the photos before you send them.
- Don't send your web designer photos that you don't actually want to be used. If you have 30 photos and you think 2 of them are really bad, don't waste your designers' time (and your money) by sending them bad photos. Send them only photos that pass your standards. Quite likely (if the designer is any good) they will have an even more critical eye and have to narrow your selections down a little bit more, but at least they won't have to contemplate using a photo you don't like. Photo processing takes time to optimize photos (resizing, cropping, adjusting color, airbrushing out items...) and what you don't want to risk creating is a situation where your designer spends an hour optimizing a photo and placing it on the website only to have you say "can you use a different photo, I don't like that one". That was time and money just wasted.
Also before you send your photos, spend a bit of time naming the files in a meaningful way. If a designer receives 40 photos of your bedrooms and bathrooms and they are all named "photo0361.jpg" or other similarly meaningless names, the designer then has to spend time trying to decipher which photo is which bedroom and which bathroom goes with which room. Name them based on which room they are (examples: bedroom1-dresser.jpg, bedroom1-bed.jpg, bedroom1-bathtub.jpg, bedroom2-dresser.jpg...)
Take on as many of these tasks as you can, and you could save yourself several hundred dollars if not more.
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