Why The Best Websites Begin With a Consultation Call, Not a Quote

So, you’ve decided your business needs a new website – or maybe its first website. Maybe you’re hoping to better serve your customers with a sleek new user interface. Maybe you need a new site to help you soar up the search rankings. Or maybe you’re right at the beginning of your online journey.

Whatever your situation, websites can bring so much to a business. They’re an online beacon that can raise your company’s profile in all the right places.

Yet when most businesses realise that a new site is the way forward, their first question tends to be “how much?”. It’s totally understandable – all of us need to manage our budgets. But some organisations just ask for a quote before they’ll even entertain the idea of speaking with a web design agency.

Yet we feel that providing a flat quote can lead to the client missing out… on a lot. Exploring what end results you want from your new website with a knowledgeable web designer can uncover cost-saving pointers, reveal hidden value-adds, and help you decide whether that designer is a great fit for the job.

Hurrah and huzzah for the trusty consultation call.

What is a Website Consultation Call?

Website consultation calls are generally a free, initial conversation between a business who has identified a need for a new or redeveloped website, and a website developer or agency. Together, they can discuss what the prospective client needs from their new site, and the developer can communicate what they bring to the table. All of OLCO Design’s consultation calls take place virtually.

Understandably, much of our focus during the chat is on the design, functionality, and promotion of your site and about your online goals. But the most important element of a consultation call is to see if there is a natural, professional rapport. It lets you get a feel for how well you will work together, how the agency will tackle your project, and who to approach if you have any queries.

Though consultation calls can be detailed, the agency aren’t trying to fix, prescribe, or create anything at this stage. Think of the call as a “melting pot” where both client and agency can meld their ideas and approaches together. This way, the agency can propose solutions that are perfectly aligned to the client’s needs and both parties will be on the same page from day one.

Why Do OLCO Design Favour Consultation Calls Over Flat Quotes?

It’s simple – because we don’t believe in giving a flat price for any website.

No two websites are ever the same. Rather than bombarding you with closed, template questions on a webform, a conversation allows a much more fluid, interactive exchange of ideas and gives us a much better feel for your unique knowledge and passion. Both parties get the opportunity to ask follow up questions that arise on the fly, so they can put their minds at rest about small quibbles before the consultation is over.

We’ve been told that we have a very helpful, disarming style which is especially helpful for first-time website owners who may not fully know where to start. This attention is also useful for larger, established businesses who may have tons of marketing assets, style guides, and product specifications to walk us through. In both situations, having an initial chat is far better than simply filling in a form – or playing email ping-pong!

Put simply, if you want a high-quality website, you need to put in the time first with an in-depth kick-off call.

What Should I Expect From a Consultation Call?

Booking a website consultation call may sometimes feel a little daunting, when in reality it’s nothing more than an open and honest chat about you, your business and your goals. Here’s a rough idea of what to expect.

Just want a list of what to bring to your consultation call? Keep Scrolling!

Getting to Know You: The Basics

First, it’s icebreaker time. It’s likely that the conversation will begin with you summarising your business’s life story to an extent. Expect to answer easy questions like “what do you sell?”, but also harder ones like “what is your business’s USP?”, “what drove you to start and what drives you to continue?”, and “what makes you different to your competitors?”.

Your Website

At some point in the call, we’ll have to address the elephant in the room. What drove your decision to source a new website? What specific functionality will you need from your new site, like e-commerce, email subscriptions, secure user logins, and so on? Are there any particular pages that you need to include? Are there any websites in your niche (especially competitor sites) that you like the look and feel of? Are there any sites out there that you absolutely hate?

If you already have a website that you’re replacing, what does your customer’s current buying journey look like – from cold prospect, to hot lead, to satisfied client? Can that process be streamlined? Also – what do you not like about your current website’s look and feel?

There are a few good questions you can ask the agency at this point, like “what CMS platform do you recommend we use for my site?” and “what does your website building process look like?”.

Your Brand

Your brand is the recognisable visual persona of your company, so any developer needs to treat it with care. It may help to have your existing brand assets like logos, photography, and colour palette data to hand during the consultation call (or a brand guideline document if you have one). Do you feel your brand could do with a refresh? Getting a new website could be a great opportunity to update an aging brand, and many design agencies (ourselves included) would be happy to oblige!

Turning our attention from the visual to the linguistic, what tone of voice do you use/want to use? Think about how you want the language on your sales pages, product pages, landing pages, blogs, etc. to feel.

Ask your developer what assets or access they will need from you. It can also be useful to know what other design or marketing services your web developer provides so you can potentially keep those services under one roof.

Your Top Level Business Goals

A website is much more of a strategic asset than a mere flyer or catalogue. It needs to be able to grow and adapt as your company develops and it needs to record essential usage metrics so you can measure your online success.

So what is the ultimate thing that you want your business to achieve online, and how do you feel a new website is going to facilitate that? Is your current website (or lack thereof) letting you down in terms of your strategic business aims – and how? What SMART goals do you want to achieve with your new website? And what overall business goals are you focusing on right now – both long-term and short-term?

Grounded by the metrics and KPIs that mean the most to you, your developer can then pair you with the most appropriate website analytics tools to chart your success.

Your Buyer

Any marketing endeavour is never about you – it’s about your customer. So any developer you work with will need to fundamentally understand your target audience before putting virtual pen to paper.

What is your current, ideal buyer persona? And how does that compare to the average kind of buyer that you currently attract? If you need to tweak your audience in any way, your developer may be able to help you do so.

Where do people go online when they want to buy from companies like you? They may simply search Google for your services, making SEO and search PPC essential to your success. Alternatively, you may need to wrestle a sliver of market share from other, supermassive providers like Amazon or Fiverr using targeted brand awareness campaigns.

What product/service is your business most known for and what makes the most revenue? What primary action (“conversion”) do you want your audience to complete on your site – an e-commerce checkout, filling in a form, subscribing to your newsletter, or something else? Also, does your business rely on repeat business or do you need to maintain a steady flow of new custom?

Your Competitors

At some point, we will need to discuss who we’re up against. Who do you consider to be your main competitors and why? Do you sell exactly the same product as them or are you selling something totally unique – bespoke, even?

How do your competitors promote themselves online, and where do you most seem to compete for buyers’ attention – organic search? Social media? Search or social pay-per-click? Email marketing? Or offline?

What sort of market share do you think you have? If you were to draw a pie chart of you and your competitors’ market share, what would that look like? If your business didn’t exist, where would your buyers go for what you sell? Would they have to make do with a subpar product/service?

When you get onto the subject of your competition and your market, it’s a good idea to ask the developer what research they do independently into your rivals and buyers. At OLCO Design, we pride ourselves on the thorough research that we carry out into each client’s market. Bringing our own observations to the table has helped countless clients over the years.

Your Promotional Activities

Sadly, websites aren’t just a case of “if we build it, they will come”. They don’t drive traffic and sales by themselves, so additional promotional efforts are needed to make them a success. Your consultation call should also touch on any additional marketing work needed to get your website in front of willing buyers, which may include SEO, PPC, content marketing, and lead generation.

It’ll also help to establish your current promotional status quo. How do you currently promote your company, both online and off? What marketing methods provide your highest return on investment? Have any particular marketing channels brought you success in the past? If so, that can be a great place to start.

A Few, Final Practicalities

One last important question is where your site’s written content will be coming from. You can write it yourself, you can source a professional copywriter, or you may want us to take charge – all options are available to you. Also, what timeline do you have in mind for your website and how flexible is it? We rarely ask prospects directly about their budget but it’s good for you to have an adaptable ball park figure in mind in case it comes up.

There are quite a few questions you may wish to ask your agency before the call concludes: “how much creative input will I have?”, “will I receive training in how to use the website’s admin CMS?”, and “how much will I be able to change on the site myself?”

”How is this better than a quote again?”

Now we have a full understanding of what your business needs from the project, we can provide a full proposal for all the work involved, including all research and additional marketing services. With a complete, sincere understanding of where you are and where you want to be in your business, we can create a website that fully meets your needs.

Rather than taking a transactional approach to web development, we prefer establishing a long-term relationship with our website clients. So if something on their site does need updating or changing – even months or years down the line – they only need to pick up the phone or drop us an email. This kind of relationship best starts with a proper “getting to know you” kick-off call!

Checklist: What Do I Need to Bring for a Website Consultation Call?

Before you jump on a website consultation call, make sure you can answer as many of the following questions as possible:

  • What functionality will your website need in terms of e-commerce, secure sign ins, lead generation, etc.?
  • What pages do you feel your site will need?
  • What competitor/adjacent websites do you like and dislike?
  • What SMART goals would you like to achieve from your new website? What KPIs do you need to record?
  • What are your short- and long-term business goals?
  • Describe your ideal customer. How are they different to the audience you are currently attracting (if at all)?
  • What do you consider a successful interaction on your website (a “conversion”)? An online purchase? Joining your newsletter? Completing a form?
  • How do you currently market yourself? What marketing efforts currently generate the best ROI?
  • Where will your new website’s written copy and content come from?
  • What timescale do you have in mind?

It might help to have the following to hand if possible:

  • Your USP (unique selling proposition)
  • Any core brand imagery like logos, photography, and colour palette info.
  • Brand style guide (if you have one – if not, any preferences about brand presentation).
  • Tone of voice guide (if you have one – if not, any preferences about textual presentation).
  • A rough idea of your competitor landscape and market share.
  • Access to Google Analytics (if you have an existing website).

Ready for a Chat?

Rest assured that we’re here to talk you through the whole process and are more than happy to answer any questions you may have. Together, we’ll leave no stone unturned, ready to jump into your website design project head first! And what’s more, our consultation calls are totally free and there’s no obligation to buy.

So if you’ve got a website project on the horizon, get in touch! Book your very own consultation call today!

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