By Monica Pitts

For the last few years, we have been remodeling things in our office and homes and have become acutely aware of what isn’t included in a remodel bid.

No one gave us a checklist to follow…so imagine our surprise when we received a bill with 1000s of dollars in “upgrades” we thought were already covered.

This can happen with websites too, so we crafted this list to help you avoid that unpleasant surprise.

1 – Don’t Expect Search Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization has many components, and not all are included in the base price of a website.

For example, unless your contract includes “on-page SEO,” the company is likely not going to research keywords and integrate them into the words of your site and meta data.

They may be building your site on an awesome framework that will optimize well. But beyond that, unless it’s in the contract, they’re probably not doing it.

2 – Don’t Expect Hosting
Monthly hosting is not often included in the cost of your website design. But, your design company should suggest a hosting company for you.
Think about hosting like your apartment. It’s the rent for where your website lives and should be a monthly or annual fee.

3 – Don’t Expect A Domain Name
Your domain name is your URL. For us, it’s

This isn’t usually part of your estimate.

Your web developer may manage your domain. We do for many of our clients because sometimes they forget to renew them. Then their website gets hijacked by some pornographer someplace; it is crazy.

Don’t let that happen to you.

4 – Don’t Expect Ongoing Marketing
Unless your current site has a flood of traffic, a surge of new business won’t come marching through your door because you built a website. You need ongoing marketing to get legit web traffic, and it’s probably not included in your web design unless it says so in the contract.

5 – Don’t Expect Ongoing Web Design Updates
If you need to add an employment application, service or new page to your site, that’s totally normal and totally not included in your contract.
Look in your contract and see how long you have to request small revisions to your site and receive support.

After that period, you may be asked to pay a consulting fee.

6 – Don’t Expect Photography
The images for your site might be original images of yours, or they might be stock photography. They could both be included or not, depending on your contract.

Stock photography from a big stock photo provider will cost you money. Also, if you don’t have professional photos and want professional pictures, don’t assume your web designer will take them.

7 – Don’t Expect Content Writing and Editing
A lot of clients assume we’re going to read through every word they’re planning to put on their website and reword it. For some, we do. They knowingly pay extra for this service because it’s in the itemized estimate.

In your initial meeting, the salesperson should ask you if you’re providing content or if they’re doing it for you. If they don’t ask, the likelihood that content development is included is nil.

8 – Don’t Expect Content Migration
For your site’s main pages (Home, About, Services, etc.), your designer should be creating and adding the content unless you’ve had a conversation about doing it yourself.

If you have sections of your site like a blog, portfolio, or careers, ask how you can deliver that information to your developer so they can auto-populate your website.

It can be done. But, the information needs to be formatted the correct way in a spreadsheet. So make sure those things are in your estimate.

9 – Don’t Expect Programming Upgrades
You want a website that’s easy for you to update. That often includes programming.

Your salesperson should ask you questions to help determine what additional features you might need to have programmed into your site. If you request additional features during the build process it will take more time to build your site and you may be charged extra.

10 – Don’t Expect Optimization for Every Browser
This nightmare for designers is orchestrated by a cross between creating sites for people using antiquated systems and everyone else keeping with the times.

Your site will look different on different screens and devices.

Optimizing it to look perfect on every screen for every person is really tough. If you want it to look a certain way everywhere – you’re going to pay extra.

Now go forth and negotiate with confidence.
How can you make sure you know what IS included in your web design?

Get clarification in writing.

Ask for an itemized estimate and a detailed contract outlining all of the things your web designer will do for you, and do not feel bad about going back and asking for details.

Hopefully, you can go into those conversations with potential designers and developers, review their estimates and be aware of what’s missing, which will result in a fantastic website!

Monica Pitts is the founder and Chief Creative Officer of MayeCreate Design. She spends her days constructing a marriage of form and function; creating art with her design team to grow businesses through websites and online marketing. Monica considers herself an artist, marketer and web dork with the ability to speak geek and English.