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TIBCO and The Frontier Group

Posted in Agile Development, Industry Trends, Inside TFG

Last month The Frontier Group joined the TIBCO Partner Network program and in doing so formalised an agreement that has been under development for over nine months.

This formal partnership sees us join a prestigious group of IT consulting, integration and software development companies who specialise in delivering and extending TIBCO software solutions for large enterprise customers. Collectively we have already begun solving unique problems across a variety of markets and industries with a focus on health, communication, banking and finance, government, transport and retail.

We expect to make our first project-completion announcements around oil and gas exploration, iron ore production and resource transport during Q3 2013.

The agility, focus and creativity our web application and mobile development customers have enjoyed for over a decade position us well to disrupt the stale enterprise software arena. Through this partnership with TIBCO we will deliver modern, accessible and secure applications to customers who have typically had to settle for less.

We’re very proud of this new alignment and look forward to making future announcements shortly.

What to Call a Company That Makes Websites?

Posted in Industry Trends

A short time ago, I called out for people to let me know what names they could think of to represent a company that makes websites. The goal was to put on the shoes of a prospective client, and see if they could identify with any particular term.

Companies that work with computers in any way, usually get lumped in the IT category. There is such a wide range of companies under this banner, it is very confusing for both clients and companies alike.

Even asking for alternatives for “web designers” brought back a huge response. No wonder clients have such a hard time understanding who they need to be working with.

The responses:

  • digitial firm
  • digital creatives
  • web creatives
  • web firm
  • dev agency
  • web design agency
  • creative agency
  • web shop
  • web services agency
  • web design studio
  • digital creative agency
  • web design shop
  • web studio
  • creative studio
  • digital branding agency
  • boutique branding agency
  • digital studio
  • the IT guys
  • graphic designers

Maybe we should just split it into the following:

  • online or offline
  • print or web
  • hardware or software

Have you heard of other industries where there is as many legitimate (and widely used) names for the one branch of work? Let me know in the comments.

Twitter Panel

Posted in Industry Trends, Inside TFG, Tips and Tricks

Here at The Frontier Group, we have a team of designers and developers who are very good. Great, even. Fantastic. Superb. Phenomenal. Insert other synonyms for “awesome” here.

Even so, we recognize that we don’t (and can’t) know everything. Our web design and development focus is specific. In areas outside our expertise, we could always stand to learn and grow and we do every day.

This is where you come in. We’re going strong with connections here in Australia, and we’d like to reach out to our friends in the U.S. We’re looking for a few good web designers and developers to connect and share knowledge with. Okay, more than just a few – we’re looking for 50. One from each of the United States. We’d eventually like to connect with one (or several) designers and developers from every country, but we thought we’d start with one and work our way up from there.

Why are we doing this, you ask? Besides making international connections, we’d like to formulate a monthly “Ask The Experts” panel on Twitter. Once a month at a scheduled time, our panel will convene and discuss a given topic – everything from the latest Ruby gem to HTML5. Other Twitter users will be encouraged to come and hang out, learn, and contribute or “ask the experts” for advice. We’ll have our very own hashtag so the panel’s posts will be easy to locate.

We’re hoping it will be a great resource for both us and the web community.

So what do you say? Will you join us in building the Twitter panel to end all Twitter panels? A hashtag that means people actually increase their knowledge? And if you’re not a resident of the U.S., no worries. Remember, we’re aiming to connect to everywhere in the world eventually.

Express your interest in the comments, or on our Twitter.

AWIA – Australian Web Industry Association Committee

Posted in Australian Web Industry Association, Industry Trends

What is AWIA?

From their website:

Formerly Port 80 Inc, the Australian Web Industry Association represents businesses, individuals and students involved in the web industry and aims to:

  • Further the advancement of the web industry within Australia;
  • Educate the general public about the role of professionals in the web industry;
  • Foster greater ties with like-minded organisations.

The Committee

As Managing Director of The Frontier Group, I have nominated to be on the committee in one of the upcoming vacant positions.

As a reasonable size business in the industry it would be good to have a voice within the association and help craft the future of the web industry Australia wide. Paid AWIA members can vote at the AGM (as well as submit a proxy vote).

The 2010 nomination statements are on their website today. AGM details can be found here.

How much does a website cost?

Posted in Industry Trends, Websites or Tools

The question

This question has been asked for nearly as long as web design companies have been in existence. If you spend 5 minutes doing some research on Google, you will find the answer lies somewhere in the vicinity of FREE to upwards of $100,000.

I’m not sure this helps with making an educated decision as a consumer.

Having met over 200 small business owners in the past few weeks as part of the Achieve More Online workshops, I’ve seen first-hand some extremely bizarre website pricing and fielded many a question about what an appropriate cost might be.

The extreme

Unfortunately, I came across a business (single operator, home-based) who had shelled out over $7,000 for a basic templated web site with 4 pages (Home, About, Photo Gallery, Contact) by a Perth web design company who shall remain nameless. They had also paid for a content management system (CMS) which they had not received. The site would have taken less than a day to put together.

On the contrary, there seems to be an expectation from the SME sector that a high quality website should be somewhere in the vicinity of $2,000 or less.

The price is right?

While I don’t think there’s an easy general answer to the title of this post, here at The Frontier Group we have our own reasons on why our websites are priced the way they are.

The breakdown of a typical small business website:

Research – This is the first stage in the project, where requirements and the purpose of the website are determined. A website needs a real business reason to exist, and we need to know what that is.

  • The website needs to pass the what, why, how, what if? test. ie what/who the business is, why they should deal with you as opposed to a competitor, how you work, what the benefits are of using your product/service or alternatively, the downside of not using your product/service.

Content – This component is often overlooked or left until last. How can your website be effective in communicating to your customers without content? Just what content you want your website to have will determine how the site will be designed and structured. Knowing and planning for this upfront is key.

  • Think about the problem/s you’re actually trying to solve with a website and how that might potentially need to look, do some research on competitors who have successfully achieved a similar outcome in your industry.

Accessibility – Now we’re moving towards the design phase, so it’s time to start thinking about accessibility. We’re committed to complying with the Disability Discrimination Act 1992 when it comes to developing a website for all. This makes sure online information and services are accessible by people with disabilities. We adhere to the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0, which covers a wide range of recommendations for making Web content more accessible.

  • Most people designing their own website or using an online site builder will miss this step completely. On the other hand, there’s plenty of companies who will also leave it out, or fail to inform you about it due to price or ignorance.

Wireframing & Visual Design – At this stage in the project a designer may present wireframes of the concept ideas to develop an outline with the customer. Once a layout structure is agreed, they then develop the visual design of the website. At the completion of this stage images or “flats” are produced for each of the individual page types.

  • If you’re after a unique business look and feel, don’t succumb to the temptation of a templated site. While this may reduce barrier to entry, chances are, there’s a hundred other sites out there that look identical to yours.

Prototyping – We produce a prototype website for our customers allowing them to view it in a web browser. This allows them to “click around” the site and get a better representation of how different effects or transitions will appear. At this stage, cross-browser testing and necessary website code validation occurs.

  • Check that the site functions correctly and give it a thorough test. Select a handful of your best customers and give them the option to test it for you.

Deployment – The website is then deployed to a test server, so the customer can approve that the website has been produced to the required standard.

Hosting & CMS – Domain name, Email and Website hosting needs to be considered at this stage. Also licensing and setup of a CMS product for content management. For our customers a CMS is non-negotiable, as it enables the customer to make basic changes to their content on an on-going basis. This negates the need to contact us and pay for changes.

  • Watch out here for vendor lock-in. If you want to pick up your site and change hosting company or web designer, can you do so?

Other Considerations – You might think that the website is now complete, but a website needs constant revision and updating to remain relevant. Other options at this stage involve setup of specific analytical tools, search engine optimisation techniques, email marketing tools and maybe a complete online strategy.

The answer

Armed with all this information, how much would you now pay?

You should be able to make an informed decision as a consumer that you are indeed getting what you paid for. If you’ve got a specific budget in mind, you need to appreciate and understand what that will get you from a reputable company. The value of the website to your business is the single most important point to remember.

Finally, I’ve included a guide to fairly common pricing structures by companies who follow this similar process for small business websites:

  • $0-$3,000 – Simple templated design or inexperienced student or freelancer.
  • $7,000-$15,000 – Small business website with a unique business look. Reputable company/freelancer.
  • $20,000+ – Custom website with unique requirements. Usually requires a large amount of additional programming.

I’d love to hear about your experiences in the comments below, as a customer or web design company dealing in this area.

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