Saving on web design services seems like a good deal for some. Why pay thousands when you could pay as low as $395? Unfortunately, many website owners do not realise that when it comes to web design, what you pay is what you get. At least not until it’s too late.
To avoid potential issues and future headaches, check out why going for cheap website design is not such a good deal after all.
Why Would You Consider Cheap Website Design?
Many people find it tempting to go for a cheap design service. Here are some of the most common reasons why people consider going cheap.
A tight budget
The most common reason of all, many small business owners just cannot afford to pay too much for a website. The same goes for the people looking for a personal website.
These people believe that a website is needed. However, they cannot set aside much money to pay for one. Most commonly, they don’t even consider the quality of the website they will get in return.
A “great” offer
Before doing some deeper research many people start with basic keywords. Type “cheap web design” in any search engine and you’ll find dozens, even hundreds of offers from companies that are ready to create a website at a low price.
Sometimes the offer sounds so good that the users believe they have found the perfect agency to create the website they need. But that’s just the effect of good marketing and skilled copywriters.
When something sounds too good to be true, it usually is. Therefore it is important to understand exactly what is included in the low cost. To help you avoid some of the common traps behind the cheap price keep reading ahead.
A website is not that important
For some business owners, a website is just another thing to cross off their marketing list. They believe the website won’t bring them customers and is therefore not worth investing in.
In reality, a quality website with the right features could bring you many new customers and retain the ones you already have, getting your business to the next level.
Social media as a sales channel
Social media could be a powerful tool for many businesses. With the right marketing strategy, you could launch and sustain the majority of your business on your social media pages.
Many small businesses also use social media as a way to sell their products. This makes a website unimportant in their eyes.
And while social media could be a great channel to start your online business, a website is what could make the difference and help you grow. An eCommerce website with a secure payment gateway will inspire trust in your customers and help you keep track of your sales and inventory, for example.
Why Do Some Agencies Offer Cheap Design Services?
You may wonder how some companies set offers as low as a few hundred while others ask you for a few thousand. There are good reasons for the margin in the price and here are a few of them.
They use low-cost designers
When a website designer has spent years in training and practice, it is only natural that their labour costs more. In return, they know about the best practices associated with web design and how to incorporate them into the projects they work on, not to mention their work will be specifically tailored to your business rather than using a standard “one theme suits all businesses”.
On the other hand, low-cost designers are usually self-taught or still in training, which would eventually reflect on the quality of your website.
Many website design agencies also outsource their projects to overseas workers because of the lower prices they charge. This doesn’t mean that there are no skilled developers and designers worldwide. They, however, may struggle to tailor them to the specifics of the Australian market.
They use ready-made templates
Many companies offering cheap web design promise a quick turnaround time. This could sound like a great bonus to someone eager to see their website up and running.
The reason behind the fast delivery, however, is that many low-cost agencies use preset templates. To cut the costs even further, some companies don’t even tailor the templates. They just swap in your details and content.
Using templates is a common practice when it comes to website design. But it is the level of customisation that differentiates one website from another. A website sticking to a template will not only look cheap and plagiarised, but may also eventually harm your ranking in Google.
Instead, you need a website that reflects your own brand, image, and spirit.
They don’t provide customisation options
If you think that you just need a basic website structure and all you’ll have to do afterwards is add content, then you’re in for a surprise. Websites tend to grow with your business. They change as the industry changes.
With this in mind, to stay competitive as an online presence, you’ll need to evolve your website over time by adding new features and updating the old ones. The issue with cheap websites is that usually, they are not customisable because it is faster and cheaper to build cookie cutter sites.
They don’t consider quality as important
To maintain the low costs, these companies stress quantity over quality. The website may look nice on the outside, but it’s a strong and secure core that will take care of your overall performance.
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of growing the quality and quantity of website traffic by increasing the visibility of a website. – Wikipedia
It needs to provide a user-friendly experience and meet the performance expectations of your customers.
These small details could make or break your online presence. However, agencies that focus on “building” as many websites as they can usually don’t invest their time and resources into refinements.
They don’t offer ongoing support
Most of the low-cost design companies focus on delivering the website. Afterwards, they leave the maintenance entirely up to you. And while maintaining a website is usually the owner’s responsibility, it is only natural that you would sometimes need support.
The lack of after-sale support is a common practice among companies offering cheap website design. Providing ongoing support requires a team that is available to their customers 24/7. This would add to their expenses and would naturally affect the costs of the website itself.
Why Should You Avoid Cheap Website Design?
After understanding why some agencies can afford to provide offers that are significantly lower than others, it’s time to see how exactly these practices could affect your website.
A website like any other
Using a ready-made template that is not tailored enough means that it will lack originality. It would be just another website that won’t stand out from the crowd. If you intend on running a serious business, you need your online presence to be memorable. You need a brand that people will associate with quality service.
With the rising number of websites, being competitive is hard enough with a great website. But a plagiarised-looking one could make it nearly impossible, and set your business up for failure.
Lack of research
Every industry and every region have their specifics. This means that your audience will be expecting you to meet the latest trends associated with your business.
Doing enough research on the best practices regarding your business could make a vital difference. What are your competitors doing that the users like? What are they not doing right? Are there any rising trends in the industry?
While you as a business owner could guide the designer into these specifics, a reputable company could help you through the research process. Or they could do it for you and communicate how the best practices could be incorporated into your website.
If your website lacks key elements that your audience may need, this could make them go and look somewhere else, resulting in the loss of customers.
Bad user experience
Another factor that could set back your potential customers is low website performance. Pages that load too slowly, navigation that is not intuitive to first-time visitors, clunky or boring design, bugs, and errors, are all classic examples of terrible user experience.
Who has time to wait 3-4 seconds for a page to load? Would you spend time investigating a website if you cannot find what you are looking for straight away? Or you will just go somewhere else?
Such UX issues will make your website look unprofessional and drive back your potential customers.
Failing to follow the best practices in website security and paying attention to the small details in the code leaves your site vulnerable for malicious attacks.
If you are planning a brochure-like website there is not too much harm that could be done. If you are collecting any customer data, however, a breach in your security could threaten their personal details.
This means that you could not only lose your customers, but also face legal action in case their payment details are compromised. Among the most common points of attack are login screens and plugins that may have gone out of date.
A cheap website is not such a good bargain as one might suggest. For the low amount, you would usually receive a basic website with a limited number of generic features.
Any additional features you may want to add to your pages will cost you extra and the price will add up. You would need to invest more to create a website that meets the standards set in your industry.
Should you choose to stick to the basic version you risk that your potential customers turn to a different website that responds better to their needs.
Properly designing pages, laying out content, formatting images takes time. As part of our small business packages, we also optimise each page for Google searches.
Some website packages may only include one page or a limited number of pages.
For example, if you purchase a 4-page website package you might have:
- A homepage
- Contact Page
- About Page
- Services Page
Let’s say you run a plumbing business, and you offer hot water service replacements, water leak fixes, emergency plumbing and evaporative cooling.
If you added all your services into one page, it would be less valuable to Google as opposed to having one separate page for each service.
Having one service per individual page will not only rank better in Google but, will also position your brand as a specialist in that field.
Each service you offer has different selling points that are important to your customers. Combining them into one page can be confusing.
The above will increase a 4-page website to an 8-page website, which might cost double, but will provide a better return on investment in the long run.
For more information on pages, check out How Many Pages Does My Website Need?
No control over your website
In some cases, a low-cost website means that you not only launch without any competitive features, but you may not even own your website. Some website design agencies even earn extra from your website by displaying ads you cannot control.
Others may provide content for your site without providing you with exclusive rights to it. This means that the content could be duplicated elsewhere, which causes SEO issues. Furthermore, should you ever choose to hire a different web design company, you may be forced to lose all of your existing content.
In addition to the lack of control, you could have issues upgrading your website afterwards. As we mentioned earlier, your online presence is always a work in progress. Without the options to customise at will and incorporate new features, your website could quickly become obsolete and therefore have a huge impact on your business.
Poor support (or none at all)
After-sale support is not something people tend to think about during the design stage. But sooner or later you’ll need to consult the team who created your website, regardless of it being because of a bug in the system or update that needs to be done.
Many low-cost companies choose not to bother with what happens to the websites they’ve built. Some do not provide any support while others would respond to you with canned responses instead of actually looking into your problem.
And while support is a known issue with such agencies, unfortunately, there is little that you can do once the website is live and the contract is over.
Costs more in the long run
It’s not impossible to get lucky and end up with the website you had in mind when you contacted the low-cost design agency. But more commonly, customers tend to pay a lot more than the initially advertised amount. We’ve already covered many of the factors that add up to your budget:
- Fixing bugs and usability issues
- Requesting additional features
- Removing unwanted ads
- Hidden fees
- After-sale customer support
- After-sale website upgrades
In the long run, these costs could surpass the amount you would have otherwise paid to an established and professional company.
How to Choose the Right Company for Your Website?
In the digital era we are living in, it is understandable why there are so many website design companies on the market. Choosing the right one can be a challenge. To help you make up your mind, here is a short guide of what you should be looking for.
They have worked with businesses at your level
A design company’s portfolio can tell you a lot about their experience and previous clients. If you own a big business then you need someone that has worked with major brands. If you are running a small local business, then a company with expertise on that level would be a perfect match for you as they can help you get to the next level.
A designer with experience in businesses of your size will know the best practices and level of details that need to be incorporated on your website, and they can provide you with valuable advice on what to expect and how to get the most of your online presence.
They understand your market
Any design company that values quality over quantity will take the time to do the necessary research to understand your business, industry, individual needs, and marketing strategy.
Best case scenario they will have experience working on similar projects. Even if they don’t, however, if they show interest in your business and ask the right questions you could rest assured that you’re in good hands.
They do not use preset design packages
Preset design packages include a template and a few predefined features that would be tailored to your needs.
Companies offering such packages often try to sell you functionalities that are not relevant to you or just unnecessary at your business level. Similarly, the package may be missing a feature that could otherwise be vital for your brand.
To get the most of your website and optimise it according to your industry, ask for a custom design that will be suitable for your project.
They provide excellent customer support
The perfect website design company you want to work with will provide support as part of the project contract. The duration of the support could be one or two years depending on the terms you negotiated, or maybe even longer.
A reputable company should offer you 24/7 support, since your website needs to be live at all times. Some threats like cyber attacks or data loss need to be taken care of immediately to prevent the problem from getting worse.
An easy way to find out what to expect when it comes to after-sale customer support is to check the feedback left for the selected company. Try to find reviews that have been around for a while, as these indicate the customer was satisfied for the long haul.
Cheap vs Affordable Website Design
Having a tight budget is not a crime. And it is especially common for small businesses that are just starting out.
There is, however, a big difference between cheap and affordable website design.
Cheap design often comes as a disappointment since the low quality of the website prevents it from reaching the results you have hoped for. An affordable website crafted by a professional, on the other hand, is usually tailored to your budget.
A large number of platforms and tools today allow almost everyone to sit down and build a website. But while this may be fine for a personal blog, a business website needs a far more professional touch.
When you choose the company you are going to work with remember that a website is not a one-off project. A well-established company will be able to guide you through the process of establishing your brand and meet the high standards in your industry.
Of course, if you have a limited budget don’t expect a million features. What you could safely expect, however, is having the right features to boost your online presence and make the most of your web design budget. If that sounds like a good deal to you, reach out to Masters of Digital and learn how we can help.
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