The design and build of a website is an important step for any business.
Regardless of whether you’re a multinational conglomerate with budgets that would make the average Saudi prince weep, or a fresh independent start-up scraping together all the money it can, getting your website design right is absolutely critical.
However, we currently live in uncertain financial times and, in my experience, this has played a massive part in how websites are designed and built. When it comes to marketing and promotions, it is often the case that uncertain financial times lead to a tightening of purse strings. As a result, budgets for marketing promotions and activities are reduced as companies look for more and more ‘cost effective’ solutions to their marketing and web design needs.
This need for ‘cost effective’ website design has seen an explosion in affordable, template-based website builders and freelancers. Aimed at companies and individuals who want to spend the least amount of money possible on functional, easy-to-use websites, they indeed offer a cheap solution to a potentially expensive and time-consuming project.
But, there are downsides to cheap website design. Quite significant ones, actually.
Whilst a cheap website may tick the boxes in the immediate future, look quite nice and offer the basic functionality you’re looking for, you really need to look at your website as an investment that will keep up with the needs of your business as time goes on. The days of building a website and thinking ‘job done!’ are really a thing of the past, and here are a few reasons why…
Cheap websites are a false economyQuite a sweeping statement, I know. But hear me out on this one.
Cheap website designs and builds will often only fit an immediate need for a business. This is great in the short term, but what about in 6-12 months time when you want to add eCommerce functionality, new imagery or branding, stock checking facilities or online booking? Will your site have the ability to grow with your business over time?
A cheap design option may also result in the wrong design route being taken. Established, successful website design agencies will be able to guide you to a design that is best suited for your goals - after all, that’s what their expertise is in!
A good website design agency will design and build an effective website for your business. If your focus is lead generation, they should be able to design and build a site that will help. If you sell products online, they should be able to recommend the best integrations and eCommerce facilities based on your budget. This might not be a ‘cheap’ approach, but it will give you the site you really need.
Of course, trying to future-proof your website is like trying to achieve the Kessel Run in under 12 parsecs* - it’s a myth. But investing in a website that has the ability to grow and adapt as your company grows is an invaluable asset; so bear this in mind if considering a cheap website build. If you think your business is going to enjoy continued growth in the future, then consider a growth-driven design approach to your website.
* Yes, I am aware a parsec is a unit of distance. Please address your concerns to George Lucas.
There is no such thing as cheap & cheerful
As a consumer, you have an awful lot of power to wield when it comes to getting your website designed and built. With a huge number of agencies, online solutions and freelancers to choose from, getting the best deal for your website build has never been easier.
READ MORE: The Top 7 Benefits of Growth-driven Design
But, it’s important to remember the old adage of ‘You Get What You Pay for’. Just about every website design agency or freelancer will offer you a fair or competitive price based on your brief, technical requirements and, of course, their own reputation in the industry - after all, they have to make money just like you do! So asking a reputable website design agency to offer the same or similar price as a freelancer is always going to be a tough ask and one an agency would probably not enjoy taking on.
If an agency did take on a website design & build based on costs versus a freelancer or online solution, you can bet a pretty penny that the job will be carried out to the barest minimum - not because they don’t care about your work; it’s just that it wouldn’t make financial sense to put their best resources or extra time on the project when it’s not a profitable job.
When it comes to hiring an agency, you are not just paying for the design and build; you’re paying for the expertise, too - so always be mindful of this. Instead of looking for a cheap solution, look at what is a fair cost based on your needs and expectations.
Cheap prices often means a reduced service
One of the cheapest means to get a website built is to employ a freelancer or overseas agency. They will often be able to charge a lot less than UK-based agencies due to little / no overheads and cheaper operating costs, but will - on the surface at least - have the knowledge and experience to get your site created. But that’s generally about it.
Unless your freelancer is based on-site, there is no guarantee that a freelance developer will be around when time is tight and you have deadlines to meet. Ongoing communication and support with an overseas agency or freelancer can often be difficult when compared to a local or UK-based agency, who’ll most likely have a dedicated account manager to assist you and keep you updated with project updates as & when you need them.
Freelance costs can also stack up very quickly if not kept in check, or not agreed beforehand. With an agency, there will be a degree of changes you’ll be able to make free of charge as part of the design and build process (subject to agreement beforehand of course), but a freelancer will most likely charge for every request you make outside of the project brief. What initially may have seen like a cost that was too good to be true can become a huge expense if you want to make lots of changes.
Finally, having your website built by an experienced UK or local agency will also give a measure of technical support should you need it. They would also be able to recommend and have access to the best hosting packages for your needs - something a freelancer may not.
To summarise, choosing a cheap website design and build is a viable option if your budgets are tight and you are needing a short term, simple website. But, if your business is undergoing growth and you need your website to grow with you, don’t focus on who’ll do it for the cheapest price - look at who can do it competitively and competently.