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How To Avoid The Cheap Website Design Trap

Small busi­nesses often search for “cheap website design”. That’s under­standable, but there’s a catch.

Underinvesting in your website will cost you far more in the long run.

Now, that doesn’t mean every website needs a five or six figure budget. It does mean that simply seeking the cheapest web design you can find is likely to cripple your business.

How so?

Because business web design isn’t a com­modity. It isn’t all the same except for price. It isn’t even a product. It’s a multi-dis­cip­linary, pro­fes­sional business service that involves a lot more than using auto­mated tools to build a website.

Also, because web­sites are most firms’ main mar­keting vehicle, com­peting in a 24/7/365 race for sales. Your com­pet­itors invest in pro­fes­sional design spe­cifically because it keeps them ahead of those who don’t.

You won’t win the Grand Prix in a DIY go-kart or cheap runabout.

How Cheap Websites Will Cost You More

Still, let’s look at some more con­crete examples of cheap website design costs.

  • Nothing costs more than lost oppor­tun­ities. For instance, if your average profit on each sale was £50, losing just one sale a week to com­pet­itors with better web­sites would cost you £2400 in a year.
  • Similarly, no matter how good they look, weak sites need paid ads to drive traffic — often at around £1 per visitor. So a site that per­forms well enough to earn free search traffic saves that cost.
  • Finally, the numbers often don’t work for paid ads. Lots of small firms overlook this. Most website vis­itors don’t buy imme­di­ately. Marketing takes time. So most sites convert less than 1% of vis­itors into cus­tomers. That means relying on paid traffic can easily cost you more than £100 per sale. On £50 profit per sale? Oops. Investing in a better website could have improved that con­version rate and reduced your costs.

Still, there are even more insi­dious costs to cheap web design, too. They largely depend on who’s doing the work…

The Hidden Cost Of DIY Web Design

If you think DIY web design will save you money, think again. It can be fun, but it will waste a lot of your time. Time is the most valuable resource anyone has. You can never buy back wasted time. So unless you value it properly, you’ll waste far too much of it.

Learning to build a website takes time. Learning to build one that can compete takes far longer. DIY web design adds the cost of that wasted time to all the sums out­lined above.

Cheap Web Designers

So what’s the problem with cheap web designers?

Most cheap web designers are either ama­teurs, moon­lighters or lack the business exper­ience to help you make money. Many can’t even see how they’re making a loss. None of them will be around for long to support you when you need it.

Don’t think you won’t need that help. Technologies and online mar­keting both evolve rapidly, and some parts are complex. Keeping up takes a lot of work. Professionals do that so that you don’t need to.

Even if you are on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there. — Will Rogers

To be fair, many of these cheap web designers hon­estly believe they are doing you a favour. However, that just reveals that they don’t under­stand how pro­fes­sional design helps firms make more money. Some even claim that pro­fes­sional design is “over­priced” — as if all the suc­cessful firms who invest in it were simply gullible.

Risking your business on designers like that is just asking for trouble.

If you think it’s expensive to hire a pro­fes­sional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur. — Red Adair

The Cheap Professional Design “Trick”

Still, to help you avoid those risky cheap web designers, some pro­fes­sionals offer cheap design packages as a loss-leader. In those cases, you will gen­erally pay far more than the “sticker price” in the long run. That’s fair, but often unexpected.

For instance, offers like “web design for £180” often mean the monthly price. Building business web­sites nor­mally takes weeks or months. So expecting that to be a one-off price to cover everything is unreal­istic. A common mistake, but unrealistic.

Again, few who do this intend to mislead. Some do it partly to save you from the less pro­fes­sional cheap web designers. So if you would prefer to spread the costs, please ask.

Avoiding The Cheap Web Design Trap

Still, those loss-leader packages will have lim­it­a­tions — and some are safer than others. So here’s what most people imagine a business website needs:

  • A good offer
  • A pretty website

So that’s often all you get from cheap website design ser­vices. However, whilst looks can help with con­verting vis­itors to cus­tomers, Google doesn’t rank sites by how pretty they are. Here’s what actually matters:

  • Content quality: rel­evance, read­ab­ility, structure, use­fulness, interest, expertise, authority
  • On-page SEO
  • Backlink quality and numbers
  • Legal Compliance
  • Security — including SSL certificates
  • Software Maintenance
  • Site speed & “web vitals”
  • Crawlability: sitemaps, code quality, struc­tured data etc.
  • Mobile friendly, responsive design
  • Performance man­agement: stats, ana­lysis & experiments
  • Interactivity & Engagement: forms, chat, anim­ation etc.
  • Trust marks: logos, testi­mo­nials, video testi­mo­nials, social proof
  • User-centric design: designing for visitor Personas (UX/UI)
  • Accessibility
  • Social Media Marketing
  • Content updates
  • Interest Targeting & Keyword Research
  • Directory cita­tions
  • Reviews
  • Video mar­keting
  • Conversion Rate Optimisation & A/B Testing
  • GMB & Bing for Business
  • Paid Ads and remarketing
  • Email mar­keting: news­letters & outreach
  • Lead magnets and sales funnels
  • Offline mar­keting: net­working, phone out­reach, tra­di­tional media

Those aren’t all essential in every case, but over­looking any of them can ser­i­ously undermine your chances of success and profits.

Whilst I can’t do all of that for you in a cheap package, my Simple Site packages include help with the bold items on that list. I can help with the other online aspects too, so my solu­tions are built with that in mind.

You won’t get that from amateur solu­tions, or inex­per­i­enced designers — and most exper­i­enced designers’ prices are aimed at estab­lished firms with large mar­keting budgets. My goal has always been to help smaller busi­nesses, not just to sell to them.

Most cheap web designers — including quite a few pro­fes­sionals — focus on looks and ignore these per­formance factors. My “Simple Site” packages focus more on per­formance and use design tem­plates to cut down on visual design time without sac­ri­ficing quality. Why?

Because I want you to have the best chance of success you can afford.

So those Simple Site packages aim to be cost-effective, not just cheap. That’s why I prefer to call them affordable web design.

Need cost-effective small business web design?

Get a Simple Site!