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Small busi­nesses often want simple, affordable web design packages. That’s fine, we can do that — but then some call pro­fes­sional web design “expensive” and “over­com­plicated”. So why do website prices vary so much?

Because web design can mean several very dif­ferent things.

Business web­sites serve a wide range of pur­poses. Some of those pur­poses are common, others less so. So there are at least three levels of web design to con­sider.

Affordable Web Design Packages

Common require­ments can some­times be stand­ardised, and pro­cesses stream­lined, to keep costs down. However, flex­ib­ility creates com­plexity, so “stream­lining pro­cesses” actually means “restricting choices”.

For some people, and some pur­poses, that makes little dif­ference — and cash flow is often a bigger concern for small busi­nesses. Some are also more focused on getting a website built than designed. In such cases, simple website packages can be a good fit.

However, this approach to providing simple, affordable web­sites doesn’t work in more complex, or less common situ­ations. Clearly, if simple website packages don’t meet your require­ments, you need a more flexible approach — and that’s pro­fes­sional web design.

Professional Web Design

Professional web designMany firms want bespoke visual design, rather than simply cus­tom­ising pre-built layout tem­plates. It’s such a common request that many pro­fes­sional web designers do nothing else. So why do some busi­nesses see value in it, when others dont?

Well, pro­fes­sional web design isn’t just about making things look pretty or imple­menting a site owner’s per­sonal pref­er­ences. So those who think it is, won’t see much value in it. The real value comes from focusing on what your cus­tomers want, and helping your site to appeal more to your target market.

Pro­fes­sional web design covers topics like how to create inter­ac­tions, user inter­faces (UI), user exper­i­ences (UX) and inform­ation archi­tec­tures (IA) that guide user beha­viour. Other common con­sid­er­a­tions include site security, access­ib­ility, SEO, per­formance on dif­ferent devices, and so on.

Com­bined with tar­geted visual appeal, all these aspects encourages more vis­itors to become cus­tomers. Those increased con­version rates can then also reduce advert­ising costs, increasing you overall return on investment.

All of those topics are con­stantly evolving, as is the web itself. Mean­while, web­sites gen­erate lots of stats on site per­formance and user beha­viour trends. So pro­fes­sional web designers con­stantly study all these things to under­stand what really works. Over time, that data-backed exper­ience becomes a valuable resource that no short course or auto­mated design tool can replace.

Web Development

Web developmentThe other obvious lim­it­ation of simple site packages is that some­times you need more fea­tures than they include, or slightly dif­ferent approaches to providing them. So the next step up is building systems from common com­ponents.

This com­ponent-based web devel­opment approach often defaults to Word­Press devel­opment. That’s because Word­Press provides the basics of what most sites need in an incredibly flexible, user-friendly package. It also sits at the heart of an eco­system of hun­dreds of thou­sands of com­munity-built themes and plugins that can help with almost any remotely common requirement.

Being popular is enough for some to be very vocal about hating Word­Press, but to be fair to its more reas­onable detractors, it isn’t perfect for every situ­ation. Still, object­ively speaking, it is the best fit for many. That’s why over two thirds of all the editable web­sites online are based on Word­Press.

Yet some­times even that isn’t enough, so you need full bespoke web devel­opment to design and code a solution from scratch. Actually, even that’s becoming less common now, as it is often more effi­cient to build on top of design and devel­opment frame­works like Laravel.

Bespoke Website Design and Web Development Processes

Web design and web developmentCustom work needs detailed dis­cussion, ana­lysis, design, imple­ment­ation, testing, review, bug-fixing and further review. Every one of those steps takes more time and skill than most people think. So does pro­fes­sional content cre­ation, which often goes through similar stages. As a result, pro­fes­sional web design and devel­opment pro­jects usually take weeks or months, not hours or days.

Despite this, inex­per­i­enced designers often only estimate for imple­ment­ation, then struggle to provide bespoke work at the price of packaged solu­tions. That doesn’t help you, or them, as it is impossible to sustain good cre­ative work under that kind of pressure.

Unique, col­lab­or­ative pro­jects like website builds are never easy to predict, in any case. Imagine being asked to predict the time and cost of you helping me to build a jigsaw. You don’t know how many pieces it has, or even if I actually have them. So the only honest answer is, “It depends… tell me more.”

Still, many bespoke pro­jects require hours of dis­cussion and ana­lysis to assess properly. So many web designers cut the dis­cussion short, risking inac­curate estimates, whilst others increase their rates to cover those hours. The safest approach, though, is to do this work as a paid “Dis­covery” phase before com­mitting to the full investment needed to implement the res­ulting solution. So that’s what I offer, for pro­jects that need it..


Pro­fes­sional web design dir­ectly helps busi­nesses build poten­tially massive rev­enues. That’s valuable partly because it isn’t as simple as it some­times looks.

It’s easy to call things “expensive” or “over­com­plicated” when you don’t under­stand or value them. However, you’re implying that those who buy them are gullible and wasting money — tell that to Jeff Bezos or Bill Gates.

The truth is that those who invest in web design and devel­opment tend to be more suc­cessful than those who don’t. It’s just unreal­istic to expect custom work at pro­duction-line prices, and reality has a sur­prising amount of detail.

Still, it can be tricky to know whether you need a simple, affordable web design package or pro­fes­sional web design and devel­opment. So if my pages on those don’t answer that question, please get in touch for a free, no-oblig­ation chat.

Won­dering which approach will be best for your project?

Get in touch today!