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 in practice, “streamlining processes” always 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
Many 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 don’t?
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.
The 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
Custom 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 I offer that 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.