So you really want affordable web design?

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A Google search brings up over 400 million results for the phrase, “affordable web design”. Most likely because of 2 factors: that’s a legitimate phrase a person seeking the service of web design might enter, and there’s a large amount of individuals and companies who offer web design who believe that “affordable” is what will pull in the most potential clients.

What is “affordable web design”?

Ask different people in the market for web design what they think affordable is, and you’ll get a different answer every time. Likewise, businesses who offer web design have different notions of what affordable is. And there is a variety of factors that influence that such as: where they’re located, how much experience they have, whether or not they actually do the design themselves or outsource offshore, what’s their general overhead, etc.

You get what you pay for.

It’s important to remember the old saying, “you get what you pay for”. Typically, people looking for, “affordable web design” want the very best site, but don’t have a lot of money. That presents a bit of a conundrum because there are 10 million individuals and web design companies out on the open web who will be right there to satisfy your budget, but will you really get what you need? affordable web design Let’s go back to our Google search, which happened to bring up the 3 examples above in the featured ads. They all seem like exceptional deals if you’ve contacted some web design companies and received some ball park figures well above $595. Let me ask you this, if you saw an ad for a new car for $265, what would you think about that? You would probably not believe it, right? You would probably think it was a misprint! What about a new car for $25k? That seems more realistic, right? Sure it might be a budget model, but you would expect that for only $25k in today’s car market. You know it’s not going to have the leather, heated seats.

So if other companies or individual web designers you have contacted have given you pricing of, let’s say, $3k to $6k for your web design project, would you really be swayed by someone who said they could do it for $399?  A website can have a large variety of features and functionality, just like a car, so it’s not too dissimilar to compare purchasing a car to purchasing web design. And with web design, quality counts, just like it does in car manufacturing.

What’s a realistic budget for web design?

I do hear this question a lot from people are are new to the process of developing a website and just starting to look for a designer. I’ve also frequently heard, “I don’t know what my budget is”, and after inquiring as to why not, the person will basically say they have no idea what a website costs. Let’s refer back to our car buying model. You’re not going to be able to purchase a Cadillac for the price of the base model Hyundai (unless it’s an older, less functional Cadillac).

Using that logic, you’ll be able to determine that if you have a website project that needs a lot of bells and whistles and a lot of special features and functionality, you would be in the Cadillac range, not the Hyundai. So, from word go, affordable web design is not really what you should be looking for. A professional web designer or web design company should let you know up front. It’s totally common to receive a simple ballpark range that can be expanded to a detailed and more accurate quote if that range is something you can pay to make your web project a reality. If it’s not, then it just might be the reality check that you needed.

The reality check.

Good, Fast, Cheap - Pick 2

If you’ve been given that ballpark estimate and it’s way out of your budget, feel free to get a few more estimates from web design professionals, but keep that Cadillac vs. Hyundai comparison in your mind. If you happen across someone who gives you a much lower quote (or are enticed by the $595 Website Designers from the Google ads) and your project doesn’t work out, don’t be too surprised. Don’t go out of your way to find, “the best price” and use that as your determining factor for hiring a web designer. Remember, web design is a profession that takes knowledge, talent, and skill.

Say no to “spec work” and yes to portfolio and referrals.

Unlike buying a car, you can’t “test drive” your new website before you purchase it. You have to rely on other ways to “kick the tires” before committing. Years ago when I first started writing posts, I wrote a short piece on “spec work” (or work done on speculation, for free, before any contracts are signed). The information still rings true – when a potential client asks for original work to be produced for free and without a contract, it demonstrates not only a lack of understanding, but also a lack of respect (often times, without the person being aware of it).

Designers who will do work for free are typically new or inexperienced or, frankly, desperate. A professional web designer will always have a portfolio of recent work and referrals from past clients. These should demonstrate that the designer has the skill, experience, and ability to take on and manage your project successfully.

So where does that leave affordable web design?

There is, without a doubt, such a thing as affordable web design and it is possible to get a professional website up and running and not spend $15k on it. The things to remember though, are all the different variables to how web design is actually priced, the actual functionality (and bells and whistles) on your project, and whether the estimated price you receive is actually realistic.

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