Let’s face it, you can buy a $200 website from India or the Philippines.
At one point I considered using an overseas designer to build websites for me, so I assessed quite a few portfolios. I found that some of the websites looked great to the untrained eye but they:
- Showed no evidence of strategic design to coax the reader into a sale.
- Were poorly-structured and hard to navigate.
- Had typos.
- Were poorly-written.
- Were not Google-friendly
- Used generic stock images that wouldn’t really appeal to the target audience
Basically, not one of the overseas design companies stood up to closer inspection. I doubted that their websites worked very well.
I’ve also heard of Australians buying a $200 website, then being hit up for $2000 when they want to make simple changes. The overseas designer controlled their domain name, so they had them over a barrel.
Actually, I’ve had good success with recovering domain names, so if you’re in this situation I may be able to help.
Warning! Cheap websites can cost you later!
If you’re buying a cheap website in Australia ($500 or less), chances are:
- You’re buying overseas, or
- You’ve hired a student or fly-by-night, or
- You’re paying mates rates
Get it done properly
It’s very easy to create a website. Just about anyone can do it. But making a website that works – well that’s a whole another thing!
Websites are complicated. When designing a website we’re weighing up many competing factors – like look and feel, speed, calls to action, user friendliness, mobile friendliness, words and pictures that speak to and motivate your customers, and Google ranking. Every business is different. We’re learning about your business and products/services, figuring out what would work for you and how to uniquely represent your business so that it stands out. We’re constantly keeping up with software updates, new devices and platforms, and changes in the way people read websites.
Professional web designers support a business infrastructure. They pay for things like bookkeeping, accounting, marketing and tax. They may run a server and offer ongoing client support. Professional web design charges are higher to pay the costs of running a genuine business.
Many Australian web designers won’t touch a website under $3000 because that’s what it takes to even begin to do it properly. But I’m in a country area and many of my clients say they don’t have that much money to spend, so I offer a cut-down version. I create a good, sound structure and train my clients to enter their own content. Then I stand by in the wings to help them when they get stuck or have a technical problem.
For many clients, your website is the first contact. It represents you and your business. Make sure your website is accurate and appealing! Or even better, compelling! If you can, invest in a professional web designer who can help you create something that truly works.
Poor communication = poor website
A good website requires excellent communication between designer and client. We’re highly-skilled in web design but you’re the expert on your business. An effective website is a collaboration between client and designer.
If you value your business, make sure you can communicate well with your designer. They should ask lots of questions about your business and clients, and your website-related goals. If possible, meet your web designer face to face. I find that web builds run much more smoothly when we know each other. A face to face meeting establishes trust. It helps me assess your personality and business culture, and express those through your website.
I’m not sure how you can do this if your web designer is overseas, with the extra complications of a language barrier.
Don’t be left in the lurch by students and fly-by-nights!
Within 6 months, chances are some information on your website will have changed. A professional web designer will update your website for you or teach you how to do it. They’ll be available if you lose your password or forget how to log in.
Some of my new clients have come to me in a panic, under threat of litigation because of some innocent piece of information on their site, or even a link! Other clients have shifted premises and not been able to change their phone number on their website! Students and fly-by-nights have a habit of disappearing. Running a business is a different kettle of fish to designing a website. It’s hard yakka! All the technical and design knowledge in the world won’t get you clients or handle your cash flow. And that means that the web design market is full of wannabes who are here today, gone tomorrow!
If we can’t get into your website I have to rebuild it elsewhere, so save yourself the stress and heartache and do it properly the first time. Get your website built by a professional, someone who’s in it for the long haul.
Mates rates are all well and good – they’re part of our culture. Just make sure you don’t drop to the bottom of the list of priorities. If you have a habit of falling out with friends or losing contact, make sure you have a plan B! Be clear about the ongoing running costs of your website. And don’t go with a mate just because they’re cheap – make sure they know what they’re doing! Your website is the public face of your business. A bad website can be damaging.
The dangers of shopping on price alone!
Some designs are carefully crafted to lead your readers into a purchase. Others are attractive, but ineffective. Others aren’t even attractive!
If you shop on price alone without considering the following factors you’re in danger of wasting your money and causing problems for your business later on:
- Does your web designer ask detailed questions about your business and your clients? This is essential when creating a website that truly represents you and your business, and meets your business goals.
- Do their designs appeal to you? Each one should have been created to suit the client so they may not all be to your taste. But are their designs clean and clear? Will their style suit you?
- Does your designer create mobile friendly websites? More than 50% of visitors are now use phones and tablets.
- Do they have a website planning guide to help you through the process?
- Do they have good communication skills? If not, it’s unlikely you’ll get a website that works for you.
- Do you like and trust your web designer? A bad relationship can be disastrous. I’ve heard some terrible stories about unethical web designers. It can cost you your business.
- Do they offer long term support?
- Will you be able to edit your website yourself?
- Can the web designer work to your deadline and budget?
- Do you keep control of your domain name?