Making the Most of Your Website Design Budget

You received that wide range of quotes because you ran into the three common types of web design services which cater to small and medium-sized businesses and organizations. Those three services are: Custom Website Design (created from scratch), Template Adjusted Website Design, and Cheap Template Website Design. You might get many technical terms and promises from all three, but that was not what you really wanted, was it? You wanted the details of what you would actually get for your investment so you can make a cost-efficient decision within your limited budget. So, let me be frank and lay them out for you.

4 Common Factors That Sabotage Website Performance

First, Custom Website Design (created from scratch) in today’s market is gradually catering more toward medium and large businesses and organizations. This service is best suited for that segment of clients who have a well-established brand and want their website appearance and features to match very closely with their industry and what they do. With 3 to 5 staff members involved on this type of project, it often takes at least ten weeks or more to reach completion with the expected results. That’s why it costs $10,000 or more for this type of creative project.

Also, when a small business wants a unique presentation for their brand as well as specialized features for their type of business, people will choose a custom designed website. These businesses are generally working within a more generous budget. The bottom line is that most often, your business website is where people learn about you and your company, and possibly compare you with your competitors. Thus, the key is to position a website that stands out and makes a great first, and lasting, impression.

Second, at the other end of the spectrum is the Cheap Template Website Design (or brochure website). This is the service you often see advertised in pop-up ads, TV ads, spam emails, etc. These can be created for only a few hundred dollars per templated website, if not less. These sites are often accompanied by a subscription to an equally cheap web hosting plan. Regarding their website design and hosting services, here is what you get:

  1. You get several pre-designed templates to choose from, and it’s up to you to populate your content into your selected template. On TV, it looks easy when the technician shows you how to make all those changes, but once it’s your turn to do it, it’s not that easy or flexible.
  2. When you run into changes you can’t make on your own, you call them for support. Typically, you will wait for 15 to 20 minutes to get connected with a tech support person.
  3. If their web hosting severs are compromised and/or your website is down or infected with malware, you will be lucky if you can get in touch with their tech support in less than 20 minutes. And even when you finally get connected with tech support, that person will usually need to ask another person because s/he doesn’t know enough to troubleshoot the problem for you. Then you wait for another 15 minutes or more—you get the point.

These things are common facts. After a short while, most customers who have subscribed to this service leave in a very frustrated state. How do I know? Almost one third of our clients come to us with similar stories. Overall, if you want more than a tacky flyer to showcase your business or organization online, stay away from this service.

Third is a Template Adjusted Website Design. It is a hybrid between the two services with the goal of achieving a professional looking website as well as key functionalities to meet your specific needs. They aim at keeping the cost reasonably low. This service often caters to small to medium-sized businesses and organizations with website design quotes ranging from $1,800–$3,800 depending on the size and complexity of the website. Here’s what you usually get with this type of service:

  1. After learning about your organization and what you look for in a website, they’ll show you several templates you might like.
  2. After you select a template you like, they will adjust that template website to meet your specific needs regarding color theme, layout, functionalities, etc. Then they’ll populate your real content on that website and let you test run it.
  3. After you are satisfied with your test run and have approved the new website, they will optimize your website with keywords highly related to what your website represents. This will allow search engines to index your web pages under the right categories.
  4. They will most likely coach you on how to make changes to your website before letting you run with it. This enables you to make changes on your own to save money down the road.

To get a better chance of ending up with an effective website at a reasonable cost (rather than just a professional and functional website), you should choose the website design company that also specializes in Search Engine Optimization (SEO). They will most likely involve a digital marketing specialist in your website development project to position your website to be user friendly and search engine friendly. That’s how you get the most bang for your buck.

Hopefully now, you have a much better idea about which type of providers and price ranges will produce the most benefit for your company (and budget). If you find this article informative, please share it with others who you know will benefit from it as well. Thank you!

Phong Nguyen

BA from St. Olaf College
MBA from University of St. Thomas
SEO from "the School of Hard Knocks."

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