You need a website and you just found a company advertising the cheapest rates around. This is a no-brainer, right? You’re going to save a boatload, right?
Unfortunately, more and more disaster stories like this one are surfacing: “I hired one of those $500 companies to build my website—but they did a horrible job, they never finished, nothing works properly, and now they don’t return my calls!” This can be especially true of those cheap out-sourced projects to India, etc.
If you’re thinking of cutting corners here’s a little preview of what to expect:
1. No Talent. A talented web designer is a prized possession. A web designer with no talent works for a $500 web design company, which lacks the artistic creativity of a professional design house.
2. Poor Communication. $500 web designers have no formal education. This limits their expertise and communication skills. So be prepared to expend a much greater effort—and more time—to build your site. Some phrases you’ll soon be familiar with:
“Can you please repeat that?”
“I thought we went over this already!”
“You said you’d call last Monday!”
“This is the third time I’m telling you!”
“You said the project would be done by now!”
3. Bait & Switch. Many companies advertise $500 websites to “pull you in” bit the final bill is often many times that amount. Review a contract up front and read the fine print.
4. Horrible copywriting. A website is both graphic design and text (copywriting)—the words used in the site. This is crucial since your website only has few seconds to grab a visitor’s interest. Will a $500 designer work hard to ensure that visitors stay on your site? The fact is, most cheap web designers just want to get the site finished at any cost---and often they have few writing skills anyway.
5. Irresponsible. What makes one designer better than another? Usually it’s money.
The good designer expects to be paid well for his services while a mediocre designer often can’t get paid well and will therefore accept less---and will perform less as well.
6. Shoddy Outsourcing. Some $500 designers outsource coding, scripting and HTML overseas to third world countries where the work can be done by even less-experienced designers. Then you have timing, language, and cultural problems to deal with---and if you run into problems, how are you going to deal with such a situation?
7. Boring Templates. $500 web companies use cheap templates, giving little control over the finished product, and making your site look like other cheap sites out there. Ask them to change the design, and their answer will be “I can’t.” Ask them to shift the text, and their answer will be “I can’t.” Custom designers want to make the best impression and will help your company stand out.
8. No Guarantees. $500 web designers want you to sign a contract limiting the time and effort required to complete the site.
9. Unreliable Resources. Have you ever noticed how some websites download faster than others? Well, guess who builds the websites that take all that extra time. It’s the same with your site’s hosting. You need good equipment and experienced people to handle your site effectively.
10. Can’t Deliver. Most $500 designers have limited expertise without experience in Flash, contact forms, or other technical areas. Ask the right questions so that you don’t get halfway through the project only to find that the designer can’t complete it.
Putting things into perspective, when you hire a $500 web design company, you take on all the headaches and frustration of dealing with an inferior staff, lesser quality and questionable service. In this case, you get what you pay for. Everyone wants to save money, but just make sure that you don’t lose it in the long run. You can pay a fair price and get a great site or you can pay a cheap price and get something that might be embarrassing and that you can’t rely on.
Don’t waste your money on something that you’ll regret down the road. If you only have $500 to spend, ask if there is a payment plan available so that you can get a better site.
(Paraphrased from any article by James Aitken).