These days there seems to be a gaping chasm between reality and desire when it comes to web design. I have found that more and more people are expecting premium custom design and programming at economy prices. Well, that just doesn’t happen, but there are many reasons why potential clients think it may be possible:
First, your brother’s friend really does do web design, but he’s only been doing it for a few months. Being undercut by the client’s brother’s friend is all too common. And what people fail to realize is that effective design requires a commensurate level of pay. When you’re starting a business it makes sense to do things as economically as possible, but what those ‘economical choices’ don’t take into account is that spending less on good web design will also make you less and could possibly even deter potential sales.
Second, “There are free website builders and I could do it myself and just pay for hosting.” Well, you could do that I guess, but again, good design = good pay. We can’t blame these online resources for taking potential customers. In fact, it could be said that we owe them for driving customers our way. After a miserable experience on their own, new clients tend to be more open minded and better educated.
Third, is my version of the phrase “pump and dump” design shops. There are many of these “pump and dump” shops out there that are troubling. What I mean by “pump and dump” is that they “pump” you full of great portfolio pieces and unbelievable pricing then “dump” a sad HTML/Table design with minimal CSS, sliced images and it’s completely static. AND, after getting screwed over, they nail you to a contract for hosting that is upwards of $40/month (based on a small brochure type site).
The third and final one is the one that bothers me the most. It’s not that these shops aren’t capable of providing a decent design (though there are many that can’t), it’s that they outsource much of their work and the communication process isn’t very good. Customers are stuck with a 1990’s design and code. Sure, they only paid $300 for their site and have a monthly hosting cost of $40 – $50, but they’re almost worse off now than when they didn’t have a website.
If you’re making an investment in yourself. It should be worth it to spend the money it takes to make that happen. If it’s not possible at first, reserve your domain name and wait until you have the money to do it right the first time. There’s always financing. If your project is important to you a website is a solid investment and financing can get you a good design. It will solidify your presence and legitimize your business. You won’t regret spending the money on a solid design.
In my experience, when I navigate to a website that is outdated, old, or just plain ugly – I will usually just leave within seconds of arriving. A good design will at least give you a fighting chance on keeping potential customers on your site. However, a good design isn’t synonymous with usability. Usability is not secondary to design and design is not secondary to usability. Design and usability should be inseparable, though sadly they’re not. It could be argued that a lot of this is subjective – well, it is subjective. It’s hard to be objective when your experience wants to burst out and shower down upon all the unsuspecting people below.
We could go on and on about this subject. In fact, if you haven’t yet visited Jakob Nielsen’s site then it’s a must. If you haven’t visited Cameron Moll’s blog Authentic Boredom then it’s a must. There are a list of many others that I could give, but there’s enough to chew on with those two for now.