A Message to Web Designers & Their Clients
I want to be clear, cheap website design in South Africa is not a good thing!
This article should have been titled, “A Website Designer’s Rant About Why Web Designers Are Screwing Not Only Themselves But More Importantly Their Clients By Selling Cheap Websites”.
Sadly it is too long to fit in the blog post title or Googles 60 character search result limit. Though it is probably a more accurate description of this article.
Website designers in South Africa are doing their clients a huge disservice by making their websites way too cheap.
Now, of course, as a client, you might be saying, “But I don’t want to have to pay a lot of money for a website”. This is only natural. Most of us want to get the best deal, we want to get maximum value for the lowest possible price. Right?
This is not something you can get from cheap website design. If you do then you are one of a lucky few.
Higher quality website design typically comes at a higher investment and it is usually worth it.
I’ve been designing websites for a decade and I have not only built hundreds of websites but I have looked at and studied tens of thousands of websites. I have yet to come across a cheap website design that gave any significant value.
Here are a few reasons why some might argue cheap website design has become the norm in South Africa.
- Websites are cheap because of lots of competition.
- Websites are cheap because the website designers are just trying to make a quick buck.
- Cheap web design is popular because people don’t have a lot of money.
- Inexpensive website design is popular because websites are useless.
- Website design has become cheap because there are many web platforms that offer free websites.
- Websites are like business cards or flyers so they should be cheap.
- Anyone can design a website with a computer and a little software.
When it comes to why cheap website design is commonplace in South Africa I think the above all have degrees of validity, some more than others.
But does this mean websites should be super cheap?
Having seen what many cheap websites look like I can honestly say R 1 000 for a cheap website is very expensive. Why, because many of them look like they were designed using a 20-year-old template, they have no design consistency, horrid graphic design, and the list goes on. Sometimes it makes me embarrassed to call myself a web designer when I see some of the work my fellows put out.
It is actually better to have no website at all than to have a poorly designed website. A website is a reflection of your business and often the first, and sadly in the case of a cheap website, often the last impression you get to make.
Website designers love to say, “Your business needs a website.” or “You must have a website for this reason and that reason…”.
I call Bull****!
If you have no plans to drive traffic to your website and you want one because you’ve been convinced you need one but you are not willing to invest a decent sum on a good design, then really you don’t need a website.
You certainly don’t need a cheap website that looks like it was made out of some decades-old code leftovers combined with some lost pixels.
You will probably get more value out of some business cards than a cheap website so rather save your money.
Now don’t get me wrong, if you want to conquer digital space, and build a successful online business then you do need a decent website.
My point is if you don’t actually plan to use it then do you really need to spend money on one? It’s like buying a smartphone and then keeping it in your desk draw, never using it but still paying for airtime each month.
Would you really buy a smartphone if you knew it was going to live in a draw? Well maybe if it was the latest iPhone you might be tempted right? Let me know in the comments.
A powerful communications tool
A website can be an extremely powerful communication tool but if you don’t use it then no matter how cheap or expensive it is, it is a waste of your money.
Now like all of us, web designers need to eat too. So I can understand why building a cheap website for a client is better than building no website at all.
But this does not absolve the web designer of their responsibility to inform their clients of ways to get more value out of a website.
If the client still wants a cheap website and knows they won’t really use it much then so be it.
Out of all the reasons above for websites being offered so cheap in South Africa, I personally feel that most clients don’t really understand the value of a website and are therefore not willing to invest much in one.
I have also come across people who have paid way too much for websites that are not much better than really cheap websites. Its no wonder many people don’t value websites.
So who is at fault here?
It is most certainly the fault of website designers!
For one, most website designers do not charge nearly enough to actually spend the time designing and building a good quality website.
Two, there is no excuse for not having a conversation with a client to find out why they really want a website and how they plan to use it before selling them on it. This way the web designer can build the right website for their client.
Three, website designers have a responsibility to educate not just their clients but their prospective clients about good website design.
I am not saying you can’t get a good quality website for an affordable price, because you can. I am also not saying that spending more money on a website won’t give you more value, because generally, it should.
What I am saying is that if website designers put their client’s needs ahead of their own, they would probably be getting paid more for their work. Clients who get more value out of their websites are going to be more willing to invest more not just for the initial website but for later upgrades.
I can never state this enough… websites can be very effective tools for building and growing businesses and revenue. There is no shortage of stellar examples of websites that are extremely valuable assets.
I could go on about websites and their value endlessly as one thought always seems to lead to another. But this is a blog article, not an encyclopedia.
If you are thinking about getting a website then feel free to get in touch so we can have the right conversation that leads to the right website for you.
If you agree or disagree with the above, please leave a comment below, I would love to hear your thoughts.