When it comes to website development, Melbourne leads the way with one company being raw and honest about the common money-grabbing tricks in the industry.
Back in the day, each and every newly conceived website was hard-coded.
What that means is that every single section, including the most miniscule changes, required coding experience – and understandably, working in that manner requires time. A lot of time.
As time equals money, hard-coded sites – again, reasonably so – were very expensive, especially when hiring an experienced developer wanting to earn way above the minimum wage.
The times have changed, however!
Today, most content management platforms favour WordPress, which is a very convenient development tool requiring little to no hardcore coding.
Instead, it features user-friendly features and fabulous templates, so gone are the days when only programmers could build websites. With a certain degree of persistence, web development is accessible to many people – and as such, much less work is required to achieve gorgeous results.
What hasn’t changed much, however, is the price tag, which is insane if you think about it!
And don’t let this rub you the wrong way – there is still a lot of work required to customize the base template in a way that makes it look, well, unique and not like a template.
Improving the user experience, tweaking the colours and populating the site with the right imagery – all that requires a certain level of expertise, which should be rewarded fairly.
But is $15-20k a fair asking price for a new basic website, even before revisions and maintenance? I think not!
Sorry, not sorry, fellow web developers – I simply can’t take it anymore, and you’re not going to like it.
Nevertheless, enough is enough, and today I’m set to expose the lies many of the industry professionals feed to their clueless customers.
Why you shouldn’t pay too much for website templates
If you’re on an unlimited budget, nothing is stopping you from paying the same ~$15-20k or more and getting your website custom-built from scratch. However, this isn’t a viable option for everyone, which is why templates are so popular – and there is nothing inherently wrong with them!
However, I’d like to point out a few features (or lack thereof) of website templates that should make you re-think dropping big dollars on them.
- Templates are not unique – and as such, there will always be a ton of people using the same templates. This is especially true for the most appealing ones, since people will naturally go for them!
- Even though customization is possible, it can only happen to a certain extent – especially if your website development provider is not willing to use any coding.
At times, they will simply not know how to! And even with a dash of coding, some websites offer very specific layouts that are practically impossible to shuffle around.
- Unfortunately, not all website templates are particularly search engine-friendly as such and may need to be tweaked to the point of losing their original appeal.
With modern templates, it’s unlikely to happen, but still worth considering.
- Another less likely, but possible problem to encounter is the use of antiquated coding – which ultimately prevents the website from working in some browsers.
Again, this is not to say you shouldn’t consider using website templates! They are great for several reasons, including but not limited to:
- Providing colour palette inspiration – of course, ideally you will be changing that, but it’s nice to see some colour combinations and families that work well together.
- Relatively short development time – provided your web developer is honest and upfront, and not trying to pretend they’re building an exclusive custom website.
- Easier time maintaining and updating your website on your own.
However, please don’t overpay for any of those features! No matter what, using a template takes LESS time and effort, which MUST be reflected in the price!
Don’t be wooed by flashy graphics – or you’ll waste your money
What makes a template-based website attractive for an unsuspecting client?
That’s right: fancy, flashy, “trendy” graphics. However, there are considerable issues that come with this approach.
Firstly, if you’re already dealing with someone who is trying to rip you off, I can almost guarantee they will be using stock photography.
Just like with the most popular templates, seemingly perfect stock pictures are likely used by thousands of websites worldwide! When clients start noticing this, it immediately takes away from your credibility and professionalism.
Not exactly the best outcome, if you ask me.
Second, in an attempt to please and/or conceal the fact that templates are heavily used, web designers will often overload pages with imagery.
Massive photos, exquisite backgrounds, animations…all that jazz. Not only can it be hugely distracting – it also slows download times, especially on mobile devices or in situations where reliable internet access isn’t available!
This frustrates potential customers and makes them leave the page before it’s even loaded.
Finally, effective website design must support your copy – not overshadow it! And this is exactly what flashy designs often do.
Instead of delivering information in a visual, appealing manner, they basically turn it into a giant mess. If design doesn’t work in tandem with your branding, values and content, it’s almost better to have no design at all.
Which brings me to my next point…
Why content is king, and what to emphasize when ordering a website
Basically, my main message today is the following: don’t get fooled by the fancy graphics, invest in quality content instead!
See, gorgeous design is, at the most, only half of the story you’re trying to tell, and “gorgeous” doesn’t have to be overly elaborate either.
As I like saying, a good-looking website that fails to convert is just a piece of art.
I’ve started noticing a while ago that websites driven by marketers convert much better compared to pretty ones that lack quality content.
Below are just a few reasons why quality content is where your top dollar should be!
- It drives your success.
Some of your customers may be lured in by graphics – but ultimately, it’s the content that wins their wallets and minds, with all other elements providing a secondary role.
For instance, if you have a powerful tagline, great design might help enhance it – but it won’t save a terrible tagline.
Repeat after me: on its own, design doesn’t sell. Otherwise, copywriters and marketers would be out of work!
The reality is proving to be quite different: customers strongly favour clear, relevant, targeted content that engages and persuades the audience.
- It’s been proven over and over again that hiring a professional copywriter can greatly increase leads and improve performance of your business.
Unfortunately, hiring a fancy designer isn’t guaranteed to yield the same result!
Yes, the views and visits will likely go up, but without great copy at the core, not much else will ever be achieved.
- You don’t need design services to spice up your content – sometimes, all you need is incorporating various forms of it.
For instance, videos added to websites have completely changed the scene! Instead of investing too much in graphics, consider creating a series of custom videos first.
In other words, start with what’s more likely to bring results.
- You know what else is much better than obsessing over graphics? Pouring this energy into content marketing!
One of the best methodologies employed in digital marketing employs converting your vital message into a variety of forms and distributing it strategically across various platforms.
Again – you won’t be wrong pointing out that some platforms (such as Instagram) are visual, and appealing graphics are required to catch attention.
However, it’s the content that ultimately helps retain that attention and convert it!
- Search engines don’t care that much about the graphics – but they sure love content, especially when it’s relevant and frequently updated.
Due to the way search engines work when picking out what to show their customers, every new piece of content – being that a blog post or a scheduled info update – essentially creates a new independent entry into your website.
In turn, if your content populates many search engine pages, you are more likely to be seen as a credible, desirable service provider.
So, is conversion more important than design?
Actually, it’s hard to draw a hard and fast conclusion. They are both important, although I do favour content more!
After all, a good website must look great and keep up to date with current design trends and expectations. However, there may be less effort required than you think in order to make the website attractive!
I can’t help stressing once again: the website must be designed in a way that promotes conversions, not shoulder pats for the best design in the Universe.
I find that websites created by marketers generally convert better, even if they’re not exactly “flawless” appearance-wise.
Conversely, I get really pissed off when web designers make epic promises about improving conversion using design tools only.
I’ve never been able to confirm that this approach is effective – and urge you to second-guess it as well.
Worst of all, when talking to web designers, I often find they have little to no idea about effective conversion elements.
No offense, not everyone gets the same standard of education – but at least don’t promise what you don’t even know how to deliver…common sense.
The best news?
I can guarantee you that you don’t need to invest $15k+ to receive a solid, well-designed site that converts magically. You can, if you want – but you definitely don’t have to!
Don’t let cash-savvy web designers rob you by slightly tweaking an existing template, adding a few photos here and there and calling it a day. Demand quality content, videos and taglines.
Demand a breakdown of hourly rates. And most of all – don’t pull the trigger on anything before doing your research! After all, you found this article – and it will likely save you thousands of dollars…
As stated above, many people in the industry won’t like my spill, but I honestly couldn’t care less.
I’m passionate about ethical, transparent practices about web design in Melbourne, and charging copious amounts of money for mediocre template modifications couldn’t be further from that.
Enough is enough – it’s time to learn what you’re paying for and invest in the right things…like content and marketing.
Hope I’ve clarified some things for you – and if you have questions, please do let me know!