Affordable & Custom Web Design: How to Get the Best of Both Worlds

Published Apr 24, 2017. Updated Jun 14, 2019.

Affordable & Custom Web Design: How to Get the Best of Both Worlds

In 2016, there were nearly 35,000 Google searches for the term “affordable web design” and roughly 12,000 searches for the term “custom web design.” And it makes sense that businesses would add terms like “affordable” and “custom” when looking for web design services.

When your website is the online face of your business, of course you want it to be unique to your brand. At the same time, spending a fortune to create one can be out of the question — especially if you’re a small business with a small budget.

The solution is to find a balance. You don’t want a budget website that can’t help your business grow, and you may not be able to justify dishing out tens of thousands of dollars for a website that does. Let’s explore how you can get the best of both worlds.

The Downfalls of Ultra-Affordable Web Design

One of the main downfalls of super affordable web design is that it can be surprisingly unaffordable. Once you factor in hidden fees and mediocre functionality, a super affordable website can actually drain your business’ value time and resources.

There are two main ways that small businesses find ultra-affordable web design options: making one themselves and working with budget web design companies.

Making a Website Yourself: Is DIY Actually Cheaper?

DIY platforms are popular alternatives to hiring a web design team. We recently wrote an article with an in-depth look at the downsides of DIY websites, but here’s the summary of points:

Many of these can come as a surprise to a small business, and many of them are lessons you only learn after you’ve gone through the work of setting up your new site. While some of these downfalls are merely inconvenient, most of them either mean more money or lost sales opportunities for your business:

All of these don’t account for the fact that many of these DIY routes aren’t as affordable as their companies advertise. Sure, some of them are free — but only if you don’t want a responsive website, an awesome template, or plugins that improve the functionality of your site. Meanwhile, other platforms’ prices skyrocket as soon as you want to add any e-commerce abilities, and others keep their prices low by plastering extremely unattractive ads for their company all over your website.

Click to tweet: An ultra-affordable website probably won’t provide the results your small business needs

Keep in mind that one of the most crucial things your website needs to accomplish is to be found by your target customers. This is accomplished through search engine optimization (SEO), and the DIY builders seriously lack in this department. Whatever money you do pay for a website like this, it doesn’t translate to increased sales for your business, and it will very likely need to be replaced with a proper website before a few years’ time.

Budget Web Design Companies: Too Good to Be True?

A budget web design company is probably ultra-affordable for a reason. The most common causes for this are: they aren’t experienced in web design, or they take a templated approach to their web design efforts.

Whether it’s an amateur developer overestimating his abilities or a web design company taking a less-than-honest approach, your business takes the brunt of it.

The Downfalls of Highly Customized Web Design

The most well-known downside of highly customized web design is that it often comes at a very high price tag, but that isn’t the whole story. As a small business, there is only a certain level of customization that you really need, and a web design company that’s only focused on customization can lose sight of the main purpose of your site.

There are a few calculators online that will give you a rough idea of how much your business should pay for a website. Unless you’re looking to add 50+ pages, highly customized CMS functionality, or a thorough SEO audit and strategy, the average calculation you’ll get is between $5,000 and $15,000. If you’re a small business, this is likely the right price range. Anymore and you’re probably paying for customization that you don’t need.

The other way that a highly customized website can be wrong for your small business is when the web design agency insists that you need to tack on all sorts of online marketing that doesn’t directly relate to your website. Some examples of this include a full content marketing and social media strategy, link building efforts, and a complete audit of your keyword rankings. While all of these are nice features to consider after you’ve got the heart of your online marketing — your website — in order, they should really be offered as separate services that your small business can opt in to.

Click to tweet: Don’t let your small business pay for customization it doesn’t need

When a web design company that acts more as an ad agency makes you feel like all of these are necessary to launch your website, they’re adding a lot of extra work and, therefore, a lot of extra costs just to get your website up and running. There’s nothing wrong with offering a wide range of online marketing services. But these should work in conjunction with a functional, phenomenal website — rather than mask one that isn’t.

Affordable & Custom Web Design: Finding the Right Balance

To strike the right balance of a customized website that’s actually right for your business, it really comes down to understanding which features are worth the investment. We’ve surveyed dozens of articles from a variety of web design solutions, SEO experts, and web marketing blogs to find the most commonly recommended features that your small business should look for in your website:

Affordable or Customized? You Don’t Have to Choose

These features give you a great starting point as you look for the right web design company for your small business. You can learn about many of these traits before even signing a contract. With an open conversation upfront, the right web design company can strike that balance of an affordable, customized, and perfect website for your small business.

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