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In this article, I’m going to fire off 12 things that are classic problems with cheap websites that will end up causing you to throw more money at it to fix it down the road. Since over 40% of websites are made using WordPress, I will focus this discussion solely on that platform, although this concept applies to just about every platform there is.
You Get What You Pay For
As a small business owner, budget constraints are always top of mind when it comes to shopping around for a new or updated website for your business. While it’s absolutely understandable that you want to find the best deal, focusing solely on price rather than quality and experience can (and usually does) have costly consequences. Investing in a quality website with a trustworthy local freelancer or agency may be more expensive upfront, but it will save you time and money in the long run.
When I speak with business owners, one of the first questions asked is “How much does a website cost?“. While that answer is completely valid and warrants an entirely different discussion, solely considering the price and cutting corners when it comes to your business, shouldn’t even be a consideration.
Cheap Websites: A Deal or A Disaster?
If you were looking to buy a used car, you probably have done some research before going to the car lot and you know that the particular model of vehicle you want costs roughly $20,000. While looking around, you also see a similar model going for only $10,000.
Is your first thought, “Wow, what a great deal!” or “Uhhh… what’s wrong with it?”
Of course, it’s the latter. That’s because we are trained to be skeptical when things sound too good to be true. But for some reason, when it comes to cheap websites that seem too good to be true, people seem to think it’s totally acceptable, when in fact, it’s usually the worst option.
Your business is your livelihood, it’s how you support you and your family. You wouldn’t trust a beat-up car to take you and your family on a road trip across the country and back, so why would you trust your business website to a budget website designer cranking out cheap websites? A business website shouldn’t be considered an expense… it’s an investment in your business. Cheap websites are a terrible investment… don’t make that mistake.
On to the 12 Hidden Costs Of Cheap Websites
If the web developer isn’t getting paid much for the build, they will cut corners where they can. This usually equates to free versions of the site builder, free themes/layouts, and plugins used to make your new business website. The problem is that many free plugins are underdeveloped and unsupported, leading to security vulnerabilities. While a great idea in order to get the job done for you in as little time as possible, the problems these “quick fixes” create down the road could be very costly in both time and money.
POOR USER EXPERIENCE
Most people are inherently cheap. And those who are seeking cheap websites most likely also have cheap hosting on servers like: GoDaddy, Bluehost, Hostgator, etc. Subpar hosting, uncompressed images, and poorly written code lead to extremely slow load times, which negatively affects not only your customers’ user experience, but also your search engine rankings. But don’t take my word for it… checkout this post about the Worst Web Hosting Companies.
FORGET ABOUT ACCESSIBILITY
Making sure your website is accessible is extremely important, as it not only ensures that people with disabilities (including those who are visually impaired, hearing impaired, or have cognitive or motor disabilities) can use and navigate the website effectively, but it also helps protect you and your business from costly lawsuits. Most designers who offer cheap websites don’t even follow basic accessibility principles, such as providing alternative text for images, captions for videos, clear navigation labels, and ensuring compatibility with assistive technologies such as screen readers. Investing in experienced designers who understand the importance of accessibility can help ensure that your website is usable by everyone and also keeps you insulated from lawsuits.
SLOW LOAD TIMES
Many of the cheap sites being cranked out are templates that have been used by hundreds, if not thousands of clients. This makes it easy for a budget designer to replace just a few items in the template to make the site “look “yours”. The problem is that a poorly designed website can lead to frustrated users who can’t find what they want and end up leaving your site before converting, costing you potential sales.
Free themes, layouts, and plugins are often developed and maintained by individuals or small groups of developers. The WordPress platform itself is constantly pushing out bug fixes and security patches to its software. When these updates are released, plugin developers have to see if the patch affects their plugins and make adjustments. Since they are free, the developers usually lack the resources (or desire) to continue to provide regular updates or address security vulnerabilities in a timely manner, leaving the website vulnerable to attacks from hackers. While there are dozens of measures that can be taken to ensure against this, such as login masking, regular backups, etc… chances are, a cheap website build won’t include these.
Since over 90% of browsing is done on phones these days, a mobile-first “responsive” mindset is absolutely crucial for reaching customers. With budget designers comes a lack of testing the design on multiple devices, or even at all. If you don’t make sure your users have a good website experience while on their mobile devices, you are definitely losing business.
Cheap websites are just that… a website. Once your job is finished, the designer moves on to the next project and leaves you on your own to deal with any issues you encounter with your new website. With no dedicated customer support team available, you are left to struggle with technical issues on your own or to pay someone else to fix them. And you can certainly forget about updates to your website.
NO TESTING PHASE
There are several stages in the web design process and the last one, is arguably the most important. The testing phase is not only extremely important, but it’s also time-consuming. Again, time equals money, and if you’re not paying the designer much, this would be one of the corners that are cut. Not properly testing a website before launch can lead to a poor user experience, which could potentially cost you business.
The goal of every business owner is to grow and scale their business, expanding their reach (and profits) far beyond what they ever thought imaginable. The problem with cheap websites is if your business grows quickly or if you want to expand your website’s capabilities down the line, cheap websites may not be able to keep up, which will lead to a complete teardown and redesign. Depending on what your business is, your website being down for weeks or months may be crushing to your plans.
Experience is something worth paying for. Cheap websites are sold by designers that lack the necessary experience and skills to create a professional-looking website that can compete in today’s market. They also deal with so many different types of clients, they may not have any experience in your particular industry, leading to poor UI/UX and unhappy website visitors. All which ends up costing you in customers and profits.
QUANTITY OVER QUALITY
Many budget designers rely on completing as many projects as possible in a short amount of time, rather than investing the necessary time and resources to create a truly high-quality website. As a result, many use pre-made templates or copy-and-paste designs to speed up the process, resulting in websites that lack originality and are usually riddled with typos, broken links, and oversights during development that can negatively impact the website’s functionality or user experience.
THE LANGUAGE BARRIER
Keep in mind that many of these designers are located overseas, where their cost of living is much less and our US dollar stretches much further. They may lack clear communication skills, which could lead to misunderstandings or miscommunications before, during, and after your project. They are often in different time zones, which means you may be limited to 1-2 questions/requests a day. When you are awake, they are sleeping… and vice versa. This slow-moving back and forth can wreak havoc on your timeline and causes huge delays on your project.
While this list certainly doesn’t apply to all cheap websites, overall, it’s important to remember that you get what you pay… especially when it comes to website design. Working with a budget-friendly designer may sound appealing when compared to other bids, but many times end up costing you more in the long run when they produce subpar work.
If you have any questions or concerns, please don’t hesitate to reach out to me. I offer free design and marketing advice and am happy will help you to avoid the most common pitfalls associated with identifying the right designer for your business.
Thank you for reading and best of luck on your business journey!