Web Design: Buy Cheap, Pay Twice?
Tempted by offers of cheap websites for your online presence? Think again: A poorly constructed, heavily templated website can damage your business and your brand.
Every industry is looking to increase its web presence in order to take advantage of the growing number of consumers looking to do the majority of their shopping or shopping research on the Internet. Research firm Nielsen’s 2011 online retail report shows 1.4m Kiwis bought online in the year to April 2010, up 2.4% on the previous year – that’s a total of 45% of Kiwis with access to the internet, shopping online1.
As a result businesses within every industry are faced with a decision as to how they should launch themselves on the web: On the one hand, they have the premium choice; one which is tailored to their business objectives, functionally flexible, and designed around the needs of their audience. And on the other hand there is the cheaper alternative, which offers a template-based website with low personalization and a low start up cost.
These template sites can look like they provide great value for money, but dig deeper and you find that one size doesn’t fit every business:
Is it easy to update the content yourself, or do you have to pay your supplier for each and every change?
What on-going support will you receive from your supplier: Will you be left out in the cold after your cheque has cleared?
Will the whole site follow your brand identity, or has your logo just been slapped across the top of a template?
Is it easy and cost-effective to add new functionality to your site as your digital presence evolves?
Can you tie-in your merchandising software to provide online stock-check functionality?
Can you add your own analytics or affiliate marketing code across your site easily and quickly?
There are arguments to be made for and against both options, but no matter what you hear on the radio, great websites are not as easy as 123. If you want a website that is designed by experts (not punched out of a mould) and built on the most advanced Content Management System (CMS) available, then you , as a customer, only have one option. Selecting the premium choice means the customer is going to receive a website which is actually designed for their business, which will likely do the job it’s meant to do; sell the products and services of that business. While having the best CMS at your disposal greatly reduces your total costs of owning and running a high end website.
As the need for a polished digital presence becomes a necessary component for business success across all industries, you would think that the prevalence of companies which supply these ready-made websites might cease due to lack of demand. This, however, is not the case, and quite often small-to-medium businesses are attracted by the perceived value that the cheaper option appears to offer. Sadly, much of the time, they find they aren’t achieving the results they were looking for and as a result they have to pay for a new website a few years (or months) later. Some businesses even make the mistake of taking the cheaper option once again.
As the old adage goes: “Buy cheap, pay twice.”