Cheap Web Design vs Affordable Web Design: What’s the Difference?

cheap website design

PRO TIP: If you can’t be bothered to read 1,000’s of words right now, you can watch the video a few paragraphs below or listen to the podcast episode right here. πŸ™‚

Look, we all like to get a good deal.

In fact, when we do, the first thing we do is excitedly humble-brag to the person next to us about how we got said deal.

But searching for a good deal on website design is risky.

People get so obsessed with saving a few bucks that they are oblivious to the fact they’re about to get scammed from a dude in Ukraine who barely speaks English, or some old lady living in a basement in Montana who’s still using Windows Vista on her Dell desktop.

This hunt for a good web design deal even leads people to type that phrase that sends a nasty shiver down my spine every time…

“cheap web design”

β›„ *Brrrrr* β›„

As a web designer, it hurts to see that phrase Googled so often.

But as a small business owner, I get it. I’ve been there.

Before we get into why hunting for cheap website design is a mistake, and why affordable website design is a much better alternative, let’s try to define what we’re talking about here.

 

What is cheap web design?

Great question. And not one that’s easy to answer.

That’s because pricing web design services, like pricing anything, is extremely subjective. (just checkout this incredibly in-depth website design calculator to see what I mean)

$1,000 for a website could be considered a great deal by someone who makes $100,000/year. But that same $1,000 website would take months to pay off for someone who makes minimum wage.

And quantifying cheap web design gets even more difficult when you consider how many web designers have wildly different methods for deciding what to charge for their services.

Which is why I argue that cheap web design has nothing to do about price at all. It’s a mindset.

Before you roll your eyes and smash that back button, let me explain…

Why are so many people looking for cheap web design?

Based on my research, over 1,500+ people are searching for “cheap web design” in the United States every month.

cheap website design

cheap website design

People who are searching for cheap web design generally fall into one of these categories:

  1. They are searching for a web designer who can offer them good quality services at a price that is within their modest budget.
  2. They don’t value website design and the ROI it offers, and have unrealistic expectations as to what it should cost.
  3. They are looking to take advantage of a desperate web designer.

Let’s take a look at these one at a time.

1) They are searching for a web designer who can offer them good quality services at a price that is within their modest budget.

I would argue that the majority of “cheap web design” searchers fall into this category.

Most of the people that contact me to ask for a web design quote are people who have dreams of starting their own business. More than that, they have an idea. And they’re ready to take action.

But when you’re first starting out in your small business journey, cash is tight. If not non-existent.

$1,000 for a website is impossible for an entry-level IT technician making $50,000/year living in an expensive city like Toronto.

Even $500-600, which most could consider to be “cheap”, would likely be difficult for him to scrape together.

So what is he supposed to do? Give up on his dream of building an IT consulting business? Of course not. He just types “cheap web design” into Google and hopes for the best.

2) They don’t value web design and the ROI it offers, and have unrealistic expectations as to what it should cost.

These type of people exist in every industry, but there tends to be more of them when you’re selling digital products and services.

They don’t understand the amount of work that goes into building a beautiful and functional website that brings in customers. All they see is a couple clicks here and a few types of the keyboard there and BAM!, site is ready.

Some days I wish it were that simple…

It’s not always their fault, mind you. It’s difficult to sell digital services like web design.

When you hire someone to renovate your bathroom, you’re getting physical labor, tangible new items and visually evident results in exchange for your dollars. It’s all happening right there in front of your eyes. πŸ‘€

When some dude is typing away on his laptop in a coffee shop, surrounded by other digital nomadic millennials, he could be doing anything. (trust me, I’ve seen some weird stuff go down in coffee shops)

That can be tough to explain to someone who knows nothing about web design.

3) They are looking to take advantage of a desperate web designer.

Then, of course, there are the sharks of the world. Predators on the hunt for their next prey.

These people know exactly how much great quality web design costs. And they also know that the web design industry is extremely competitive.

They’re well aware that web designers who market themselves as “cheap” are more desperate for business than the ones who are comfortable charging what they’re worth.

They use that to their advantage.

They haggle, bargain, manipulate and wear their web designers down until they’re ready to accept a basement-level price just to keep the lights on at the end of the month.

It’s pretty gross. And it’s why I refuse to engage in their cheap tactics.

After years of experience in the web design industry, I can spot these sharks from a mile away. It’s my queue to swim off to safer waters. 🦈

Fortunately, these people are definitely in the minority. I don’t encounter them that often.

The difference between cheap web design and affordable web design (Infographic)

Why make such a big deal about the difference between “cheap” and “affordable“? They essentially mean the same thing right? Saving money!

Well, not exactly.

What do you think of when you think of “cheap“? Sure, it can mean reduced cost or increased savings, but it also has these negative connotations:

  • Low quality
  • Dirty
  • Unsafe
  • Unattractive
  • Lazy

Are those the kind of things you’d want to see from your brand new website? Would you want to hire a web designer who uses those adjectives to pitch their services? Of course not.

The word “affordable” is completely different.

It implies a reduced cost, but also the retaining of a certain level of quality.

You can “cheapen” something by reducing it’s quality, value or sinking to a new low, but you can’t affordable…en something. (you get what I mean)

To illustrate the difference between cheap web design and affordable web design, look at this infographic:

cheap website design

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How I’m handling the cheap vs affordable web design conundrum

There is a fundamental problem with the web design industry.

  1. Small businesses want high quality websites, but many can only afford to pay around $500 – $1,000 for one.
  2. Web designers you actually want to hire can’t afford to build high quality websites at that price range.

As a web designer myself, I’ve decided to offer a service that I believe solves both of these issues.

Subsidized website design

You know how everyone wants to have the latest phone, but can’t afford to pay for the full price up front? And how retailers are anxious to sell as many of these new phones as they can?

What do they do?

They subsidize the cost of the phone by offering monthly payment plans to their customers.

It’s a win-win.

  1. Customers always have the latest and greatest phone
  2. Retailers sell more phones to people who normally wouldn’t be able to afford them

I’ve applied this same principle to my web design pricing.

I offer high quality, fast and affordable web design for small businesses of all kinds. Most of the websites I build fall into the $500-$1,000 range, but would normally cost anywhere between $2,000-$4,000.

I make up the initial cost of the web design work afterwords by hosting and maintaining my clients’ websites at $39/month.

It’s a win-win for both me and my clients.

  1. My clients get a high quality, fully-managed website that would normally be way outside their price range.
  2. I sell more websites to small businesses who normally wouldn’t be able to afford it (and get a nice little source of passive income on the side)

Now tell me that isn’t a perfect match. 😎

If this sounds like something you’d be interested in, and are looking to get a high-quality website made at an affordable price, contact me here to get a free quote!

coporate web design examples

More Frequently Asked Questions

These are the most common questions I receive about cheap vs affordable web design.

How much should web design cost?

Web design pricing can vary widely depending on many different criteria including:

  • the designer
  • scope of the website
  • services involved
  • timing and location

That being said, I believe most small businesses should be able to get a high quality website made for about $500-$1,500.

What is the cheapest way to build a website?

The cheapest way to get a website made is to just build it yourself. You can use many different DIY website builders like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace, Elementor, Beaver Builder and many more. Keep in mind that some website builders are much easier to use than others.

What is the cheapest website builder?

Out of all of the DIY website builders, Weebly seems to be the cheapest option at this time. The cheapest (and best) WordPress website builder is Elementor.

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