#1 It isn’t that complicated.
The guts of most websites can be handled by WordPress. So let’s get that out of the way. Nobody should have to hand code a new web site platform for you. Truthfully, it’s not even a good idea. As much as your business means to you, there is little need to reinvent the wheel, just to accomplish your online goals. This is in spite of what you may have been told. As a matter of fact, many of the top web design companies on the planet, use this same platform. It is an open source, free and powerful website platform that serves as an excellent content management and blogging system. It is extremely organized and search engines love it. One of the best things about WordPress is the endless sources of help and online communities that can offer assistance, should your web designer become unavailable.
Additionally, professional web design companies create websites every single day. What may seem like a monumental task to you, has been streamlined long ago and much of what you might believe will take forever, will mostly likely be done in a reasonable amount of time, with a reasonable amount of effort. Does it take skill, knowledge and experience? Of course! But in reality, this is what you are paying for. Not a team of people, slaving over a computer, wiping sweat from their brows and crying themselves to sleep at night. If your web design company is doing this, then you probably chose the wrong web design company. If you are a rare and unlikely client that actually needs to reinvent the wheel, your story could be different But let’s be realistic. You probably aren’t.
#2 You don’t need them (much).
You need a website designer to create that fantastic new website for your business. You have never had the desire and probably don’t have the time to learn HTML, CSS, SEO or anything else required to assemble a professional website. That is why you hired a professional in the first place. But do you really need to keep paying them afterwards?
Some web designers, like to have residual income. An easy way to do this, is to create a website in way that requires that designer for any and all future updates. Sometimes, a designer can even withhold information about how the website was built. Knowledge is power. Knowledge is money. But the truth is, updating and editing your own website is easy, as long as the proper platform was used and someone shows you how. Of course, this means that your web designer doesn’t get paid big bucks per hour for any future edits (and you will need to edit your website), but it does put you in control and saves you tons of money in the long run.
Also, some web designers want to push their own hosting. They will suggest and even require in some cases, that you use their hosting instead of one of the many (and usually cheaper) alternatives. If your website designer will not create your website unless you use their hosting, or any specific hosting company, then you may need to find a new designer. There is no reason that your website cannot be created at one of the many reputable hosting companies that already exist. As a matter of fact it makes more sense. Suppose you have a “falling out” with your designer? What happens to your support? Or even worse, what if your web guy gets hit by a truck? Who do you turn to? In my opinion, it is much smarter in the long term, to use well known and popular hosting companies that can provide great service, regardless of who your designer is, or how your website was built.
#3 Web design doesn’t have to be expensive.
Something to keep in mind, is that every little thing doesn’t have to cost money. I have seen other web design companies charge for almost every simple thing imaginable. They offer a low price (or high) and then lots of ridiculous “options”. Want a photo gallery? Sure, that will be fifty bucks extra! Umm..But you can add a highly functional photo gallery to any WordPress based website with just a few clicks and it is absolutely free. So why fifty bucks? Maybe if you have to customize the code, but most people don’t have these requirements. There are many examples of this kind of behavior from designers. Just remember that every request shouldn’t cost extra. If you feel like your pocket book is slowly being chipped away with every simple request, you might be dealing with the wrong person. Be sure to clearly communicate your needs with your designer during your initial conversation. Get a quote that covers all of those needs. Then you can do some intelligent shopping, to decide who really has the best value for the dollar.
On the other side of the coin, you shouldn’t expect your designer to do anything you ask, if it wasn’t discussed initially. Clear communication is key. If you get a quote for a basic website and then decide that you would like to add a social network for all of your employees to use, you should be prepared to pay extra. But most clients need similar features and have similar requests. Any professional should be prepared for them.
In defense of everyone in the web design profession, most are good and talented people who are just trying to earn a living. And it can be hard work at times. But there are bad apples, like in any profession. I like to be open and honest about cost and time involved with my clients. Some things do take longer and in this business, something that may seem simple can in fact be complicated (and vice versa). The problem is that some people take advantage of that to squeeze dollars out of the unwitting public. Web designers and similar professionals deserve to be compensated for their knowledge and time. But it is up to you to decide how much you should pay and who you should choose.