Well, looks like I’m going solo sooner than it’s been planned. How soon? Since yesterday. What I’ve learned about the corporate world in the last few months I wouldn’t find in any book. It is a crazy, unreliable world out there, full of uncertainties. And although I’ve got my plate full with concerns at the moment, my future somehow doesn’t feel as unpredictable — at least I know that it all depends on the way I conduct my business. And even though Her Majesty Luck plays a substantial role in the outcome, I don’t have to rely on anyone else telling me what I can and cannot do.
So if you’re a designer, feel free to pass on any graphic/web design or programming jobs that you might need to share the workload on, if you are looking for a designer/programmer, at the moment I’m available, though it can change at any time (check my business site for more details on the kind of work I do)… I already emerged myself fully into the new business life style, and have been having client meetings since yesterday, and even managed to score a new client. However, things are not going perfectly well. And there’s something that I wanted to discuss with you about and get your feedback.
Two days after the initial meeting with my new client, who wanted me to design a web site for her business, things slightly changed. She talked with her business partner about getting the site done by me, when all of sudden her partner remembered about her friend who just got her site done for a similar business as theirs for only $200. How did she manage that? By simply purchasing one of the ready-to-use template packages (complete with the “cool” moving, fading in and out images in Flash). So my new client confessed to me that even though she realizes that it’s not good news for me, at this moment that’s all she can afford for a site, and to be honest, she really likes that site and wants something very similar, a simple one, with nothing more than what her competitor’s site has.
Ok, it’s not the first time I’ve had to deal with clients who were wondering why am I charging for a web design so much more than the cost of those cheaper, but in their opinion, very impressive templates? So I went on explaining to her about the disadvantages of having an entire web site done in Flash, about the poor visibility of such sites on Google and other search engines, about the time when she would need to update that site – the images and text, the fact that her site will look so much similar to the one by her competitor, and so on.
Her reasoning was that at the moment she doesn’t really care, she just needs to have a simple site up and running, so that her customers can go online and check some things if needed, and that most importantly she just doesn’t have a budget for anything more than $200.
Usually I just turn my back on such businesses as politely as I can, but this case was different. I really like the type of business she’s running. Through the nature of her business she’s supporting many local businesses run by mompreneurs, promotes the awareness of environmental issues, and expands the line of organic products in the store. So I’ve tried to educate her some more on what kind of a site her business actually needs, and what she’ll be missing on if choosing to go with a pre-made site template. I’ve also added that I’m willing to give her a big discount just because I like her business and would like to support her.
In the end I did manage to convince her to re-think her decision and go with a custom designed site by me. I will also help her with the hosting, domain registration and everything else that needs to be taken care of to get her site up and running. We’ve re-negotiated on a price, she did raise her budget limit, and even though it would probably be the cheapest site I’ve ever designed, I’m okay with that. She’s got good business connections, she already referred another business to me for designing their site, plus this project will allow me to solidify my “foot” in the market niche that she’s in, and the one that I’m very keen in working with. In addition to that, I’m also starting a new business venture (if it works out I’ll tell you all about it later) and she’s helping me out with that.
Plus, because of the low budget for this project I’m not going to spend as much time designing and developing the site than I would spend on higher-end sites. It doesn’t mean that I’ll be turning out a cheap-looking rubbish (I won’t be able to get away with that anyway, nor would I want to “sign” my business name under that site’s “design by” credit section), but I won’t be going over the top trying all kinds of design and programming tricks to add the glamour and functionality that this site doesn’t really need.
Now, I’d really appreciate your input on this, from both sides — designers and businesses who had their sites designed or are considering on getting one done in a near future. Why any self-respected business should never go with pre-made templates, be it for a site, logo or business card? If, however you think that templates, or cheap design deals, are the way to go for businesses on a tight budget, please share with us your reasoning behind that?
I’ve dug out an interesting article written by Chris Pearson almost 2 years ago on how much a site/blog design should cost and his experience when dealing with the customers and project costs. It generated 327 comments, so obviously this is a hot topic for discussions at any given time. David Airey also wrote on this subject matter and even managed to confuse some of his readers who thought that he is charging only $100 for a logo design.
While I don’t really want to go into project pricing, I would love to hear your thoughts on design costs vs. values and why is it okay for dentists, lawyers and a number of other highly-paid professions to charge $200-300/hour for their services, why is it okay to shell out $100-150/hour to an interior designer, but it is a sin to pay that much money to a web/graphic designer? And what’s even more intriguing and interesting to find out is why we never question and simply accept the high prices of dentists, lawyers, psychiatrists, interior decorators, plumbers… but behave so differently when it comes to building our brand name awareness in print and online? What do you think should happen in order to change people’s mindset on design costs and values? Or do you think that nothing should change, that it is the way it should stay, that there are no reasons why designers should get paid any more than those working night shifts at 24 hour drive-thrus?