Is your Web Designer or Agency charging too much?

WordPress is a great website platform, allowing business owners to update content themselves, as well as ensure lower cost design and running costs. But this doesn’t always occur.  What should a business expect to pay for site design? For hosting? For upkeep and maintenance?

WordPress Website Design

Your typical web designer or agency will charge $3,000 – $5,000 for a small business website. If you need a shopping cart added (Woocommerce) then a huge $8,000 bill isn’t unusual. Then there’s some SEO work, Adwords plus hosting to consider. But what are the true costs; the alternatives?

You can save thousands by using pre-built WordPress themes

The visual design done by a graphic designer is always the biggest single cost element, typically taking 70% of the total, with the remaining spent (usually outsourced) to a coding geek (like us) to turn their Photoshop design file, into a WordPress theme file.

But rather than pay for a custom design and months of back and forth, you could purchase a stock design/theme instead, then adapt it to your needs and branding colour scheme.

Where to look for a good theme? WordPress free themes are okay for clubs or bloggers, but businesses should use a commercial theme provider  Also check out our own theme selection article

The Themeforest supermarket – Good, but be careful

Then there’s, a popular theme ‘supermarket’ where hundreds of design teams sell their creations worldwide, at a discount. From simple to advanced designs. Blog, small business and cart themes. Some include special layout builders (WP Bakery/Visual composer). But not all themes on this massive site are suitable for business users, even the popular ones like Avada, X, Flatsome etc.

Avoid the ‘multi-purpose’ themes, boasting a dozen or more layouts, revolution slider and WP Bakery tools. They take a lot more time and real skill to set up right. These nice, popular themes, try to be all things to all people, hence are frequently setup, performance and maintenance nightmares. More features = more code = more problems.  Selecting a simple, clean design is the key.

Our WordPress Theme installation and optimisation service

But having complained about the possible downfalls of themeforest, there’s no denying that using pre-built themes from here or other providers, can still save businesses a LOT of time and money, over having a web design company create your own unique theme. In fact many design companies don’t actually do much design, but instead buy a pretty $75 theme on themeforest, then on-sell them as their own design, with a huge markup!

Cut your costs by purchasing a theme directly, then let us install and set it up to your branding requirements. (Note there are a few themes we won’t touch). We’ll expertly set it up within a few days, on your own [Siteground] host account, ready for us to add your content. We’ll include all the essential items and plugins needed for webforms, security, analytics, backups, base SEO, email, even a shopping cart or credit card payment facility, if needed. If you do need a new logo designed, that can also be arranged.

Bonus Free WordPress Mobile Apps

An overlooked option is the free WordPress mobile app to instantly add or update posts with your phone or tablet, adding camera pics directly. If you’ve a cart, there’s a separate Woocommerce mobile app for that too. Agencies seldom include these gems. (right)

Costs. Our theme setup fee (excl theme/plugin licenses) starts from just $450. The actual fee depends upon the design selected, options and how much content you can add yourself. Compared with a design agency build, you should expect savings of 50-75% and have a website that is usually faster, more stable and if you follow our SEO tips, get more traffic too.

Best Value WordPress Hosting Options for Small Businesses

Normally hosting is just something the designer/developer does, right? But oddly, they’re seldom an expert in hosting, which is why we have several design clients who let us assist in this area.

But, which host? There are thousands of web host companies worldwide. Some good, some bad. However, one that stands out is Siteground. Although located offshore, their speeds are very good. We’ve help a lot of clients move across, with zero issues. And their prices are amazing. (NOTE Since 2020 – Siteground are no longer taking on NZ clients)

Like all hosting providers, they have various plans. Their Growbig (from NZ$100/yr) is perfect for most startups or small business sites with low traffic. Their more powerful Gogeek (from NZ$200/yr) is ideal for busier sites or those running a larger Woocommerce shopping cart. They discount heavily in the first year or two so we recommend you signup for 2 or 3 years in advance. They do have a money back guarantee.

Our host selection article outlines web hosts we like and some we hate. Siteground has always been the standout for me, even over speciality [and more costly] hosts like WPengine or Flywheel. Siteground technology is up to date, their support and reliability superb. Their Gogeek plan is my own favourite, the right mix of power and affordability. But for more demanding business needs running several domains or high traffic, their cloud (VPS) options are great too. I have several clients using these, so far boasting zero downtime.

WordPress sites should be reliable and not need a lot of upkeep

Normal small business websites shouldn’t need a lot of maintenance. Yet I’ve seen businesses charged hundreds of dollars per month to maintain and host quite modest sites with just a dozen pages.

Business sites with modest traffic, seldom need a monthly support contract. Clients should also do their own content updates, not the design company. Better still, businesses could hire a copywriter for a few hours a month to do it for them, also updating any Facebook page(s) at the same time, although WordPress can push articles into Facebook automatically, if needed.

Because WordPress has a lot of moving parts, many third party plugins, I do recommend a 4 or 6-monthly checkup to apply required updates, check SEO ranking, traffic, security and to review any new developments. We have a modest flat fee for this work. If something breaks in between these checkups, we’ll repair it at no cost.

Monthly support contracts and more regular updates I find are only needed on busy shopping cart websites. These bigger sites have a lot more code, more plugins, get more traffic and have a bigger database. This means more regular checks are needed to keep them stable.

A well coded website, on a good host should be trouble-free. The WordPress sites I find the most problematic and unstable, are those running on a bad host platform. (And those online host reviews are a waste of time, seldom giving an honest, independent evaluation).

Always maintain control of your domain name and website

Unlike when we started back in 2003, I now recommend clients establish their own domain and hosting accounts – Never leave it to your web designer. This is an area any business can now safely take control of. This strategy ensures you not only save money, but are always in control of  your domain name and your website – Needed should things turn bad between you and your web designer or developer.

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If you’re unsure if you’re getting value from your web design company, feel free to give us a call.

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