I’ve gotten several quotes for creating a website for my painting business and though at first I thought $2500 was ridiculous now that I’ve learned how to do it myself I’m thinking that’s not a bad price, though still way over what most small businesses in a small market like the Tri-Cities can afford. I’ve even gotten quotes as high as $8000. Yikes! Even at $2500, that’s not including getting it found by people using Google to search for a business like mine, which arguably there is no good reason to spend much at all on a website if the Search Engine Optimization work is not done as well.
DESIGNERS LIKE TO DO THINGS THE HARD WAY
With my first two website designs, one for my painting business and one for my SEO business (the one you are reading from now), being the designer that I am I already had design schemes in mind in which it would be impossible to find a WordPress theme to match them and tweak them to taste so I found a free mobile compliant theme called Responsive (after trying out TwentyTen with a responsive plugin and the Headway Base drag and drop responsive theme builder) and basically used its “guts” (WordPress content management system functionality) and built child themes around it, including creating widget areas where I needed them to get the desired results.
Well that was a lot of work and not something I would want to do for much less than $2500, and with a complicated design like for my painting business I definitely would not do that for less than $2500. The problem is that’s out of reach for 98% of painting companies.
OPEN SOURCE PLATFORMS LIKE WORDPRESS PROVIDE VALUE – USUALLY
The solution I have found for affordable quality website design for small businesses in a small market is to use paid-for premium themes like the one I used for G&C Septic which you can see at it’s temporary digs here (it’s still under construction, mind you). This particular theme is a child theme I created from the responsive Office Theme by WPExplorer which has a ton of other quality themes to choose from. Most of the work has been done for me which for $40 is quite a bargain considering how much time it has saved me compared to starting from scratch with a basic free theme. The premium themes sold at places like ThemeForest and WPExplorer are feature rich and customizable enough to meet most any client’s needs. They just don’t meet the designer’s need to be creative and original since the design work has already been done as well.
Not all premium themes are created equal, however. It’s good to stick with one that’s been around a few months and has sold thousands of downloads as they are more likely to have the bugs worked out. I bought a brand new theme called Co-Porlio for my Richland Collision Center project which has some annoying bugs like none of the included custom widgets created by the theme designer work on his theme. It would have been nice if they worked since it takes a bit of time searching for and testing widgets to find ones that will do what you need them to do.
The vast majority of business owners are not as picky as us designers so will be quite happy to get a website made from a premium WordPress theme, as long as they don’t have preconceived ideas about how their website should look. If they come to you and say they want it to look like some other website then they have added a degree of complexity that isn’t going to allow you to just pick a premium theme and tweak it to taste. What they want you to do is be a theme author like I was for my own two websites which requires more work than what you can offer to small business owners with small marketing budgets. For those clients that really do want to turn you loose on a totally original design they are just going to have to pay more for the extra effort involved.