Cheap Web Design and Websites Secrets Exposed: What You Are REALLY Paying For

cheap web design truth exposed

If you are looking for cheap web design or a cheap website, you will have undoubtedly seen the numerous ads online for cheap websites or web design – some costing as little as $99. You may also have requested a quote and got one in the thousands. How on earth do you distinguish the two?


Today, we set out to expose the secrets on how a cheap website is built.


We will explore the differences between a cheap website costing $99 up to one that cost $9999 and our recommendations based on your budget.


If you’re ONLY after cheap websites, this article is not for you. Feel free to skip to our recommendations based on your budget section.


This article is for people who want to understand what goes into building a website to justify their cost in order to make a more informed purchasing decision.


It is for the people who understand the values of time and return on investment over getting the cheapest deal possible.


Before You Buy Cheap Website Design

If you’re looking to purchase or redesign a website, the first thing you should ask is – what do I want my website to do? 


1. Do you want a cheap website that just sits there (along with the millions of other websites out there), collecting dust and destined to be forgotten in time? OR


2. Do you want to grow your business with a website that speaks to your target audience, gets found by them and one that generates constant leads and sales for you?


You can only have one or the other because it’s impossible to have both.


If you can answer this question truthfully, then you will see why purchasing the cheapest website design will not be in your best interest.


If you answer 2 (like most people), then the cheapest website simply will NOT do. A cheap website will not meet all the requirements and qualities of a great website design because the time and expertise involved in getting a quality website to rank, perform and convert visitors will not make it cheap.

cheap web design compared


Why Are Some Websites So Cheap

Cheap websites are cheap for a reason. Below are some reasons why some website designs are so cheap:


Lack of Website Optimisation

Quite simply, a good web design that optimises your website for performance, speed, and conversion will take more time. 


A cheap website will be lacking in the most important areas which is to be found and ranked on search engines such as Google and Bing.


Generic or Template Website Design

A great website doesn’t have to be too flashy but it has to be a virtual representation of you and your business. A cheap website design will most likely be made with a no thrill template with little to no changes.


This means it looks the same as hundreds if not thousands of websites out there. One way of gaining more customers is through a unique value proposition. How do you have differentiate yourself from your competitors if your website looks boring and the same?     


Hidden Costs and Management Fees

Before you purchase a website design package, make sure to ask the developer if the software they use to build the website on is open-source or closed-source. Closed source or proprietary software means only that one company have access to the technology that built it.  


This means you cannot hire an independent developer or web designer to modify your website if you find their service poor or lacking. You are forced to stick with them and they will make it hard for you to change providers. 


Does proprietary software mean it’s cheaper? 

Not necessarily but they may use a cheap website design package to hook you in knowing full well your only option of any type of support and service is through them.  


Not SEO friendly

To put it simply Search Engine Optimisation or SEO makes it easier for your website to be found on the Internet through search engines like Google and Bing. 


A cheap website that is not SEO optimised will often take longer to load, difficult to view on mobile devices due to different screens and simply not secure. 


To have an SEO friendly website takes effort and time both of which a cheap web design package may not have when their idea is to churn out as many cheap websites as possible. 

Not Secure 

Cheap websites often overlook the security of a website or choose plugins that are out of date to save on cost. This means your website may be vulnerable to security breaches and 


At the very least, get an SSL certificate. It encrypts your messages so hackers will not be able to eavesdrop on your information and also enhances your website’s security.


SSL is an important SEO ranking factor meaning websites that have SSL are ranked higher than a website that doesn’t if all things are equal.


Websites that doesn’t have SSL are often marked as ‘insecure’.

website security


No Custom Options or Unique Features

Unique and non-duplicate websites are statistically proven to rank higher than generic websites. This is because search engines want to weed out unnecessary duplicate data from the Internet as they add nothing of value to customers.


However, custom websites with amazing content do not come cheap. 



Most cheap websites do not have long term growth in mind. This is because the owner of these websites do not place a lot of value and confidence in their business and therefore do not expect it to succeed.


That is why cheap website design will often contain messy code and short term, short sighted design choices because “for that price what do you expect”?


For anything else, be prepared to pay through the roof.


If you want your website to succeed, the logical thing would be to invest in it with either time, money or both – a business owner who’s not confident with their business will not invest in either. 


Lack of After Sales Service and Support

Another thing cheap web designers will skimp on is after sales support. Unless you want your website to just sit there collecting dust, there will be a lot of things you may want to add such as new photos, updates etc… 


For cheap websites, prepare to figure out things on your own or hire outside help. 


Most if not all cheap websites will provide little to no support because they do not expect to form long term relationships with your business. 


Outsourced to Low Cost Overseas Workers

You will find that a majority of cheap websites are made from overseas developers. This doesn’t always mean the quality is bad but there is a high chance it will be because it will lack quality control and accountability. 


Another thing is, outsourcing workers overseas means they come from different cultures and will build websites that simply do not resonate with your local customers. A good web design in India or Pakistan will look very different to a good website in Australia.

cheap website design example


That’s OK, you can always tell them what changes to make. Wrong! Cheap websites do not allow you to make custom changes remember?  


A combination of all the above

A cheap website design will often have a combination of the above traits. They will be hastily put together, poorly optimised and lack conversion optimisation to turn your visitors to customers. 


Because this is the easiest route but growing a business online is anything but easy. A well developed website that acts as a full time salesman however, will make things easier.


A good website that is SEO optimised will provide an endless stream of customers that come to you day in and day out.


Problems of a Cheap Web Design

The above already highlight some of the features of a cheap website design. Some of the main problems of cheap websites are:


Impossible for your customers to find you

Cheap websites do not have your customers in mind. Only the design. This means it will lack the most fundamental requirement of a great web design which is to be easily found by your potential customers.


What’s the point of having a website when your clients cannot find it?


Doesn’t Convert Visitors to Customers

On the off chance your potential clients find you, a cheap website will not be tailor made to your customers personal profile. It will lack the elements to turn them into a fan or customer.


You see cheap website designers do not take conversions and other optimisations into account. It is not their job to. Their job is to pop out a website in the fastest way possible. 


Costing You More In The Long Term

With poor coding practices and design decisions, it will be a hassle to maintain, update and upgrade your website. 


These problems will rear its ugly over time and you’ll soon find yourself needing to patch everything or even build a brand new website.


All that wasted time and money could’ve been better spent on a better website in the first place and working towards building your business.

cheap websites costing businesses money

Expensive Websites Vs Cheap Websites

A good website will not be the cheapest but a good website also doesn’t have to be expensive (as will be shown in the next section). It depends on what you’re looking for. 


More expensive websites can typically be attributed to three things: the amount of time spent on it, the skills of the developer behind building it and the features it contains.


A more expensive website will likely contain more features such as:


Optimised for Performance and SEO

Website performance and SEO go hand in hand. In fact, how fast a website runs and its user experience are major ranking factors for SEO.


A SEO optimised website will have your main keywords and images optimised to make it rank on search engines.

website seo optimisation


Optimised for Conversion

Not all websites are designed with customer conversion in mind. Cheap websites typically are not planned out well because they do not have a whole team dedicated to the whole user journey and experience to convert them to customers. 


Customised Design and Content

One of the factors that raise the pricing of a website is customised design and content. To have a unique website that speaks to your target audience and combines all the best qualities cost money.


A customised design and user interface will make it easier for your visitors to find what they’re looking for.


Customised Functions and Features

A great website will provide the ultimate user experience for your customers and streamline your business operations. 


Want a $99 website to have a booking and instant quoting function? Fat chance!


A great website will help you save time and money so you can work on the thing that matters the most for your business and that is growing it!


Better Hosting 

A more expensive website will typically host your website on better servers. Servers that provide better uptime, security and support. 


If your business is located in Australia and you only have Australia customers you’d definitely want to use Australian servers. They will typically cost more because they are faster and the support is much, much better.

secure website hosting


Better Support and Service

Finally, a more expensive website package will more likely to include better service and support. 


For new website owners who want to learn about their new system and its features, after sales support is a must.


All website owners should have a good understanding of how their websites work because if you’re serious about growing your business you’d be updating it constantly with awesome content.

Should You Buy a Cheap Website

Should you buy cheap website design? In most cases, the answer is no. The messy coding, lack of features, optimisation and scalability makes it a hindrance rather than an asset to your business.  


If you want an online presence but on a tight budget, it’s better to just set up a social media account like a Facebook business page or even through a do it yourself website builder such as Wix or Weebly – it most likely won’t have the advanced features you desire but you don’t have to worry about the messy code, security vulnerabilities and maintenance. 


Below are our recommendations based on your budget: 


Our Recommendations on Website Design Based on Budget

Recommendation: Free To $999 Websites 

Don’t hire a web developer but learn to DIY. Don’t try to save money. It will come back to haunt you. Learn to do it yourself with the number of cheap DIY website builders out there.


Anything above $1000 will be the minimum for an experienced web developer.


Do NOT even attempt to reply the emails that advertise cheap $99 websites from some overseas ‘reputable company’ with a gmail account. Just block their email address.


There’s so much deceit and scam on the online world that it’s impossible to NOT come across one as you browse the Internet or even spammed via email.


Recommendations for $1000 and Above

For $1000 you can legitimately get some well designed website albeit with minimum customisation with a template design.


However, it will be optimised for your goals. It will contain some nice stock photos and clean code design with some scalability should you want to expand your business in the future.


Anything that’s entirely custom made will cost $2500 to $10000 and upwards. Obviously for website redesign, with hundreds or thousands of pages of data this figure will rise.


How to Choose a Good and Affordable Website Design 


A good web design agency does not have to be expensive but they will definitely NOT be focusing the value on price. Why would they be if they have clients who are willing to pay more but get greater returns?


A good web design agency will focus on the value and results it generates for their client.


Below are some tips on how to choose a good website design agency to get the most value:


Educate Yourself

If you go to a website design agency and ask “how much do you charge for website design” chances are you will not get a straightforward answer. It’s the same as going to a car dealer is ask “how much for a car?”. 


In fact, not doing your homework will often not get you anywhere or get their best price because most often than not, it means you’re not serious about building your business and only price shopping.  


Just as you won’t go to a car dealer without doing some research beforehand on what type of car you like, you shouldn’t go to a web design agency without first asking yourself a few questions such as:


  • What do you want your website to do
  • Are there any features you want and do you want to sell products online.
  • What kind of design do you want. Do you want to a premade design or 100% customised for your needs.
  • Are there similar website out there for comparison that you like


Having these questions ready will demonstrate you are serious about building your business and in turn will get the most helpful advice from the website design agency.


Keep Away from Anything That is ‘Free’

Any company advertising free logo or hosting is rarely a good sign. Free hosting will be hosting that is overseas, highly congested and therefore slow. At worse, it could mean you don’t actually own the website or they keep all your data.

Beware of free websites


Ask The Right Questions

You have an idea of what you want, now to determine if the web design agency is a right fit for your business. Some questions to ask a web design agency are:


  • Cam I customise the design


  • How many design revisions will I receive if I don’t like the first draft


  • What are your processes to optimise the website


  • How long it will take


  • What is the upfront payment (most will ask for a 50% or more upfront payment if it is for a small business website, less if it’s a larger project)


  • Is there any more to pay after the website is finalised


  • Will they do any maintenance work after the website is finished


  • What are their hourly rate should you want to expand or add additional features in future (web designer rates vary from $50- $150)


Don’t Just Take Pricing as a Deciding Factor

A legit and well known website design company will not advertise their service as cheap.


Any company that advertises their website as cheap is often covering up their lack of skills, experience or both.


See Their Work or Samples Portfolio

You’d definitely want to check out their website design sample portfolio. What you want to see is if they have a variety of web designs to show they are flexible in customising for different clients and industries.


If you are after some advanced features such as instant quoting or booking features, you may request to see a sample of that to see if it is well implemented.


Talk To Them

A website design should be a collaboration between you and the web designer or agency so it helps to talk to them or an account manager that represents the company. If they sound friendly and helpful up front then chances are high that you will get better service and support.


If they are pushy then you might want to question why they like that. 


Trust your gut instincts.


Don’t Hire Them If You Can’t Find Them

A good website attracts and converts customers and is one of the most effective inbound marketing tools to generate leads and sales for your business. 


If you didn’t find the web design agency yourself and they have to cold call or cold email you, chances are they are not very good.


If you search their business name or services in their area and you can’t find their website. Chances are high that they are not a legit company or very new and neither is a company you want to build your business with.



We hoped you got something out of reading what goes into making a website in this article. The differences between a cheap and expensive website is more than its design.


A cheap web design will often lack optimisation such as speed, conversion rate and general usability, which are all extremely important metrics to determine if your website gets found and if it converts visitors to customers..


A cheaply made website will be hastily put together with messy coding, often with a generic, stock template that doesn’t speak to your customers and doesn’t have scalability in mind. 


It may have security holes and definitely won’t come with good service or support.


A well built website on the other hand will resonate with your ideal customers. It will be optimised for SEO so it gets easily found. It most likely will have sound local hosting with great uptime and secure servers.


There are many ways to save money for a business but a cheap website is not one of them. Not when it affects your overall branding and reputation. 


A cheap website will be a hindrance for your business while a good website will be an asset that provides you with endless leads and sales.


What are your experiences dealing with cheap website designers or purchasing cheap websites?


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