The web design marketplace has never been more flooded with choices for consumers. Whether we’re competing with other talented designers or DIY services that promise the moon (all for one low monthly price), sometimes it takes a little something extra to help prospective clients better understand what you have to offer. Here are some tips for making your case:
Explain the Differences
If you offer custom design and development, it’s getting more difficult to compete on the basis of price. With popular services like Wix or Squarespace offering business owners an easy and cheap way to build their own website, designers will lose out every time when it comes to initial cost (though long-term could be a different story). The same thing goes for the person who says “Why can’t I just buy a $50 WordPress theme?”
That’s why it is vital to educate people on the differences that aren’t always apparent to the untrained eye:
Limited Functionality vs. Custom Functionality
DIY services may offer a specific functionality that a business owner is looking for…or not. Wix has been especially good at adding more features that users have come to expect. But they don’t offer everything. If what they have on hand doesn’t match your needs, you’re out of luck.
A custom website, on the other hand, doesn’t necessarily run into those types of issues. If, for example, a WordPress plugin doesn’t exist for a desired feature, one can be written for it. You’ll pay more for this kind of service, but you’re also getting exactly what you want.
Nowhere is this more evident than in ecommerce. It seems that no matter how “simple” an online shop is supposed to be, there are always quirks. Often times this requires writing a custom piece of code or adding a niche plugin. That’s what puts the “custom” in a custom site.
Their Design vs. Original Design
Design should be an area where web professionals always have the upper hand. The main thing to relate to clients is that a custom website is built around your business and the message you want to get across, rather than simply squeezing your logo into a readymade theme. And again, the ability to have something completely unique that matches your specifications is important to many people.
Of course, there will always be those who are willing to sacrifice a unique look in exchange for a lower price. In that case, there are other worthy arguments to make.
Locked In vs. Freedom to Move
When you’re buying into a DIY service – you’re kind of stuck. They’re not going to just let you take your website with you since everything is (most likely) proprietary. Closed systems like this do have some advantages, but they’re also a one-way street.
A custom site using an open source CMS doesn’t lock you in. You’re free to host it just about anywhere and, if you ever want to switch to a different platform, someone has most likely crafted a tool to help you import content (if not the design) from the old one.
A website is more than just a few pages full of content slapped up onto a server. There needs to be a strategy for how it looks, functions and the reasoning behind the content within. Without that strategy, it’s easy for a site to become inconsistent and aimless.
This is especially the case for small businesses that may not have a team of experts in-house. It’s also an area where an experienced web designer can really be an asset. There is great value for clients in hiring someone who knows what they’re doing when it comes to building a website. A designer can pick up on the details that would otherwise be missed.
The point is that a company’s website is too important to be trusted to anyone less than an expert in their field.
A Successful Relationship
Being a web designer is more than just the technical side of things. We often build relationships with clients that last for the long-term. And we are there to provide expertise, support, and advice. Those are things that can’t be easily replicated or replaced.
Therefore, it’s an important distinction that should also be a key selling point. Just the ability to easily get in touch with a designer is an advantage over large conglomerates. It sure beats waiting on hold for a support representative (who may or may not be able to answer your question) or waiting hours (or days) for a support ticket to be resolved.
Plus, the personal relationship we develop with a client means that we are invested in their success. They’re not just another number. They’re a person who can rely on you to give them your best effort. A dependable person is worth their weight in gold as it is one less thing for a business owner to worry about.
An Investment in Growth
When speaking with a potential client, note that building a custom website is a long-term investment. It’s something that can evolve and grow along with their business. While budget is an understandable constraint, it’s also worth mentioning that you get what you pay for.
These days, many of the low-cost site builders provide a respectable product and have a legitimate place in the market. But in general, they’re for those with either extremely low budgets or a real DIY spirit.
Frankly, most businesses don’t have the time to put things together by themselves. Nor do they have the web design expertise necessary to create something that lives up to its potential. Depending on the tool they use, some end up frustrated by the process and decide to hire a professional.
The point is that businesspeople that are tasked with doing it all themselves on a limited platform may be taking time away from their true strength – running the business itself. That can stall growth and end up negating any initial cost savings. That’s kind of a big deal.
The Bottom Line
It’s true that freelancers and small agencies aren’t the only game in town when it comes to web design. But we still provide a level of service and expertise that isn’t easily matched elsewhere.
Those who are in need of a website are hearing mixed messages about which path they should choose. While some of the larger site builder tools out there can afford huge ad campaigns, the rest of us have to rely on the quality of our portfolios and our communication skills. Thankfully, that more personal approach provides us with the opportunity to show our true value.