Earlier this month, I came across a fascinating article called WordPress Pricing Debunked, which detailed the cost of setting up a moderately complex WordPress site for a company. The prices quoted seemed a little on the high side to me, but given the professionals involved — a developer, a designer, a copywriter, a UX-professional — and the time they spent working on the site, it seemed more-or-less reasonable.
Many of the comments under the article disagreed vehemently.They accused the article’s writers of trying to justify their own overpricing, of massive overestimation, and of simply being wrong.
I’m a “buy cheap, buy twice” sort of person. If I buy something, I want to buy the best and most effective version of it that I can afford, because experience has shown me that the alternative is buying the cheap version and then buying the more expensive version later because the cheap version breaks or isn’t good at what it I bought it for in the first place. In short, it’s a false economy.
There is a place for low-cost web design and development services. They create a low barrier of entry for businesses and individuals who otherwise couldn’t afford to have a website, or would be forced to build it themselves. Although, it’s often best that they do build it themselves; it’s no longer all that complicated to setup a WordPress site with a decent premium theme and a few plugins, and the result would be much the same as using the least expensive WordPress professionals.
But would such a site really be the best option? That is, would it be the best at doing what it was created for? It’s possible, but it’s quite unlikely.
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Business websites are all about conversions — generating leads or sales. Premium WordPress themes aren’t necessarily optimized for conversions — or rather they are, but the conversion is selling a WordPress theme, not whatever the buyer is interested in. Adding a few plugins won’t make a world of difference in this regard.
Understanding how to maximize for conversions takes a great deal of experience, which is why so many amateur websites do such a poor job of it. Paying a professional development team with years of experience helps businesses shortcut much of the conversion rate optimization process. That’s not to say businesses won’t have to invest in conversion rate optimization, but they will have a better foundation.
I’ve experienced hacked WordPress sites that got that way because a cheap developer — instead of paying for a premium plugin — simply took a “nulled” plugin full of malware and installed it on their client’s site.
Even if the developer is honest, there is little incentive for them to invest time to make sure they choose secure plugins and themes without insecure plugins embedded, and that they make every effort to use best practices when adding code to a site (assuming they understand what those best practices are).
Performance matters, and as with security, there’s no incentive for a developer being paid a low rate to invest time in performance optimizing their code.
If a business is serious about their site, it makes sense for them to invest in a web development and design team capable of creating a site that fulfills its goals. The alternative is a site that doesn’t provide what the business wants or needs. To get such a site, they’re likely to have to pay another developer to do it for them — there are WordPress developers who make a living cleaning up less diligent developers’ mistakes. Buy cheap, pay twice.