When you are thinking of investing in a website there really is only one question to ask; what is your business worth?
I recently got chatting with an old school friend who was just starting his mid-life crisis and had decided to buy a motorbike. He was so excited by the whole idea that he had spent a lot of money on a shiny new bike, then realised that he was also going to need to buy a new helmet. So he popped into a bike shop and was asked by the salesperson what he was looking for and what price range. My friend told the sales person he wanted something in the lower priced range so the sales person replied with “Well you can get a £50 helmet if you think you only have a £50 head”. My friend thought about what the sales person said and decided to purchase a much higher priced helmet that would protect him better.
The moral of my friend’s tale is quite simple, there was a cheap option which he initially wanted, but when he realised that it might be the difference between life and death he appreciated the benefits of the more expensive purchase. Now we’re not suggesting a cheap website will lead to fatalities, but it will most certainly be a nail in the coffin of your business. In fact I’d say it’s better to have no website than a cheap one. If I may quote Abraham Lincoln; “It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to speak out and remove all doubt.”
But tales of mid-life crises and American history were not what prompted this post. No it was receiving an email from an old colleague who has recently decided to re-launch his business. He invited me and twenty recipients, via email, to take a look at his new branding and “soon to launch” website. Upon visiting the site, I found pages that had not yet been set up, sidebars that displayed below the content area due to conflict issues, plugin-ins that produced error messages and the “Hello World” default WordPress post published on the site’s blog. I was embarrassed for him and it was, in my opinion, too soon to invite visitors to his company’s new home on the web.
As I took a look at the website source and inspected its various elements, I noticed the site is built on a purchased theme from a vendor who specialise in low-cost themes for WordPress websites. Of course when using a purchased theme your site will pretty much look like everyone else’s who has also used that theme. Unfortunately, not all low-cost themes are well written. I myself have had to repair bugs in such themes and some have themes that were written quite some time ago and not to current WordPress standards. These deficiencies can make trouble down the line, such as when a theme loads a specific version of a script which also happens to also be a component of WordPress’ core functionality.
There may be no conflict when the theme was originally released. In fact it may have been done that way in order to use some functionality provided by a version of the script newer than the one packaged with WordPress, but time marches on. And in the case of this example, this issue is guaranteed to cause a problem as WordPress evolves.
Other issues frequently experienced when purchasing a “pre-built theme” are lack of clear directions for those setting up your site. Many times themes have specific short codes to allow custom functionality in pages and posts. But if you aren’t provided instruction as to how to use short codes, what good are they? The same goes for the ability to develop custom post types.
If this book is part of your web development process you really aren’t going to save money in the long run.
Cheap service too
Another aspect of cheap website design is the poor service that comes along with it. Do you want to learn another language in order to discuss changes or issues with your website designer? If you hire one of the offshore website designers you may have to do just that. Do you want someone that will advise you on layout, content and other areas of your website? Most companies offering cheap website design will give you 2 choices their way or no way and will not advise you if there is a potential issue with the way you want to set up your website.
In the cold light of day the what the customer sees is a cheap solution to the issue of how to get a website. But as WordPress specialists I see trouble ahead for you and your company. Going cheap can hurt you and your brand by getting something that you won’t be proud of in the months to come. So budget for a custom website that proficiently and professionally represents your brand and provides you and your associates ease of updates, and the promise of continued compatibility with future generations of WordPress.