Is your web designer ripping you off?

What you don’t know about your website can cost you hundreds or thousands of dollars in unwarranted costs.

Let me explain.

I have been designing websites since 1997, and have been self-employed as a web designer since 2003. I have seen a lot of changes over the years, but nothing has impacted website design like the WordPress platform.

The “secret” to building a beautiful website, without knowing how to even create an image or know a line of HTML coding, is to purchase a quality WordPress theme.

WordPress has done for website design & development, what digital cameras have done to photography. It has lowered the barriers to entry, thus allowing anyone with some determination and computer skills to build a website or become a web designer.

Now there are certainly skills and services that a professional web designer & developer offer that you cannot obtain with a theme purchase (e.g. custom graphic design, content migration, custom programming, page building, search engine optimization, experience, etc.), but a theme provides a huge jump start on the design and layout process of a new website.

There are literally hundreds of companies and market places where you can purchase WordPress themes. I own one of these companies and sell themes online to folks all around the world. Themes generally run from $37 to $97 for a website license. Like anything for sale, features, ease of use, support and quality will vary from one theme shop to another, so some caution should be exercised when making a theme purchase, but that’s another blog post.

Now, here is where things can get interesting and where you need to perhaps jot down a note or two.

You see, the secret is only a secret to those outside of the web design industry, or to those who have not researched modern website design. If you are not in on the secret, you may be paying hundreds or thousands of dollars for a website design that your designer purchased from another theme designer for less than 100 bucks.

Now I want to be 100% clear about this. There is absolutely nothing wrong with a web designer purchasing tools and resources from a 3rd party and using them to provide quality solutions for their clients, including themes. It’s done all the time. I do it myself. There is no reason to start from scratch in providing a website solution, when you can purchase a tool or resource that will get you to 80% – 100% of where you want to be? It’s smart business.

The issue is the cost to you. Are you over paying for something that is already available to you at an extremely low price point? Hopefully not.

So how can you prevent this from happening to you?

Ask your web designer these questions:

1.) Will my site be built using a CMS?

CMS stands for Content Management System. Popular CMSs include WordPress, Joomla and Drupal.

Now in my opinion, if the answer to this is “no”, I would keep looking for a new designer. Again this is a whole other blog post I will need to write, but not using a platform like WordPress can be very costly to you in terms of development costs and getting your site found in the search engines.

2.) Ask if a theme or pre-designed template is going to be used in the design of your site. If yes, ask for a link to review the theme from the original author. This will allow you to see the price as well as the features it offers / lacks.

3. And finally, ask how familiar your designer is with the theme. Is this their first time using it or do they have expertise with using a specific theme? For example, I use a very flexible theme for all of my client websites. Because I use this single theme, I am an expert in its use and I know what I can do with it and its limitations. If a designer is purchasing the latest & greatest theme that catches their eye, they may not have the expertise needed to fix or customize the theme to meet your requirements.

So if you are looking for a web designer, make sure to include these questions. A little education can keep money in your pocket, and help you identify an ethical designer that has your best interest at heart.