Building Your Website: Going Cheap vs. Going Pro


You want to build your website. You have your content in place, a design idea formulated but are faced with one daunting decision: Should I do it myself, hire my niece, give in to the tempting ad that promises a website for $50—or should I rely on a professional designer and face steeper costs?

I hope you will decide on the latter. Here’s why.

Cheap or free website builders and platforms are dying trends for serious businesses because designing websites is more than copying/pasting text into pre-defined templates. Good designers have your back. They have a clear content strategy in place. They design a website that is uniquely yours.
Professional web designers don’t sell $3,000+ websites; they sell marketing platforms and 20+ years’ experience that help your business grow. Share on X
That said, it is OK to choose a cheap website building platform to get your feet wet, but be aware that as a serious, growing business or enterprise, you will have to expand at some point later on and be forced to start your website from scratch. That’s why choosing your design approach from the get-go is so important.

You may save money upfront going with cheap designers or website builder platforms. But the price you pay now impacts the quality and the service you will receive. In order to grow your business and stand out, you will have to invest further down the road. By then, the cheap designer you worked with has moved on and is nowhere to be found (maybe taking your passwords with him/her). Or the template you chose with your cookie-cutter website design platform is outdated and can’t be adjusted to your growing content needs—unless of course, you upgrade to a much more expansive monthly plan.


Yes, a professional web designer isn’t cheap; prices for a fully-fledged website can start at $3,000. But the value for your business can be priceless because it helps you expand and future-proof your web presence. Professional web designers don’t sell $3,000+ websites; they sell $3,000+ marketing platforms and 20+ years’ experience that in turn help you make more money. Paying a good professional designer to build your website will pay for itself when your business is growing.

But you’re right. It is a Catch-22: you need a professional website to grow your business so that you can afford to pay a professional web designer. Not an easy choice. That said, the deciding factor is not how much a professionally designed website costs—but how much it will cost your business if you don’t have a professionally-designed website.

Here’s a breakdown of what you can expect from each approach: website builder platforms vs. cheap designers vs professionals. There’s no one size fits all. But in most cases, you do get what you pay.




  • Fast: You chose a template, copy/paste your text and are good to go.
  • No technical skills needed, even though some platforms are more user-friendly than others. Do your research upfront.
  • You may lose your uniqueness and your site can look bland and impersonal.
  • Your website isn’t really yours and under your domain, since you rented the template and hosting from these companies.
  • Your level of control over your website is limited.
  • It is hard to migrate to other platforms and you have to start over when deciding that it’s time to move on.
  • If you need to move away from these platforms you lose some of the SEO authority that you have built.
  • When you DIY, you are on your own creating your SEO and content strategy.
  • Cookie-cutter websites are not flexible and can’t grow with your needs.
  • To change your template, expand features or adequately maintain it later on, you may be asked to consistently upgrade your initial cheap plan, and even then, you might not get all the tools your need.
  • Web hosting costs may rise substantially after the initial onboarding discount rate to offset the low rate to create the site.
  • “Free” and “cheap” many times include hidden costs.
  • Emotionally difficult to take your business elsewhere after you invested hours in creating your website.
  • Prone to errors and oversights. Do you know how to change ‘alt’ tags, how to name your images for optimal SEO, detect and fix broken links and where to find high-resolution photos that are not copyrighted? And what’s the difference between jpeg and gif and meta tags and my meta description and keywords anyway?
  • You lose hours tinkering with your design that you should invest in growing your business.
  • No phone support.

Bottom line: By using website builders, you’re on your own. You think you save time—but without experience, you will spend substantial time dealing with your website design. And time is money.


Fast + Good + Cheap. Pick two.
Want Fast, Good, Cheap Design? Pick Two.


  • Fast—if all goes well.
  • No signed contract leaves you with no clear supervision and guarantees.
  • No SEO strategy.
  • Create basic, out-of-the-box websites on the fly and copy/paste your text, mistakes and all.
  • No customer or technical support or opportunity for follow-up questions.
  • No signed contracts or NDAs.
  • No long-term commitment to help you when you need it.
  • No established and frequent communication flow to answer questions, brainstorm and find solutions.
  • No content strategy or editorial help.
  • The designer might not be fluent in English (see below examples).
  • You provide your content; they build a rigid frame and plop in your text.
  • Usually no phone support.

Bottom line: going with cheap designers is a gamble and a risk. You might get a serious offer but you might be left hanging. I asked for a quote from a few of these designers on Twitter and here are some of the proposals I got. Many never answered. None of them I would trust with my content. Judge for yourself.


quote 1
Quote 1
quote 2
Quote 2
quote 3
Quote 3
quote 4
Quote 4



(ask up front if the designer of your choice adheres to all these points and includes them in your mutual contract)
  • Slower turnaround from concept, design to launch but delivers within the agreed-upon timeframe.
  • Forms a partnership with you to reach your goals.
  • Thorough research and feedback about your business, your short-term and long-term business goals, your content, your industry, your competition and your design preferences.
  • Makes sure that the site is built under your domain, hosted by the service provider you chose and under your full control after handover.
  • Helps you to bring your (maybe) vague concept and vision into reality.
  • Builds a site that looks professional, polished and highlights your content.
  • Customizes your site to help it stand out from the competition to get noticed in a crowded space.
  • Uses a content-first approach in building websites—around YOUR content.
  • Is creative and has an eye for design, layout, visuals, color, balance and typography.
  • Takes time to evaluate your business goals, your mission, your customer personas, what you want them to do and creates a clear call-to-action.
  • Addresses your unique, expanding business needs.
  • Creates a solid, flexible website, whose technical requirements and options can grow with your business.
  • Makes sure that every element, content and design, provides value to your site visitors.
  • Makes sure that you can easily update your content.
  • Implements a clear SEO strategy.
  • Has your back after the design phase is done and teaches you how to update your site.
  • Offers security and backup packages for your peace of mind and maintenance plans going forward.
  • Documents everything—from your unique style and brand guide, your passwords to your individual maintenance and security schedule.
  • Makes sure that what you pay is what you really get and has been agreed on: a flawless design unique to you and your content, no hidden costs, a signed contract, maybe an NDA if needed, a clearly defined work scope, built-in revisions to address every content and design issue, a clearly established communication flow and a seamless launch and handover.
  • Makes sure that any future updates or add-ons are implemented under a similar, fair price plan.
  • Gives you the time to focus on your business while your site is built.
  • Phone support.

Bottom line: Expensive, yes, but a good designer asks the right questions, listens, makes suggestions, helps with your content if needed and delivers on time and within budget. S/he will clear up questions before you even know to ask them. Peace of mind.



You Need Content-First Design


Why Use WordPress for Content-Rich Websites?


Newsletter Signup   


I’ll be in your inbox periodically with actionable content + design tips and tricks, checklists and tools that you can apply immediately. I’ll share with you links to relevant blog posts (mine and curated recommended must reads) and other engaging content that will help you amplify your message and find the right site design. 



Copyright © Tekla Szymanski Content + Design LLC. All rights reserved. Please share/quote with attribution.


About the author

Content Designer, Editor, Writer and Web Developer for content-rich websites with a global reach. Founder of Content+Design™ LLC. Helping you focus on your content to get your message out.

Why Content + Design™ LLC?

This is your one-stop shop for content-rich websites: content strategy, content design, site care.
Why me, you ask? Most web designers and developers don’t have a content-creating background. And many content designers don’t have creative experience.
I have both.
Together, we’ll amplify your message and adapt the right design to it.



30-Minute Consultation Call

CTA Call widgetLet’s brainstorm how you can improve your site’s content + design with actionable steps.


NYS-certified woman-owned business

Google-certified Project Management

Yoast SEO for WordPress

Yoast Structured Data

Yoast Keyword Research


Women in AI


Online News Association


NYWICI Award-winning member


EFA Member


Ellevate Member


Society of Professional Journalists
Freelancer Union


National Writers Union


PEN Editors Network


Pen America


Creative Commons License

Licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License.
Please share and attribute. Don’t copy. Thank you.