Many people approach a website with a mixture of fear, trepidation, and assumption.
It's true that there are lots of companies building easy-to-use templates so that people can have a website designed with a mininum of effort (i.e. Vistaprint's out-of-a-box options).
At the same time, there always seems to be a surprise factor at the cost and time involved, and what goes into making changes. When these dual feelings are combined (“that's what I pay you for” and “it can't be that hard”), it's difficult to remember that you often get what you pay for in these areas of web development:
Endless repetitions of “your company message should reflect who you are” may be gag-worthy, but still true. (See Ilya Pozin's Forbes post on how complicated it can get.) Getting a custom design in web development is like taking on an interior design project for an office. These are necessary but basic items, like having a working bathroom, an installed telephone system, and computers with web access:
Selling your business to a customer, like selling a house, requires more interaction and curbside appeal. Websites without signs of life are like working offices with unpainted signs, threadbare carpet, and a pile of grungy newspapers on the doorstep. Websites with web development appeal have all the color and life of a trimmed lawn, flower tubs, a smiling receptionist in a suit, and glass doors that open smoothly. These are vital factors that most people don't consider:
This would be like asking the interior designer to make room for the really attractive office tools that the big players take for granted – an aquarium, mini-fridges stocked with drinks in the plush conference rooms, travertine floors, and oak bookshelves.
What would it cost your business to do things the old-fashioned way?
Depending on your industry and location(s), plus any franchising fees, this could mean anywhere from $25,000 to $150,000 – or more. Building a website doesn't sound so bad now, does it?