Design services are something that every business needs, but they’re not always a priority in tight small business budgets. When the budget is very limited knowing where you can save money without compromising quality can make a huge difference in the final result of your design project.
In today’s post, I share some tips to maximize your design budget, whether you want to build a website by yourself or hiring a professional designer to do the job.
Plan your design project carefully
The first step of any design project is a good planning.
Having a project plan will give you a clear understanding of how much everything can cost and how much time each part of the project will take.
For example... if you need to build a website, you can:
- Make a list of every task/item that your project requires: domain, hosting, email services, website builders, design software, etc.
- Research solutions and prices for each of them.
- Write down what is included in the price, as different provides offer different things in their packages.
- Compare prices and read reviews.
Then, you can take your project plan to a designer and discuss your budget. Your designer may be able to adjust the budget by taking off unnecessary things or adding others that you may have overlooked. A designer can also give you an estimate on time and cost to complete your design project so that you can compare.
This exercise will help you decide whether you want to do everything by yourself or it’s worthy to hire a designer.
Use web templates
If you are building the website yourself, web templates will make your life much easier. If you are hiring a web designer, a template will also make your total website cost more affordable.
Bespoke web design is a lot more expensive than building a website from a pre-made template. Web templates speed up the process of building a website allowing the designer to complete your project quicker. In the business world time is money so, the less hours the designer has to dedicate to build your website the more money you save.
The hard thing is to find the right template to suit your needs. Finding a template requires a lot of research and a good understanding of all different web components included. Wordpress catalogue is so large that finding what you are looking for can take you a long time. Squarespace gives less choices but this can actually save you time finding a template for your website.
Some web templates can be edited to suit your specific needs, but then again customisation comes at a cost. You will need to hire a web developer to edit your template, adding an extra cost on your website budget.
Buy ready-to-use graphic components
Like templates, ready-to-use components not only can help you build your website quicker but can also save you money as your designer doesn’t have to create every graphic element from scratch.
If your website needs photographs, it’s a lot cheaper to buy stock images than hiring a photographer to take photos. In the same way, it’s cheaper to buy a ready-made icon set than designing one specifically for your website.
Some great places to find ready-to-use design assets are:
Choose flexible and scalable solutions
If you are building your first website, you may want to do it in two or three different stages. By dividing your project in stages you can launch a basic website and then add new features and functionalities as your business grows.
If you want to sell products online, you can start selling through third party websites and have a basic website for your business. Then, if your products sell online, in a few months time you may want to add a shop and sell your products directly from your own website, saving money in third party commissions.
To upgrade your existing website, you probably don't need a complete new site. Your current website could be redesigned or extended with new features. However, depending on the website, the platform in which is being built and the number of changes required, it might be cheaper to build an entire new website that re-designing and upgrading your existing one.
If you have a shop in your Squarespace website and want to add a wish-list feature, unfortunately Squarespace doesn’t have this functionality just yet. For that reason, your entire website would have to be migrated to Wordpress to be able incorporate that feature.
This is also why good planning is important, if the wish-list was in your add-on feature list for future stages, Squarespace wouldn't have been the chosen solution in first place.
Negotiate design packages
Many designers offer their services in packages at a discount rate. By working with the same designer in different design projects you can get packages and discounts that can also save you some money.
If you are looking to have a new brand and website designed, ask your designer if there is any specific package that combines both projects.
Hire a design consultant
If you feel confident enough to build your own website, you might want to consider hiring a designer as a ‘consultant’ to can give you some guidance along the way. As your designer doesn’t have to build your website from scratch you can save some money by doing it yourself. But your designer can still help you with:
- Reviewing your budget to make sure that you haven’t overlooked any important cost and advising on areas where you should spend a bit more and others where you could save some dollars.
- Giving you access to discounts and special rates from providers. Designers usually go shopping around comparing solutions and prices from different providers, negotiate prices and get discounts for bringing repeating business.
- Training you on the relevant website builders and giving you a hand if you get stuck while building your own website.
- Identifying and avoiding mistakes that can incur unnecessary costs. For example, you may find a fantastic hosting offer and grab it. Then you find out this offer has hidden fees and end up paying more with that provider than with others.
In summary, a good designer is someone who understands people’s budget constraints and maximize the money available according to the client’s business objectives. If your budget is tight, your designer can research and find the best solution for your design project to suit your budget.
Here is a checklist of important questions to ask your designer before starting a website project, as they will have a critical impact on your design budget.
- Do you offer a free first consultation to discuss my project requirements?
- How much does the annual hosting and domain registration of my website cost?
- Do you custom design or use templates?
- Do you charge by the hour or by the project?
- Can my project be split in two or more stages?
- Can additional add-ons and optional functions be quoted separately?
- How much does it cost to update my website post sign off?
- Do you offer a monthly maintenance option?
- Do you offer free CMS training?
- Do you offer design packages?
- Do you offer consulting services? (in case you want to build the website yourself)
- What are the ongoing charges after my website is completed?
- How much do you think is reasonable for a small business to spend in building a website?
- Would you build a website yourself to save your business that cost or are design services a necessary investment?