In this lesson, we’re going to look at where and how to get a website theme designed, as well as how much it costs and whether it’s worth it.
1. Is it Necessary to get a Custom Website Designed?
I’d say in many cases no. If you have a small budget than there are already thousands of premium WP themes you can buy and install quickly on your site from $30-$50. These already look great and will do the job for 75% of people. In fact, when I start a new website I almost always buy a premium WP theme and then hire a designer/coder to modify it slightly, just to match the feel for my audience. Making a few custom changes to an existing theme is still much cheaper then getting a new theme designed and coded from scratch.
However, if your site offers a unique feature or product (e.g. jobs board, forum or tipster site) and you have a larger budget than it may be worth getting a custom website designed and developed.
This is especially true for product landing pages, where the design can make a huge difference to the conversion rate. For example, you can read this case study by TheStudentRoom.co.uk on how they hired a conversion rate optimization expert to change the design and layout of the site’s homepage and the affect that this had on registrations.
2. What are the Advantages of a Custom Web Design?
The advantages of getting a custom web design over a generic WP theme is that it will make your website look more unique, it will be far better tailored to your audience and you can use colors and items to match that your theme.
If you look at large sites such as Mashable.com, BBC News and Forbes.com then you can see they all have custom designed themes, which help their brand and user experience.
The downside to ordering a custom web design from my experience is not only the cost ($500-$1,000 plus paying to get it coded) but also having to pay to make design changes in the future.
For example, most website designs evolved over time – take a look at how TheStudentRoom.co.uk has changed its design over the years. If you get a custom web design then you’ll need to hire the same designer to make any additional changes to the site. Launched a new feature or tool? You’ll need to get that designed.
An example of a recent client I had was StudentMoneySaver.co.uk, one of the largest student deals sites in the UK. They paid for their first custom design around 2010, then launched a new website design in 2012, then launched a 3rd website design in 2013. All of these changes were made based on the growth, new features and user experience of the site.
3. eCommerce Stores
eCommerce stores, more than any other type of site, require custom web designs. This is because if a site is set up to sell something then users need to be able to trust and feel good about purchasing from that site. It will also need a smooth conversion tunnel and checkout process.
Many ecommerce stores will also rely heavily on PPC and paid traffic too, which means the upfront cost of a custom web design can easily be offset by the increased conversion rate of the site.
4. How much should a Custom Web Design Cost?
The cost of web design usually depends on whether you hire a freelance web designer or agency, as well as the complexity of the design and how many pages you need designed.
In most cases, you should expect to pay £250-£750 for a website design (including the homepage and 2 inner pages). This price includes revisions and requested design changes. A typical web design should be completed in 1-2 weeks.
5. How much does it Cost to Code a Web Design?
Remember that if you pay for a custom web design then you also need to pay to get it coded to your website.
The cost of getting the design coded to WordPress or another CMS should be around £1,000-£5,000. This number depends on whether there are any complex items and features that need to be coded.
6. Where can you Order get a Custom Web Design?
If you can afford a larger budget of £5,000+ then I recommend using full service agency that can take care of the design and coding for you. This removes the hassle, gives you greater trust and flexibility, and overall leads to a more consistent outcome. You’ll also be able to go in and discuss your design requirements with a dedicated project manager or directory.
On the other hand, if you want to save money then you can always browse sites such as Microlancer.com, Elance.com and 99Designs.com. Don’t worry about using a freelance web designer – many of them are employed by agencies but simply moonlight on the side for extra work (hence the lower cost).
The most important part when choosing a web designer is to check their portfolio and see if you like the quality and style of their work. You also need to be very clear with the instructions you give to a freelance designer; unlike an agency you won’t have a project manager so you’ll have to do this part yourself.