The economy has provided all the incentive "quote shoppers" need to hurt themselves.
There is no doubt that the state of the economy has put a whole lot of people who own businesses in a bit of a financial pickle. What this translates into in terms of business projects for a fabulous, independent web designer/developer is an avalanche of potential clients looking to market their products or services online in a tough economy. More to the point, it translates into a never-ending annoyance of potential clients who are doing nothing more than "quote shopping". These bargain hunters are looking around for a professional designer or design studio to provide them with top-notch services at steep discounts. Some will often go so far as to retain a designer for a job then turn around and say something like, "Hey, I found another guy who will do the work for half what you quoted, can you match his offer?" ("Um, hell no.") The rub is that these same bargain hunters are not passing along any savings to their own customers.
The last time I checked, the amount of time and effort it takes to design and develop a successful web site, marketing strategy and campaign, print campaign, or branding package doesn't fluctuate with the economy. I could be wrong, but I am relatively certain the 250 hours I spent building a custom eCommerce site last year would still take 250 hours this year (give or take a few hours due to familiarity with the programming)?
Yes, this is a mild venting. It is also a warning to bargain shoppers. If you think you are "saving" money by hiring a web "professional" who is only charging $4000 (or less) for the same project an established studio quoted at $25,000, think again. The vast majority of clients I have dealt with over the years have found 16toads after having been burned by a "cheap" vendor. They wind up spending what they believe is a "a lot of money" working with chumps who can't deliver what they promise. Then, these bargain hunters spend months or even years getting strung along until they have spent untold thousands trying to get their bargain vendor to clean up the mess they created. In the end, the money and time lost getting their product to market translates into failure and a deep distrust of the design industry.
Which, frankly, isn't fair to professional designers and developers. If these same clients had done their homework and found a qualified professional to work with instead of hiring the cheapest vendor they could find, they would likely have never gotten burned.
Whether or not it's cliche, you do, in fact, get what you pay for.
- If any one of the prospective creative vendors you sent an RFP to fired off an estimate without asking a single question about the project, do yourself a favor and file the estimate in the circular drawer.
Yes, times are tough. Yes, quality creative design is important. Yes, you will spend a lot of money to work with an established professional. Yes, if you do your homework ... it will be worth every damned penny.
We charge a lot of money because we are damned good at what we do, and we know from vast experience that it is simply not possible to custom design and develop a CMS-driven website with an eCommerce component for $4k.
What so many small business owners fail to understand is that launching a crappy web site will do more harm to their online presence and their business over-all than not having a web presence at all.