If you want to pay peanuts…

Since COVID, an online presence has become mandatory. While many have finally learned that that meeting request could’ve been handled by an email after all (and we salute you!), others discovered Zoom as an alternative method to endlessly irritate with meaningless meetings (and we don’t salute you). Others still, have seen the lockdown as an opportunity to start or expand their online business. And with that, we’ve seen a dramatic increase of website quotations.

Our service offering has always been top-notch and personalised. We regularly check industry pricing against our own and we know that what we charge is perfectly reasonable.

But something peculiar has been taking place. In fact, something almost nefarious. Our quotations are measured in Rand value only. The cheap (and we mean really cheap) quotes keep winning. With the arrival of quarantined income, many website developers have been so desperate for work, that prices have dropped to as low as R1500 for a one-pager website. So, you might be asking, what’s wrong with that? Well a lot actually. And here’s why you should think twice.

At R1500, you’ll get a website. Hooray! So, how come some developers can do it for so cheap and we can’t? Because we don’t like shortcuts. It’s not that we can’t do it, but that we won’t do it. And our decision benefits you.

What most people don’t realise is that in order to build a decent website, there are some base costs that are unavoidable if you want to avoid frustration, or in many cases, a complete rebuild of your site. Here are some ways ‘cheapies’ cut corners.

Paid Themes

A premium theme can cost anywhere from R750-R1000. We pay for them because it offers far more flexibility with an array of layouts and functionalities to choose from, minimising restrictions. So, when you require a specific layout for something, you’d probably hear us say “No problem!” But developers using free themes will say “Sorry, not possible!”

Premium themes are also properly supported and features regular updates. On free themes, if something doesn’t work as it should, or stops working due to a lack of support, you’ll soon find yourself forking out more Rands just to get it fixed, or in some cases, completely replaced.

Lastly, everyone wants to look unique. Themes that are free are far more frequently used than paid premium themes. Because you can do a lot more customisation with premium themes, your website ends up looking more personalised. That brand that you’ve come to love and nurture continues looking unique.

The difference between paid and free themes could best be compared with an analogy: “Mangy Dog versus Pedigree Pooch”. For the record, we love all dogs, but everyone’s pet should be in a pedigree pooch condition.

A Picture Paints a Thousand Words

The free stock movement is growing. And for good reason. Paid stock sites are asking exorbitant prices for stock photos. Yet, while there are some amazing free stock images these days, they are still limited. Any product specific photos remain paid stock and we predict it will stay this way for a long time because behind those paid pics, are many photographers also affected by the impact of COVID. So, when you pay for your stock, you’re not just helping yourself to the best statement-making photo, you’re also helping others stay afloat.


There are hosting solutions that offer very cheap hosting packages. But not all hosting solutions are geared toward Wordpress hosting, leading to very sluggish website performance. What should take ten minutes to update your site, could take twice as long. But when you pay a for a proper hosting solution, Wordpress sites can be set up within minutes, running effortlessly on the latest Wordpress version with many added benefits. Again, you get what you pay for. And what you don’t pay for in money, you’ll pay for in time.

The Work

The initial setup of the average website usually requires anywhere from 3 – 6 hours depending on content. This includes the layout and then including whatever content you supply us with in a neat and orderly way so that your visitors can find the information they need quickly and effectively. In short, we do things properly. Good things take a little time.

So, if you receive a quotation for R1500 for a website, one has to question how much time will be spent on presenting the content properly? Perhaps, if you’re into modern art, splashing content onto a page in a juxtaposed construct of torrential madness, you might just be impressed. But if you care about your brand and your visitors, wouldn’t it make sense to also work with people who care about your brand too? It boils down to worth. Pay people their worth.

A Legal Matter

Many will argue that ‘cost’ is a matter of perspective. Depending on which country you hail from, R1500 could be construed as a fair amount of money. We will not dispute some of the great work coming from India for instance. We’ve seen some great sites completed at very low costs. But more often, we’ve seen people spending hard earned cash and developers simply dropping off the radar – often leaving clients without access to their sites. It’s not a great position to be in, often resulting in having to re-do a site, with local people you know. So, if your auntie knows an uncle who’s a friend with another auntie whose brother’s into website development half-way across the globe, think twice. Because if you think you can win a court case in foreign countries, “Well, good luck Chuck!”

To Those Who Work Cheaply

To those issuing quotes at R1500 for a website, we say this: To work for free under the banner of good exposure, ultimately produces bad exposure – for everyone! If you don’t value your time, neither will others.

In closing, we sympathise. We know these are tough times. We know every penny counts. But we hope to encourage you to compare apples with apples based on merit, viability, flexible expansion of your brand and for the sake of your sanity. Remember what your granny used to say: “Never judge a book by its cover”. It’s true. Cheaper isn’t better.

Need a quality website? Send us an enquiry! Aftershock Studios - Meticulously crafted websites for those who still value quality!

About the Author: Rosika Delport
Aftershock Studios
Rosika is the founder and director of Aftershock Studios. She's been in design and front-end development since way back when the Dead Sea was still critical! Her design approach is simple elegance with an eye for strong abstract lines.