Business Web Design

Is There Any Money in Web Design?

Photo Credit: grid workings by olle svensson Licensed under CC BY-NC 2.0

Is there any money in web design? Well not as much as you would think.

Web design is a great industry to get into and, if you have the skills and knowledge of running a business, then perhaps you can make it happen — perhaps.

The industry has become more competitive than ever. With Web design companies sprouting up all over the place, the market has become saturated with small, medium and large agencies. The surge in new agencies and increased competition, however, has had a negative effect on the industry.

Why Does Every Tom, Dick and Harry Do Web Design?

Because it’s easy to setup and has little or no overhead. All you really need is a good computer, some basic text editors and design software and a Wi-Fi connection and off you go, you’re now a Web designer.

This is how the market is being treated. People believe if they can build a website this makes them a website designer — but it doesn’t.

This has become a major bug-bare for design agencies that have spent years building up their reputations and client bases. All of a sudden you are not just competing against another design agency but also against Steve, your client’s friend’s son who has read Web Design for Dummies and is now building websites for his weekend spending money.

Unfortunately this is the reality. There are other factors that reduce the value of web design:

Lack of Local Talent: Whether agencies are looking for a designer, developer, digital project manager or whoever it may be, it can be difficult to find quality talent on a local level in places with the larger, more densely populated areas. At one software firm for which I worked, we spent months recruiting for an experienced .Net developer that we ended up recruiting someone from Glasgow who was actually looking to move away from the city. I suppose we were lucky on this occasion.

Businesses with No Money: Agencies that work in smaller, less populated areas may choose to work for local companies to design and develop products for them. Time and time again I have encountered companies whose constant war cry is they have no money to spend and they are not prepared to pay your already reduced, rock bottom priced sales quotation. Unfortunately there is not much you can do about this, but you can inform them of external financial help available to them to help pay for your services. This can be provided by some local authorities and business enterprise schemes.

Businesses with Money but Don’t Want To Spend: It can be a tough game getting people to part with their hard earned cash. This may result in you reducing your quotations right down which can be counter productive. A lot of businesses don’t truly appreciate what a digital presence can actually do for them if created and managed well. I have realized over the years that that some people, due to their lack of knowledge of the web, regard their digital presence as not very important which can make getting that sale much harder.

So, Is It Worth It?

I was considering starting a Web design operation four years ago but I can honestly say I am that I am glad I did not. It is too hard to compete against a firm that cab create more than just websites and then sell them a website at a rock bottom, almost non-profitable price and struggle along and make next to no money.

If anyone has had a similar experience, please get in touch, I would love to hear about your experiences.

About the author

Cameron Wilson

I am a Web developer from Scotland, U.K. I am the developer and owner of the business proposal application JippityJack. I have been working as a developer for five years for local web design agencies and international companies. I write about some of the latest and most relevant news regarding media and apps on my blog JippityJack.


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  • Well, I certainly hope that it’s not too late – as, after spending over 20 years in the IT Industry (and being made redundant by IBM in 2010), I’ve recently been “reinventing” myself for the Internet world.

    Hopefully, one major thing which will make me stand out from the crowd, is the fact that I’ve recently been undertaking some certifications – and I’m now qualified on two fronts – a CIW Web Foundations Associate and a CIW Web Design Professional (with plans to progress to the CIW Web Development Professional level).

    One major drawback of a ‘sole trader’ doing his own web design work (and I’ve certainly got evidence of this – as I initially took the role on for a relative of mine, before I handed it back (at the time, I was only ‘tinkering’ and hadn’t really decided to go down this path)), was that under my direction, his website grew by 74.09%, whilst under his direction, it dropped 60.87% – resulting in a massive loss of 10’s of thousands of visitors (i.e., ££££££’s).

  • Totally agree, im trying to create a little business about web and app desingn and its really hard nowadays, so im concerned about if its worth to waste my time trying to make it possible.
    I think its better to spend money in good promotion and comercial than in having a competitive web design team, its a pity!

    Good post !!! Really interesting

  • I work for Activate Design and I must say that I don’t agree with this article – there most certainly is money in design! The key is being able to deliver value for money. Yes, you can create a website for next to nothing, but is it going to live up to your clients expectations? When it comes down to it, if you can’t explain why a client should spend more with you than trying to do it themselves, then you shouldn’t be a web designer. Check out my article here on designers vs. DIY – it might help you make a sale or two – i’ve also just written a more recent article that should help web design grads find a job in the industry – hope these help 🙂

  • I agree with this article, hands down! Been 10 Years in web development, from php skills to Java, painstaking hours spent, working and learning. Nowadays businesses spent little or next to nothing for a website because everywhere is advertised for free, so the impression they have is anyone could get a “free” site, not expecting how much hours goes into a site. Now it’s easy to get a website from a guy working in his mother’s basement with no monthly expenses or overheads. For him $10 is fine, to buy his next beer or burger.

  • After reading this article, I think it really depends on the business that hires you and how big the website is. Great thoughts though!

  • Can agree with what other people are saying from what a friend of mine has told me but he seems to be doing okay, just started his business although, from what I can make out, SaaS seems to be a better way to go in this type of industry

  • Websites simply aren’t a value proposition any more for most small businesses – they can get the same traction and consumer engagement from things like facebook, etc that already have established users and an infrastructure for creating and disseminating content.

    Why bother paying someone for a £500 – £1000 site when you can get the same ROI for free on social networks / squarespace / Business owners know this, they’re getting savvier by the day and turning to free solutions and honestly speaking, I struggle to think of any real value that I’m providing the client when the only purpose their site serves is as a pretty placeholder that they’re ultimately not invested in and unwilling to promote.

    Not to mention that third world workers have driven the prices down to the point where anything more than £500 for a website gets you funny looks, and in some cases people are unlikely to part with more than £150 for a basic wordpress site. This is an untenable situation that quite frankly I’ve gotten fed up with.

    I’ve seen designers swing the other way and try their hand at consultancy work and fail miserably because they can’t interface correctly with the type of clients who are willing to pay £5000 – £10000 for a project. Either that or they realize they simply don’t have the brawn to organize and execute a project larger than a simple website.

    What about the lead generation? What about multi-channel marketing campaigns? What about SEO? What about when things go wrong and your site breaks? What about when your client gets hacked or their clients’ personal info gets stolen? These things happen every single day. Can you handle all that?

    Everyone favours themselves as an expert until its time to show tangible results for their work, and then it becomes awkward and painfully obvious when you’re dealing with a professional and when you’re dealing with a worker bee masquerading as one.

    And this is a very bitter pill to swallow.

    Anyway I’m rambling… is there still money in web design? Absolutely, but sadly very little of it has to do with web design these days. And that just sucks.

  • Yes of course there is lot of money in the web design, but need of excellent creative web designer which taken time as more than 5 years. We all aware of the world with huge changing technologies every day as what we see the year 2013 responsive web design year which is now turning towards SEO friendly mobile websites because millions of user accessing websites via Smart p[hones.

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