Here’s some food for thought derived from my comments on Dentaltown forums.
Return on Investment (ROI)
You can get most of the ROI without spending much money. ROI is not linear, and a higher expenditure does not necessarily get you a more significant ROI than a lower expenditure. For example, you may spend $20,000 and get 100% of ROI. Or, if your web designer does things correctly, you may spend $4,000 and get 90% of the ROI, which may be perfectly good enough for your purposes.
Sometimes you have to evaluate your options and decide what’s more cost-effective for you: hire a full-fledged marketing company that provides 100% of what you need but comes with a high price tag – or hire a smaller firm that provides 90% of what you need with a significantly smaller price tag.
It’s important to remember that in the web design business, some providers charge higher than the average ballpark, but it doesn’t mean that the quality of their work is higher or significantly higher. Some charge lower than the average ballpark, but it may be because they underbid just to get your business, and then don’t deliver as promised or disappear altogether.
Also, there are agency rates and there are consultant/small firm rates. Agency rates are higher because they include lots of overhead. Solo freelancers may be unreliable, and their failure to deliver can cost you a lot more in the long run. A more reliable and cost-effective option would be to go with a high-quality small firm, provided that the firm can minimize or eliminate their overhead (for example, if they don’t have to maintain a big team and a brick-and-mortar office), so their overhead savings get passed on to you.
Bundled services/product packages
When you buy bundles, you may end up overpaying for some things you need and/or get some things you don’t need. With subscription services, you need to watch out for cost build-up: over time, your subscription fees add up, and the actual cost can turn out to be higher than a one-time price you would have paid upfront for the same product. Un-bundled (custom) and a la carte solutions are more flexible and will most likely end up to be more cost-effective.
There are firms that do the same, or better, thing with less wait time and at a lower fee – only without the inflated hype that larger agencies create around themselves. You need a web designer who is a) cost-effective and does things within a reasonable timeframe and b) who you can trust, who doesn’t disappear, who stays in touch and provides ongoing advice and support, and who does the specific things you need rather than selling you their platform. The key is to find the web designer who combines both of these qualities – then you will get to both save money and enjoy an agency-level, high quality website.