Turds for Sale—Cheap!

November 24, 2009

One of my first clients as a freelance webdesigner recently relaunched their site. This is the homepage from my design, a hand-coded site complete with custom cart and checkout, which survived for almost six years:


It was replaced with this abomination:


How you present yourself, either in print brochures, advertisements, storefront, or website, is incredibly important to customers. This just seemed to me a perfect example of why it’s important to find, hire, and keep a good designer.

My original design isn’t perfect whatsoever, it’s one of my first after all. Yet I put a lot of care into the ease of use and overall look continuing through the homepage, product detail, cart and checkout pages (as I have with all my sites). As a customer, you get one seamless experience, and you are confident through the whole process in the quality of whom you’ve chose to do business with, quite likely to return.

On the web, you don’t have the advantage of being the only shop in town, or it being more of a pain to walk or drive the distance to the next shop: people have millions of options at their fingertips. It’s a much more competitive market. You also have to consider search engine placement, which is greatly aided by someone coding clean, semantic code.

This is a short addendum to my previous ranting in How I Learned To Miss The Wheelbarrow, lamenting “webdesign” not being recognized as a legitimate contractor craft. I’ve been thinking a lot recently how many people look at websites as a singular thing to purchase, like investing in a bbq at Walmart, something you’ll have for a few years and maybe have to replace or repaint when it starts to look tired. They expect to spend a few hundred dollars for a department store-like purchase, and when they see a bid with 15 hours of work for $1200, it sounds preposterous.

Yet this is the type of work you’ll get. Half-broken in many ways on different browsers, cluttered and confusing navigation, poor placement in Google, disjointed and inconsistent aesthetics, a 99% bounce rate with no return visits. In short: you get the turd you pay for.