When undertaking a new website for your business, you should always remember that, like everything in life  you truly get what you pay for.  Unfortunately not every web designer will be able to deliver your business a brilliant online solution.

Just like a cheap suit, a poorly designed and ill-fitting website can lead to online disaster. So how do you stop your website design from looking cheap and nasty?How quality website design can stop your business from looking cheapThe word "cheap" is actually rich with meaning. At bottom it means "low-cost." Then it takes a step forward and means "looks like low-cost."

Traditionally, before bargains became a reality as in the era of eBay and thrift stores, things that were low-cost suffered in terms of quality, and that poor quality was reflected in the way things looked. Cheap things suffer in lacking features that make things expensive. Cheap things also have a "tinny" look and feel. They may look breakable or fragile. The decorative features on them look made-up and fake. In many ways, cheap things aspire to be something they are not.

The Honest Art in Web Design:

Websites that looks cheap is not simply badly designed. They are not simply artistically flawed with poor images, but they look like they pretend to be more than they are. They may be over-decorated and have images that are irrelevant. They may try to force impressions that don't quite succeed. You avoid making your web design look cheap not simply by good design principles but also by creating an impression that what you are presenting is genuine. Cheapness and lack of integrity are cousins.

Advising women on "How to Look Rich on the Cheap," style expert Amy Tara Koch, in the Huffington Post advises women not to wear imitation fabrics like polyester. She advises women to look for genuine fabrics and classic styles even if you have to find them in "your mom or granny's closet." The key is to look for the genuine article, even in inexpensive places.

How does that philosophy translate to quality website design?

A cheap looking website would include lots of useless bells and whistles like:

  • "flash" animations,
  • music that loads automatically but has no real connection to the subject matter,
  • lots of text which carries very little message,
  • inflicting discomfort on your viewers because of the designer's need to throw everything possible into the site.

Cheap looking websites are dishonest websites, not because the host is dishonest, but because the site appears to be trying to get something for nothing. It goes well beyond bad website design. Many poorly designed sites do not look cheap, clumsy and amateurish perhaps, but not cheap.

Excess can be at the core of looking cheap. That goes for shoes that have excessive decorations, clothes that don't really fit but look like imitations of expensive brands, too glittery jewellery that relies on glass prisms and mirrored plastic.  There are cheapness traditions that signal cheapness just by themselves. These include garish carnival colours, surfaces covered with a hodge-podge of images that appear to be gathered miscellaneously. Too many type styles on the landing page give that too-busy carnival impression as well.

Not Looking Cheap: 

Making the website look clean and un crowded looks like you are not afraid to use space sparingly. This is a mark of an orderliness and elegance. Careful balance in the way portions of the website are laid out gives the impression of calm and stability. Applying "the rule of thirds" makes the website more visually interesting and bespeaks design savvy. 

Avoid using images that have appeared on many websites because it looks like you are cutting corners. Make sure your images are sharp, clear and relevant to the subject of your site. Make the images useful as illustrations if possible. It has become almost a universal practice to put images on the landing pages of websites. People no longer want to simply browse a website, they want an experience. The images have to be powerful, high quality, and original. Anything less looks cheap. For some really great tips on sourcing and implementing quality images check out our article here.

Computer typefaces are at a disadvantage compared to print typefaces. The website designer can never really control what the typeface will look like on any given computer or mobile device. Use typefaces that are widely installed on target computers. Typeface mismatches due to the failure of website designer's lack of due diligence can look extraordinarily cheap at least on some computers.

Finally, one of the keys in ensuring your business has a respectable, professional website that represents your business in the best possible light is to partner up with a reliable web agency and utilise their expertise.

Pixel Fish is a Sydney-based web design agency delivering rich and quality websites & intelligent digital marketing. Please contact us to learn more.

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