KillerSites Blog

Web Design in a Recession

November 10, 2008

Business of Web Design Audio Book

Now that we are entering into a recession, potentially the worst economic crisis since the great depression (!!), web designers are probably wondering if their jobs are safe?

… This all comes down to whether or not companies will be spending money on web design? The answer:

– Short term: they will spend less.
– Medium term: they will spend more.

My reasoning is based on my 18 years experience as a business owner and on my observations of the current market.

The Short Term

People are nervous now. They hear all the negative news and so they pullback on spending and wait to see what will happen. The REALLY nervous people out there load up on gold, guns and dried fruit … while most of us just rent a movie at Blockbuster and cut back on trips to Vegas.

So what does this have to do with Web Design? Well, for the first several months of the recession, you will see a slowing down in the web design game. Companies are nervous too.

So what can a freelance web designer do?

Go cheap!

Instead of offering from-scratch $2000-$3000 web design jobs, offer more affordable $1000 packages.

You can easily provide this by using a blog as your base (WordPress for example) and then leverage a pre-made theme that you would modify. With this type of package, you can offer clients the functionality found in a blog/CMS along with a great layout/theme for a fraction of the cost. You can do this because it will take you a lot less time to put out the web site to begin with.

Go for quantity and not quality!!

Now is the time to go for volume, rather than trying to be a snooty web designer. With many smaller clients calling on you to update their modest websites over time, you will find that this approach is not only profitable but also liberating: It is always better to have 20 small clients than 5 big clients!!

The Medium Term

I think that once the initial shock of the recession wears off, companies will start to look at inexpensive ways to get new clients and to cut cost. The Web is perfect for this and so the money will flow that way.

I think that for branding sites, web designers will need to be able to provide some Web Marketing skills so that the business will be able to more effectively leverage their web sites to help build business. Understanding how Google Adwords can be used with a well built website, is something worth looking into.

If instead, the company is using their website to cut cost (for example: to provide support for their clients) you will need to have a better handle on dynamic Web technology like PHP and AJAX.


The current recession does not spell disaster for the web design profession. What it does mean though, is that you will have to adapt to the current reality. And for those who do, this can be a very profitable time!

Remember what biologist say: ‘The most adaptable species are the most successful.’


Stefan Mischook