Last week I had an interesting conversation with a new client. He told me that he had originally planned to have another Point2 vendor design a custom Point2 Web site for him. His decision had been made primarily on the basis of cost: the other vendor's work is somewhat less expensive than mine.
Before finalizing his decision, he called several of my clients as well as several of the other person's clients to ask if their web sites had paid for themselves.
He learned that none of the other person's web site designs had paid for themselves with increased leads and that all of my clients except one felt that their site designs had paid for themselves.
(My one exception was a client with a new site that gets little traffic; I continue to work with this client daily in an effort to boost their search engine rankings as well as helping him learn to blog and getting him to blog here on ActiveRain, which immediately yielded two good leads.)
What this means is that people who hired the other person, whose rates are lower than mine, actually ended up with more costly web sites. And if they are missing out on a lot of leads, the true cost might be much higher than just the difference in cost for our services.
All web site designers are not created equal. There are thousands of people out there masquerading as web site designers who have absolutely NO training or experience in graphic design and marketing communications. As soon as the major graphic design programs, Quark, Photoshop and Illustrator, were ported to Windows in the mid-90s, the market was flooded with unqualified print designers, then the situation worsened when "WYSIWYG" Web site design programs came on the market. I sometimes wish that Web site designers had to be licensed just like real estate agents! Since we're not, do your research!
Look for a designer who actually has college level training in graphic design/marketing communications as well as experience working for advertising agencies and graphic design studios. Also make sure your designer has many years of experience designing web sites in addition to print design experience.
A site designed by a fully qualified graphic designer may cost you more initially, but as a long term investment, it may turn out to be a "freebie"!