Why Not Go For a Cheap Website?

A couple of years ago, I needed a cheap online store to sell my goods. And at that time, the most affordable ecommerce solution was Cart66. It looked slick and most importantly, it was cheap.

Unfortunately, it was a hack that relied on some shortcuts. But it was alright in the beginning.

However as our inventory grew, the online store became unmanageable. Due to the supposedly simple shortcuts, managing a few hundred products was a nightmare. I spent a couple of months migrating my store out of Cart66 to a more robust system.

In the end, shortcuts may be cheaper and might work for a time. But in the long run, it will cost you more.

In the same way, you might be searching for some cheap web design/website in Malaysia. And then you see low prices of RM 600, 500 or even 299. All these for a custom designed website with five SEO optimised keywords.

But are you getting a good WordPress website for that price?

Unfortunately, when something is too good to be true, it probably is. Cheap web design/website in Malaysia are usually hacks that gets passed off as proper websites. Read on after the break as we help you to understand all about cheap web design in Malaysia.

Read: Why I Finally Picked Up Web Design

Cheap Web Design Malaysia: An Introduction

A well-made website is crucial in today’s time and age. It not only showcases your business, but functions as a way to extend the reach of your business. In fact, a well-built website has dozens of possibilities for it.

But how do you know if a website is well-built? As majority of websites built by Malaysian Web Design companies/Digital Agencies are either on WordPress or plain HTML, let us look into the definition of a good WordPress website.

Read: The Price of Low Cost Websites

WPShout, a leading site for WordPress developers, defines a good WordPress website as the following:

As a WordPress developer, I believe any good WordPress website should have the following properties, among many others:

  1. It should make good use of WordPress’s existing systems, and avoid arbitrarily substituting in private replacement systems.
  2. It should, as much as possible, maintain the elegance of WordPress’s separation of concerns: plugins or themes should leave the rest of the site intact when deactivated or switched, and multiple elements of the site’s architecture should not be coupled together into one inseparable mass.
  3. It should be performant, meaning as lightweight and quick to load as is feasible; it should not rely on architecture decisions that place an undue strain on site performance.[^1]

The problem with cheap web design in Malaysia, is the fact that very most common way of building WordPress sites, does not lead to good websites. Why so?

Cheap Website Malaysia: The Problem With Common WordPress Sites

Cheap web design malaysia: Avada
Avada: Another ‘kitchen sink’/multipurpose theme with tons of options and complications

We have three main culprits often used by Malaysian web design companies. In fact, go to a local Malaysian WordPress meetup and you will hear of ‘web designers’ who swear by these:

  • Divi (All-in-one theme)
  • X Theme (All-in-one theme)
  • Visual Composer (Premium Page Builder plugin)

Of course, there are thousands of similar themes and plugins on ThemeForest. And there are tools that are beginning to gain a following, like OceanWP, Astra Pro, Elementor Pro and Beaver Builder.

But the problem with these tools, is the fact they offer you the kitchen sink and more. That’s why we call these themes as ‘kitchen sink’ themes.

Check out what X theme says about it’s stacks:

Finally, imagine that you were also provided with unprecedented controls that allowed you, with the simple click of the mouse, to make an endless amount of adjustments to your site. Want the header fixed and huge on the left? No problem. Want it floating and skinny at the top? You bet. Want the max width of your site to be only 500 pixels? You got it. How about a cool textured background or image? Absolutely!

Or how about Divi? Here’s a testimony about the Divi theme from SitePoint

And here’s what Visual Composer says about itself

Build your website with a comfort of your mouse. Simply drag and drop content elements around the page to design your layout. No coding needed.

And that is just the tip of the iceberg.

Cheap Web Design Malaysia: Why Stay Away?

The issue with common, cheap WordPress websites in Malaysia (and Singapore), is that they are built using tools that takes coding out of the picture.

Initially meant for the enthusiast who tinkers around with WordPress, these multipurpose theme and plugin authors started adding more options to their theme. And as demand grew, further options were added.

And then it fuelled an industry of pseudo-coders and Web Designers that don’t know programming. (Perhaps just call them, designers)

Read: Don’t Look For Web Designs

While this caused the appearance of cheap web designs and websites in Malaysia, there are certainly drawbacks to this. So before you celebrate the cheap prices, let’s explore the drawbacks.

A) Extra Complexity

Firstly, having many options means you get a lot of complexity built into the site – which makes it slow and hard to debug when there’s a software error. Plus, the slowness affects how Google views your website. Meaning, you will lose out on search engine results.

B) No Separation of Concerns

And due to the hack, the site uses theme options to store the settings instead of storing them on a separate rule file (called the Cascading Style Sheet or CSS file for short). This is a cardinal sin for web professionals, as the presentational layer of a site should never be combined with the content of the site.

An example would be the placement and colour of the header.

In a good WordPress website, WordPress dynamically loads the content of the header while the insignificantly small CSS file tells the browser where these content should be. This does not affect the load time of your site.

However, for the web designer using a kitchen sink theme or page builder, the database gets queried numerous times on page load.

C) Broken Layouts

This leads to slower websites as well as breaks your site when the theme/plugin is deactivated. Again, remember that deactivating a plugin should never affect you content nor layouts. Unfortunately, even the best page builders in WordPress affects your layout (and sometimes content), upon deactivation.

Furthermore CSS isn’t too hard to learn. If your web designer is proficient in CSS, he’s able to produce a good WordPress website at almost the same speed someone using Divi or Visual Composer.

D) Difficult Designs

Finally, nothing is simpler than CSS if you want your site to look exactly the way you envision it. Say you want a page that have a photo and a paragraph next to it at 50% width each.

In the page builder, you create two 50% modules and then drag the elements in. And it looks great, until you change screen sizes. Should the photo then move to the top or to the bottom? Or should it stay at 50%? The page builder/theme are not able to adjust the element the way you want it.

In comparison, with newer CSS technology like FlexBox and CSS Grids, you now have a true grid system for layouts. Want a certain layout in mobile mode? Just change a few lines of code and the layout is adjusted.

E) Content Lock-In

Cheap WordPress Websites also comes with content lock-in in two ways. Let me explain further:

Cheap WordPress Website and Web Design Malaysia

The first type of lock-in are Post Type Locks. This means, the theme that your cheap website uses has a bunch of proprietary plugins that they need to look like the demo. And of course, your cheap web designer has to install them because it saves him time and effort instead of custom building for your theme.

But this is bad practice, as you won’t find these plugins out in the wild. But you won’t feel it in the beginning.

Over the next few years you meticulously craft your content and use the Slide by Wpdance plugin (or some other post type plugin like, Portfolios, Products or Members) over and over again. And while you stay on the first theme/web design, everything is fine.

But then after three years, you realise your website starts to look old. So you look around for a new web designer for a spanky new website.

After a week or two, you get your new site and discovered, you have a bunch of new post types. All your previous post types no longer show up. Or you still have your slide or portfolio post type, but your posts are gone!

The truth is, your data is stuck in the old plugin. And your new website uses a different post type, so yes. There goes your information. You either need to migrate your data over or modify your theme to use data from the previous theme, which is troublesome and potentially, expensive.

Cheap & Bad Websites Malaysia: Visual Composer
Visual Composer, the most widely used Page Builder in Cheap and Bad WordPress Websites Malaysia

The second type of lock in is more insidious. While some digital marketing agencies, web designers and web developers might market it to you as an easy way for you to manage complex layouts and save cost, it is not always so.

Why hire a web designer when you can drag and drop everything. Except that you need to continue using that page builder plugin or theme for life. Deactivate it and you will end up with a bunch of gibberish like above.

F) Bad Security

Cheap Web Design Malaysia: Plugin Hazard
Here’s another popular WordPress theme. It comes with many plugins that ONLY gets updated when the theme updates

Did you know that not updating your site can get you hacked? You need to update your site within a few days every time your plugin(s) and theme issues a crucial update.

But on due bundling of plugins to the theme that your cheap web design website uses, updates only arrive when the theme updates. Which might be a little too late. Your precious site would already be compromised.

And the bad thing about being compromised is, your site gets removed from search engine results until the removal of all malicious software. And it would cost you a pretty penny too.

Here’s what Sucuri had to say about the hacking of the popular Slider Revolution plugin. And the result was a few hundred thousand websites compromised globally. Due to the fact that 90% of all Malaysian WordPress websites used a ThemeForest theme as base, I’m certain we have thousands of hacked WordPress websites in Malaysia.

“Our analysis is showing impacts in the order of 100’s of thousands of WordPress specific websites. We cannot confirm the exact vector, but preliminary analysis is showing correlation with the Revslider vulnerability we reported a few months back.” reported Sucuri. “The impact seems to be affecting most hosts across the WordPress hosting spectrum. Quick breakdown of the decoding process is available via our PH

Cheap Web Design Malaysia: Why Are Bad WordPress Websites Prevalent?

But if web design companies in Malaysia know the problem, why do they still create bad WordPress websites? Why not do things the right way with proper CSS for the presentational layer?

I like what Lockedown Design says, so let’s start with that.

To answer this question, we need to look at the target market for WordPress themes, and what each audience segment is looking for. The two groups that buy themes are 1) web design companies looking to build sites for site owners, and 2) site owners that are building a site on their own or with a developer.

Developers are looking for something that meets most of their needs, so development time meets their client’s budget.[^2]

In short, the biggest issue is that most clients:

  1. Wants the website to have certain unique looks or certain types of pages
  2. Don’t feel that a website is worth their budget

For example, in one recent client project, I was asked to create specific product pages with details like the product name, description and photos.

The WordPress way of doing it would be:

  • Create a custom post type for products
  • Create custom fields so that the client can enter their information
  • Query this information on the individual product pages as well as the product archive
  • Include the necessary structured data, so that Google understands the page well
  • Style the respective pages according to the agreed wire frame and adjust as needed

The advantage of doing it the proper way is:

  • You don’t have to repeat yourself
  • Your layouts are consistent
  • Google understands your content better, giving you better results.

But this takes time and money. Doing a proper job would mean a few days of work when compared to the page builder/’kitchen sink’ aka multipurpose theme way, which is:

  • Agree on the design with the client
  • Drag and drop the design and be done in a few hours, max

So between finishing something up in a few hours compared to a few days, which option would most web design companies take? And the best thing is, most clients are ignorant to the backend. After all, a bad but cheap web design website in Malaysia looks the same like a good website, no?

Cheap Web Design Malaysia: Why Hire Us?

Having set the stage for what is a good WordPress website, let us explain why you should hire us.

1) We Are Not Expensive

Yes, we don’t do sub one thousand ringgit websites, but our cheapest plan starts at RM 1.6k for a pre-built site. While you don’t get an extensive customisation, here is what we offer that stands out from the crowd:

  • Choose a beautiful, dynamic and fast theme from either ArrayThemes or StudioPress.
  • We do minor customisation (colors, fonts, heights and placement) by hand and not a page builder.
  • Do you write a lot on a certain subject? To help improve your SEO and content marketing, we custom build custom post types and custom taxonomy to help your readers sift through your posts.
  • Local SEO – do you want to be highlighted by Google Search as your customer searches nearby? We setup your Local SEO without a hitch. And because we can, we custom build our Local SEO plugins to cover your industry.
  • Latest SEO practices – We also implement the latest SEO practices to your site. Things like structured data, https and breadcrumbs helps Google understand your site better.

2) Experienced Web Designers

If you go for our next tiered plan at starting at six thousand ringgit, we bring in our senior Malaysian web designer with many years of experience to craft your bespoke WordPress website from ground up based on your approved design and best practices.

Think of us as your tailor. We help you look good in front of your clients as well as Google.

3) Proper Web and WordPress Standards

Our WordPress websites all adhere to the latest Web and WordPress standards. That means PHP 7, Advanced CSS (FlexBox & CSS Grids) and the latest JavaScript framework when needed.

As WordPress has a certain way of working, following proper WordPress standards only helps to make your site be easily maintainable and extendable.

4) Divide It By Three Years

A typical website lasts you three years before you need a refresh. Dividing the cost of your site by three years however, helps put things into perspective.

For example, while our bespoke website plans start at six thousand ringgit, that’s only two thousand per year. Versus say a six hundred ringgit website, we deliver much more value to your business.

Why risk getting hacked or worse, bad minimal results from search engines by trying to save a thousand plus ringgit every year?

Cheap Web Design Malaysia: The Conclusion

It is easy to get caught up with a bad WordPress website when you are actively searching for cheap web design Malaysia.

Rather, why not pay slightly more for a good WordPress website that will last you a long time and bring you results? Drop us a message if you are keen to start your website project today.

[^1]: https://wpshout.com/year-no-bad-wordpress-projects/

[^2]: https://www.lockedowndesign.com/why-we-shouldnt-bundle-wordpress-plugins-in-themes/

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Leo Koo
I run a small agency building and maintaining turnkey and bespoke WordPress sites. I also review WordPress plugins and digital marketing tools while running this site and the WPStarters Facebook Group. Do swing by and say hi :)
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