Cheapest is dearest, who more spends, more earns… a hackneyed proverb heard millions of times in all the versions that certainly everybody know. It’s known , all proverbs have a bottom of truth and popular wisdom that we should all consider, both in our private and professional life.

On this issue and on the incapacity of many web designers to invest on themselves and on their projects will be today’s article.

Web designer…in economy
The web design is a field in continuous evolution that requires constant studies and updating in order to be able to create well structured projects and in step with times. There’s always something new to learn or new innovations to experiment and it’s unthinkable to start a profession in this field with the idea of sitting down on your laurels once you learned the basis of xhtml and ccs.

Beyond the lacking training component in the web design field I often notice, in several new web designers, a certain reluctance in investing money, even small amounts, to improve themselves and their projects.

It’s ok that many aspirant web designers don’t reach the major age and that many of them don’t have an economic independence that allow them to invest heavily, but here we’re talking about really low costs that surely won’t lead to a financial crash, especially if amortized over time.

I’m talking about those costs that permit to improve considerably one’s professional skills and can help web designers (especially beginners) to improve the aesthetic quality or the functionality of their web design projects and not only.

But let’s see some practical examples.

Purchase fonts: a cost that goes from 30 to 100 dollars (15-16 euro)
The net provides us with an unlimited quantity of free fonts, this is true. However in certain situations opting for a premium font may represent a choice almost an obligatory: for example if you have to create a logo for your client whose budget allows you the purchase of a font more refined and less ordinary, shouldn’t we invest an amount –even small- of that budget in a good quality font and less abused?

It’s certainly not a coincidence that the logos of big companies rely on payable fonts and, besides the final result of the design project, even the company’s imagine can resent of it, if the rumour spreads that the logo was created with a Georgia or with whatever kind of free font found on the web.

Ultimately, leaving out the reasons expressed till now, the quality of premium fonts is out of question and it’s impossible to replicate or to find in free fonts. Just take a look at sites like MyFont to have an idea: calligraphic fonts, elegant and with particular glyphs and deliberately eccentric, but also clean fonts, essential and with “pixel perfect” lines… a real paradise for lovers of typography.

Suggested purchases:
Miss Le Gatees – 45 $

Helvetica – 29 $ per un singolo font, 99 $ per tutto il pacchetto

Rockwell – 29 $ per un singolo font

Jupiter – 29 $ per un singolo font, 69 $ per tutto il pacchetto

Despeinada – 60 $

Bello – 60 $

Kewl script – 49 euro

ITC Avant Garde – 29 $

Purchase graphic resources: from 2 to 10 dollars (1-6 euro)
If you want a thing well done, do it yourself, says another proverb (be patient, I’m hanged on proverbs today!) but when doing things on your own is impossible, either for a lack of time or for incapacity? The solutions are two: or you do without certain special graphic effects (and probably compromising this way the beauty of the layout under the purely aesthetic point) or spend a ridiculous amount (only a few euro) buying some “time-saving” resources that can really help out.

Remember that often these small details can really make the difference in a graphic project: a cute button, a realistic shadow, a high quality texture that can really make a design more appealing and nice to see.

Suggested purchases:
3d screenshot to display your works – 5 $

Web element pack – 5 $

Mockup business card – 9 $

Button pack – 7 $

Shadow & dividers – 6 $

Price comparation table – 5 $

Purchase books: from 20 to 40 euro
I often have the habit – and I think I’m not the only one- to grab all the free e-book that I find on the web, promising myself to read them in my spare time, admit it, will never have. The big limit of e-books is that they aren’t easy to read (screen reading is quite heavy and uncomfortable) and this way we pile up a lot of interesting resources, tutorials, guides in a small, remote corner of our hardisk and simply forget them there.

And we wind up never learning anything new.

So, even if the web is full of good quality materials and items, it’s advisable to buy a couple of good books, that we can read on the train or look at it lying on the coach on a rainy Sunday. With an investment of 20-30 euro/ monthly in a short time you’ll have a well stocked theme library and your skills, I assure you, will grow exponentially.

Suggested purchases:
Don’t make me think – Steve Krug – 21 $

Neuro web design – What Makes Them Click?– 14 euro

The principles of beautiful web design – 40 $

Sexy Web Design: Creating Interfaces That Work – 18 $

Want something else to read? I reccomend the reading of this article “What are the best books to become a web designer?” written by Just a short time ago.

Purchase templates: from 10 to 40 dollars

Let’s exorcize the demon once and for all : buying a pre-packed template isn’t a crime and it doesn’t make you a bad web designer to put in the pillory. What makes the difference, obviously is how the purchased template will be used and what are our intentions.

I affirm beforehand that offering templates to clients passing them as yours and making them pay disproportionate sums after you paid for it only 10 dollars is ethically wrong, and working like this has really little to do with web design; I affirm beforehand that buying templates and modifying them can be an extremely irritating and complicated undertaking; said all this, what about buying a template just for educational purposes?

Studying other’s templates is a training that doesn’t have rivals and it allows you to discover the practical functioning of several proprieties and of special effects that otherwise you wouldn’t have the possibility to try.

In this article of Smashing Magazine you can find an interesting analysis of sites that offer templates in download with sottoscrizione . Obviously also the formula of Theme Forest, that sells its templates for $12 and over is certainly convenient.

The same concept is valid also for the purchase of special pre-packed plugin, like contact forms, slider, forms in aiax and others: as we can’t all be Javascript developers (me less than ever, I admit!), why should we be satisfied with integrating the usual sliders in fade in our projects when with a minimum cost we have the possibility to buy ready to use elements, which suitably modified can give that final touch to the site we’re working on?

Purchase images: from 2 to 15 euro

Here we touch Achilles’ heel of many web designers, beginners and advanced. In many occasions we have repeated that in the design of a web site images and photos cover a fundamental importance . Using low quality images it’s easy that the aesthetic of the layout can visibly be affected and as a consequence your final client’s image will look sloppy and unprofessional.

Buying good quality images for one’s project should be a golden rule for who wants to work in this field in a professional manner. Moreover the price of a medium size image is around 2-3 euro, therefore with less than 10 euro you can find the material for a good heading, particular and appealing at the same time. “Working saving” using low quality images, probably found on Google, simply damages the final quality of your projects.

Suggested sites




With this article I wanted to invite you to invest more in yourselves and in what could highly improve the quality of your projects. Often with the excuse of “ below cost jobs ” and this period of crisis we’re going through we tend to fossilize ourselves on our ideas and on our skills, without a real incentive to go forward to do more and better.

Let’s do a bit of self analysis, with an eye at the past, ok? How much have you invested in your profession in the last three months? During the design of a website, how much do you invest in the purchase of resources that help you improve the quality of the project?