Some sites are professionally done, others we just whipped up something on our own, it really depends on the audience which way I would go.
My site designs range from:
- Simple 2-3 column homespun, minimal graphics
- Using Off-the-shelf templates ~$50 ea.
- $1k custom template layouts
- $9k custom full site layouts
Certain types of sites just beg to have the slick professional layouts so that the visitors trust your site. Others types of sites work best with that "mom and pop" look to get the same kind of trust. Either way you swing you'll alienate someone but it's hitting the sweet spot to maximize conversion (clicks, sales, whatever) that matters the most.
Think about a website the same way you would think about a B&M business as you have certain expectations of how the place looks when you walk in the door. You expect a steak house to look expensive with white table cloths but a mom & pop BBQ joint could get away with old formica top tables.
Spreading too thin can hurt you but some inbound deep links on those long-tails you lost might reverse the damage.
[edited by: incrediBILL at 5:03 pm (utc) on Mar. 13, 2007]