We bought a $399 website – Bullhorn

We bought a $399 website

Ever wondered if those cheap website emails are real? We found out so you don't have to.

It’s June 2022. At Bullhorn, we’ve been discussing how we want to redo the website for some time now, but have yet to make the time or prioritize the energy to do so. With client work always taking precedence, we continued to kick the website down the road.

I assume most agencies run into this issue. The balance of working in the business versus working on the business. At times it can feel like a distraction when in reality, it’s a necessity. Think of the mechanic with a crappy car, the hairdresser with bad hair. Do they inspire confidence?

I opened my email and find at the top, “Business website at $399.” It’s John with an Outlook email and a guarantee. He can build our new premium, secure, scalable, stunning WordPress website in a month.

Being skeptical, I asked for samples of past work. Outlook John sends me a half dozen examples which include an accounting firm, an art sales platform, a broken link, an India-based SEO agency, a French furniture maker, and a mobile (as in a guy in a van) window cleaner based in Somerset England (with a 2018 copyright date at the bottom).


I sent a confirmation email and $399 via Paypal.

I grabbed our high-resolution logo, some new language, and a folder with images in it and emailed him the most up-to-date content. A few back and forths later, and by mid-August, I was delivered a website. Well, kind of a website, it was really a link with a download to a custom WordPress theme file in it.

Some things to consider

  • + Much of the website was filled with Lorem Ipsum, and of the language that was in there, it said we are an Australian-based agency with over 600+ clients
  • + It also said, “We have it all” not sure what that means, but we are only a branding agency (This might a jumping-off point to talk about positioning, but this is already feeling very unwieldy as I keep typing)
  • + None of the team photos were added, instead using stock randos, and they spelled my name wrong (Adam Khan)
  • + Not all pages were responsive, some mobile views had images that would cover the text next to them
  • + The main header video was never swapped and still links to a REO Speedwagon song

While none of these things are out of the realm for me as a designer to fix and update, they do highlight the difference between expectation and reality. I was expecting a completed website, but what I got was a partially correct website template and a chore list. To make it a real website, I still needed to upload the theme and connect it to our WordPress account. I still needed to make sure all of the plugins that are currently installed on our website still work. It’s not a design task, but who is going to add the meta data, alt text for all the images, and make sure our analytics are still working? Now that we have some new page names, who will do the 301 redirects? If by buying a website you are expecting a more turnkey solution, then you should expect to pay a bit more for all the extras that involve launching a website.

At the same time that I began to pay Outlook John’s web development team to build the Bullhorn website, we started our own internal website discovery process. (We aimed our own website process at ourselves, if it’s good enough for a client it should work for us too … Or maybe this is about stress testing our own assumptions … Or the idea of taking our own process for a test drive to make sure it still works as expected) We began having conversations about what the current site does well and what we wish it did. Since launching our current site in 2018 many things have changed. The world changed. Our business grew up, and we’ve welcomed many new team members with new and different skills.

Unfortunately, for most organizations your website becomes a time capsule. Showing your customers where you’ve been. But as someone working in the organization, you see all the potential and possibilities that are coming. It’s hard if not impossible for a website to live in future. All websites require routine updating. You need your website to evolve with your business. And that requires time and attention (and to be built on a website platform that can do that for you).

With all this in mind, we decided to develop our website in Webflow. Is Webflow perfect for everyone, no, but it made the most sense for us. It gave us the flexibility we needed, and it allowed many more of the designers on our team the ability to contribute to the web development and design process. The tools that Webflow offers gives creatives a leg up when creating compelling modern websites.

So Bullhorn still needs a new website

As I write this, we are several months into redesigning the new Bullhorn website, and everyone on the team has contributed. With new language that better speaks to where Bullhorn is going, or case studies that better reflect the type and style of work we want to be making, to marketing tactics that help the sales team better do their job. All of those improvements take multiple conversations and time.