If you want to have a website that looks like you paid more than ten thousand dollars for it, you basically have two choices: you can pay a legitimate business with several employees more than ten thousand dollars to build you the site or you can pay Passive Ninja ten thousand dollars LESS for basically the same result. At Passive Ninja, we create semi-custom sites that often outperform sites that cost double or triple the price. We build them better, faster, and smarter.
The first reason why the other web developers can't come close to our prices is because they are fully custom web developers that employ many people who make around $100,000 a year. I can't begrudge those guys their money because I'd love to be one of them, but the truth is that they cannot accomplish much more than I can. Of course, they know this, but their jobs are dependent on you NOT knowing it. In fact, the low-cost solutions I use are created by wealthy developers who like to give back a little bit in their spare time, so I don't want all of them to lose their jobs. If you have a $50,000 budget for your next website, please hire one of the fully-custom shops. They will map the site out using cool software, take several months to make decisions about module placements and color schemes, create brand-new and cute little add-ons, and probably have slick-looking graphics. More than likely, you'll be happy, but will you be $50,000 worth of happy?
Let's think about it some different ways that might help you decide. Let's say you want a nice car that performs well and makes others respect what you have. A brand-new BMW 5-Series for $60,000 probably works well. 0-60 in 5.2 seconds. Cool upgrades. Lots of toys. Lots of respect. However, when I needed a replacement car recently, I had more like $3000 to spend instead, so I bought a 2001 SAAB 9-5. 0-60 in 6.4 seconds. Heated front and rear seats. Some toys. Some respect. Just as much fun to drive as any BMW or Mercedes I've driven. But, hold on, it gets better. Let's say it's not a 2001 SAAB at all, but it's really a brand new BMW "kit car" that an excellent mechanic put together. It DOES have all the upgrades and toys, and you do get all the respect. Maybe you need to look into Passive Ninja and so that you can buy a nice company car instead of a bloated website that will need a tune-up in a couple of years anyhow.
Here's another example, but from the world of art this time. My wife bought a Monet while in France back in college. No, it was not a real Monet, but it was a nice print, bought at the Monet museum, several years before you could do the same thing using eBay in your basement office in Columbus, Ohio. Anyhow, she paid a little bit for it, but it's not like she paid a fortune. However, it sat in a tube for several years because she didn't want to spend the money on a nice frame. The problem was that she didn't want to tape it up on the wall, and it needed a custom frame because of its shape, so she either had to leave it in the tube or just get the custom frame. Websites are a bit like that decision: you don't want to spend a fortune on the real thing. Sure, it would be nice, but there are plenty of copies out there that pretty much do the same thing. You also don't want to just throw your website out there willy nilly, but you certainly don't want to avoid building the website altogether, either. Passive Ninja is a bit like the custom framing company. We take something that's pretty nice, make it a little nicer, and do it for a fair price.
To use another analogy, it reminds me of our first house. It was a "fixer-upper" but structurally good. We added some paint, refinished the floors, and fixed a few windows. That's it. Joomla sites with professional templates are a bit like that house in that the structure is sound but the cosmetics need a little work. I did all the work myself in the old house, and I vowed never to refinish a floor again (a vow I broke, resulting in more self-torture). The point is that you can get that handyman special as a website, but you might not be totally prepared to tackle all the upgrades. Sometimes, it's worth trying, but other times you're better off hiring a pro, at which point you have to choose between the parade of homes megacorp and an independent craftsman. Good luck. Email or call me. I'd love to talk about what you need.