How Subscription Fatigue Impacts Web Designers

The way we buy things has changed. Subscription-based services have taken over. Perhaps we’re only renting these days?

We can see the results of this shift everywhere. Purchasing a product that doesn’t have a subscription tied to it is becoming rare. Even automakers are dangling subscription-only features to consumers.

The web design industry is no exception. Subscriptions dominate the tools and services we use. We’re paying gobs of money by the month, year, or website. It seems like there’s no escape.

Yes, everything’s a subscription. And it impacts web designers and their clients in numerous ways. Let’s look at what this means for our industry.


You May Have a Hard Time Tracking Costs

Can you list all of the products and services you subscribe to? That number has likely risen in recent years. And the costs begin to pile up.

The types of subscriptions we have can vary. However, web designers typically pay web hosts, plugin authors, and SaaS (software as a subscription) services. There are also security providers, domain name registrars, and analytical services. Oh, and AI-based services add even more bills to the list.

Keeping tabs on each subscription can be difficult. Some providers will send you confirmation emails. But they can be easy to miss in a cluttered inbox. Others don’t send such reminders. Thus, you may not realize what you’re paying for.

Subscription renewals also hit at various times. It’s easy to be caught by surprise when something renews.

All of this can result in reduced cash flow. Not to mention that you may be paying for items you no longer need. Some impulse purchases may even go unused.

Keeping track of your subscriptions can be difficult.

Tiered Subscriptions Aren’t Always a Good Fit

Many providers offer tiered subscription levels. The idea makes sense on the surface. We can choose the package that best serves our needs.

However, the usefulness of each tier can vary. Some features may only be available in the top-level tier. They may bust your budget or include items you don’t need.

WordPress plugins are a good example. The bottom-rung subscription may include licensing for a single website. That’s fair enough. But they may also miss some key functionality you’re looking for.

You may feel compelled to upgrade to a more robust package. That often includes usage rights for more websites. You might be paying for extra license seats that you’ll never use.

Much depends on the provider. Some offer a better value proposition than others. There’s no guarantee that you’ll find a good fit for your needs and budget.

Tiered subscription levels don't always match your needs.

Our Clients Can Be Overwhelmed, Too

Subscription fatigue doesn’t just impact web designers. Our clients may also grow weary of the trend.

Some may be less inclined to invest in their website. The thought of adding another subscription to their ledger could be a deal-breaker.

One could argue about clients being cheap. That may be a factor in some cases. But it’s also a matter of principle.

Not everyone accepts this new way of doing business. Many people still prefer to buy products outright.

A product’s pricing terms may also come into play. Large yearly payments could be a turnoff for some. Others could balk at dealing with monthly charges.

What’s a web designer to do? Not much. Good luck finding competing products or services that don’t require a subscription.

Perhaps our best argument is the cost of maintaining a product. Software developers can’t work for free. And people expect new features and bug fixes. Thus, regular payments keep things moving forward.

Some of your clients may refuse to use subscription services.

Take Back Your Sanity from Subscription Services

Want to avoid subscriptions? That might not be a realistic goal. The world has changed whether we agree with it or not. But it is possible to minimize the frustration they cause.

Here are a few tips for bringing some sanity to the chaos.

Use a Single Credit Card for Business Subscriptions

Here’s a simple way to keep track of your active subscriptions. Use the same credit card for each item you subscribe to.

Your monthly card statement will list each payment you’ve made. It’s an organized way to watch your spending. And you may catch items that you no longer need.

Banks are also starting to organize subscriptions separately. Some even provide direct links to cancel a subscription. That may not apply to every bank or service. But it’s progress.

Pass Subscriptions to Clients Where Appropriate

Web designers sometimes manage subscriptions for their clients. It’s an extra convenience that saves them from dealing with third parties.

But there are times when this isn’t necessary. For example, what if a product or service is used by only one client? Or it’s a client-specific item like a domain?

It’s more efficient for clients to manage their subscriptions. They’ll be responsible for making payments. Plus, they’ll maintain access even if your relationship dissolves. And it’s one less thing you’ll need to worry about.

Start Small and Avoid Impulse Purchases

Are you interested in a new product or service? It’s tempting to jump in feet first. But you might regret it in time.

We often subscribe to items with good intentions. We think we’ll use the product time and again. The reality ends up proving otherwise.

With that, it’s worth starting small. Try committing to the lowest subscription tier first. Or take advantage of a free version.

You’ll get a sense of how useful the product is. And you may save yourself from having to cancel down the road.

 Use tools that help you keep track of subscription spending.

Subscriptions Are Here to Stay. Let’s Make the Best of Them.

Being a web designer means dealing with subscriptions. Some may be for you, while others are for your clients. There’s no getting around them.

Therefore, it’s worth being thoughtful about what you subscribe to. Avoid making commitments just because something looks cool. Focus on what you need and what will bring you profit.

Be sure to keep a close eye on what you buy. Know what you spend and when each bill is due. Also, evaluate the various tiers you subscribe to. Could you get by with a lower-cost option?

What if you’re against the idea of subscriptions? You can still purchase some items without a recurring cost. Just know that you won’t be able to do so across the board.

Regardless, it’s all about keeping things in check. A little work can make that process easier.


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