After the recent chaos of Darknet marketplaces being shut down by law enforcement and site admins performing exit scams, many vendors are shunning marketplaces in favour of setting up their own Darknet websites.
This trend is emphasised by the growing number of web design services being offered on various markets and forums.
@DAARK describe themselves as a "group of anonymous web developers…who will come up with the best functional design and also handle every technical aspect of hosting a complete anonymous website".
The screenshot above shows two design services being offered on the Russian Darknet site RuTor. The first, uploaded by @PatickWagner on 13 July, has been viewed 3,529 times and there have been 27 responses to the post. The second was uploaded more recently by vendor @abbreviatura on 03 September; this post has received 12 responses and has ben viewed 576 times. Both discussion threads are ongoing with the most recent messages being posted on 21 and 20 November, respectively.
In the absence of a reliable market that Darknet vendors can trust, this trend is likely to continue. Recent analysis by security researcher Catalin Cimpanu details how many vendors, who often lack the necessary programming expertise, are attempting to set up their own sites without professional assistance and are getting caught out. Poorly set-up sites have been discovered by security researchers who are then able to leverage the vendors’ real IPs and pass this information to law enforcement agencies. (source)
Vendors who are aware of the necessity to remain anonymous and who require professional help are likely to ensure that the demand for these web design services continues to increase.
However, it is also tricky for vendors to expand their client base when operating from a private and hidden onion URL. There is certainly demand for a trusted marketplace where they can rely upon regular traffic from potential buyers, so it is likely only a matter of time before these vendors flock back to new or existing marketplaces.