I have felt the urge to write this post for a while, as there seems to be a bit of a misconception on how much you should/want/ought to pay for a well designed website. By this I mean a website, which will represent your brand authentically, which will communicate your brand promise and builds trust with your customers and prospective customers. A website which will give you tools to market your brand and which sometimes is also set up to sell your products and services. Basically a website which will do the job, ie. market and build your brand, communicate with your customers, sell your products and services. All wrapped up in a look and feel which is unique to your brand.
So, you have decided you need a website for your brand and you start googling ‘website design’ or something similar. And up pop all those links to companies that promise you websites for incredibly cheap prices, ie. ‘Full e-commerce website for £199’ or something similar. And it seems that you can be online in a split second for not very much money.
I admit it sounds very tempting to go with one of those companies. They will offer you a fully functioning website, with a bespoke design, SEO services, web hosting… the lot. And it will probably all be included in the price, which just sounds amazing.
But this is just for the first year….
Let’s find out why budget websites not always save you money. Very often, after the first year, companies who sell budget websites will charge fairly high prices for the web hosting. This is the space on their server, where your website files live. The fee can be as high as £250 per month and this will add up, year after year. ‘Ah’ I hear you say ‘I will just move the website to another server and buy some cheap web hosting. Sorted…’
Unfortunately, its not that easy. Your website will be linked to a database, where all the content of your website is stored, ie. all the text and images, product pictures, blog posts, etc. This database works with a software, which is web based (the software lives on the server rather than on a hard drive on a computer), so that the content (everything in your database) can be displayed on your website. Hope this makes sense so far. Now, companies who sell budget websites usually use a bespoke licensed software (which has been specifically created for them by a programmer), so noone else will be able to use or download it. There is the catch. You could potentially download the database, but without the software, you will not be able to get this to work. And there you are… Not paying much money for the first year, but way too much for the following years and not able to move your website elsewhere.
My advice is to make an investment at the start. This will cost you more at the beginning but will save you A LOT of money later on. Most independent web designers use open source software (software which is free and readily available on the internet) like WordPress, Joomla or Drupal for the content management system. They will charge you more, but it will be worth it and it will save you money in the long term, as you are fully in control which web hosting you want to choose or which SEO services to buy in.
If you are still thinking of commissioning a company which offers budget websites, then PLEASE make sure that you ask them lots of questions, like ‘which content management software do you use’, ‘is this software readily available to download or buy in case I want to move the website elsewhere’, ‘how much do you charge for web hosting and/or SEO once the first year is over’. These questions will give you transparency and knowledge about what you are signing up for. If you are happy with the information you are getting, then go ahead.
But somehow I doubt it….