Updated: Apr 18, 2020
A contact approached me a few weeks ago with a concern about their website costs with another provider. They'd been asked to renew for the forthcoming year at a cost of almost £2800 (for one year!). This included hosting their site and maintaining updates and security patches. The site is fairly basic, a front door to their organisation with a few downloads - no customer data, no commerce aspects.
Our discussion followed several lines:
Whether their website was an integral part of their business.
This revolved around how much of their offering was delivered through their website. For my contact it was one or two downloadable documents but very little more. For other organisations this appreciably differs.
We discussed the value of their website to their business and concluded that whilst it was needed it wasn't crucial. Now, since we develop websites, this might seem like a strange conclusion to reach but it really supported me to work with my contact to make a value judgement about how important it was to spend £2800 on their pretty basic website.
I've made no secret in the past that I find Wordpress over-rated. At a time when new small and medium business (SMB) apps and technologies have replaced the way that businesses do their accounting and communicate, I don't see why there is so much snobbery about how a website is built if it is fast, secure, accessible and functional. I also don't like to use Wordpress - the backend's clunky and ugly! My greatest reservation is that website clients become heavily dependent on others to maintain their websites at a cost greater than they'd like to pay, or than it's potentially worth to their business.
I'll say it again.... at a time where SMB technology means your accounting works through apps (like Wave, QuickBooks or Xero) and our communication works through apps (Zoom, Skype etc), then why isn't web maintenance easier/app like? Well, solutions are out there and have been for some time.
One that's stood the test of time is Wix. I've developed sites on other builders, including Wordpress for years but around 5-6 years ago I began to predominantly use Wix. At the time, it wasn't anything special but it worked. Since then they've really upped their game and now allow developers to add their own code - and their apps aren't too shabby either, allowing bookings, subscriptions, online shops and member-only areas to be developed. Importantly for me, it allows me to develop functional and fast enough websites that I can handover to clients for them to maintain should they choose, and within their budget.
I'm now a Wix partner which provides me with some discounts, a dedicated developer forum, and early announcements of new releases and I'm constantly encouraged about the direction that Wix are taking their platform.
The criticisms of web-builders such as Wix are fading - the ability to code, secured https protocol, google indexing etc. An enduring criticism is that your site is always owned by Wix, but for many relying on third parties to host their site, have you truly got control anyway and do you need it? For some the answer will be yes (a complex web-store might have an issue with this - but then again the data can be exported into a .csv file!), but for many small and medium businesses this is less troublesome.
To rebuild my contacts website and host for a year is likely to cost around £1600, almost half of their hosting and maintenance cost quoted for one year!
What do you need from a website?