Pay Monthly Websites vs. One-Off Cost Websites
Published on 25th February 2020
Imagine for a moment you’ve just invested in a brand new website for your business. You paid a large upfront cost that’s stretched the budget for your growing business and, with design and build completed, your provider hands over control and waves goodbye. Your website looks sharp and you feel amazing…
Until one week later, when something goes wrong and you’re not sure how to fix it. Perhaps you get hacked and can’t reassure your customers that their data is secure.
A month on, you decide to add a new page - but the web editor software is confusing and you can’t access the right bit. Further down the line, you’d like to add a blog to boost the flow of traffic to your site, but where do you begin?
Now, 12 months have passed and your domain is about to expire - you need to renew but you are also aware that your website has started to look a little out of date and some of the details on it are no longer right. In fact, it doesn’t even seem to be showing up in Google searches any more.
Each time one of these things happens, you need someone that’s easy to reach, knows your website well, and has the digital know-how to get you back on track.
Unfortunately, since taking your big upfront fee, the chances are that your provider has closed your file and is focused on getting their big upfront fee from new customers. You may be finding that they’re slow to respond and want to charge high fees for small changes. You feel like starting all over again.
This is not the only way.
Now imagine you chose to pay a monthly fee for your website. These days, we’re all used to paying subscriptions for our services; from mobile phone contracts and Microsoft Office, to entertainment packages from Netflix and Spotify.
Subscriptions are great because they give us a consistent level of service and the ability to spread the cost through a monthly direct debit. Assuming the agreements we make with our service providers are fair and flexible, the ongoing relationship created by a website subscription can provide significant benefits.
It usually means that you will receive a certain level of ongoing support, upgrades to the latest operating system, new and improved features and usability, and access to customer service teams if things go wrong. You are always a valued paying customer and you’re never expected to fix things on your own.
Now wouldn’t that be a better way to invest in a website for your business?
Getting what you pay for
If you do decide to go for the ‘pay monthly’ option for your business website, what exactly should you expect for your monthly fee? While the answer will vary and each provider will typically offer more than one service package, there are some important features you should be sure are included as a part of your deal.
As well as the basics like domain registration and renewal, and an inbox with email addresses that match your domain name, here are four key things you should have on your checklist:
1. Genuinely helpful support
Most website providers will offer some level of customer support, but double-check it will be the kind of support you need. Most only offer online support via email or chatbots, so it’s unlikely you’ll get to speak to an actual human once your site has gone live. Look for UK-based call centres with local-rate or free helpdesk numbers and check that you’ll actually be reaching a team with expert knowledge, not simply a person paid to answer a phone.
If there’s the possibility of a local consultant who knows your business and your website well, even better. Even in this digital age, there’s often no substitute for a face to face meeting in your home or place of work, especially as you begin to sketch out your ideas or when you need someone to show you how everything works.
2. Secure hosting
Ideally, choose to work with a company that can back your website and customer data up to UK-based data centres. This will help to ensure that your site is safe and secure to use, fast to load, and complies with the latest data protection regulations.
A Google-friendly SSL certificate should also be included as standard. It shows that your site complies with security regulations, lets customers know they can use your site with confidence, and will also help you rank better in search results, as Google favours websites with SSL certificates.
3. Easy editing
Even if you have very little technical knowledge, there may be times when you want to make a quick tweak to your website. When you’re choosing your website provider, ask to see the editor software in action. It should be simple and straightforward to make small changes to your website, such as adding pages, uploading brochures or menus, and updating opening times and prices.
Here, the benefit of your subscription should be that you always have the latest version of this software to work with, with any new tools and updates to functionality or security included as standard. Of course, you’ll also have someone to call on if you encounter any problems while you’re making changes.
4. Full ownership
One thing which sometimes deters business owners from choosing a ‘pay monthly’ website is the possibility that they will be denied access to their site if they decide to end their subscription. This should never be the case, so check with your provider what would happen in such circumstances.
Ideally, they should be able to provide you with a ‘static’ version of your website that can be adapted by whoever you work with next.
It might not be for you
Of course, a subscription type website package won’t be for everyone. If you can find the budget for a large upfront payment, are digitally confident and have plenty of time on your hands or a dedicated staff member, you might prefer to take delivery of a completed website and maintain it ‘in-house’. Then you’ll only pay out for large scale changes and bigger fixes that you can’t do yourself.
However, it’s worth remembering that a website is never really ‘finished’; search engines are continually changing the way they use algorithms and redefining security requirements, and the importance of connectivity with different apps and social media platforms is always shifting.
This means websites also have to adapt and change - to keep them working hard, looking good, staying secure and providing the best possible showcase for your business.
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