Comparing Pay Monthly and One-off Cost Websites
Posted on 14th February 2021
Your business website is an important investment. It’s the heart of your company’s online presence, so you want to make sure that it is designed, built and maintained in the most efficient, effective way possible – and you want to be sure that you are getting value for money.
Option 1: The one-off cost website
Imagine the following scenario: You’re a startup business and you’ve invested in a new website created by a professional web design company. You have paid a large up-front sum that has stretched your available budget, and you now have a shiny new website.
The agency hands over control of your new site and moves on to their next project. It looks great, and you’re excited to share it with the world. Everything is awesome…
Until a week later when an issue arises and you don’t know how to fix it. Perhaps an update creates a compatibility issue with your payment system. What are you going to do?
A month later you decide to create a new ‘meet our team’ page. You were given instructions on how to do this, but you find the editing software confusing and can’t access the necessary functions. What can you do?
Further down the line, you want to add a blog to your site to share the latest company news, but you have no idea where to begin. Who can you ask to help you?
One year on and your domain is now due for renewal. Your website has started to look a little stale, and contains information that is no longer relevant. Your SEO is lacking and your site isn’t showing up in Google searches anymore. How will you fix this?
When these issues arise, you want somebody that you can easily reach, and who has the skills and knowledge to get your website back on track.
However, the developer that built your website for a large one-off fee is working with new clients and is very slow in responding to your calls and emails. When they eventually do get back to you, they expect high fees to make small changes, and cannot promise a quick turnaround as they now have other clients to focus on.
You may end up having to start all over again, having already spent much of your budget on the development of your website only 12 months ago. But there is another way.
Option 2: The pay monthly website option
Let’s go back 12 months and take the alternative route. The one where you choose to pay a monthly subscription fee for your website.
The subscription model offers flexibility and a consistent level of service, with the benefit of spreading payment across regular, easily manageable monthly amounts, rather than a large financial outlay to start. This puts less pressure on your budget, which is especially helpful if you are a startup business.
A website subscription can be highly beneficial, provided that the agreement made with service providers is fair and flexible.
A subscription typically means that you receive a level of ongoing support; the latest upgrades, improved features and usability, and access to a customer service team if issues arise.
For long term value, the subscription option is a much better route to take when investing in a website for your business.
You get what you pay for!
If you decide on the ‘pay monthly’ option for your business website – what should you expect for your monthly fee?
The answer will vary depending on the provider, and most will offer more than one service package – but there are some important features you should be sure to have included.
Other than the basics, such as domain registration and renewal, mobile optimisation and custom email domain addresses. There are four key elements you should have on your checklist, which we have listed below.
1. Genuinely helpful support
Most website providers offer some level of customer support, but you need to be sure that the kind of support on offer is the kind you need.
Many offer online-only support via email or chatbots. It’s unlikely that you will get to communicate with an actual human being once your site has gone live.
When deciding on your provider, look for those with UK-based call centres and free or local-rate helpdesk numbers. Check that you will be supported by a team with expert knowledge, rather than someone who is simply paid to answer the phone. If possible, find a provider that offers support from a local consultant that knows your business and your website.
We may live in a digital age, but there is no substitute for a face-to-face meeting with an expert – Particularly in the early stages when drafting ideas, or when you need to be shown how things work.
2. Seure hosting
A secure website is essential, especially when it comes to storing confidential information, such as customer data. You will want to work with a company that can backup your website and data to UK-based data centres. This ensures that your site is safe to use, loads fast, and complies with data protection regulations.
3. Easy to edit website.
There will be times when you want to make a quick edit to your website, and you don’t want to have to call your developer every time your site needs a simple tweak.
When choosing your website provider, ask them to show you the web editor in action. You want small changes to your website – such as adding a page or updating opening times – to be simple and straightforward.
There are features that you will want included in your subscription as standard: always having the most up to date version of the software and regular updates to functionality and security.
4. Full ownership
A big deterrent for business owners, when it comes to choosing a ‘pay-monthly’ website, is the possibility of losing access to their site if they decide to cancel their subscription.
This should never be the case, but do check terms and conditions and find out from your provider what their cancellation policy is. Ideally, they will provide you with a static version of your website that can be transferred and adapted by the next provider you work with.
Not for everyone
A subscription-based website package will not suit everybody, of course. If you have the budget for a large payment upfront, and the time and skills (or staff) required to maintain your site, then the one-off payment option could work well for you – paying only for substantial changes and fixes that you are unable to execute yourself.
However, it is worth noting that a website is never completely finished. Search engines continually change the way their algorithms work, and security requirements are regularly updated.
Compatibility with browsers and apps can be affected when updates are made, and social media platforms often change their design and functionality, which can cause issues with connectivity.
For these reasons, your website will often need to be improved and adapted to keep it secure, functioning correctly and providing the best showcase of your business possible.
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