Not all business website providers are the same…

So you’re looking for recommendations for your new business website, you reach out to social media for a provider or web designer and you get a raft of recommendations. It’s hardly surprising these days as, to be honest, it’s not that difficult to get a website up and running but remember that not all business website providers are the same.

There is great value out there and if you are willing to take the plunge you can even try and do it yourself but bear in mind like everything, if it’s not something you are familiar with being prepared for some frustrations and embarking on a rather steep learning curve would be an advantage, especially when it comes to the web and it’s widely varying technologies!

The free website solution

There are ways to get up and running fairly quickly using third-party free solutions like Weebly, Wix, Squarespace and WordPress.com, some offer really nice intuitive user interfaces but these usually apply the Freemium model where it’s FREE to signup but, as you start to build on your site by adding content and functionality you’ll soon realise payment is required, then you rely heavily on that content for your business, this is usually where the ‘tie-in’ process occurs. As your website and its content is so heavily wrapped up in the service it’s very difficult to take ownership of your content if you need to upgrade or move on to the next stage of building a bespoke site. Not all services are the same but usually in the terms and conditions you’ll read things like “you waiver the right to take ownership of your content” or “the licence agreement gives us the right to remove content” or “termination of the account means the site and its content”. So you see as you build up your content and as it takes on more value to you, need to ask yourself whether you really want to enter into a contract like that…

The low-cost cheap website solution

Some agencies will recycle off the shelf templates which is absolutely fine as long as you accept the limitations of something like a rigid template structure and that your site could look just like another one from the website provider. These solutions can be cost-effective for startups for sure but you will need to accept that you will have very little control of the functionality and in some cases the overall design of a site. With this kind of solution there has been no design process created for user experience or considerations of what’s the best experience for your user/audience as the template has already been designed to be a “one size fits all” solution. They are recycled and rebuilt with new content each time a provider supplies a new website, this is the reason why they are so cheap but equally can be cost-effective. Just make sure you ask questions about ownership of content – also be aware that although they might give you complete ownership of the content the format in which it is saved to a database can be encrypted which potentially makes it useless to other systems at a time you may wish to upgrade or move away.

The medium to high-end bespoke website solution

This is where you’ll probably be introduced to a medium/heavy weight designer/developer who is knowledgeable enough to give you some sound advice, they are usually honest and transparent in their approach telling you where their strengths lay and their weaknesses are but they will have enough experience and resources to refer or pull a team of the right developers and designers together. They should be giving you advice on the above solutions I’ve already spoken about e.g the “free or low-cost solutions” they will probably have a few if not tens of years experience under their belt, know about frontend and backend development but probably only specialise in one area like “Design, User Experience, Project management, CSS, HTML, Javascript, jQuery libraries, API’s, database structure, SEO, Web Security, Comandline, Servers, Hosting” etc.

The spectrum in the medium to high-end is quite wide and it will usually be for a high functionality requirement, either as a website or as a business web application where you might have multiple user accounts or very specific logistic requirements.

Conclusion

There is a lot more I could add to this post but I’ll keep it short for now and hopefully I’ve given you an insight into some of the things to think about when you are looking for a website requirement, it’s exciting when you put your business online for the first time just remember that not all Business Website providers are the same so be sure to ask the right questions and know what you are getting into before you make a decision on who to use! Good luck on your journey.