Why should I pay an agency to build my website (when I can do it for free myself)?

The risks of using a freelancer or cheap web tool to build your website

Why should I pay an agency to build my website (when I can do it for free myself)?

A Free Website? No Problem. Just Beware the Pitfalls. In this blog post we highlight the risks involved in using a freelancer, small agency or 'free' web building tool to design your website. 

1. The low cost freelance option

Right now there are dozens of freelancers and small agencies willing to build your website for next to nothing. Hard to believe? It’s true. 

But why would they do that? Think about it for a minute and it’s pretty obvious.

Sometimes, your need presents an opportunity for them to showcase their skills and gain genuine referrals and references. These individuals and businesses may be prepared to build a simple (or even a complex site) for next to nothing in order to break into a market or demonstrate their talent.

Bear in mind that there will always be a trade off, for example, they may not be quick, they might also need you to do a lot of the leg work, and the truth is they may be learning on your job!

Some of the common drawback to be aware of

  • They may not have the expertise to do the work properly
  • Don’t expect much in the way of service or support
  • Their skills sets and competencies are likely to be limited to a particular area of web design or technology
  • They may take a long time and may not even finish it (if other paid work gets in the way)
  • They might take on a full time job before your site is finished
  • You might have to do a lot of leg work yourself
  • It could damage your reputation and be stressful
  • You might waste a lot of your own time
  • It’s not a scaleable solution for you 

These arrangements seldom work and can be very stressful. Be sure to enter into these in the full knowledge of the drawbacks outlined and try to mitigate some of the risks. You are getting what you pay for and no more.

2. But what about website builders, such as Wix, GoDaddy, Squarespace or Weebly? 

In the past few years there has been an explosion in the use of website builder software, so much so, that many even use mainstream TV as a way of promoting to the mass market. Wix, Squarespace and GoDaddy spend millions each year on lavish TV advertising and paid online advertising campaigns. 

The costs range from “nothing” to less than £10 a month. There are dozens of different options and the software offered by some is actually very good and can be relatively easy to use. However, beware of what you’re actually buying into...

But how does all this make commercial sense to these businesses? 

The aforementioned web builder brands will pay up to £30 for each click they receive on their paid Google advertisements - many times more than their headline charges! So how does this work? Their business model is based on up-selling and lock-in. This is really important and something that you need to be fully aware of before signing up.

Some things you need to check

  • The promotional price may be time limited before jumping up
  • You will pay extra for additional features, such as a shopping cart - check what features you must have and calculate the cost
  • Without design input, your website may look unprofessional and although there is often a large range of pre-made templates, these may not be exactly what you need or want
  • The support can be slow and not particularly great, especially if your own technical knowledge is limited (terms and terminology may not make much sense) and the process can quickly become frustrating. The ads make it look simple. It’s not!
  • The lifetime cost of a website can be much more expensive than hiring a professional web design firm, such as Web Foundry to build the exact site you need
  • You will have to use pre-designed templates, so your website may look similar to hundreds of others online
  • Adding bespoke functionality and custom design can be very difficult, if not impossible
  • Your website can only work on their platform. If you want to move to another supplier in the future you may need to start over again. 
  • You are locked into their hosting plans

Do a lifetime cost analysis before committing

  • Establish the initial introductory offer period cost
  • Identify the real cost once this expires (For example, Squarespace is currently £21 - £37 per month or £1,332 over 3 years for their service). 
  • How much is your own time worth?
  • What is the cost impact on your business of doing this yourself?
  • Calculate the number of months (base on 3 years) x 36
  • What are the exclusions and extra charges? (Extra storage, email accounts, SSL certificates, domain name etc.)
  • Cost for adding an online store and transactional charges
  • Do you need any additional licences?
  • What about business email accounts?
  • Cost for designer to provide suitably sized images 
  • Will you need a logo design?
  • What about copy and editing?
  • How will you market it?

When you add up all the above, the cost might be a surprise to you. And then what do you have? You have a site similar to thousands of others, which may not accurately reflect your brand and ultimately not deliver a ROI. You have a website that you must carry on paying for month in and month out. Even on the most basic plan this can run into thousands of pounds. 

And what about if you want to move it to another provider? How will you do that? Furthermore, you need to factor in significant time to understand how to use the software and to make sense of technical and marketing terms. How will this distract from the work you should be doing?

Would it not make more sense to have a partner that can offer a convenient full service package? We think so, which is why we developed the following option.

3. Invest in a one-off web design package from Web Foundry

Web Foundry’s all-inclusive packages provide a professional website, built quickly and cost-effectively, and we can bolt-on marketing and support to provide overall excellent performance.

Each of our packages remove uncertainty and address all the above concerns. Our web design packages start at £995 and you will have a trusted design partner that will step you through the entire process and can scale your solutions as your business grows. Look at some of the benefits compared with the two options above:

the benefits of working with web foundry

  • Proper support 
  • Unique designs
  • No need to learn complex software and new terminology
  • No lock in - totally transferable website that is all yours
  • Inclusive hosting 

For more information and to find the package that’s right for your business view our web design package options.

Author

Phil Holt on Wednesday, 06 September 2017

Wilmslow

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