Do website developers over-charge for ongoing website costs?
Probably not, but they might be over-servicing if they’re giving you stuff you don’t need.
Websites need to be maintained. They are not a set and forget proposition for four main reasons:
- Software updates
- Content relevance
- Google searches
Software needs to be updated. For WordPress sites there are three main types of software used:
- The Platform itself
WordPress is a website platform. Drupal and Joomla are examples of other website platforms.
Themes are what is used to give your website its look and feel. Every WordPress site uses a theme.
Plug-ins are smaller bits of software that give your site its functionality. For example a registration form or an e-commerce system or an online quote form. Most WordPress sites will have 10 – 15 plug-ins.
Any software not kept-up to date risks being the target of hackers. Giving hackers this window of opportunity is somewhat asking for trouble. You’re probably familiar with computer updates. Every now and again your computer will let you know there is a new version of iTunes or Adobe or Firefox. Website software is no different and is continually updated to keep current with the software it relies on, or to fix bugs, or to add new features.
Unexpected problems happen from time to time with websites – it’s just the nature of the game. Regularly creating a file of your whole website can be your Get out of Jail free card. With a back-up file, if your site is hacked or something mistakenly goes wrong, you can restore it.
If your site is languishing from old and out-dated content your customers will notice. It’s not a good look and most businesses can ill afford to turn customers away. Many small business owners underestimate how valuable good content is. In today’s world of social media, customers don’t want a sales pitch, they want a story. And every story needs a good image.
Good, updated content is important in getting noticed by Google. The technique for getting on page one when somebody searches for your product or service on google is known as Search Engine Optimisation or SEO for short. Most web developers will offer this service and the ones who are good at it are worth the money. Having ongoing website costs, especially in highly competitive markets, is not unusual if your business relies on an effective online presence.
None of the above, with the exception of SEO and images for content, is hard to do. Some of it might seem to be techy and out of your reach, but if you find working with computers relatively easy, you’ll be ok. Editing and maintaining a website is harder than Facebook and Gumtree but easier than an Engineering program.
However, if you really aren’t good at working with computers or you are unlikely to prioritise these tasks to ensure they get done, then ongoing website costs for your business would be a reasonable expense.
Most small business owners can easily up-date text and most can update images to their facebook page. However, it’s fictional to think any image will do for your website. Images are not easy to do well and many small business owners struggle with obtaining a good image in the first place, and then when they have it, to re-size, crop or brighten it. Some business owners don’t have the software to do this and others don’t know how to use image software. There’s a tendency to update an image direct from a mobile phone or the same one that was used on facebook. If you do this, there’s a possibility you’ll slow down your site due to too many large images or your site will look amateurish due to incorrectly sized images. Getting image software and learning how to use it is highly recommended.
SEO is hard to do although there are tools that make it easier. For example many WordPress sites will have the Yoast SEO plug-in, or a similar one, installed. In the image below you can see this plug-in gives you easy to understand information to make your content more SEO, or google, friendly.
There is more to SEO than on the page content. Google Analytics is a widely used tool for SEO experts and is almost impossible for beginners to set-up. However, if you are persistent enough, have a flair for IT problem solving, a little creative thinking and love detective novels you could learn to manage this area too.
The real question for business owners is, how important is it for potential new customers to find my website? If finding your website is key to your business success and growth, paying a professional to get it on page one on Google makes sense. Sure as eggs it doesn’t happen by itself.
I doubt very much anyone in the industry is fraudulent, or at least no more than any other group of people. Ongoing website costs are to be expected. However, are they over-servicing? Well, if you reckon you could do it yourself then perhaps so. But this requires you to be pro-active in understanding what needs to be done and learning about it. Find out what you’re getting for your money and investigate whether your website and your business requires it.
Be realistic about whether you have the skills, time or inclination to undertake the tasks. When it comes to computers if;
- you’re generally not good at them
- using them stresses you
- you tend to prioritise other tasks
- you often come up with error messages
- clicking on a unknown link or button creates anxiety
then you unlikely to be a good candidate to take on the role of maintaining your website and you may need to consider ongoing website costs as a cost of business.
FACT, FICTION OR FRAUD
Websites are not a set and forget proposition. If you want help in this area, you may wish to consider our pre-purchase bundle.
DIY Digital offers a 10 hour pre-purchase bundle for businesses to spend on:
- Content updates to existing webpages
- Optimising your site to come up top in google searches
- Creating back-up files
- Updating software
- Re-sizing and optimising images for websites
Pre-purchase bundles are to be spent within 12 months of purchase and do not include building new websites or complex IT trouble shooting.