Small Businesses Continue To Base the Their Decisions on Whether to Host a Website on Price Alone - Read on For a Discussion of Strategy vs. Pricing
Unless you have been living under the proverbial rock since the turn of the century, you should be well aware that the digital transformation that began in the early 90s has since matured and migrated into more of a digital formation or digital foundation. In 2021, one might assume hosting a company website was an afterthought. Think again. Many small businesses continue to question whether a website is valuable, helpful, or even necessary to justify the financial investment. Yes, you heard correctly. There are still many small businesses that believe that they are exempt from participating in the digital economy. Instead, they have convinced themselves that they are too small to benefit and have all the clients they need using old-world, offline business development methodologies. Nothing could be further from the truth. We are here to tell you that even the smallest companies can and do realize significant value from hosting even the most minimal digital presence. This belief is typically rooted in nothing more than fear of the unknown—the fear of the strange stops here.
There is no question that once a website is live, the content must continue to be supported. Part of the fear comes from the amount of time required to manage a website. The burden, however, does not need to fall on the business owner or even a few employees. While web development, code language, and understanding of building a website’s functional underpinnings can be intimidating, the rewards of investing in a website far outweigh those of not having a digital presence at all. There are several options for creating a web presence, many of which require costs that are arbitrary at best. When offered a choice of “free,” all the other excuses go out the window.
Before we go through the various pricing structures of building a website, we must be clear on why a business needs a website in the first place and which types of companies succeed with a web presence. The size, functionality, and respective investment need to start with assessing where the company is in its business life cycle. For example, if you haven’t formally launched your business yet, you’re still considering the type of business you intend to establish and are in the ideation phase; spending your time on a website would not be worth the time or cost at this time. At this stage in your business journey, your time will be better spent on the phone, networking, attending conferences or events, and performing an extensive review of the operating environment and competitive landscape.
Instead of a website, a simple Facebook or LinkedIn page will suffice. You don’t need any fancy graphics or videos; a thoughtful explanation about who you are, what you do is more than enough. This social media page can be the start of your future mailing database, so keep track of your followers and engage with them wherever possible. You might start blog writing on one of the free platforms such as Medium to build your reputation and lay a foundation as a thought leader in your particular industry. Your entire focus must be on generating customers at this stage in your development by any means necessary. Build your credibility, showcase your expertise, even if you must work for free. The investment now will realize rewards in the future.
The lines blur between defining a start-up, a small business, an SME, and the like. Ask ten different people, and you’ll receive ten other answers. What is not different, however, is the requirement for hosting a website. We would argue that once you have more than one customer or client and are on a growth trajectory to find new clients, a website is mandatory. The question is not if you build a website. It is when and by what size. With 85% of consumers using the internet to search for local companies, you don’t exist if you are not where your customers are.
Since the growth of smartphone and mobile-optimized websites, any information about any person, place, or thing is literally at your fingertips. We live in a digital-first economy, so if you’re resting on laurels of yesteryear that relied on referrals and networking, you’re in for an unfortunate surprise. Nothing has demonstrated this more than the last year with the outbreak of COVID-19. There were no lunches or networking meetings, no conferences or industry events; the world ran 100% remotely. Unfortunately, many small businesses who never embraced the digital world had a hard time sustaining growth and servicing clients and ultimately had to close their doors for good. It’s important to mention that many large businesses also suffered as a result of COVID restrictions. However, many more large companies had the resources and capital to carry them through where small companies couldn’t sustain.
No one suggests a small business launch a massive, intricately designed website at an early stage, but you need to have a presence in the digital world that your prospects are using to find businesses just like yours. Many small companies have manageable websites using DIY platforms that help you launch a vital webpage yourself. You will typically find that local companies will use website builder platforms such as Squarespace or WIX to host their introductory websites. These platforms require little to no technical knowledge, provide a variety of design options, allow you to connect your site to your social media channels, and allow you to plug in other applications to your site that are relevant to your business.
By now, we have established that a website is not an option but rather a requirement. It is only natural that any business leader would be concerned about the cost associated with a website, mainly if it is a business that doesn’t earn revenue from the internet. In addition to creating an online presence for people to find you with convenience at the click of a button, a website serves many other purposes that indirectly serve revenue over the long-term but are no less important on the customer journey to a final sale. A website gives your customers a place to engage with your products, brand and potentially book appointments or find a service quote. A website expands your reach and enhances your local exposure. An analysis by Deloitte titled, Connected Small Businesses in the United States, found that digitally advanced small businesses benefited by earning two times as much revenue per employee, experience revenue growth four times higher than the prior year, were three times as likely to have created new jobs over the preceding year and their average employment growth rate six times as high.
If cost is of the utmost importance, then engaging with WIX would likely be favorable as they offer a free option. Please note that several of the critical business functions are only available with premium memberships before you take the plunge. They both offer many attractive benefits but be sure you know what you are getting before you checkout. There are many well-known websites built on these platforms, but websites are evolutionary. It is not an “if you build it, they will come” scenario. However, your monthly investment is minimal, which makes your risk insignificant just the same. Be careful if you select WIX, as your ability to update your design and migrate your valuable content down the road is virtually impossible.
WIX offers various package options to suit differing needs, including personal blogs, freelancers, and, of course, small and large businesses. The package options for smaller entities will run anywhere from $11 to $29 a month. For larger firms and e-commerce platforms looking to enhance features, the monthly cost will run between $20 and $35. The free WIX package provides access to all essential features available, but anything over and above will require you to upgrade to one of the subscription plans.
The most significant differences between the free and paid plans are as follows:
The free plan:
In addition to these, WIX offers several other add-ons that you will want to consider, including:
The versatility of WIXs offering makes it reasonably easy to select the most suitable option. Typically, the Combo and Unlimited plans are most suitable for freelancers, individuals, and entrepreneurs just starting. The Pro and VIP plans have worked well for small to medium-size businesses, and the Business Unlimited and VIP plans to suit more prominent companies.
Whereas small business owners are more inclined to go with a WIX plan, medium-sized owners appear to favor the options available with Squarespace. Squarespace has invested in quality when WIX has elected to go the quantitative route. As such, Squarespace has two plan options, one for individuals and the other for businesses. The design quality is superior, yet the technology is slightly more complex. For years, analysts have argued that Squarespace is more expensive than WIX; when you drill down into the details and evaluate each plan’s features, it tells a different story. Pound for pound; both methods are comparable. Squarespace charges quite a bit more for those who pay monthly. The personal plan, for example, is $16 if a customer pays monthly, whereas the same goal is $12 if paid annually. The business package is $26 monthly compared to $18 annually, the basic e-commerce plan is $30 monthly vs. $26 annually, and the advance e-commerce package is $46 if paid monthly compared to $40 if paid annually. It is important to note that with Squarespace, most of the apps are found separately on other platforms and included within Squarespace’s builder.
Another option for going the least expensive route is to hire a one-person show developer or find a cheap web development team overseas. This option will run you anywhere between $500 and $2000.
We’ve already addressed several, but there are numerous reasons why a business needs a website, including helping to generate new business, enhance brand recognition, illustrate a sense of goodwill in front of customers, target new customers, and deliver your marketing messages continually and consistently. While you’re sleeping, your website is speaking to potential customers.
When preparing to build your website, consider the following. These considerations will save you time, money, and patience. Thinking through these topics will ensure that your website build project will help to set your build-up for success before it even begins.
To reiterate, it goes without saying that every established business must host a company website in this day and age. Try to find just one famous brand name company that doesn’t have a website, just one? Websites aren’t even just for businesses anymore; individual people have their websites, sports clubs, charities, movies, books, weddings, you name it.
If you are a large, established business and don’t have a website or your website is stuck in the 90s, it’s time to join the world in 2021. The scenarios we have discussed until now aren’t suitable for an established business where your site visitors will expect certain features and functions. Your website is not where you want to risk credibility. The priorities and considerations of a more significant business are simply different. Many large companies hire an army of developers and graphic designers, project managers, UI/UX experts, database masters, user story writers, and the like and take on the website development project in-house. If you have the capital to do so, this strategy can be very efficient, assuming you select the right people and have the right design and process in place. More often than not, large companies outsource their website development to digital agencies who do nothing but build unique websites day in and day out. Since web development is their core competency, digital agencies can stay on the cutting edge of technology, design, marketing, and SEO and can provide you with a level of expertise that you would have to hire specialists to handle if you did on your own.
Digital agencies come in all shapes and sizes, but if you are lucky, you come upon the few firms that have taken the digital domain to an entirely new level by mastering each proficiency in the web development evolution, try and get an appointment with them. While very few and far between, if you can lock in one of these firms to sign on as your agency of record, you would be doing yourself, your company, and your P&L an excellent service. One such example is eCuras, a comprehensive, client-centric digital agency based in New Jersey with a team based in various technology hubs worldwide. An award-winning agency, eCuras is a diamond in the rough. eCuras has strategic experts that service clients through all stages of the web development process, starting with Concept & Strategy, followed by design, then Development, and finally Hosting. Once the build process is complete, eCuras take their clients through the challenging and competitive digital marketing arena.
Up until now, we’ve provided the costs associated with building a modest website. It’s time to take it up a notch and show you what you can expect when it’s your turn to play with the big boys and build a first-class, top-of-the-line website with all the necessary bells and whistles to tell your company story.
Without a doubt, it appears that the uncontested leader in website building software is WordPress. Many of the world’s most notable brands use the WordPress system, brands that could engage with any platform they wanted with unlimited budgets, including Sony, Microsoft, BBC America, and TechCrunch. Among the many, WordPress attributes can be set up in a few short minutes and customized to fit a myriad of needs from both small businesses and large enterprises alike. It is safe to say that a high-end, soup to nuts WordPress website will run in the five figures. How high in the five figures will depend upon the bells and whistles you select to represent your brand and tell your story.
WordPress is an open-source content management system that allows you to create websites, blogs, or apps without coding. It is flexible, versatile, and has virtually no restrictions towards customization, unlike its peers. Don’t let the term “open-source” scare you. If you aren’t familiar with the terminology, all it means is that the platform has no copyright or trademark restrictions and is freely available for anyone to use. The following are the key components when building a new site to help distinguish WordPress vs. Wix and Squarespace’s composition.
Design: Naturally, creativity is a critical component of any new project. With WordPress sky is the limit. WordPress allows all creative channels and disciplines from animation, static, or limited motion images, icons, copy/content/text to be included. If you can draw it offline, it can be created online with WordPress.
Feature and Functionality: WordPress offers an almost limitless plugin database, whereas WIX plugin stores are limited. When creating new projects, most designers prefer not to decide what tools to use vs. limited by platform limitations. Further, WordPress enables custom scripts to suit a client’s needs and develops a custom plugin if not yet available on the market.
While WIX offers some excellent features, it is limited when it comes to functionality. Of crucial importance with WIX is that an outside developer cannot alter the site for you. For example, if you decide to enhance your site with eCommerce options to generate revenue in the future, you would need to go elsewhere as WIX does not provide a robust e-commerce function.
Scalability: It is critical to consider scalability before commencing the development process so that you can plan for future business opportunities. It would help if you had technology and tools that will grow with you as your business grows. With WIX, once you’ve outgrown it, you must start over from scratch. WordPress is flexible and fluid; it can grow with you up and down, side to side, back and forth. There are no limitations.
Content Management: Content is driving the core of the web at the moment, so it’s imperative that you have a content system that is flexible and feasible. WordPress includes content versioning, meaning every page or post can be stored and rolled back at any point in time. Also, WordPress allows tremendous flexibility in categorizing, meta-tagging and has many SEO-friendly features that are simply unavailable or severely limited on other platforms.
Pricing: As an open-source platform, WordPress requires a one-time fee only. WIX, Squarespace, and others require a monthly or annual fee plus extra fees for particular features and functions.
In conclusion, website pricing requires a wide variety of considerations. Most notably, it is no longer an option. The questions should be how, who, when and, how much. It is reasonable to think that nothing in life is free. However, with time, though, and doing your homework, you are likely to find an excellent web design firm that can help you build a high-quality website for a reasonable fee. Seek out a partner such as eCuras; having a leading agency take you through each segment of your website build is worth its weight in gold.