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A New Perspective on Affordable Web Design

Website as a Service (WaaS) provides a fully-featured, custom website for your small business without the significant upfront costs related to traditional website design services at an affordable monthly rate.

Nametag that says WaaS

What is a Website as a Service (WaaS)?

There are different takes on what WaaS encompasses, and a Google search will give you many offerings for the term. Each provider has its packages related to web hosting, web design, SEO, support, updates, and maintenance with price ranges for every budget to offer affordable web design.

The affiliate marketing crowd has also co-opted the term for ‘done-for-you’ type landing pages meant to be the product. That’s not what we’re talking about in this article (or ever on this site, to be honest).

Your website is an integral part of the success of your business. Your site is the marketing hub for your business and often the primary portal for your leads or clients to interact with you. Depending on your industry, your site may even be the central service you provide to your clients. Whether or not you need full website redesign services when looking for more traffic should be discussed prior to just changing everything.

Your website showcases products and services, advertises and grows your brand, and engages potential new customers…usually with links to social media channels that can be optimized to make the cycle even more robust.

A laptop showing a website
Photograph by Le Buzz via Unsplash

We get it…wait, what is it again?

A web design provider will create your website to your specifications and business needs, host and maintain the site, update content every month, and perform ad hoc improvements or changes (within reason)…all for a low monthly fee.

This process replaces the traditional web design contract with a large initial outlay of $2k to $25k for the website design and build and other monthly hosting and maintenance charges.

Rather than paying a large amount upfront, your team can enjoy the cost-benefit of an affordable web design that still provides customers with the performance you currently offer.

It’s nowhere near as simple to describe as it is to perform, so I made a little table in the hopes of clarifying.

A table comparing traditional website contracts to WaaS

Benefits of Investing in WaaS for your small business website

  • The up-front investment of several thousand dollars may be a significant speed bump for a small business that is just starting to gain traction.

 

  • A WaaS allows you to focus on your clients and marketing efforts without worrying about the technical aspects of running a website, updating blog posts or pages, or dealing with quirks that pop up in your mobile responsive design.

Two businesswomen looking at a laptop

Photograph by KOBU Agency via Unsplash

Why your company should consider a WaaS solution

Monthly website plans are great for small businesses because they allow them to have a constantly updated website and look modern to their customers. A monthly website plan is often more affordable because it will enable owners to protect their brand and voice on a website without spending too much money upfront that can be used for growing the business.

First: It’s dead simple (your results will vary, below is a dramatization)

affordable website design 5 2

“Hey Sasha, I got our new website design contracted, and it’ll be live in four weeks. It’s $300 a month.”

“That’s it? How much do we have to cough up for this upfront? What about updating the articles and pictures? Don’t we also pay for hosting and security to our current provider? Isn’t there something else we give him money for?”

affordable website design 4

“It’s all included…$300 a month, that’s it. On the rim and out the door!”

“That’s amazing Josefin! Here’s a promotion and a million dollar raise! 💸💸💸

Anybody who has scoped a new web design project knows that it’s not just a stroke of the pen, and a few weeks later, BANG, we’ve got traffic! The word “project” is deceptively simple. It hardly does justice to the process of working with a professional digital marketing agency.

You also generally have internal stakeholders who alternate between not wanting to hear the technical details and knowing every facet of a web design that evolves through discovery (or like to pop in at the 11th hour and ask for something that resets the whole project😉).

man with glasses screaming at his computer

Photograph by Andrea Piacquadio Agency via Pexels

Second: Your site is never ‘done’

  • If you want to drive traffic, you will need to update content regularly, particularly when you want to start digging into SEO.

 

  • You will find that some plugin stops working or turns your submit button upside-down.

 

  • Depending on your industry, you may require frequent updates or rely on outside APIs to feed data to your audience.

 

  • The highest quality website build is still going to fall victim to the DNS gods or Google and their latest algorithm tweak.

 

  • Hackers will try and co-opt your website to serve kitten pics to their enemies or mine bitcoin. And let’s not even start talking about email. That’s an article in its own right.

Finally: Somebody else makes the sausage

If you’ve self-hosted before, you know there are many moving parts. Usually, one or more of them decide to break from common sense during any given week.

Web design agencies deal with hosting, maintenance and backups daily and generally have better tools because they host many client sites, none of which can go down for any significant amount of time if we hope to stay in business or keep what’s left of our hair.

Frustrated woman looking at her laptop

Photograph by Yan Krukov via Pexels

“If saving money is the goal, can’t I do my own web design?”

One affordable option some clients who are new to web design may explore is the self-serve route provided by companies such as Wix and Squarespace.

Though these design options are the easiest on your budget…you’d be hard-pressed to find many developers who think these are good long-term options, not for the simple fact that they compete directly with them.

Ask fellow business owners about their experience using free or cheap website builders. In that case, you’re likely to find similar opinions. These options may be OK to get started and create your online presence. Still, if your business is to scale as you hope it will, you’ll eventually need higher-quality web design services.

Owners who choose to handle their web design using a builder such as these will eventually run into a ceiling on their growth, often due to technical limitations and lack of customization.

Once your business scales to a certain point, you WILL be looking to increase your visits through SEO. You will find that these platforms are difficult to optimize for more Google traffic. You will also be looking to your computer screen for support rather than the professional who built your site.

Another downside to web builder services is that your website is trapped in their platform. When you decide to move your business website to custom hosting with a more hands-on provider, you’ll likely have to shell out for entire site development to get a developer to build the same look and feel your clients are already used to.

Some tools out there assist in exporting your Wix or Squarespace site to another platform, such as WordPress. Still, they present significant technical hurdles and are not a 1-for-1 transfer. You’ll still be spending significant hours and/or money to get your site onto a more customizable platform.

Occasions where a WaaS may not be the best plan for your small business😒

It’s not all sunshine and Yeti tumblers for everybody; otherwise, this new paradigm (which has been around for a few years now) would have taken over.

There are several reasons why your business may be better suited to a more traditional website design contract.  Here are a few possibilities:

 

  1. Your budgeting process requires paying upfront or lump sums for significant expenditures such as web design.
  2. our website has necessary programming and features that require more than a standard monthly package. In these cases, you may have an internal team handle your website or contract a large team to see it through. A WaaS is not ideal for highly customized websites with more than a standard functionality.
  3. Your accounting department utterly refuses to engage in month-to-month agreements (even for an affordable website) that could put the site in jeopardy if they fail to honor invoices on time (I have worked at such a company…and yes, they planned for their failure to handle bills on time despite being quite large and having near-unlimited resources).

Confused young man

Photograph by Pavel Danilyuk via Pexels

Offerings and Results Will Vary

At this point, you may be thinking this would be an excellent option to explore for your business. After all, your website is ready for a refresh, but the idea of outlaying several thousand dollars at once when you have so many other priorities.

Affordable web design is a highly searched topic on Google for a reason.

Each agency that offers packages such as these will have different plans, pricing, and capabilities. Here are some of the possible facets to consider when shopping for a WaaS.

Web hosting

A no-brainer for any provider to rely on ultra-fast hosting on dedicated servers with CDN and SSL provided.

Themes

Some firms will rely heavily on pre-built templates, and some will still custom design and build your site.

Domain Name

You really should buy and own this asset, in my opinion, some agencies will secure a domain name for you.

Contracts

Most agencies require between 1 and 3-year contracts…some do not require a contract at all (nudge/wink).

Security/Backups

The whole idea of WaaS is that everything is handled for one fee. This should be a given.

Form Integration

Most plans include basic contact form hookup and functionality with your email or CRM provider.

Content Updates

Range from unlimited content updates to a set limit on pages, pictures, or hours spent.

Development Time

Provided time used for hooking up new APIs or changing out emails or forms, or whatever you need on your website.

SEO

Most plans rely on the initial build to optimize the site without ongoing efforts (nudge/wink.

Illuminated game over sign

Photograph by Cottonbros via Pexels

Conclusion

A monthly website service (or WaaS) is an excellent option for those small businesses looking to build their first website or refresh their current site. It allows you to have a website that you can use right away without budgeting for next year. All those tiny fires keep popping up and pushing your new marketing hub out further into the future.

If you’d like to chat about setting up your own WaaS package, contact us today! Or check out our WaaS service page for more information.

Until next time,

 

~Jay