How much for a website guv?

Yesterday I drove past a sign for a website company which had it’s prices displayed in it’s front window.  For some companies letting customers know your prices is important, I know when shopping in a supermarket I always check to see I’m getting the best value, it’s something we’ve all become trained to do. I don’t put prices on the website for my services, mainly as all jobs are different. Using the metaphor of food I’m by no means the most expensive restaurant out there, but I’m not McDonalds either, I care about what your eyes consume. I’m told I’m very competitive, just ask.

There are plenty of cheap options out there for websites services which let you choose a template and add your own content. Picking from hundreds of templates you’d think that there would be one which would suit your choice of styles. I tried an experiment back in 2010, and again recently and found the same problem, hundreds of templates which all say very little, with even more limited adaptability.

The problem of templated website services is compounded when you look at Search engine optimisation and domains. More metaphors. Imagine the big website service is an enormous tower block of hundreds of flats, each flat is a website and each template a front door, recurring every so often. Now imagine google’s search engine is the postman trying t deliver a letter. Not so easy to be seen.

I’ve had clients who have come to JCU having used this of type service and wanted to move away when they realise their website contains adverts for competing services they can’t control and they aren’t getting any traffic. They try to leave the service and transfer their domain (website address) elsewhere and discover that the cost cutting service makes most of it’s savings with it’s lack of technical support. In this case months passed before any action was taken, new ‘named contacts’ were added and forgotten. Eventually , despite best efforts on both from myself and the client we hit a brick wall of failed actions, the client resigned to getting a new new domain and starting again which had a knock on effect of their pre-existing print publicity.

I’ve never used an off the shelf  template service for a website never would. I find their enticing designs of what your website ‘could look like’ to be mis-representative of final product and they  break an old rule of design – ‘content is king’ –  content aids design, not the other way around, and it’s lazy. Good design is a problem to be solved and all clients are different and unique. Look at your own website and be honest. Every site I set up has it’s own hosting space, with it’s own database and back end best practice.

To cut a long story short, the internet is a infinite expanse of land without the burden of our physical property market. With a good site and content management system you can have as many pages on your website as you like. You can have a mansion, a show-home or a shed. I love sheds.