A lot of people think that what they are paying for when they get a new website is like any other product they buy. If there’s a problem with this “thing” after they’ve purchased it they can send it back for a redesign; at no charge.
A website is not at all like a product. Unlike buying a new car, there is no Lemon Law remedy you can turn to if your website breaks within the first year or 30,000 hits; whichever comes first. There are no guarantees or factory warranties.
It’s natural to think that you’re buying a fully working website that has no bugs in the software, works on every browser, every phone, every tablet, every time and nothing will ever happen to it. In a perfect Internet world, you would never need to give your new website a second thought once it’s online — unless it’s to make necessary changes to your content. And, of course, your website will NEVER go off line for any reason or ever get hacked.
If I could design and develop such an incredibly perfect website I would be living the lifestyle of the rich and frivolous!
What You’re Paying for When You Buy a Website.
What a web designer is selling you is a service. You are paying for expertise, a relationship, and the ability to take your vision and create the look and feel you want for your online presence. You are buying the web designer’s time and value, which is definitely not a product.
Most new sites that have just been built has thousands of hours put into the initial design and development (though it often feels that way), and enough content to keep feeding those hungry beasts known as Search Engines.
If there’s a misspelled word in your content, that will need to be fixed. This type of fix usually takes about two minutes (providing there are no problems logging into the site) and usually done at no additional charge. But if there is a page that isn’t loading correctly, a contact form no longer sending, a plugin upgrade that took down the entire site, or something else went seriously wrong, then the client needs to pay for the time it takes to fix these problems and/or change things around after the site has gone live.
Of course there are always exceptions, but for the most part, charges will incur for the time it takes to fix things, add additional pages and create new images.
There Is No Such Thing as a Problem-free Website.
A common misconception is that newly launched sites are problem-free, never go offline, and never need an update. Many site owners will ignore required WordPress updates and upgrades to the programs running their website; Until their site gets hacked and they now need to pay hundreds (or thousands) of dollars to get the server cleaned and the site back online.
The reality is: a website is in continual flux. There will be bugs, things will break, browsers will change, how consumers are viewing your site will change, and what you use in your content today to convey your message and information will be different tomorrow.
A Website Is Like a Home Improvement Project.
It’s helpful to think of web design like any other service. Building a website is much like building a home. Perhaps when your home was first built you told the designer that you wanted the light switches on a particular wall and in a particular way. But once you moved in, you realized that the first switch should turn on the hall lights. Now you have to call the electrician back in to change how your switches work. Do you think the electrician is going to come back and spend hours fixing those switches for free because you changed your mind?
Websites are like homes:
- there are going to be problems,
- there will be times when you need to update the content on your site,
- you will need to upgrade the software running your site, and
- things ARE going to break (or your site gets hacked).
The longer you have a website, the more problems and/or updates, just as the Internet of Things constantly evolves. And the more problems there are, the more additional charges there will be. Of course, you can keep costs down by being vigilant about keeping your website running smoothly and doing all critical updates/upgrades as they arise, as opposed to letting them stack up for a year… or longer!
If you want your website to continue to be useful, informative, and provide your clients, customers and potential new customers, with a positive online user experience you cannot ignore your website once it goes live.
There’s no way around the fact that you must maintain your website and continue to grow it — that is if you want to continue to grow your business. And there’s no way of avoiding additional charges, unless you do these time-consuming tasks yourself.