Pay By the Month Website Design - What Are You Paying For?
It seems like an easy way to have a website designed for you - you choose a template, the company will “customize” it for you, you pay them every month, and voila! Your website takes care of itself.
What could possibly be the downside to this?
Look, I know the thought of having a website custom made for you sounds like an expensive headache. I felt the same way once upon a time. In fact, I had a Wordpress website designed for me but a guy in California, and I didn’t even like the end result. But, he seemed so annoyed any time I suggested a tweak in the design, or asked a question about doing something differently, I just didn’t know what to do.
But the truth is, you need a fantastic website to stand out among the other options. Odds are, you’re not the only business of your kind in your area, but you want to be the one potential customers choose.
So, you decide to have someone build you a website, because you’d rather be making sales than spending hours on a computer. Those pay-by-the-month guys will design your website and give you unlimited tech support for less than a hundred bucks a month, but to truly understand what you’re getting for that price, you have to dig a little deeper. Let’s look at some of the services you’re paying for, and consider some questions you may want to ask before committing.
A “Custom” Website
How custom is your website if you’re changing colors and fonts on a template? That’s like saying you have a custom t-shirt because it’s the same style and brand as another one, just a different color. I can pull up any number of websites and tell you exactly what company designed them because they all have a very similar look. You’re paying for a custom website, and you should get one.
Unlimited Tech Support
What exactly is tech support? If you need to make edits, such as change your office hours or add a new staff member to your about page, will you incur any charges? First of all, these are usually Wordpress websites. Wordpress is great, but not so user-friendly, so if you choose to do some tweaking yourself, it is not a piece of cake. You’re going to need one of their designers to do that for you. What happens after the site is done and you need additional design work?
How are they doing this for you? One of the greatest ways to boost your site in search rankings is by generating quality blog content. Theoretically, you’re going to be writing your blog posts, so how are they influencing SEO through content you created? I would definitely ask for specifics on this one. And continue reading for more information on that blog content...
Prepare yourself, because you’re not going to want to hear this: using content created for mass use is detrimental to your SEO. If you’re using blog posts that are also being used on other websites, Google sees that content as plagiarism, and it actually HURTS your search rankings. It sounds nice to not have to deal with the writing yourself, but if you really want to see results, your content needs to be original and valuable to your readers. Paying an additional monthly fee for access to a library of pre-written blog posts is a total waste.
They do promote that they include some useful features, such as analytics, hosting, email, e-commerce, and scheduling. These are great to have, for sure, and (spoiler alert) they’re all included with your Squarespace site.
And the major unanswered question for any of these pay-by-the-month websites: what happens to your website if you no longer want to do business with these guys?
The answer: you lose your website completely and start from scratch.
You only get to keep your domain name and any content you personally created. So if you get tired of paying for your website every single month from now until forever, you don’t have a website for all of that money you paid. Think on that...
Here’s the difference in working with me to get your custom Squarespace website:
Your website is 100% custom.
Sure, Squarespace has available templates, but once I start your design, I remove all of the included formatting and start from scratch so that your website is all about you and your small business. You’re not limited to a certain number of photos, and your site will not look like anyone else’s.
Squarespace has fantastic tech support available 24/7.
Seriously, if you have a question, the answer is probably already out there somewhere on the internet. Squarespace’s support page is immensely helpful, and it’s even written in plain English so you can understand it! If you’re unable to find what you need, the folks working for Squarespace are super friendly and always willing to help you find a solution.
You don’t need tech support to make changes.
I equate Squarespace to Apple products - it is incredibly easy to use and intuitive. After I’ve completed your website, you and I will have a wrap-up call where I’ll walk you through the ins and outs of your website, including how you can make changes yourself. Even if you want to do something we didn’t cover in our call, you’ll usually be able to figure it out on your own. But, it’s not like I’ll ignore you if you just ask me :).
SEO is done for you by Squarespace.
A myth floating around the internet is that Squarespace doesn’t do well with SEO. This is totally false, as a large majority of the SEO is handled for you. And, again, I’ll give you some best practices when you’re on your own on how to keep the SEO mojo going.
Blog posts are easy to create.
As I mentioned before, I’ve had a Wordpress site in the past, so I’ve been there. The dashboard that is your “behind the scenes” access to Wordpress is complicated. Squarespace is so straightforward, and quite frankly, just eye-pleasing. Creating blog posts and including great photos or other media is super simple. Squarespace also makes it easy to automatically post your blog posts to connected social media accounts. And I’m not going to give you content that other people are using, too, because I like you and want your site to be found :).
Other great features that are always included in your Squarespace website designed by Jennifer Bierds include:
Personalized e-mail (i.e. firstname.lastname@example.org)
Integrated scheduling with Acuity that communicates with your existing online calendar
SSL certificate so your clients know they’re on a secure website
Mobile-responsive design so that your customers can actually see your website on their phone
Social media integration - Auto-post to your Facebook followers, or include your Instagram feed on your homepage. There are a number of ways to integrate social media on your site.
Pop-ups to offer freebies and grow your email list
E-Commerce is available if you sell products through your site
And so much more!
So, while I’m not saying that paying a monthly fee to have a website is a terrible idea, what I AM saying is that you really need to understand what it is your getting for your money. You will get a pretty decent website, but there are limitations.
When you’re talking about investing in your business, you should not skimp on your website. Schedule a free call with me below, and we can talk more about what I can do for you with Squarespace!