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Have You Overpaid For Your Website?

     -     May 2nd, 2012   -     Accounting Marketing, Accounting Websites, Search Engine Optimization   -     0 Comments

The following is a list of common statements about a firm’s website. If any of these statements are true for your website, it may be time to upgrade to save your company [boatloads of] money later:

  1. Our firm uses a licensed CMS that is proprietary and we pay a monthly fee just to use the software. 
  2. Our firm pays a web developer a fee anytime we want to make changes to copy or images on our website.
  3. Our website hosting company is also our website company – we’re getting a package rate!
  4. Building new pages on our website is time consuming, expensive and more hassle then its worth.
  5. I pay a large fee monthly to make changes to our website, even if there was no work done in a given month.

If ANY of the above statements is true, continue reading to learn what steps you can take to alleviate the empty marketing budget you probably have as a result!

Paying a third party to license proprietary software is not always a bad thing, but when it comes to content management systems for your website – it’s completely unnecessary.  There are at least three major contenders which are completely free to use, have great documentation, can be managed by more than 30,000 individual people/web companies worldwide.  The three major players are WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla.  Of the three, at least one of them will fit your companies’ needs.  Companies like Target, Ebay, Yahoo, Ford, Wallstreet Journal, and People Magazine are all leveraging free CMS! The point it is, these GIANT companies are not spending any money at all on licensing their CMS software – so why should you?   

There are several Content Management Systems (CMS) on market today, a new one comes to market at least once a month, but they pale in comparison to the three largest free solutions that have been around for nearly a decade.  As an aside, the number of bugs and security issues found in proprietary software is far greater than that in free software. This is because the development team for the free CMS is run by the entire user community, whereas a proprietary system may have as few as ONE developer maintaining the software. That is a lot of testing for a single person. The bottom line is a free CMS will save you time, money and headache in the long run.  Wordpress, one of the big three free CMS, has more than 1 million websites built on its platform alone!

If you are paying a web developer for small copy modifications, or rotating out images on your website every time you want to make a change (no matter how simple) then you may not be on a CMS.  If this is the case, find a web company who can put you on a content management system immediately so that you will have the freedom and the ability to make changes to the site without any fee.  Any developer that puts you on straight HTML (not a CMS) is probably looking for residual income from the updates you will want to make after launch. A key income tactic for many web companies is to sell you a low cost website and then make money performing changes and updates to your website for you.  Most modern CMS have an editor that is as easy as writing a word document and saving it – you could save hundreds, even thousands of dollars by having your existing website built on a content management system (that’s right, you don’t even have to get it redesigned – just put the old one on a new system so that YOU can manage it). 

An additional benefit to upgrading to a content management system means that you will also have the freedom to add NEW pages of content to your website, many web companies charge on a per-page or per-word (gasp!) basis.  A CMS will empower you to add new pages EASILY to your website.

As a major bonus, SEO will be easier to implement, and therefore less costly if you decide to hire a professional to perform the service.  Note that just because you have moved to a CMS does not mean you will entirely eliminate the need for a web developer – but it does mean that you will greatly reduce the fees associated with performing simple tasks.

If you are one of thousands of companies who are paying a monthly retainer just to keep a web professional on call – stop now!  If after you are on a CMS and have been shown the basics of updating and you still need professional assistance, pay on a per-task basis – require an estimate of the services, and if the needs aren’t immediate, ask another company to bid on the project too so you have a comparison rate.  Once on a CMS, you may only need help 1-2 times per year and that will greatly reduce your internal costs associated with your website.

Lastly, if your company is paying a single company for software license fees for a proprietary CMS, for monthly hosting, and for monthly website management in the event that something must be changed or updated – break your contract and find a new web company.  Even if you Google hosting fees, you will find them as low as $5.95 per month – and small companies don’t need anything greater than that for their website (In most cases!).  It can go up from there, but if you are only hosting a single website on a server and have moderate traffic you shouldn’t be paying more than $25.00 per month – check your contracts – I bet you pay more then that already!  This greatly exaggerated fee (I’ve seen them higher than $600.00 per month for some businesses) is just money that is, in many cases, being pocketed as profit by the web company.  To avoid being duped into paying unnecessary fees – speak directly to a hosting company, like InMotion hosting, who can help assess your actual hosting needs and put you on a plan that is not.  Try to avoid bundled deals, while convenient, they are often more expensive then going directly to the source.  If your CMS Company requires you to use ONLY their hosting company – this is a red flag and you should look for other options immediately.

The bottom line is this, a CMS is very important, bundled deals are a waste of money, and recurring fees should be avoided wherever possible.  Take your cues from the big companies and don’t pay big money where none should be spent.  Imagine what you could do FOR your business when you have more control… think about SEO, Pay per click campaigns to drive more traffic, lead generation tactics… the possibilities are endless and suddenly your marketing budget has a little more wiggle room!

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