Whilst there are many website providers in the market, and that in itself can be a minefield regarding choosing the right one, a question at the outset might be: ‘should I pay everything upfront or pay monthly? 

A scenario: 

Perhaps you might want to take a moment and think of the scenario where you have just invested in a brand spanking new site for your business and cannot wait to show it off to friends, family and clients alike... 
You will have paid upfront probably on a 50/50 basis, to cover initial engagement and the final, ‘ready to launch’ design. Let’s assume it was a fair sum of money - as an investment to support your business development plans after all. With the design ready to go, it is handed over and the designer steps back pleased with their work. 
 
The website looks great, otherwise why launch it? 
 
A short while later however, when something goes wrong or needs updating - such as uploading that fantastic testimonial you’ve just received - you’re not sure what to do. 
 
More simply put, as time goes on, you’ll want to add pages to the site as your business develops and you have more to say (which of course Google loves). Yet the content management system available is limited or perhaps too technical to understand and therefore a time waster as you want to get on managing your business. And perhaps one of the new pages you want to add is a blog post, as part of your strategy of building authority in your sector and therefore traffic, yet you don’t know how to create a post and publish it. So, what can you do? 
 
One year on, and the domain needs renewing, and at the same time the website is looking a bit jaded and needs sprucing up with at least some up-to-date information. And to add to this, your Google ranking has now dropped compared to 12 months ago. 
 
Clearly you will need specialist assistance, and indeed the original designer hopefully will be on hand to help with all queries: technical, content, and design - and deal with them quickly too (there is no time like the present!). However, in practice that is not always so, and in any case, there will probably be charges involved. 
 
We live in a service-orientated society, so one needs to have easy access to prompt and appropriate help, otherwise you will always run the risk of losing business. 
 
Yet web designers reliant on upfront fees will be seeking the next new client and perhaps current clients are further down the pecking order, and do not receive immediate attention, therefore designers are slow to respond and/or the cost of work will feel comparatively high. However unsavoury this may seem, that is the most likely reality. 
 
Of course, there is another way to consider. 
 
You choose to pay a monthly fee for your website. Just as you do with your mobile phone, wi-fi, and other consumer based digital services. 
 
Subscription based services are beneficial and therefore becoming increasingly popular, because of being able to spread the cost and the assurance of consistency and continuity of service whenever you call on it. 
 
It is important to check the small print for whatever service provider in whatever field of provision, yet in this day and age all the reputable suppliers should provide services which are fair and reasonable, and encourage a relationship to ensure that the client gets the most out of the service on offer. 
 
What does this mean in the field of websites? Here’s what should be included: 
A defined level of ongoing support 
Automatic upgrades to the latest operating system 
New and improved features 
Regular security checks 
Accessible help guides and advice 
Easy and straightforward access to professional and knowledgeable customer service teams 
Regular communication on new initiatives such as ongoing advice to help you get the most out of your website 
 
You are not left alone to fend for yourself. You should always be a valued customer and never be expected to fix things on your own. The after-sale service has to be as important as the pre-sale. 
 
In reality delivering a much better return on investment, don’t you think? 

Maximising the value 

I would suggest that a pay monthly option not only comes with explicit services and support but also an implicit obligation to be really looked after. As the saying goes, ‘time is money’ - and when taken together with ‘stick to the knitting’, i.e. do what you are good at (and generates the income), the support promised has to be timely, efficient, and effective. So, any arising issues do not become an unnecessary distraction, and time intrusive. 
 
With a pay monthly package, each provider will probably offer several service packages, yet there are some important characteristics you should ensure are included. 
 
First of all, check that the basics are covered: 
The service is provided by a reputable and established business. In my personal experience there are businesses out there who tend to over promise and under deliver 
Domain registration and renewal 
Email addresses using your domain name as the suffix 
 
In addition, here are some further genuine topics for due consideration: 

1. Sincerely helpful client support 

Please be sure to clearly understand how the provider defines support. Most only offer online support via email or chatbots, and indeed some encourage engagement through forums. Getting through to a person quickly is important to a lot of people, as they want to get the issue sorted. And to be UK based is becoming more important. Speaking with someone with the appropriate technical knowledge straight away is much more of a comfort and is reassuring, as opposed to a responder who is paid to sift the calls and allocate to the correct department. 
 
To take this one step further - and this will be purely down to personal preference - to have someone local who you can meet with, and who knows your business, is normally a good move. Based on the ‘meet… like…. trust’ principle, ‘people buy from people’ and getting to know someone face to face is a bonus not to be underrated. 
 
Afterall, the majority of communication is non-verbal, and to have developed a business relationship face to face is so important to many people. You will be able to get so much more out of a face to face meeting. 
 

2. Hosting of your website has to be secure and reliable 

It would make sense to work with a supplier where your website is regularly backed up and on UK based data centres. 
 
This should ensure that your site is safe and secure to use, quick to load, and is subject to the latest data protection regulations. 
 
An SSL certificate is becoming a must and has to be included as standard. This shows your site complies with security regulations, as demonstrated with the padlock symbol, and lets customers know they can use your site with confidence. This is what Google wants to see and index, and therefore helps you rank better in search results. 
 

3. Managing the content yourself, in ‘easy to use’ way 

This is often overlooked. But why should you spend all that money getting that site designed and built for it to be static? Even with limited technical knowledge and confidence, all website owners need to be able to make changes to their site. 
 
So, make sure that there is a website editor or content management system and see it in action before you commit, as some can be difficult to use, and help guides are non-existent. It needs to be simple and easy to use, particularly for those small changes you might want to make, e.g. adding pages, uploading brochures or menus, and updating opening times and prices. 
 
As you are paying for a subscription, you should always have the latest version of software to help with new features to utilise on the site. Why should you have functionality that may become out-dated and out of favour with Google? 
 
Finally, when you get stuck you will want to have access to someone to call if you experience any problems along the way. 
 

4. Full ownership of the website 

Be aware that having a subscription arrangement does not necessarily mean that you own the site, and you could therefore be denied access to the website should you end the arrangement. 
 
This should never be the case. 
 
Check with your provider what would happen in such circumstances. 
 
As a minimum, they should be able to provide you with a copy of your website with all the associated files which can be adapted by your next provider. 
 

Final thoughts 

Pay monthly deals are not for everyone, and of course there are those who prefer to pay upfront, and who have the appropriate personnel resources and technical know-how to manage the website once launched. Then with major changes, outside resources can be brought in. 
 
Of course, in reality, your website is never really finished. The sophisticated search engines are continually updating their algorithms and evolving how they index and rank sites in terms of what is relevant and important to visitors. 
 
Therefore, websites have to respond to these developments, and be ahead of the competition and not fall behind, delivering what they were designed for in the first place, be visually appealing, remaining secure and reflecting your true reputation to the market. 
 
Should you wish to learn more about the benefits of paying monthly, get in touch with our friendly team today, and we’ll be happy to discuss what we can offer in terms of ongoing services. 
 
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