Support

The real costs of owning a website

Many businesses, both small and large, have a website designed and built, get it online and then just forget about it, assuming that was all that was required and it is now "someone else's problem"

With some larger companies, once the site is built and online they often assign it to their I.T. budget and think no more about it. Whereas they should really assign it to the Marketing budget (The IT Department should be looking after the computers and network on your premises, their job is to keep your office systems running. While the Marketing Department should be in charge of all things to do with marketing - and a website is definitely marketing!).

Those websites can never succeed, they can never bring a Return On Investment...

Unfortunately, just like owning a car, your website will continue to require you to allocate resources and money on an ongoing basis.

Here are 6 costing and resource factors to keep in mind if you wish your website to be a productive asset to your company:

1. Web Hosting and Domain Name renewal costs

Your website needs a 'home', both in the form of web hosting space and a domain name to become your web address (such as cms-wales.co.uk). These are not just one-off fees. Web hosting and domain name renewal costs will continue year after year for as long as you have your website. Make sure you budget for these costs and don’t forget to pay the bills promptly or you risk your domain name being lost or your website suddenly going offline, because Domain Registrars and Data Centres are notoriously unforgiving of outstanding bills, often cutting off the service within hours of an invoice going past its due date.

Website Hosting varies wildly in quality, but basically boils down to either:

  • 1. Cheap Hosting - very cheap due to server overcrowding, lack of server security, limited server facilities, limited or no Support and no round-the-clock technicians to help when things go wrong. Average Server Uptime: 99% - Result: Frequent Downtime and frustration.
  • 2. World Class Hosting - competitive pricing due to uncrowded servers, full server security, full server facilities, 24/7 Support and round-the-clock technicians ready to help when required. Average Server Uptime: 99.999% - Result: Downtime very rare indeed.

CMS Wales Cloud based hosting systems run at 100% uptime due to our cloud based systems having no single point of failure.

Why is uptime percentage important?

While 99% uptime and 99.999% uptime don't sound much different at a glance - the sums may surprise you!

Uptime is probably the most important single measure you can use to assess the performance of your web host. It shows the time or percentage the service is up and operational. The counterpart of that is downtime. It shows the time or percentage the service was unavailable (and that is when your website and email will be offline).

Uptime is often measured by “Nines”. Let’s see how they translate to downtime for a 30 day period:

Nines Downtime

  • 99% Two Nines equals to 7 hours and 12 minutes downtime in 30 days
  • 99.9% Three Nines equals to 43 minutes and 12 seconds downtime in 30 days
  • 99.99% Four Nines equals to 4 minutes 19 seconds downtime in 30 days
  • 99.999% Five Nines equals to 26 seconds downtime in 30 days

So as you can see, on a cheap hosting service with 99% uptime, your website and email could be offline for over 7 HOURS a month! which equates to being offline for over a fortnight of working hours a year!!!

Whereas with a company that has 99.999% uptime your website and email would only be offline for 26 SECONDS a month! equating to being offline for just over 5 minutes a year!!!

So just like everything else, with hosting services you get what you pay for...

CMS Wales is very proud of our 100% uptime record so we have set up a public Service Status Page here:

https://status.cms-wales.co.uk

Our World Class Web Hosting Packages are here:

https://cms-wales.co.uk/website-hosting-service

2. Marketing your website to ensure constant traffic

The work does not stop when your website goes live. Your website will need to compete with millions and millions of other sites. Just because you've got a new site online, it doesn't mean that droves of visitors will suddenly turn up to visit it. Even if you go for cheaper marketing solutions like social media, you still need to think about the costs in staff resources and your time. Once you start marketing the site you will need to keep it up on a regular basis, or your website visitor traffic will simply fade away. When your website is first launched is it easy to be enthusiastic about driving traffic to it, but once the novelty wears off and you stop your marketing efforts, you should not be surprised when your website traffic simply vanishes.

Marketing can take many forms; press/tv/radio advertising, vehicle and building signage, brochures, business cards, leaflets, packaging, mail-shots, newsletters, trade fairs, competitions etc. etc. But whatever marketing methods you choose, every one of them should have your web address and email address showing clearly for all to see.

Whatever you do, always make sure your web and email addresses MATCH! - on ALL your marketing material!!!

i.e. if you list your web address as "www.mywebsite.com" but list your email as "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.; - you will make people suspicious of you, and your company.

Always list an email address that uses the same domain name as your company - such as "This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it."

This is vital because there are a vast number of scammers on the web these days e-mailing unsuspecting people offering all sorts of services, whilst pretending to be working for genuine companies... and you do not want your business tarred with that brush...

As I often warn people:
Whenever you are approached via email by any company offering you any service, the FIRST thing you should do is check their email address matches the domain name of their company website, and check their website - i.e. if they say their website is that of a well known company such as www.admiralfinance.com, but the emails they sent you came from a free email service such as @gmail.com, @hotmail.com, or @me.com etc., then the warning bells should be ringing loudly in your ears - because once they have your money they can simply "throw away" that free email address and get a new one to target their next customer/victim, and they will not be traceable to recover your money.

It is, unfortunately, and indeed sadly, very common for dodgy "snake oil" vendors to 'pretend' they work for large, reputable organisations in this manner, so you go along and check their website out and it looks great, the site looks genuine... But because they don't actually work for that company they have no access to the company's mail server, hence they have to email you from a disposable email address, like GMail/Hotmail/Me.com etc., while they work on parting you from your money. Always check this first, because this simple precaution can avoid you losing your money to a scammer and getting nothing at all in return. You might be surprised to know that, even though I warn clients about such scams all the time in my Blog and my emails, I still get emails and phone calls from clients who have been scammed in this manner.

As you can probably now imagine, listing your free email address on any of your business marketing material is really not a good idea, and indeed could give people the impression that you too are using a free email address for nefarious purposes, and they should not trust you. Free email addresses should be kept just for your family and friends, or for your online shopping, or for the occasional emergency if your business email is offline for some reason, but it should never ever be publicly associated with your business in order to avoid your business being labelled as "suspicious".

Whatever your marketing strategy your customers still need to be able to find your website easily in the search engines...

CMS Wales offers a Website Promotion Service with monthly reporting on the progress of your important search phrases:

https://cms-wales.co.uk/website-promotion-service

If you are marketing via Social Media such as Twitter, you need a large audience for it to be effective...

CMS Wales offers a Twitter Promotion Service to find targeted followers relevant to your business:

https://cms-wales.co.uk/twitter-promotion-service

3. Updating content regularly to ensure return visitors and good Google ranking

This is part and parcel of marketing your website. Unless you can frequently give the website new content it will quickly become stale and a poor reflection of your company.

Google likes websites that are updated frequently and scores ranking accordingly, with more recently updated websites beating their competitors in the search engine results time after time. If your latest news is from last year, you are giving visitors the impression you don't care about their experience on your website, or worse, that you have gone out of business altogether. People are very wary (and quite rightly so) of buying anything from a website that has had no updates for a long time. Plus, if your content gets stale, you will find your website is indexed far less often by Google and so then takes a serious drop in its ranking score.

All CMS Wales Support Plans include an allowance for updates to the content of your website.

https://cms-wales.co.uk/website-management

4. Technical maintenance and security updates & patches

Whatever platform your website is built on, such as Joomla, again, just like owning a car, you will need to put aside time and resources for maintenance and security updates. Unless you can do these updates yourself, you will need to put aside funds to employ someone to do them for you. Without updating these systems you risk your website being hacked - which is very expensive to recover from - or developing unexpected bugs as your outdated system causes glitches in the newest web browsers.

CMS Wales offers Support Plans for such maintenance:

https://cms-wales.co.uk/website-management

Like many other business assets, such as your vehicles and machinery, websites also have a limited life span. Internet technologies are changing at an incredible pace – just think about how you view websites now compared to just 5 years ago. Just 10 years ago people were typically tied to a desk when viewing websites from a desktop PC. 5 years ago they started being freed from their desks and could view websites from a Laptop. Today they are truly mobile, and can now use a range of devices including mobile phones and tablets, so now websites need to be 'responsive' (i.e. adapt themselves automatically to the screen they are being viewed on).

There are other external changes to consider too, such as browser changes. Internet Explorer, Edge, Firefox, Safari and Chrome for example, are constantly building in new features that professional web developers can take advantage of to make websites more and more user-friendly and creative. Plus you need to consider upgrades to the technologies used in the system that was used to build your website (such as Joomla), all of which could affect the way the site displays or functions. Fashions change too and this applies to websites – what looked fantastic a few years ago may look a bit dated now and could give the wrong impression of your business to its visitors. So technical updating will be needed constantly, and you also really need to budget for a complete site rebuild every 2 or 3 years.

5. Re-designing your website

Like it or not, at some point you will need to have your website re-designed, re-built or re-vamped. Ideally you need to think about a re-build every 2 -3 years to take advantage of the latest changes in web and browsing technology (and indeed CMS technology - such as Joomla). Technology never stands still, it is evolving constantly, just look how things have changed, in the 90's a website was little more than a page of text with a few headings of various sizes. In the early 2000's people thought text that "blinked" on and off was cool! Then came Flash animations, then came CSS, which for the first time allowed developers to place their designs in precise positions on a screen. Then came CMS (Content Management Systems) that allowed site owners to update their websites themselves. Now we have a mobile army of web surfers using mobile devices to surf the web wherever they may be at the time... and we can now plug just about anything into our websites from hi-resolution photos, to videos, from music to Podcasts. Even our central heating systems, home alarm, cookers and fridges are getting plugged into the web these days, in a system called "The Internet of Things" - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Internet_of_things.

What development could be next?

Just like the fashion scene, trends in web design are constantly changing. Keep a very close eye on your market sector so you can be sure your website is keeping up with those of your competitors and is also meeting your own business's constantly changing needs. Don't let it stagnate or it will do your business more harm than good.

We have a Web Design Price Guide for the creation of new sites here:

https://cms-wales.co.uk/website-design

(revamps for existing sites can sometimes be cheaper - ask for a quote).

6. Protecting your investment...

One day you may want to sell your business and retire - so always bear in mind that a smart, well maintained, up to date, active website, with good visitor statistics can add many thousands of pounds to the valuation of a business.

At the same time an out of date, un-maintained, inactive website with poor visitor statistics can knock many thousands OFF the valuation of your business. After all, any purchaser is going to doubt the business is doing as well as you say once they see your outdated website with little or no visitor traffic statistics.

All our clients can check their statistics at any time from their cPanel (Hosting Control Panel).

Summary:

Providing you take all these "hidden" costs into consideration when preparing your annual marketing budget (remembering that a website should be under "Marketing" and not under "IT" - they are two very separate and diverse things), then your website will be become a valuable asset to your company, and a cost effective part of your marketing strategy, for many years to come.


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