Part II of 'How to buy a website':
This question is uniquely important for the Pregnancy Help Community because our web-sites are unique. They can include medical content, they attract visitors who are in crisis, and our competition is well-funded and destructive, so the stakes are high.
Let’s explore the primary factors in the Buy vs. Rent decision - which option saves you the most money, and which option is more effective online.
Spoiler alert! We, at Extend Web Services, feel the rental option wins on both counts in almost every situation. That’s why we ‘rent’ sites, rather than ‘sell’ them.
A website purchase is the more traditional way to have a site launched: You simply hire someone to design and build a website, then you pay them for it. The biggest benefit is also the biggest challenge with this option - Once the site is finished, you own it!
On the one hand, Congratulations! You own a website!
On the other hand, as a website owner, you’re responsible for care, maintenance, updates, content changes, security, re-designs, hosting, online marketing, and more.
The site design and launch is just the beginning. The bulk of the work is still ahead, and it never stops. This is especially true if your center is located in a populated area, or if there are competitors lurking about.
Why is it so important to update your website regularly?
Security updates are required as often as weekly, in order to keep anti-virus software up-to-date. Viral attacks are a real threat, so we have to maintain a strong defense against them. If you are the victim of a viral attack, it will cost thousands to fix the problem. Some firms charge over $25,000 to eradicate a virus!
Medical content updates are also very important in our movement. We want our medical information to be relevant accurate, and up-to-date, so we should update the content on an annual or semi-annual basis.
General content and design: It improves your webs-site’s visibility when you update your general content and design on a regular basis – This is a good Search Engine Optimization technique (SEO). Portions of your content should be changed several times a year, and your web design should be updated every 2 to 4 years.
The cost of a website doesn’t end after the initial purchase, as explained above. Here’s a breakdown of expected costs.
- Initial cost for development: $3,000 to $10,000
- URL registration:$10 to $30 a year
- Web hosting:$5 to $50 per month
- Maintenance, updates, content changes, and re-designs: $250 to $5,000 a year.
Overall, the financial cost of a purchased web-site will be $3,400 to $15,000 in the first year, and $400 to $5,500 each year after that.
That said, we in the non-profit world often finds ways to get things done at no charge, or at a reduced charge, so when you see these costs, you should understand them as on-going responsibilities and potential expenses.
A web-site ‘rental’ is a creative way to leverage a team of experts who can build a great site and provide the on-going service you need for pennies on the dollar. This concept is fairly new, and it’s usually offered by ‘niche’ developers – firms that specialize in a certain type of industry or area of interest. There are niche developers in many fields including Medical practices, Dentists, Bowling alleys, and CPA firms.
Extend Web Services is an example of a niche developer. We specialize in Web Development and Search Engine Marketing exclusively for the Pregnancy Help Community. Our designers, writers, tech-nerds, and marketing experts work solely for the movement.
Rentals typically include hosting and technical updates as part of the service. Many firms also provide industry-specific content, content updates, periodic redesigns, and organic search engine optimization as part of the total service.
Other advantages of a rental include:
- The up-front cost is very low
- The site stays current, relevant, and secure because updates and maintenance are included in the monthly fee
- You’re getting access to industry and IT experts
- Costs are generally lower than a purchase due to economies of scale.
A niche developer can give you a lower price because the cost of industry-specific tools are spread between multiple clients. Please note: Not all developers charge less. They often pass the savings on to themselves instead of you, but pricing theory is a topic for another blog post.
There is one perceived disadvantage of the web-site rental – ownership. The developer often owns the site, the URL, and the design. Some developers allow the client to own the URL and some design elements though. Ownership is a strong enticement on the surface, but keep in mind, we’re not talking about jewelry or even a car. A website is ultimately a bundle of code which will eventually become obsolete if it’s not maintained and updated.
I told you we preferred rentals over a purchases, and now you know why. Rentals are a great option in niche communities like the Pregnancy Help Movement. Purchased sights could be a good option, but there tends to be a lot more work for the owner.
Our community is challenged to beat the competition online, because that’s where many women go to find help. We at Extend take this challenge seriously. It informs how we study, how we work, how we price our services, and even why we have a blog. To that end, our goal is to provide the best service possible, at the best pricing possible, and ultimately, to help you reach as many people as possible with the gospel of peace, love, and life.