Many industries like law, finance and automotive dealers have companies that provide industry-specific website solutions to small businesses that need an online presence, but do not have the financial resources, human capital or technical knowledge to create a custom website upon a new business venture.
Companies like Justia (law firm websites), CPA Site Solutions (accounting firm websites) and DealerFire (automotive dealership websites) provide business owners and marketing professionals with complete website solutions for their specific industry. These companies design and create websites (usually based on templates), handle the hosting and even write and create all the content for their clients. This means your site may look exactly like another company’s website, sound like another company’s website and not set your company apart from your competition.
We recently worked with a client who invested in one of these costly industry website solutions several years ago and had outgrown the service. By working with him directly, we were able to leverage the SEO, branding and growth advantages of owning and hosting a custom-built website. His contract had locked him into a website that was antiquated, visually unappealing, hard to read, spread out over several domains, didn’t target his ideal customer base and could not grow with him as his firm continued to expand. We created a cohesive, custom website for him that reflected his personal image and brand, visually appealed to and functioned well for his target demographic and allowed him to add to and edit any part of his website at any point.
The only costs he is now locked into are minimal server and domain hosting costs – much more sustainable than paying thousands of dollars each month for a relatively generic website.
Have you outgrown your industry website provider? Are you thinking about investing in your own website from the beginning? Here’s additional insight on the benefits of a custom website and pitfalls of using a template:
Benefits of a Custom Website
Ownership – You alone own the content of your original website. This gives you the freedom to change it whenever necessary and protect yourself against copyright infringement. When you own the hosting and server access to your site, you have a backup of your content and can update it (or take it down) at a moment’s notice.
Customization and Branding – A personal website that is tailored to your company’s brand and image is a competitive benefit over companies using templates. Your company deserves personal attention to make it stand out from competitors and should establish an identity with potential and existing customers.
Longevity – Having your own website will last for a long time. It may take longer to get it up and running, but it will continue to build strength with search engines the longer it’s in existence.
Opportunity to Grow – Over time, your company should experience success and continual growth. Since your company has likely grown from when you were using a template Web solution, you’re in a position to grow again in the future. Perhaps you want to add an e-commerce component to your business, add a blog or expand the number of pages to highlight new products/services. Having ownership of your website gives you the freedom to expand in the future, instead of being stumped by a website solution company’s limitations.
Cons of Using Template Website Companies
Contract – These companies will often lock you into a contract for a year, two years or some even for five years. These contracts can trap you into having a less-than-ideal website after business takes off and leave you without options for re-budgeting.
Cost – Industry Web marketing companies often have much higher monthly and annual costs to maintain your site. While upfront costs of designing, hosting and writing an original website may seem daunting, the maintenance costs are often much lower over time, resulting in a more cost-effective commitment. For example, once your site copy is written and SEO elements are enabled in the backend, it takes minimal effort to keep the site updated. An industry Web company will continue to charge high prices, even though the website copy may never get updated.
Limitations – By using template websites, your site’s design and functionality will likely be limited by the website solution company’s capabilities. Some may provide fantastic customer service and work with you to achieve your online goals. But again, you’ll likely pay a hefty additional fee to do so.
While a template website may be an ideal solution for a small business that has a thousand other things to take care of, companies that become established after some time will absolutely experience the benefits of a custom website with original content.
Have you invested in a personal online presence for your business? Share your experience or advice in the comments below!