There’s a silent epidemic out there costing smaller business operators a small fortune. That epidemic is being convinced by less scrupulous web designers to switch website platforms when they don’t really need to.
This occurs when the small business operator is convinced they need an entirely new website when really they may just need a new website design or search engine optimisation. Instead, they replace the entire website and its underlying platform with the considerable price tag that comes with it. And like many technology rip-offs, it takes advantage of the relatively poor understanding of just how websites operate.
Perhaps this is best illustrated in a recent real-life anecdote.
Tricks for new players
A venue owner recently posted a query on an online business forum of their need for an affordable website platform that could perform a range of integrated functions the business required. Typically, the owner was greeted with unqualified responses from many who had a vested interest in the platform they were promoting. Luckily my response was sufficient to cut-through enough to earn an enquiry from the business operator. And in examining their requirements and budget, identified a single integrated platform that would easily accommodate them.
It was at this point that the conversation took a sudden twist.
A platform for problems
“Oh we had that platform before but we were unhappy with the website designer so we switched to another platform”.
Not for the first time, I wrung my hands in despair for the costs this business operator had unnecessarily spent due to a combination of their own lack of knowledge and the lack of ethics on the part of one or more web professionals. The first mistake the business operator made was not understanding the difference between platform and professional. These days the two are usually entirely independent of each other.
Your digital building blocks
Most web designers use existing website platforms as the basis to the websites they create because of the massive savings that approach represents compared to building a website from scratch. These platforms include, or can be bundled to include, all of the features you are ever likely to need at greatly reduced prices from the equivalent of years gone by. The additional beauty of these systems is that if you ever have an issue with the web designer in question, you can simply hire another to build on the handiwork of their predecessor. And this is where this business operator fell over.
Multiplying the cost
Instead of understanding the platform they were using and simply finding another web designer who uses the same platform, they replaced both designer and platform, drastically inflating the price in the process. Unfortunately, many business operators are passengers on the same boat. They don’t know what platform their website sits on and so risk situations and cost like this. Given the number of features website platforms offer these days, its increasingly unlikely that you will need to switch platforms when a simple re-design, renovation or optimisation will suffice.
An expensive lesson
How much will you save by understanding this? It will vary depending on the size and complexity of your website, but as a rule of thumb, anywhere between 50% and 80% of the cost of a complete replacement. Given professional websites can cost well into five figures, that’s a very significant sum of money.
So as a matter of urgency, its important that you fully understand which platform you website was ‘built in’. If it isn’t reasonably obvious (your website estimate is a great place to start), then you need to approach your website professional to find out.
Oh and the second mistake that was made in the scenario above?
The replacement web professional not identifying the existing platform and quoting to replace the entire website platform instead of just the design elements. The result is that this business operator now has the additional cost of switching back to the original platform! So that replacement cost is replicated yet again – a very expensive lesson indeed.