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Websites Need Professionals Too

Published: May 25 2008

Websites Need Professionals Too - On one occasion, I was asked about the value of a professional website design and development service over hiring a family member to design and manage a website – because anyone can design a website right?

On another occasion, I was asked about the value of a professional website design, development and hosting service over simply buying a dedicated server and hiring a full-time employee to run the server, and design and manage a website.

Welcome to my first article in a 2-part series I like to call “Websites Need Professionals Too.”

Before going any further, I have to say that I'm never comfortable talking in generalities or painting with a broad brush. I've been around long enough to know that some brother-in-law's nephew or niece may in fact be a total genius web designer and online software developer, but in most scenarios I find that this is not the case.

So let's talk about the complete in-house solution first. You are a small-to-medium size business owner and you are about to replace a professional hosting facility, a professional web designer and and a professional online software developer with one fell swoop. You have decided to purchase and install a server and hire someone with most of the skillsets you require to build and maintain your website and keep it up-and-running. Your new staff hire will probably be a good designer who knows a little about hosting and a little about online software development.

Online software development seems to be something that many business owners and decision-makers don't fully understand the value of, and yet we all use it. Think about your favorite website whether it be news, entertainment, social networking, etc. That website is being powered by one or more custom-created online software applications to create the experience you've come to expect in today's web-world. Why then do businesses fail to see the value of having a software solution enhance both the viewer and administration experiences of their website? Content Management Systems (CMS), Photo Galleries, Ecommerce Solutions, Intranet and Extranet Solutions, etc. are all built and managed by qualified professional online software developers. They are a rare breed indeed, and the good ones create an easy user-friendly online experience for your website administration staff and your online customers. If your choose to put together your own in-house solution and hire your own in-house solution provider, this will be one area your website and your business will most-likely be weak in.

Where hosting is concerned, I'm always reminded of a quote from Tommy Lee Jones, as Agent K in the movie Men In Black, where he states to Will Smith's character, Agent J, “There's always an Arquillian Battle Cruiser, or a Corillian Death Ray, or an intergalactic plague that is about to wipe out all life on this miserable little planet, and the only way these people can get on with their happy lives is that they Do... Not... Know about it!” That about sums up hosting for me! When your website or email goes down, there is a million different reasons as to the cause of the problem. But when everything is up-and-running and all is well in your business' web-world, there's a million little things going in the background behind the scenes to ensure for the most part - if there is a problem, you will never know about it. If you choose to put together your own in-house solution and hire your own in-house solution provider, this will be another area your website and your business will most-likely be weak in.

Where you will really notice the difference is when website or email does go down. What would take a team of professionals working within a professional hosting facility minutes to repair, may take you in-house part-time IT Manager days to repair.

On your employment classifieds ad you might print “Wanted For Hire – jack of all IT / Internet trades... master of none.”

Now lets compare the numbers:
In-house Solution Provider:
Website Designer / Software Developer / IT Manager
(available by pager 24hrs/day, 7days/wk in case of emergency) $40,000 + /yr
Server Room
Mirror HDD's for both OS and Data, Backup HDD for storage, Software, Server-side Spam + Virus Filtering, Firewall(s), Bandwidth, Power + Redundant Power Supply, Dust free Temperature Controlled Environment (Insert astronomically large number here $$$$$$$$$)
Total HUGE $$$$!!!!

Independent Service Provider
Professional Website Design & Development
Features include: Custom Design and CMS $5,000 - $10,000
Professional Website Hosting / Email $450 - $700/yr
Total Cost Effective!!

The figures you really need to see are revenue or return on investment comparisons between these two options. How much business could the wrong decision cost your company? That's the figure that's the most difficult to quantify isn't it? After all it isn't very often you see two web-based business solutions designed to perform the same tasks for a particular business running side-by-side is it? The assumption many businesses make is that whether it's an in-house solution or a professional solution, potential business through initial contact from the company's website will remain unchanged... Hmmmm...

To be continued...