Wednesday, 16 August 2017

It’s war. A price war

It’s great when supermarkets try to compete with each other on price. It means things get cheaper for the shopper. It’s the same with petrol as well. As soon as one petrol station reduces their price from a gazillion pounds per litre to only three quarters of a gazillion pounds, all their competitors have to drop their prices as well because otherwise they will lose business. Of course the big supermarket chains like Tescos, Morrisons, Sainsbury’s and Asda are starting to struggle against these budget supermarkets like Aldi and Lidl. And let’s face it, only stuck up, snooty upper-class snobs who want to let you know how rich they are shop at Marks & Spencer.

It’s very much the same story in the web world. Back in the day when it was all very new and exciting and people all had great ideas about how to use the internet to make millions, it was a very lucrative business. People wanted completely bespoke websites and we had to design and code very complicated things tailored just for them. It was therefore perfectly acceptable to charge them several thousand pounds for the privilege. Also, server infrastructure was more expensive back then so our hosting charges were a lot higher.

However, over the years, the industry became so saturated that it became harder and harder to gain an advantage. Then along came things like Wordpress, and god-awful companies like 1and1 and Wix. These programmes are like the budget supermarkets, who sell second-rate (but annoyingly adequate) products at low cost. For some reason, people have become happy to have a website which looks like everyone else’s and they are also happy to compromise on functionality in order to save a few quid - unless of course they want me to build a bespoke system in which case they expect the the most functionally advanced system at the price of a budget website.

An example of this was a builder who contacted me recently. It was a lead through a friend, which is always risky in my opinion. He wanted a brochure website with a content management system so he would update his own pages, gallery, portfolio and contact information. Not overly complicated. I quoted him £600 + VAT for the design of the site, integration of a content management system and a year’s free hosting. Bargain I thought. Apparently not. He thought that was far too expensive and didn’t want to spend more than a couple of hundred pounds and couldn’t understand why he would ever need to pay for hosting.

Now let’s put this into perspective; even for a small company like mine, I have salaries to pay, PAYE, NI, pensions, cost of web servers, database servers and email hosting, domains and all the utility bills on top of that. We mostly work remotely and from home so I’m fortunate enough not to have to pay rent. Still, it costs several thousand pounds to keep the company going. A one-off income of £600 doesn’t go anywhere and is basically small change.

Also, this guy was a builder. This is the same guy who will happily quote someone £50,000 for a loft conversion and then quote them an additional £10,000 halfway through taking the roof off because “I don’t have the right parts on the van love and this roof is made out of Welsh tile, not regular tile, know what I mean sweetheart?”.

Basically, the only way to get a website cheaper than that is to go to Wix or 1nad1 or some other god awful template site which will look like everyone else’s and people will only be able to find it if they have a photographic memory and can remember your website address of

The fact is the days of websites costing thousands to build will soon be gone as us proper web designers and developers have to compete with these budget template sites. Rarely now does a job come in that I can justify charging huge sums of money for because I have to use stock code and stock designs in order to get it up instantly and at low cost, at the bequest of the customer. It also means I have to find other ways of paying the bills and reducing my own expenses, like shopping more at Aldi and Lidl.

Tuesday, 6 June 2017

What's the point?

Are you looking for a low cost, or possibly free website? You should probably head over to 1and1 or Wix and get a free website that looks like everyone else’s.

There’s nothing wrong with having a website that looks like millions of others. It just looks as though you don’t really care, which is fine. The problem is that soon all websites are going to look the same, so it’s going to become more and more difficult to stand out in the crowd. So what then?

At some point, probably when someone realises that we’re not actually in a recession or that Brexit isn’t going to push us back into the Dark Ages, some bright spark is going to wake up and realise it’s probably a good idea to invest a little bit of money and get a website that looks a bit different and can be tailored to their exact needs, you know, like was the case a few years ago.

The problem then is going to come when they try to move their site away from one of these free web-in-a-box companies. They’ll soon find this isn’t possible because those companies probably hold intellectual copyright over everything. They might be able to move their domain name away by jumping through hundreds of hoops and paying a thousand million dollars to release it and, good luck if you think there is any sort of technical support from these companies. Even if there is a human at the end of a phone line, they’ll probably charge you another thousand million dollars per minute to give you any sort of coherent advice.

The other problem with these free template sites is that they’re actually very limited. Sure they look nice, and there are very functional plugins that allow your website to sell things online, integrate with Facetube and Youbook and probably wipe your backside, plus you’ll get third party companies offering to do this, that and the other for you for practically nothing but the reality is that doing very simple things almost certainly won’t be possible.

Also, I’ve used the administration of some of these web-in-a-box templates before and they are about as intuitive as a health and safety document. So chances are if you aren’t technically minded or simply have the IQ of a potato you’ll need to pay someone to update the site for you anyway, which kind of negates the point of having a content management system in the first place.

The other option is to get a proper web “design” company to install a Wordpress theme for you, do all the technical stuff (like click a few buttons to install pre-built plugins) and host it for you. The problem there is that they’ll charge you the same amount as a real web design company would for building a proper website which, again, negates the point of going down that route in the first place.

Still, if a Wordpress site is what you want, we can now do that too. I need to go and wash my hands now; I feel so dirty.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

Content editing service

So you’ve got yourself a website. Perhaps it was one built by us. Perhaps you did what a lot of people have done and got yourself a cheap Wordpress website that looks identical to millions of others. Great. Now you want to tell people about it, right? Now you want to “get to number one on the Google”. Perhaps you just want to keep your customers and visitors interested so they keep coming back.

What you really need is engaging content. Prominent calls to action on your home page, regular news stories or blogs. Engaging e-newsletters. The problem is that this is not only time-consuming, it also requires creativity and a good grasp of the English language (i.e. knowing the difference between “your” and “you’re”).

Datapartners can help you out. We are launching a new content editing service. This includes updating basic site content to focus on key words, regular blogs or articles, e-newsletter content and even providing stock privacy policies and cookie policies which are now mandatory for the majority of UK sites.

If this sounds like something you would be interested in, please visit our content editing page to read more and view our very competitive prices.