In this post, I want to explain about different types of websites, how they work, and who owns them.

So let’s start with websites. There are three main types:

  • DIY sites (like Weebly, Wix etc) which are low cost (around $10 a month, or free if ad-supported) and can work fine if you know about writing and publishing proper web content, and also how to market them (I’ve spent years learning this by the way, and still discover new things each day).
  • Reasonably priced sites built for you and supported by a business (like us) and these shouldn’t cost more than a few hundred dollars to setup as they don’t take long really, and hosting shouldn’t cost more than around $30 a month.
  • Expensive sites where you’re pretty much paying for nice lunches and sales reps wooing you for your business.

So to provide that middle service range, we use WordPress which is behind about 25% of the whole internet. That means it’s really well supported by 1,000’s of contributing developers and contains virtually every feature under the sun – and because it’s open source, it’s free and therefore we don’t have to build in the cost of an internal development team into our pricing.

The other key thing to remember about types of websites is mobile-friendliness (or not). If your website doesn’t rearrange itself to work properly on a mobile (and you can tell easily – if you have to enlarge the text with your fingers to read it, then it’s not) then more than half your site visitors will probably hit the back button in Google (because they’re using a phone) and go to your competitor’s site.

There’s no excuse for sites not to be mobile-friendly, and I upgraded all our customers for free when it became apparent that this was critical.

How websites work

Firstly, they need visitors or it’s like a band playing in an empty bar. Some traffic comes from Google and it’s important to note that they will penalise sites in mobile search results that aren’t mobile-friendly because they don’t want people to have a bad experience using their phones on the web. So, this is important. Also, social media (Facebook, Twitter, Linked-In etc) are all good sources of traffic and are generally free to have working for you, but are often driven from cellphones, so again mobile-friendliness is key these days.

When we set up websites, we look at where the traffic is going to come from and maximise that for free (that’s called organic traffic) before we even think about paid ads to get more. Then once we’ve done that, if you want more visitors, we always do a small paid trial to work out the best way forward, and figure out what your actual return on investment will be.

So once people come to your site, we work on getting the information they’re looking for into their hands as fast and as elegantly as possible. You’ll notice most of our sites are pretty clean and simple and we don’t really use gimmicks or flashy stuff to generate business.

And the third thing of course is the call to action. We want your email inbox to get inquiries, your phone to ring, or people to turn up at your premises depending on what sort of business you have – and we always try and get these three basics sorted for our customers which tends to mean they stay with us and don’t take their web hosting elsewhere.

Website ownership

When you pay a designer to build you a site, you’d think you own it right? But that’s not always the case in practical terms.

Firstly there are sites built with proprietary software which means they’ll only work on a server that has that software on it. An example of this is Duda in the USA, but there are many companies like that in most countries in the world. I actually tried developing something similar in London back in 2008 when I retrained myself to work on the internet and even made the tech blog news 🙂

The main advantage of this is that the website features are constantly worked on by the developers at those companies, and they pretty much live or die by that. The disadvantage is that you can’t move your website to another hosting company, so therefore you don’t really own it.

Then there are websites that can be easily moved from hosting company to hosting company, and if your web designer gives you access, then you’re not locked in and you actually own what you’ve paid for.

I’m firm believer that if a customer wants to leave us, then we must have done something wrong and therefore we shouldn’t stand in their way. That’s another reason we use WordPress to build our sites because this means they are easily zipped up, exported, and moved anywhere.