The recent announcement by Google that they are ending the Business Site Builder in favour of their My Business product - has left some companies red faced - not just angry, but embarrassed about poor strategies consulted for websites and inflated design costs due to trying to cut costs initially.
Initially you hear your website is to be hosted by Google in conjunction with a major mobile player like Vodacom WOZA (South Africa) - it seems a sure bet that the chance of the website going down with a company is slim to none. Not so much the case when customers received an email notifying them of service discontinuation and a short window to make a plan- with some costly recommendations. Surely there will be costs transferring the website designed to new host - and that would be all - right ?
Unfortunately the design tools to make website design easier, do not come with the option to transfer the design to a regular website host. Bottom line is you will need to design the website again- or pay someone to do that, owtch! So what can we take back from this ?
Sometimes paying less for something up front - has a good chance to cost more in the long run , the total cost of ownership of website hosting and design not done to open standards will ultimately inflate - golden handshake if you will.
Advice for website costs
Should you have a basic website - have it designed in html and it can be moved around between hosts should your host shut down or you find a better hosting deal. Also it can be managed by multiple teams no problem when you need additional content, updated content or changes made to existing content - or just a different team to manage it for you.
In the event that you have a little more complicated website - use a free open source content management system to the likes of Word Press, Joomla or Drupal. Facilitates multiple contributors, publishing management and mature 3rd party markets that extend the functionality (eCommerce , blogging and so much more) in a more consistent cost effective manner. Again usable by other teams or a growing team should the circumstances require it.
The activity of extending engagement with existing and prospect customers always finds its way home, to your website.
Technology can be overwhelming very often - and so this blog entry is to give you quick insight to the process, what is required of you in having your website created and lastly some advice from the trenches
First up, get comfortable with the notion that working with creatives as well as developers can alone make for an interesting insight into different design processes, personally this article sums up for me what I believe is the bottom line about the design process on designing for the circular economy http://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/design-circular-economy-disruptive-technology in particular
"... designers need to develop functionality and service-based thinking, as well as knowing about products, technology and material science, and we should never lose sight that in the end, almost all products are designed for people and their needs."
To keep the details interesting, dig into this infographic
While business is often the art of war, websites add an extra paradoxical element to this - collaboration. A website is a well orchestrated symphony of many moving parts nowadays, involving many persons and technologies, hence I recommend that whomever leads the project (or administrates) uses a collaboration tool with some project management aspect that allows you at least viewing access.
Why? Art has no schedule? Well budgets are finite and deadlines are a necessary evil, design teams should use a system as any experienced designer knows, as no matter how simple a website is initially - it always has future ambitions that up the complexity and subsequent need for team support tools.
Term in marketing meaning the industry competitive bar
Security - website have built in firewall
Content Management System - allows you to manage website content yourself without needing a degree in programming, you merely need to know your way around a word processor.
Sustainable Hosting - Make sure that where your website resides that the hosts at least purchase carbon credits to offset the pollution caused hosting your site, and then get a "this site is green" mention on your website - cost is no more a factor in this regard.
Social Integration - not just social share and follow buttons but auto posting and sychronicity between your website and your social pages like social sign ups.
Less is more - minimalist designs and less clutter increase speed and subsequently search rankings, never mind the ease of use customers expect.
Analytics - setup to count all traffic from your website as well as your social pages.
Have an email address using your company name not a free email address - it is the professional thing to do.