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How To Design, Build and Manage a Business Website Depends A Lot on Your Stage In Business

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clock-iconOctober 02, 2018

It doesn’t matter where you are in business. The question of your business website is always present. Whether you are a young startup, a sole proprietorship, an established community business or growing national firm your business website is on your mind - in some capacity.

In this guide, we aim to help point you in the right direction as you work to research options and learn about best practices for your business website. The truth is there are a lot of options at any stage of business and this guide will be a bit nuanced.

Determining what is the right avenue for your business is more complex than a one-size-fits-all approach that many companies and consultants like to present, and this article should help shed some light for you.

Before we talk about your business stage let’s quickly go over the options for provisioning a website and servicing a website. Understanding the fundamentals is this arena will better inform our decisions later.

How to build a website?

There are really only a few ways to actually build a website. You can approach this via website building tools like Squarespace or Wix or you can also develop a website using a multitude of techniques. Developed websites will use a CMS like WordPress or Sanity to manage the content, but a developer will work to actually build the website.

Website Builders

Website builders are generally oriented towards DIYers and or more technically savvy users. These tools are usually fairly simple in nature. They offer pre-designed templates with drag and drop editors designed to be intuitive and approachable no matter your skillset.

Website builders also tend to be affordable as much of the tool is oriented for DIY usage they can price themselves at a low monthly fee. Many times they offer a free trial so potential users can decide if the user experience, features, and functionality are a good fit or not before paying any money on the tool.

Because of their self-service DIY nature, these tools can be a bit troublesome when it comes to supporting the end-user, in this case, you. They may only provide a Wiki or FAQ section to help you with issues related to using the tool. There are website builders out there with actual support systems including phone support but generally, website builders are pretty spartan when it comes to customer support.

Lastly, because website builders are an all in one system they can become a limiting factor over time. As your business grows and evolves you may find the website builder to be constraining. You may not be able to update higher-level areas around features and functionalities or you may discover limitations around how the website builder provides hosting or integrations Leaving a website builder is troublesome as the code and design don’t generally come with you which means you may have to start all over again.

Developed Websites

Where website builders might be limiting developed websites offer total freedom. Because the website is developed in code you can approach all kinds of options for custom websites. With a developed website you can approach unique design features and functionality sets not available from website builders.

Now developed websites do require, well, a developer. Think of a developer as a general contractor of the website world. If you can think it up they can build it! If you are considering a developed website you’ll need to consider working with a designer too. Think of a designer as a an architect of the website.

Often times website design and development are considered the same thing but they are not! We’ll be writing a whole post on that topic later. For now, think of designers and developers working together on a developed website.

Once yu have you a custom developed website you’ll want to be able to operate it in a business capacity. Things like editing content, adding blog posts and changing pictures. Don’t worry, you don’t need to be a developer or designer to do this you just need a CMS included with the website.

CMS stands for Content Management System and it is the back end of the website that allows you to change, edit and add content to the website without needing to be a developer. Common website CMSes are WordPress or Drupal but there is a growing trend to use Headless CMSes like Sanity, Contentful or StoryBlok. Here at WebriQ, we are big believers in the power of headless CMS. More info on these systems can be found on our blog.

How to receive service on a website?

Now that we’ve discussed how to build websites what is a business to do once they’ve had a website built? Who will help host, secure and maintain a website? Who will update the design or manage the content? Should something go wrong who will help in case of disaster? We can again break this down into a few categories.


Whether you’ve opted for a website builder or a developed website you can always take on the prospect of website services internally. Perhaps you have an IT department that can help with the technical aspects of hosting, security and software updates. You may also have marketing and sales personel who can manage the content and focus on delivering relevant content to your customer base. Or you yourself may be capable of handling it all yourself.

Tools like website builders do help the DIYers in the arena as hosting, security and updates are generally included in the low monthly subscription allowing the user to focus mostly on updating and managing the design and content of the website.

If you are using a developed website and working to service it yourself you’ll have to work with a few different vendors like a website hosting provider, an SSL encryption, a website backup as well as software updates for the CMS and any additional plugins you may be using like webforms.

Freelancers and Agencies

Many folks using developed websites opt for a higher level service to both build the website and then host, secure and maintain it into the future. One option is to work with a freelancer or group of freelancers.

Freelancers are simply contractors that work on behalf of the website in a given specialty. Some freelancers are designers others can be developers or copywriters. It is rare to find a single freelancer to do it all but many freelancers may bill themselves as both designers and developers.

Because freelancers are contractors you will need to have enough technical understanding to hire them correctly and properly manage them. Most freelancers will work under an hourly agreement but you can generally negotiate with them and find an arrangement that works for both parties.

It is also important to remember that freelancers are not employees and can come and go as they please and the only connection to your company is the promise of work and the prompt payment for their services.

Another option is to work with an agency. Agencies are a group of specialists working together as a company. Often times they provide more services than just website design and development services but also copywriting, marketing and advertising help as well as branding services.

Where freelancers may offer more flexibility and lower costs they do require technical knowledge to contract and manage while agencies flip the script. Agencies can be much easier to work with on the front end as they have staff, processes, and experience to manage projects and provide complex web services they do carry more overhead and offer a wider range of services and therefore are usually more expensive.

When approaching an agency it is also important to ask how they source their staffers. Some agencies may themselves use a consortium of freelancers to reduce their costs but that can lead to issues on service delivery given the flexible and fluid nature of freelance labor.

Agencies tend to offer their services under a retainer model. They charge a set rate for a given number of hours each month. Where freelancers are flexible agencies can be a bit more rigid. It is important to talk about billing and service models whether you are talking to freelancers or a single agency.

Websites as a Service - WSaaS

A third option is to work with a company solely focused on websites. WSaaS or websites as a service is a new and growing trend in the website industry. All the flexibility and cost effectiveness associated with freelancers but with the processes, staff, and experience of an agency.

WSaaS is a way to build a website and receive hosting, security and maintenance and also unlimited updates to design, user experience, and content management. All this for a flat monthly fee associated with a predetermined service level agreement. For more information on this growing trend read our blog post WTF is Websites as a Service (WSaaS) and Who Should Use It Using your business’s stage to best determine how to design, build and manage a business website Now that we have a few of the basic elements understood it becomes a lot easier to approach a business website. Using the information outlined above coupled with the realities of our business stage and we can better land on a road map to design, build and manage our business website.

Early Stage Business

Everyone has to start somewhere. At the beginning of business, money can be tight. Learning your sales and marketing language can be a tough process and your website may be more of a badge of legitimacy than a working hub for your digital sales and marketing strategy.

Website builders are a great option in this business stage. Website builders allow for an inexpensive relationship with the website from a cashflow perspective but will be time-consuming. The old adage of “do you have more time or more money?” really comes through at the beginning of a business.

For young companies I recommend playing around with website builders and finding one that you like. Focus your energy on the content and don’t worry too much about the design or functionality. Once you are growing your revenues you can consider other options.

Established Small Business

This relates to companies that have a clientele and revenues that are reliable and are becoming established in their local market. By no means does this mean the business is done growing or that they are comfortable financially but they are beginning to mature in their needs for a website.

If they are still working on their sales and marketing they may not have the need to approach a developed website but they may find it useful to work with a few freelancers within their website builder who may have more experience or talent to use the tool to its fullest potential.

Some businesses in this category will consider a developed website and start working towards building a digital marketing approach to their sales. Depending on their budget, technical experience or resources they may find that freelancers are the best choice or they can decide to work with an agency. Businesses in this category should look into WSaaS and explore what can be done for them under this new model.

Regional Business and National Enterprise

Businesses that have grown healthy sales and marketing initiatives and are working across city and state lines will have much more complex needs for their websites generally speaking. These needs are usually best met by using a developed website.

Businesses in this category may be using both an agency and freelancers to manage and update the website but as a company grows their internal resources do too. Many companies in the category are building internal departments and use staff to grow and operate the website.

In this category of business WSaaS is still an excellent fit as the website provider can offer truly specialized service catered specifically to the businesses' needs. Where small businesses may approach Websites as a Service because of the simplicity of the service and billing model Enterprise will approach WSaaS to augment and enhance their departmental staff and help them have an edge on their digital initiatives.

Wrapping Up

In the end, there are a number of ways a business can approach a website. Here at WebriQ we believe WSaaS fits into a space that benefits businesses looking for highly specialized support and business continuity around their website. There is still a place for freelancers and agencies and especially DIY tools, but when those options begin to cause problems Websites as a Service is great way forward.