Should An Integrator Build Their Own Website Or Outsource It?

I know this is off topic from most discussions on this site but here goes.

We had our business website created by a third party company about six years ago and it has been in need of an entire overhaul for some time now. With any change we wanted to make in the past we had to meet with the company and provide our updates/images that we wanted put on the site, this got time consuming. As we look to change our site I am starting to think that maintaining the site in house would be much more simple and effective to do and with the abundance of website companies (clover sites, squarespace, wix, weebly) it seems like the best route to go.

I am curious to know if any of your business's maintain their own sites or hire it out. I would also like to know what service you are using to create and host your site.


Prior to my security days I did website design, so what i would suggest is to hire a local or online company to design your website and set it up. They will probably suggest a wordpress site which will allow you to use the theme and make multiple pages and sub pages, and do what you want. Then you can take over the content pieces of it. To me, asking these questions is a red flag. Get someone to set it up, make it look pretty, and hand you the keys.

Craig,

I would like to have a company design it and then let us edit the site or make changes on our own. With the company we are currently with the build fee was/is $3,000 and a $20/month host fee. We are unable to edit anything ourselves and must meet with them to do it. If we want to edit it ourselves we pay $5,000 plus the $20/month. Within reason I am not concerened about the upfront cost or the monthly I would just like to be able to edit it ourselves and make changes. Apart from that I would like a different overall look/design of the site and the company we currently work with only offers one. I may have to do some looking outside our region and see what other companies are available.

Keffe,

That's nuts. Both the premium price to let you update it and the only one look/design offered.

The good thing with a basic company website is that you don't need to have someone in the same area. I wish I could recommend someone specific but we do not deal with that.

Keefe, I was suggesting hiring someone to design it and turn over the updateing and content to you. That price you are currently paying means you are getting ripped off... the monthly is what I would expect, host the site, give customer a phone number to call if they screwed something up, and initiate hourly billing to fix their error. But the design piece is a bit high, especially if they do wordpress which is buy a template, copy paste some content and away you go.

Also here's some food for though, who owns your domain name? did your current company buy it on your behalf (they own it, they hold it hostage if you leave them like a crazy girlfriend) or do you actually own it. Something worth looking into that is very often overlooked. I would hope your web company isn't that shady. Our motto was that we had the customer purchase the domain name and we hosted sites, gave them a copy of the site on a CD, told them if we suck to dump us, heres the number to call to change where your domain name goes, and heres your website.

Craig,

I agree and that is the direction I am now looking to go... have a company do the design and then turn it over to us... as for the domain we own that so we are fine with that...

The most important thing is to make sure whatever framework choosen is something that you can do ongoing content updates / changes.

Years ago, what you described was commonplace, but now most basic content websites (like an integrator would have) are built to be edited / changed online quickly. As Craig mentions, Wordpress is common though some of the ones you mentioned are often used.

I do think there is potential value of getting someone to set it up for you, because (hopefully) they can do it quicker and can anticipate common omissions / errors that DIY might bring. The challenge will be finding someone who can add value but does not cost a fortune / are overkill for your needs.

Also important is what the purpose of the website is.

If it's just to throw an electronic shingle out there so people feel better about doing business with you, then agree you should take it over.

If it's a place that you intend to interact and transact with both prospects AND customers, in an effort to provide more than just semi-static informational pages, then you still might be in need of outside ongoing help.

In either case your current platform should be abandoned for a dynamic one. Hard-coded websites are RMR heaven for Web designers, likewise they are content hell for owners.

Depends on the purpose and size of the site. I host and publish my own using Joomla and know that WordPress is also very popular. I would stay away from the "free" or cookie cutter site builders because I think they are easy to spot and don't always look professional.

Even more important is to have a well designed responsive website.

You need a website based on a CMS (content management system) platform. There are lots of options out there.

Wordpress was mentioned above and is very popular. Also LOTS of freelancers are familiar with WP so you can always outsource bits and pieces of enhancements.

The HubSpot CMS is also solid, especially if you want to work towards any SEO goals.

Whatever you do, you should receive a full copy of the site after implementation and a "professional" site is free of any "website designed by Foo" little footers or references. YOUR company name is the only one that should appear on the site (or in the case of a security integrator site, the names of companies/products you install or service).

Whatever you do, you should receive a full copy of the site after implementation and a "professional" site is free of any "website designed by Foo" little footers or references. YOUR company name is the only one that should appear on the site (or in the case of a security integrator site, the names of companies/products you install or service).

Undisclosed A Manufacturer,

We never did receive a disk or access to our site when we first had it designed/deployed, if we had wanted to it would have cost $5,000 at the time and then we would have the ability to make changes as we desire. Instead we opted for paying the $3,000 which then any changes we would make would be time and material at a rate of $80/hour (at that time). At the time we never did anticipate wanting to make changes ourselves. We quickly learned that many of the products lines we show and services we would be providing changed and needed to be update. As for the design company they do have a small "footer" at the bottom of the page that links back to their website. That has never bothered me but I do notice that there are many sites that just have the name of the company at the bottom rather than web company, ie. XYZ Security instead of designed by Foo.

Keefe,

No need for you or us to beat up on a decision from 6 years ago. The good thing is that templated / out of the box / easy to update business websites are very common now.

Keefe.

Websites may be off topic, but very relevant to the big picture. You can be certain that your business will be judged by your website. First impression matters, along with usability, how it displays on mobile devices and many other criteria . And if you expect your website to generate new leads and new business you need to address how well (or not) your website and related content will get found on the web.

Based on my 8+ years experience with both building websites myself and hiring web experts, here are some suggestions and observations:

For a very basic website, SquareSpace and other fully hosted solutions like this are no brainers. These type of websites are relatively easy to build and update, you don’t have to deal with maintaining the software, security patches and related issues. The downside to SquareSpace type sites is you don’t have all the flexibility of a custom WordPress type website. If you want to customize the look of a SquareSpace site, you may need to hire an expert.

If you have more complex demands and requirements for a website, WordPress should be considered as it is by far the most popular and widely used web development platform worldwide, however, assuming you are not web savvy, there are some areas related to building and maintaining a WordPress site that are best left to the experts such as custom graphics and designs, maintaining the software and related plug-ins. WordPress has a mind-boggling total of over 29,000 different plug-ins (tools) available which is why WordPress is so flexible and can do almost anything you can imagine.

DeLapp Designs is a web design company that I recommend if you would like a WordPress expert to build your website, create custom graphics if needed, maintain the areas that require expertise, and work with you so you can add content when you’d like. Besides helping me with custom graphics and technical details when needed for my video security website, DeLapp Designs recently built a new website for another security industry company, Louroe Electronics.

Jeff nice site, caught my attention, whereas most look univiting.

Somewhat related to my comments above...if you are selling IP cameras, you may have a customer ask you how they can stream video to a web site for various reasons.

Case study: Our client BSI Constructors in St. Louis purchased a Mobotix M15 camera system for security AND marketing. They asked us if we could help them create a website in order to use a video stream for marketing purposes. I referred them to our web developer DeLapp Designs. As you can see, they now have a nice website built specifically for marketing.

about hosting service:

For our WordPress website hosting we use WP Engine, a premium managed WordPress hosting service, costs a bit more, delivers a lot more than the low priced hosting services like GoDaddy. WP Engine provides automatic security updates, daily backups, one-click restore points, automatic caching, top-tier security, one-click staging/sandbox area for testing new web designs and ideas. If you you don’t want to deal with the technical side of running your website, consider using WP Engine.

Whatever service/CMS you use for the website, it should be responsive. This website should be responsive. Mobile website are not winning the race. I am typing this from my iPhone on the full version of the site because the mobile version has always had issues when using my phone. Many users have been navigating away from desktops, so mobile access is very important. However, with all the tablets available, responsive designs are very effective.