A brand new website for your business is a considerable expense. As such, you need to know that you’re spending your hard-earned money wisely. When you hire an agency to build your site, you essentially have two options for how they’ll have you pay for it.
The first is that you own the site outright. You’ll pay for the hours spent designing, coding, and testing the site, and then you’ll be done. Sometimes this is billed hourly, sometimes this is a flat rate.
The second is that you pay monthly for access to the site the agency built for you.
There are pros and cons to each model. The monthly payments are going to be a lot smaller than one lump sum for all the developer and designer hours it took to create a custom site. However, that also means you will not own the code they produce for you; you’ll essentially be leasing it.
So, in the subscription model, you might be getting additional services, like ongoing maintenance, but if your relationship with the agency ends, you also lose your site. That’s why owning your code is so important.
What about your website should you own?
It’s worth a quick detour to talk about what you can and can’t own when it comes to the web. You should own:
- The content (words, visuals) on your site
- The finished code
You can’t own:
- Your domain name — you buy the rights to a domain for a certain period of time; you won’t own it outright. You’ll need to stay on top of renewing the rights to it every few years.
- The content management system
- The database software
- The web server platform
You usually don’t own:
- The web server, which is the computer that hosts your website. If you went out and bought your own server and then kept up with its maintenance, you technically could own this aspect of your web presence. However, most companies aren’t equipped to do this, and you’ll usually go through a hosting provider instead.
It’s important to know what you’ve got ownership of when it comes to your website. Think twice before you enter an agreement where the web design agency retains control of your site. Your web presence is a powerful tool, and you should have enough control to wield it the way you see fit.
While you do want to own your code, you also don’t want to be left hanging after an agency built you a fancy new site. Part of the appeal of having someone else handle your website is that you don’t have to spend the time and effort learning how to do it yourself.
Instead of leaving it entirely up to the agency, you should work with a company that will give you the tools you need to edit the website when you need to. One of the best parts about the impermanent nature of the internet is that your website can be a living thing — it’s not created once and then sitting there statically for years.
However, that transitory quality of websites does mean that they require upkeep. If you don’t have the capabilities to do that in-house, paying an agency monthly could be appealing.
At Beanstalk, you will always own the final code for your site. If you’d like to continue your relationship with us on a monthly basis, you can sign up for one of our hosting and maintenance plans, some of which include monthly support hours. We handle all the technical updates, and you have the means to change the content as you see fit. We’ll be there with as much support as you need.