We’re about to make a bold statement: leasing your website is a risky choice that is likely holding back your business. I know, that’s dramatic assessment to make about a practice that is very common across businesses in every industry. But hear us out, because we might save you a major headache in the future.
Templates: the not-so-perfect solution.
Leasing a website is tempting because it so much easier during the start-up process. With little or no capital investment, a business owner can simply choose a website template and fill in small details here and there. Some leasing companies that are industry specific will even let you use their library of photos and product information to create pages or a product catalogue. What could be simpler? So while there are pros to using templates, it also means that your website is going to look very similar to, if not exactly like, your competitors’.
Seeing any red flags yet? If it’s not, then put yourself in a new customer’s shoes. The first thing they are going to do before visiting your business is check out your website and the websites of your competitors. If they both look alike, how will they know which of you is better suited to meet their needs? We talk a lot (seriously, a lot) about how a website is the first impression your business will make to most of your customers. You need to have the ability to showcase the strengths of your specific business in a way that will attract high value prospects. A simple stock template with a large, impersonal library or product catalogue may be driving people away from your business!
Is your content really transferrable?
Another serious concern about leasing a website is that you don’t have ultimate control of its contents. Even if there are clauses saying that your content, photos, and data are transferrable (not always the case), this might be an empty gesture if the renting party uses a proprietary Content Management System (CMS). Here’s how it breaks down: if a company uses their own software to power the back end of your website, they might not be able to transfer or export that information in a way that is easily used by another CMS. In short, if you ever decide to leave that company, you will need to start your website over from scratch.
The best way to have complete control over your website is to use an open-source CMS like WordPress. There are many companies who will build your website with an open-source CMS (we’re one of them!) if you don’t have the technical expertise to do it in-house. This gives you the option to bring your website management in-house or take it to a different company to manage should the need arise. By leasing a website, you might be putting yourself in a situation where you can’t afford or don’t know how to let that company go without jeopardizing your website.
Technical support is not just for leasing!
Many companies choose to rent a website because technical support is part of the fee. But you should know that there are companies that will build a website that is under your ownership and will manage it for you as well. (You guessed it… us again!) When making the important decision about leasing vs. owning your business’s website, you should never feel like owning is not a viable option. After all, it’s the only way to know that every aspect of the website is under your control, and it is a cost-effective choice for your business!