Long-term, continuous website development and support.
Because building a reliable website that grows and changes with your business is not a one-off project.
For the vast majority of businesses, simply having a website is not enough. Being present online is important, but the real value of a website is in the combination of how well it provides:
- A reliable and stable online platform for your business;
- A modern and user-friendly design (including excellent experience for mobile users) that converts visitors into leads and customers;
- A unified plan for coordinating online with your business’s marketing and sales strategies;
- A well-organized strategy to increase traffic, users, content creation; and
- A set of measurable criteria to determine the Return on Investment (ROI) of your online assets.
Even for small businesses whose website needs are relatively modest, maintaining a website that puts your best foot forward can be a daunting task. One that tends to get relegated to the “back burner”. After all, you went into business to do what you do best, not to mess around for hours wondering why a certain image will not line up on the screen the way you want.
For larger businesses, being effective online means having the flexibility to change things based on customer feedback and new business initiatives. It means being able to scale over time, to keep growing and build a satisfied online customer base.
Why Retainers Are a Better Business Value
1. Long Term Experience Is Better for Growth
Building a fixed fee website doesn’t guarantee online success. Online success is measured with time. It requires testing lots of ideas, seeing what works, then adjusting your online strategy and resources in those directions, and fine tuning the results. Website development over time allows us to gain insight from one idea to the next. It allows us to continually improve, to bring your website into alignment with your business model, to adjust with your market, and to constantly build new capacity based on your customer, client, and user needs. Over the long term, we can determine the reliable measurable indicators of success and enhance your website’s performance and your business’s online ROI.
2. Cost Efficiency
The problem with one-shot website builds is that nobody knows exactly what the final website will look like, or what challenges are hidden in the details. In fact, when it comes to websites, your first ideas are often your least effective. While you may have a pretty good idea what you have in mind, as you watch it develop and continue to think about all the “what if”s and “I like the way this other site does that”s, you may realize that the site you bargained for isn’t the one that is best for your business. Changing in mid stream requires contract re-negotiation, change orders, and yes, more expense.
Many good developers pad their estimates for one-off site builds to account for mid-course changes and “scope creep” that will inevitably cause them to need more time than originally planned. Usually that multiplier is anywhere between 1.5 to 3 times the minimum estimate. I say “pad”, but it’s not meant to be disparaging. Doing so is an industry-wide practice designed to minimize risk inherent in one-off site builds. But what that means is you could pay up to 3 times as much for a website under a one-off contract. Negotiating changes that add cost on top of the initial estimate is not only expensive, but can be a frustrating experience for both you and your developer.
Compared to this, building a website on a retainer basis makes it possible to start small, to continuously add features and capabilities over time, as needed, and not to worry about having unexpected cost over-runs or needing to renegotiate every detail when things change. As a business, you can better plan for your online costs because, except for agreed-upon high-intensity periods of special development, your costs from month to month are fixed at a steady rate.
3. Partnerships Are Mutually Beneficial
One-off site builds can encourage a short term gain, adversarial perspective on your project. You want to get the most for your money. Your developer wants to maximize profit for time.
Entering into a website retainer agreement ensures that both you and your web developer are working closely together for the growth of your business. Risk for both parties is minimized and value maximized. Your developer is always working on the most important development needs without worrying about time overruns or developmental dead ends. And you know that development costs are always going toward agreed areas of maximum benefit to the business. Furthermore, when your developer has a long-term understanding of your business it can lead to even more efficiencies as your development team gets to know you and begins to be able to anticipate your needs.
How Website Development Retainers Work
Ultimately, one-off website builds don’t work well because quality websites are always changing with your business. An effective website is never really finished. Whether it’s publishing new content, finding more effective ways to build a mailing list, connecting to a new social media account, enabling customers to provide you with feedback on a new service, or adding a new online reservations desk — new things will constantly come up, and your business will constantly evolve.
A Website Development retainer enables you to partner with an experienced developer and design team to work with you, making sure your website grows with you.
Dynamic Development Priorities for a Predictable Rate
For a monthly retainer fee, you are guaranteed a set amount of design, development, and content creation time each month to be used for development of your website according to mutually agreed-upon strategic goals and online objectives. Furthermore, if need arises for additional time in any given month in order to meet business deadlines, your retainer gets you priority status on our project schedule and a significant discount from our hourly development rate.
Strategically Planned Development that Fits Your Business Needs
Strategic development follows industry best practices in continuous improvement software and content cycle. Sometimes the emphasis will be on developing new site capabilities (you need a new event calendar). Sometimes the emphasis will be on developing new content (you’re launching a new service and want to get the word out). Where we strike the balance is up to you at every point along the way. But for everything we do, we:
- Plan — We meet regularly to look at what is most important for your website at this stage in your business.
- Design — We work together to make sure what we’re building meets your needs and expectations, both in how it looks and how it works.
- Develop — We build only what’s needed, when it’s needed.
- Test — We make sure it works as intended without breaking anything else on the site.
- Launch — We deploy it to your website.
- Review — We track performance over time and compare results to business goals, asking “How can we make this even better in the next round?”
- Repeat — Like shampoo, but with clean code!
Let’s Get to Work!
Interested in exploring what a Website Retainer can do for you?