The New American Dream: Should I Borrow, Rent or Own Virtual Real Estate?
The verdict is in: people are online and websites are a good investment for any business. The variety of options when it comes to “getting” a website can seem endless, and people often feel lost or hesitant in taking that first step. If you’re confused about your options, you’ve come to the right place.
Your website is the place where your organization’s brand will live. It’s a home for your logo, your pictures, product and service descriptions, and other information about your organization. In fact, choosing the right website platform is a lot like choosing a home for yourself.
1) Couch Surfing: You heard through the grapevine that your cousin’s friend can build you a website from his own computer on the cheap. Many people are drawn to this option because it calls for a much smaller investment.
Going this route can be like crashing on your friend’s couch. It’s certainly an option—but you’re relying on the kindness of an acquaintance. It isn’t really your place, so you’re limited in what you can do. Certainly not a final goal, but a stepping stone that can be used for anyone new to the digital city.
2) Room Service: Using a template/pre-built website through platforms like WordPress and Blogger is akin to getting a hotel room. It isn’t a long-term solution. The décor and room setup is really predetermined for you. Other people will have the exact same “room” as you. It can be nice for a while, but it isn’t your own. You need to pay for your stay.
WordPress, Blogger and similar inexpensive products are blogging solutions, not website platforms, and you’ll quickly find their limitations if you go this route and expect a fully custom solution.
3) For Rent: Signing up with a proprietary website platform, often called a Content Management System (CMS), is like renting a house or an apartment. You can rearrange the furniture. You can make it your own to a certain degree.
But you can’t really do full-fledged remodel of the architecture. Someone else owns the structure. Getting things overhauled would require your landlord’s approval, and that isn’t an ideal process. Your website is still at the whims of your provider, which means you don’t have control of the things that make it your own.
4) The American Dream: Building your website on an open source platform is similar to owning your own home. You can pretty much do anything you want, and you don’t have to ask for permission. You can leverage other peoples ideas on décor and functionality while making it entirely your own. You can build it from the ground up to your liking. You can build a two-bedroom condo or a 16-bedroom mansion.
Your website is where your brand lives and is an extension of your business; why wouldn’t you invest in a stable, well constructed home for it?
But what about my budget?
Can you afford to own?
Here’s one way to justify shelling out more on a website you own. Ask yourself, “How much would I pay one of my best employees—someone who works 365 days a year, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?”
Consider that this employee is well versed in marketing, promotions, answering questions and storing information. She is available to 2.5 billion people and never calls in sick.
When you start thinking of website as an extremely valuable employee that needs an annual salary, you will begin to get the sense for what type of budget you should really be allocating for your website.