The hidden costs associated with traditional web development – ​​TechCrunch


The time and money spent creating and maintaining your business website goes far beyond the price of the initial software and construction.

By Vikas Bhagat, Director of Product Marketing at Webflow

For years, enterprise web development has required engineering teams to perform regular, and sometimes tedious, software updates and maintenance. But from cloud-based software to no-code tools, the way we build for the web has evolved over the past few decades, making websites much easier to maintain and update at a fraction of the cost and expense. workforce.

There are now several different approaches to creating a web presence for medium and large businesses. Choosing a content management system (CMS) is the first step.

An organization can take three main approaches:

  • Customize a CMS: You choose a CMS and hire front-end developers to customize your site.
  • From the ground: You hire full-stack developers so you can start from scratch and create your own CMS.
  • Development without code: Non-technical teams can contribute to the site with developer support if needed.

The CMS you select will have a big impact on your workflow and the costs you incur, both during the initial build and throughout the management of your website. On top of that, there are larger costs traditionally associated with building an enterprise-level website.

Tangible costs — like the price of your software or the cost of hiring an agency — are easier to quantify, but they can also hide in unexpected places.

Let’s break down tangible costs into two main categories: Installation costs and recurring costs.

Installation costs

Setup costs run the gamut depending on your organizational structure and available resources, and at a minimum, typically include the following:

  • Initial design and development work to create designs, copy, photography and illustrations – as well as general content for your new website
  • A site domain and purchase of similar variants
  • A CMS to organize your site data
  • A bespoke tech stack with tools, plugins and services to get the features you need – from design to SEO – to run a modern business site

Teams have the ability to manage all responsibilities associated with these costs internally. This requires leveraging existing members of the creative, engineering, and marketing team for website development and management. Or, resource-strapped teams have the option of outsourcing these costs to freelancers or outside agencies. Whichever approach your business takes, these costs will become part of your marketing budget.

Recurring costs

It’s no secret that website development is not a one-time effort. Businesses will have to foot the bill for recurring costs, and once your site is live, teams can move into the iterative phase, focusing their time and energy on maintenance, optimizations, updates, and more.

Let’s start with the basics: software and technology stack costs. Your chosen platform, plugins, and tech stack components are almost guaranteed to come with good old monthly or annual fees. A typical business website, stable CMS system, hosting stack, and front-end engineer will cost you between $75,000 and $100,000 per year – and that cost gets worse for high-traffic, high-volume sites. content.

Then, we have software version updates. Major updates, which usually introduce significant security enhancements and modernize their systems, are released every few years and can easily cost up to $60,000 for each release and consume hours of engineering time. For teams with complex websites and custom code, rebuilding it on the new software version may not be an option. Instead, you’ll have to go through a slow and painstaking process to migrate specialized functions, user-generated content, and more.

And we can’t forget ongoing expenses for site management. Depending on how your platform is developer driven, making changes to your site will cost you labor and time. If you have an agency under mandate, the cost of small changes can quickly add up. An in-house team will make modifications less expensive, but they will also have to call in engineers for help, wasting valuable time.

And then it’s time

Your website is a living object, serving as a meeting point for you and your customers. Typically, multiple teams contribute to and develop the website as part of their day-to-day work, making time your biggest intangible item in site development and management. Not only does this demand your employees’ bandwidth, but it requires advanced planning, involves multiple stakeholders with potential third-party support, and puts your reputation on the line.

Here are some of the main areas your marketing team will spend their time on:

  • Find developer talentwhich may require your marketing team to spend time vetting external agencies if you go the third-party route, or vetting engineers if you’re managing the build in-house.
  • Execution of the initial construction of the site, whether with an agency or an internal team, which will need to integrate it into existing programming and development schedules.
  • Optimize the user experience, which require changes and updates to the site in order to regularly meet the needs of your users.

For companies that choose to launch and manage a web development project in-house and with traditional tools, there will be a host of pre-launch and recurring responsibilities falling on developers and engineers:

  • Site monitoring and maintenance, requiring regular developer attention for software that operates on a release and patch pattern.
  • Performing site migrationsrequired for software version updates.
  • Troubleshooting issues and bugs whenever your technology stack fails, to prevent or remediate outages that can lead to loss of business or customer trust.
  • Launch delays, i.e. bottlenecks, due to the limited number of people available to launch a final product (and this can also be true for teams working with external agencies).

Understanding the real long-term costs of success is a crucial step that any marketing team must take before embarking on ambitious projects. There are so many things to balance –– time, talent, budget, urgency, business needs –– and there’s even more at stake with a public launch or site refresh.

Ultimately, human energy and attention are limited, as is the funding and hours available for a single project in any given week. The main decision to be made is how to allocate these precious resources efficiently. If marketing teams have their hands tied by slow development times, your speed to market will suffer. If engineers are always busy keeping the site up and running and updated, they won’t have time to focus on improvements or innovation.

No-code visual development allows teams with no coding experience to make their own changes to your website as needed. When multiple teams, such as marketing and design, can contribute directly to your website, they can collaborate more effectively, respond faster to customer news, and allow for more experimentation and iteration.

Plus, there’s invaluable peace of mind knowing that a team can go off and build their parts of the website and not have to rely on a thin engineering team.

You could spend money on regular site updates — or you can use this budget for core product innovation and keep your web presence cutting edge. By choosing a no-code development platform that speeds up timelines and reduces labor costs, you’ll open up new opportunities for your business – ones that will result in truly exceptional results that are unique and help differentiate your business. company and your brand in the eyes of your users.


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