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Self-Managed Website Content

Fresh and current content is a must for any successful website. Keeping your site up to date, however, can be costly. Consider a small business website that requires updating once every 3 months. Maybe there are some images to replace, some new specials to promote, or some other information on the site to update. It takes your developer a couple of hours to make the changes. After a year of updates you've paid for 8 hours of development time at the industry average of $85/ hour or thereabouts. The costs go way up if monthly, weekly or daily updates are necessary.

There's something you need to know that your web designer may not want to tell you. Since billable hours for website maintenance are residual income for them, what if making changes to your website was as easy as sending an email? What if you could make changes yourself, using your own computer from your own home or office? In the early days of the internet self managed content was not as feasible. New web programming technologies have changed all that, and businesses are changing the way they handle their website maintenance.

A good website developer can program your site with administrative pages that allow you or your staff to update photos, graphic images, and text. This is called content management. Content management can be a great way to lower long-term maintenance costs, and in some cases your initial development costs can be reduced as well.

Here's a real-world example: A client hired firm #1 to develop a 100 page website. Firm #1 proposed an estimate based on the number of pages that needed to be built. The estimate came in at about $30k. At 3 hours per page to build and install content, the cost appeared reasonable to the client. But after a multitude of excuses and miscommunications from the start of the project, it stalled out. Over a year passed, and the site never launched. The client then dissolved the relationship with firm #1 and hired firm #2 to complete the project. Firm #2, a web developer with programming experience, looked at the project from a different perspective – a self management perspective. Instead of creating 100 unique pages and installing the text and images in them, firm #2 programmed a couple of unique page templates and added an administrative feature that allowed the client to put images and text into each page by themselves. The client paid for a couple of unique page designs and some cutting edge programming, and then "built" the website themselves. The client ended up with exactly what they wanted, and the total project cost was less than 1/3 the amount that firm #1 had proposed. Not only did the client save over $20k in initial development costs, but they continue to benefit by being able to update their site's pages any time they want to.

This approach isn't for everybody. You should determine how often you will need to update your website. If you only need a few changes a year, it may not be cost effective to have the programming done or to pay the higher hosting fee associated with dynamic websites. In many cases, minor text/image changes can be done in a few minutes by your web designer, and the cost may be minimal.

For websites needing frequent or major updates, a content management system can be a cost effective option. Oftentimes a good content management system can be set up for a lower cost than a single year of site maintenance by your developer.

Before you hire a web developer to design a content management system for you, be sure to check references. Don't just assume that a web developer can do what they say they can do for you. Talk to people they've already done it for! You'd be surprised at how many web programming projects are not completed successfully, or just never work properly. Good web programming isn't rocket science, but it is complicated and hiring the right programmer makes all the difference.

The technologies used in web development today are quite sophisticated. Many of them can be used to help your business become more profitable. If you can think it, there is most likely a web developer who can make it happen.

For more details about content management and how you can benefit, talk with your Web developer and do some research on the internet. The cost savings from self-managing your website can go a long way in reducing your overhead.

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