Many of our projects can still be classified as brochure websites. For many reasons, web design in Thailand is still catching up with America and Europe, which means that many companies are just now realizing the importance of an online presence. Others need to update old websites developed when the standards and tools available were still very rudimentary, meaning that their websites look very outdated.
When a client asks us to develop a brochure website, we like to educate the client about their decision before asking them to commit their hard earned money. We feel an informed client makes informed decisions. We believe that an informed client will seriously consider Backtobasics.
When considering a website development project, the first, and we feel the most important, consideration comes down to proprietary versus open platforms. One might think this is an obvious decision, but every day we see potential clients choose to go with a proprietary platform. This is often due to excellent salesmanship by the proprietary vendor, but sometimes it involves the ever persuasive argument of price. Unfortunately, an uneducated customer often considers only the low upfront cost, while being unaware of the lifetime cost of a website. Clients mistakenly believe that once their site is up and running, the project is over and the future is cost free. Nothing could be further from the truth. Furthermore, clients often underestimate project risk when considering their vendor. Lifetime cost and project risk are two reasons why we prefer the WordPress platform for developing brochure websites.
Let’s delve into these issues…
First, let’s talk about project risk. Recently, we had two different clients come into the office to ask about completely different problems they needed help with. The first client had a website that had been up and running for years. It was very popular, had great traffic, excellent ad revenues, and was all-in-all a success. However, the client needed to make some changes to the website. Unfortunately, the developer who had built their website had decided to accept an offer for a new opportunity, and no longer had time to support the website. So he informed the client that they needed to find someone else to make the changes to the website. So the client approached Backtobasics for help.
We looked at the website, and the platform it was built on, and estimated what it would cost to make the changes. It would be putting it mildly to say that the client was a bit shocked at the price. When asked why it would be so expensive, we explained that the platform the website was built on was proprietary and coded by the original website developer. The platform involved tens of thousands of lines of code with zero documentation. This meant that we had to read through potentially hundreds of pages of code to understand the logic of the code in order to make any substantive changes to the website. This, of course, involved many hours of work that had no tangible result. It was purely research that had to be billed in order to understand how to make the changes the client requested. Needless to say, the client was not happy about that news.
The second client that came to our office had a website that was 90% complete, but was not operational and needed to be completed. Lo and behold, the client’s website was built by the same developer mentioned previously, and the client was likewise informed that the developer had no intention of finishing the project. Unfortunately, the client had paid the full price for the development of a website that was not online. Again, we had to inform the client that the effort to understand the proprietary platform in order to implement the remaining 10% of the project was going to be expensive. This was bad news for a client who had already made a substantial investment, and was now looking at another substantial investment just to complete the remaining 10% of their project.
Both of these cases highlight project risk. In the first case, it is the risk that your developer disappears when you need support, and the second case is the risk that your developer disappears before your website even goes live. As a client, you can never fully eliminate project risk, but you can mitigate that risk by choosing an open platform over a proprietary platform.
A simple example will make this more clear. In the case of the first developer, there was a simple problem with the website’s security which was allowing spam robots to overrun their comments section. When the client asked why it would be so expensive to correct, we through a simple exercise to make it clear. We pulled up Google and typed in the name of the proprietary platform and a query about the problem and how to fix it. Result? Zero pages. Then we typed in “WordPress” and the same query about the problem. Result? Thousands of pages discussing the problem and how to fix it. In the case of the proprietary system, we would have to read and understand thousands, if not tens of thousands, of lines of code in order to determine how to fix the problem. In the case of WordPress, we could simply refer to any one of hundreds of postings on the web showing exact examples of how to fix the problem. The proprietary case involved many hours of developer billing just to understand what to do, then hours implementing the fix. The WordPress case involved about 10 minutes of search and 20 minutes to copy the example of the fix directly from another developer’s posting.
Because WordPress is an open platform, and has been used to develop literally hundreds of thousands of websites, there are tens of thousands of developers working with that code. They are finding problems, fixing those problems, then sharing their work with the WordPress community. Proprietary platforms cannot compare.
Which leads to the second consideration – total lifetime cost of a website.
Just because your website has gone live, looks fabulous, and you have paid the final invoice, this does not mean that your costs have ended. What happens when you move your offices, and the contact information on your website needs to be changed? What happens when you acquire a hot new product that needs to be highlighted on your website? What do you do if you have just hired the best lawyer in the industry, and need to update your staff page?
Your website is a dynamic medium that needs to evolve with your company. This means that it must be able to change after it has gone live.
If your website was built with a proprietary platform, you are pretty much wed to the company that built that platform. They are the only ones who truly understand the inner workings of their platform, and often times arrange it so that you have no choice but to deal with them when it comes to making changes to your website – and typically at inflated prices when compared to the upfront cost of development. The simple reality is that this is how they make their money.
On the other hand, if your website was developed with the WordPress platform, your life is going to be much simpler and less costly. First, WordPress has an impressive backend Content Management System (CMS), which allows you to make simple changes to your website using your web browser without any help from the developers! This means that when your address changes, you login to the backend of WordPress, change the address there, and your website immediately shows your new address. When you hire that new hotshot lawyer, again you just go to the WordPress backend, enter his information, and instantly your website shows your staff with the new addition.
Do you like zero cost, immediate results, and total control? If you do, then you will love WordPress.
Even if a proprietary platform provides a CMS backend, you still need to consider the effort involved in learning to use that backend system. If you are working with a proprietary platform, the only documentation available will be from the firm that created it, and the only support available will likewise be from that firm. The quality of that documentation and support will vary from firm to firm. But with WordPress, you will find a plethora of documentation, how to videos, and other support all over the web, as well as a long list of web development firms in Thailand capable of helping you.
Furthermore, if your website developer suddenly decides to retire to a tropical island, you are not looking at limited and expensive options. There are many choices of web development firms in Bangkok and Thailand who are very capable of working with WordPress. Many of them work with the platform every day. They can step in and move you forward quickly and at an affordable price. If you don’t like the quote you are getting from firm A, then you can talk to firm B, or any firm from the long list of web development firms capable of working with WordPress. If your website was developed on a proprietary platform, your choices become limited and expensive.
This is why we always discuss these important considerations with potential clients and let them know that we prefer WordPress.