An e-commerce website — product or service?

Brickweb's Luke Gilrane discusses why building a website is not about cost, but about value.

'How much will it cost?' is often the first question asked by a business wishing to create or upgrade their online presence.

Although this is a natural question to ask, it is important to realise that a website is not simply a one-off product but is an ongoing service that should be tailored to the specific needs of the company.

The first step in creating or rebranding a website to be modern, effective and responsive is to research web development agencies and select one that has a proven track record.

Web development is a relatively new industry and few official standards exist; this has led to innumerable web development agencies being set up that do not fully understand the environment in which they are working.

Such companies are likely to be able to instantly answer the 'how much will it cost?' question when offering to design a website, as a quick sale is their main focus.

More reputable digital agencies will first examine the business and the existing website, if any, in detail before designing and creating a new, bespoke website tailored to meet the individual needs of the company.

The website-building process should comprise joint decisions by the company and the web agency they choose to employ.

Many customers instantly focus on the layout and design of the website but, in the early stages, it is important to look at things from a more businesslike point of view. After a detailed examination of business objectives provided by the client, the digital agency can then begin to tailor the features of the website before it is launched.

The role of the digital agency does not end once the website is live. It is important that they provide clients with clear yet detailed information on how, where from and by how many people the website is being accessed.

Such data is vital in ensuring the website can continue to develop according to the needs and experiences of customers, aiding the further growth of the business.

Rather than asking 'How much will it cost?' when it comes to website-building, it is better to ask 'How much value will I get for my investment?'. With the plethora of companies offering website design, it is a simple matter to obtain a cheap website very quickly. As with a great many such offers, this is false economy and can not offer the depth of expertise provided by Brickweb.