Here's to the end of the two-tier web

There was a time not long ago when many of the features we take for granted when visiting popular websites could only be afforded by bigger businesses.

Aidan Watt HotfootBy Aidan Watt, technical director, Hotfoot Design.

Giving your businesses the ability to buy a product, make a booking, leave a review, initiate a chat - or many other vital tasks - all required significant investment in custom IT development or expensive software products.

All too often software projects overran or weren't delivered at all, and needed ongoing maintenance, with all the costs and uncertainty that implies.

For many SMEs, it was not worth the risk, and that created a two-tier web, where ventured backed Silicon Valley are large corporates could offer customers a great online experience, and many SMEs could not.

The rise of software as a service (also known as "SaaS") means this imbalance is now being addressed.

From Shopify for ecommerce retail sites to our own platform, Regalo, for hospitality gift vouchers, increasingly SMEs can benefit from services that do the job at a fraction of the price of a custom build, and that come with ongoing improvements, minimal maintenance, and brilliant support. SaaS services aren't right for every project - and sometimes custom is absolutely the right way to go - but it's a great option for many, and something we are happy to see work well on many of the web projects we've delivered.