Renting or Owning: What’s the difference?
Many people don’t even realize that there is an issue of “ownership” to be considered when they think about building a website.
As with anything else, there are pros and cons to consider.
A big consideration is that when you own your site, you possess the “source code” that was used to develop the site. Without these code-files, (or WordPress files) it would not be possible for you or another developer to edit the pages, or to troubleshoot issues in the future.
To maintain control over your site, you need to have these source files.
When you contract with Image and Aspect, you always get your source files at the end of the project. You own them. Just sayin’.
Here are some pointers to help you learn the difference between renting and owning your site.
When you use a “hosted platform” package-solution, (Do-It-Yourself) it’s considered to be “Software as a Service” (SaaS) and you are renting your website from them. It’s usually a monthly or annual subscription and it has a lower up-front investment cost. Examples: Wix and Shopify.
Owning requires a custom solution, and there’s a higher up-front investment for this dedicated development. Owning allows for customization and integration with 3rd party services, provides greater flexibility plus there’s room for expansion. There is also less of a chance that you’ll pay for services that you’re not using. Basically you own your piece of web real estate and you can do what you want with it. Let’s think “keeping it within legal parameters .”
What Renters Can Expect
- Easy for Do-It-Yourselfers.
- Lower cost of entry.
- Various paid subscription levels (free, starter, pro, etc.)
- Add-on modules, plugins or extensions purchased from a dedicated “marketplace”.
- One combined service for hosting, payment processing, and website administration.
- Maintained infrastructure & automatic security updates.
- New features introduced on a regular basis.
- Technical support in articles, tutorials, videos.
- A wide selection of design templates (some are free).
The Downside of Renting
- No equity! When your subscription ends, the time, money and effort you put into building the website are lost.
- Incremental costs add up. With every add-on, a new cost emerges that is often higher than the original subscription fee. There will be a monthly fee for that one item for the rest of the duration of the website.
- Possibly little flexibility on the required services for payment processing, hosting, data warehousing.
- Limited customization for design.
- If you leave the platform, all the investment in design and development is lost. You can’t take it with you when you move to another hosting provider/webserver. You have to start over.
What Owners Can Expect
- Customization tailored to specific business requirements.
- Scalable for future growth.
- Integration with external services.
- Open architecture allows for development, the code is portable and not tied to an organization.
- Freedom of choice for your web hosting, payment processing, and website administration.
- Important as sales volume increases and competitive processing and transaction fees become critical.
- Accommodates creative innovations as opposed to waiting for the hosted platform to release updates or fixes.
The Downside of Owning
- A higher cost of entry.
- Must be actively maintained – if the site is not maintained through a web developer, (or someone who knows how to code or how to develop with WordPress) there will be no innovation, no new features, no security patching. Eventually, a website will become obsolete as code and formats change over time.
- Time constraints – building a custom site requires a collaborative effort and considerable thought and engagement from the site owner.
As with everything, there are costs either way. Financial costs, opportunity costs, perceived value costs. The best way to decide on whether to rent or own your website is to look at your long term business goals.
When you’re business takes off and you’re renting your site, will you want or be able to take the time to stay current on how to use the platform? Will you be able to set aside time to update the content, or be on the phone with technical support or Billing? Do you feel comfortable making scheduled full-backups and storing them off-site where they’ll be secure but still easy to find when you need them? Will you feel comfortable restoring your site from a backup if you make a mistake on the site and don’t know how to fix it? Will you have the time and the inclination to research the latest Google SEO changes or the newest security threats? Will you feel comfortable making these changes? Will you be able to quickly and easily find your log-in information, your API keys, and/or your font or photo licenses if a component of your site stops working? Will you keep up with all expiration dates for your domain name, SSL certificates, sub-domains, etc, so nothing accidentally expires? If something expires would you know what to do or who to contact? Do you feel comfortable troubleshooting and fixing text formatting, images, or email issues? If you can do these things, and more importantly you’d ENJOY doing them, well that’s just swell! 🙂
But do yourself a favor and hire a professional. You’re not a web developer already! (unless you are) LOL!
If you choose the DIY route and you get in over your head, you can always call me. I promise not to say I told you so. 🙂
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About the author
I developed Image and Aspect because I believe that professionals need to have an impactful web presence. One that showcases their unique talents, skills, and abilities as well as their values and style. A presence that focuses on social engagement and connection.
I’m passionate about what I do; I like helping fellow humans, I like having all kinds of social connection with others, and I want to give back, to make the world a better place.
I do much of the designing and coding myself, and I also have a wonderful network of professionals that may contribute as well; photographers, copywriters, branding experts.
I love designing and coding beautiful, elegant and responsive web creations. I ALSO teach and help others who want to learn how to do it themselves.
‘Tips and Snips’ is my blog, and it’s full of information and inspiration to help transform any online persona from “meh” to AMAZING! Sign-up HERE to get blog posts right to your in-box every Friday! I write about Design, Marketing, Search Engine Optimization, Branding, Vlogging, Color Theory, HTML5, CSS3, Bootstrap, WordPress, Social Media…anything you’d want to know to get yourself noticed online.
Diane M. Metcalf, M.S.