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Something that came up at a recent business expo related to not just the work and time that goes in to designing websites, but also the hosting, extensions and other costs associated with web design.
Nearly all of our websites are built on a very popular content management system (CMS). Whilst we could have gone down the static HTML route, designing websites from pure code, we have always felt that this is a very limiting and not very future-proofed approach.
A CMS means that expanding and adding both content and new features to a website is much easier - whether this is an online shop, blog, ticket sales, a custom data collection form or something else, adding these features to a static website is often impossible or extremely difficult. Many of our clients come back to us as their business grows and ask for new features to address their new requirements, and our CMS choice allows us to cater for this easily.
Within every CMS-based website we create, we include a range of mostly commercial extensions which have an annual licence cost associated with them. Whilst many of these offer developer licences, allowing us to use them on all of our websites, however many we design, the costs are often significant and for an indivdual licence to buy yourself, the prices can add up to more than the price we charge for our work and annual renewals.
Hosting, domain names and email
All of our websites are hosted on our own dedicated server, located in the UK and supported by a company who specialise in the CMS platform we use. Rather than use a shared hosting provider, where little to no control over performance and configuration is available, our server is built to our specification. Not only does this mean we can monitor performance, we also get a strong hardware firewall which goes beyond many of the shared-platform firewalls, allowing us to do things like block dubious IP addresses and configure specific features that have allowed us to deliver website features that shared providers may not have catered for.
We include a 256bit SSL certificate with all websites, and run a current version of php which has significant performance and security benefits over earlier versions.
Unless you have your own domain name already, we always include at least one .co.uk or .com domain name in our prices, along with a dedicated domain-based email account.
As well as having a hardware firewall on our server, each CMS website also has a commercially licenced software firewall installed, protecting each site from numerous hack possibilities that the hardware firewall cannot. Administrator user accounts are protected from change and deletion, and we are able to automatically blacklist attempts to login to your website by unauthorised users.
In order to put each website page design together, our websites include a professional design platform, allowing us a highly flexible approach in designing each page. The base of these tools is the current version of bootstrap (4), allowing flexible design that loads fast to keep your website running efficiently.
To ensure the most flexibility when using your website for blogging, we use one of the top blog extensions on the market for our CMS platform. Licenced annually, the software allows for almost infinite flexibility in how you design and manage your blog posts, going significantly beyond the standard blogging features of many CMS platforms such as WordPress.
Selling products through your website can be as simple or complex as you wish. Our choice of e-commerce extension has been designed from the ground-up to work with the native provision of our CMS platform. With an expensive annual licence, we have access to a range of additions, to cover complex shipping requirements, quote forms, payment providers (such as Stripe, WorldPay and more) and also excellent support from the provider.
E-Commerce is critical to any website where it is used, and we have chosen this one extremely carefully to ensure our clients have the best available.
Although our server runs a nightly backup to a seperate storage solution, our websites all include a licenced backup solution which, depending on the nature of your website, runs every time we make updates or automatically each night where a backup is stored in the cloud. We have an on-site NAS (network attached storage) which further downloads copies of our cloud backups each night, meaning we have up to four backup copies of your website at all times.
Other tools and extensions
As well as the major extensions and software mentioned above, we install a small range of other extensions as standard which improve the security and features of our websites. These extensions do things like removing any code that mentions the CMS, a key way hackers find websites to target. We take care to use only the best extensions at all times, giving us access to a core range of products to make sure the websites we provide are both safe, secure and supported at all times.
If we add up just the core extensions within any website, based on individual licence costs, and the hosting and domain name fees, every website has close to £200 of included software and server provision. By the time we include our own time to not only design the website, but to manage the updates, support and hosting over each year, we believe our prices offer both excellent value and also peace of mind that your website is up-to-date, backed up and secure at all times.