The Joomla! Community Magazine™

Are You Sure You Want To Do It Yourself?

Written by | Sunday, 01 April 2012 00:00 | Published in 2012 April
Because of the rise (and continuous improvement) of Content Management Systems like Joomla!, companies are more capable than ever of maintaining their own websites. However, deciding whether or not to actually maintain your own website (or pay a web design company to do it for you) is a more complicated decision than most people would think.

The main issue that is causing the complication is the amount of factors that are at play. Great advantages to maintaining your own website include:

  • Editing the website whenever and wherever you want
  • No more waiting for your web designer to implement changes
  • Implementing changes exactly like you want them to be

Unfortunately this freedom also comes with several downsides, some of which will be outlined below.

Sub-optimal website causes lower conversion rate

The conversion rate of a website is defined as the number of visitors to your website who take a desired action (making a purchase, contacting you, subscribing to your newsletter, etc.) out of the total number of people visiting your website. For example, when on a given day 100 people visit your website, of which three make a purchase, then the conversion rate for that day is 3%. A lot of factors are influencing the conversion rate of a website. These factors include loading speed, design and the products offered, but also the fonts that are used, and the markup that is applied to a block of text.

When the decision is made to maintain the website yourself, it’s likely that some of these factors will not perform optimally. For example, changes such as the loading of large images without resizing them first (which has a negative influence on the loading speed), or the copy-pasting of text without adjusting the font to the one used on the rest of the website. Because these changes can potentially lower your conversion rate, one should consider whether the potential decrease in income caused by this isn't costing your more money than a maintenance contract would.

Maintaining is often cheaper than repairing

In general the maintaining of a website will cost less than the repair after something went wrong. To illustrate my point I’ll draw a comparison to cars. The yearly checkup and maintenance of a car is relatively cheap. This is in sharp contrast to the cost of a repair after a problem has surfaced caused by years without any repairs or maintenance. The same principle also applies to a website. By having the website checked up regularly and having it updated to the most recent standards, the chances of facing severe problems are far smaller, decreasing the likelihood of the need for large (and often costly) repairs.

Less time for your core activities

Maintaining your own website will inevitably cost you time. That is time that you could have also spent doing your core activities. When deciding whether or not to subcontract the maintenance work, one should also account for how these missed hours of work stand in comparison to the cost of a maintenance deal.

Frequency and type of changes

Lastly, one of the most important considerations is the frequency and type of changes that are expected to be required. Of course your own level of competence should also be taken into account here. When you already have some (or a lot) of experience in maintaining websites (for example when you’ve worked with Joomla before, or even have some knowledge of HTML / CSS), doing the work yourself quickly becomes a more attractive alternative.

Conclusion

While it’s great that Content Management Systems like Joomla allow businesses to maintain their own websites, this power also comes with additional risk and potentially higher than foreseen costs. Deciding whether or not to maintain the website yourself should therefore be a careful consideration of cost, risk and time.

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Theo van der Zee

Theo van der Zee

Theo van der Zee is the search engine specialist and blogger for ThemePartner. This company is developing professional Joomla templates. Aside from work I love to go surfing, play some beachvolleyball or read about body language and psychology.

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