Posted on 7th September 2018

Pay as you go web design – the pros and cons

Back to blog

One of the key objectives we set out to achieve when setting up Charity Box was to provide high quality, but mostly affordable web design solutions to charities. To do this, we had to get creative with our pricing and service package.

Unicorns don’t exist, do they?

There is a quality gradient in any professional service industry, and web development is no exception. The mantra “you get what you pay for” is mostly true however, not always.

When you’re shopping around for web design services for your charity, you’ll likely have a reasonable idea of what you’re looking for. You will want something that is high quality and delivered in a timely fashion without costing too much – the elusive unicorn.

At Charity Box, we are able to offer this service to our customers by applying the pay as you go model (PAYG) to website design services.

What do pay as you go websites include?

It varies, and we’ll cover this when we weigh up the pros and cons shortly. But for us, we want to ensure that our charity websites are nicely designed, accessible to people regardless of ability or impairment, include all the features the charity needs to function online and are backed by solid customer support.

So is a pay as you go website right for me?

It very much depends on your organisational needs and personal preference, but here are a few points to help you decide.

Pros of pay monthly websites

? Pay a lower up-front fee

Because pay as you go web design requires an ongoing fee, usually on a per month basis, the initial setup cost is typically low. Many professional website designers charge at least £6,000 to design and build you a site, and this can price many smaller charities out of market. When you opt for the PAYG model, you can lower the barrier for entry and make great web design accessible, which is what we’ve chosen to do at Charity Box.

? Build a genuine long term relationship

Usually the pay monthly web design model includes a suite of services. Our charity web design clients get website hosting, security upgrades and help and support built right into the service, giving genuine peace of mind that their website is in good hands. For many customers, this is preferable to being handed a website and asked to go it alone, and with this agreement in place a lasting and healthy relationship is more likely to flourish.

? Get new features for free

The pay monthly model typically means that there are a number of processes and tools that operate seamlessly behind the scenes. In our case, this means that when we develop new features and add them to our service offering, you automatically get them too! For example, we may add a new payment method to get donations from supporters, or we might create a new fundraising template for you to use in your campaigns. When we do this, as a pay as you go customer you get these new features automatically included in your monthly rate.

Cons of pay monthly websites

? You’re usually bound to a contract

Because businesses are right to want some security in their work, customers will often be asked to commit to a contract of at least 12 months. Whilst we don’t require this for our charity customers, we do charge a small release fee if the PAYG service ends within 6 months of website launch. This commitment can put off some smaller companies who endure fluctuating and unpredictable cash flow.

? Sense of ownership

Conversely to a contract, some customers simply feel like they are in more control if they have paid for a website to be designed and handed over to them completely. This does provide more freedom – you can maintain it yourself or find a cheap provider, you can host it wherever you want and in times of financial difficulty you can pause most associated costs with the website without losing it. For some companies, this sense of ownership and autonomy is preferable.

? Less creative design service

Let’s be honest – if you employ the services of a creative design agency and they put a team of 5 people on your account to deliver a stunning website, the end product is likely to have a greater “wow factor” than the more simple pay monthly option. The only logistical way pay monthly websites can exist is precisely because they don’t offer a bespoke and lengthy creative design process. Both options have merit and in some instances, for example for a large and established charity that needs a dominant digital brand, the PAYG service may not be right.

The final word

As you might expect, there is no clear answer because it depends on your financial situation and your personal preference. Smaller organisations can benefit greatly from a pay monthly web design service while larger companies with dedicated budgets and in-house staff might splash out on something more bespoke. A pay as you go service reduces the barrier for entry and ensures you get a strong online presence, where a custom design service will cost (often significantly) more but may give you that edge in a competitive market.

When all is said and done, most charities simply need an online presence that fulfills their business needs and speaks to their supporters or service users in a meaningful way. The exact model behind service delivery is not hugely relevant and as always, the best advice is to shop around to find the right fit for you.