As a fully integrated design and digital agency, we receive a remarkably high number of website enquiries from businesses who are increasingly frustrated with their web design agency, who they tell us have ‘locked down’ their website.

What this means in a practical sense is that their web design agency has greatly restricted the access the business has to edit it’s own website. Whilst these businesses are able to update their blog section (the very least that you would expect!), post the official ‘go live’ date they find themselves in a position where they are unable to carry out even basic changes to their site i.e. adding a new page, uploading media and so on, and are forced to come back to their web design agency every single time.

web-design-hourly-rate-card, web design agency, Bournemouth, London

So what’s really going on here?

Whilst there are some small advantages to clients offered by this ‘lock down’ approach, i.e. ensuring no one in your Team can unintentionally upload large media files that slow down the website, or accidentally move or delete pages and/or break the site’s navigation, generally it’s felt by clients that these pros are far outweighed by the cons of having to explain to your MD or Board why you will now need to find additional budget every month on top of your initial (often sizeable) outlay on your new site for ‘editing.’

A web design agency can ‘lock down’ your site in a number of different ways, depending on the type of CMS platform they have built your site on. Sometimes it’s a simple matter of boxes the agency chooses to tick or not to tick when setting up your admin account. The most common however, is that they talk you into letting them build your site in their own ‘custom’ content management system (CMS).

Here’s 4 consequences of this that your new web design agency aren’t likely to tell you about when they’re pitching you their custom CMS:

#1 It’s a package deal – you’re married to us now

Your new web design agency are the only ones who have the files for and understand their CMS platform. They built it after all! What this means however, is that with most custom agency CMS systems, if you fall out of love with your agency for any reason (you know that Developer you actually liked? He quit last week) they suddenly reveal that you can’t take your site anywhere else. Oh, and by the way, all your website’s content and data are now essentially ‘locked in’’ with that web design agency too, and more often than not, there is likely no export/migration plan in place. Your only option is to start all over again from scratch!

#2 We’ll force you to pay our hourly rate for basic updates you could of done yourself

As hourly rates go, web developer’s aren’t on the cheap side and most web design agencies charge on a basic hourly rate. The result of this is that when one day you ask your agency to update one picture on your homepage, come the end of the month you are smacked with an invoice for an hour of work (or more likely several hours of work). Suddenly it’s harder and harder to justify your spend to your MD and you find yourself taking a ‘that’ll have to do, it’s not THAT bad’ approach to your website. Inevitably one of two things happens. Number one: the quality of your site suffers, your sales suffer, your business suffers. Number two: you end up spending valuable marketing budget on small updates to your site that would have been much better invested into Google Adwords, SEO or even a completely different marketing channels or area of the business altogether!

#3 Our custom CMS isn’t that great

Many digital agencies pitch their custom CMS to potential clients by saying that the available CMS’ on the market simply aren’t good enough for their ‘complex requirements.’ The problem with this statement is that it implies that two developers sat in the corner of their office looking after their custom CMS whilst they also juggle client work are more likely to produce a better quality CMS than say, WordPress, Drupal or Joomla. As a specific example, custom CMS’ often perform poorly from an SEO perspective. Our digital team have even seen custom built CMS systems that didn’t even provide the client with the ability to change URLs or add meta descriptions! Needless to say, their custom CMS is unlikely to be able to compete with the state of the open-source market.

#4 It’s a project in itself that takes time away from our time spent on your account

Developing custom CMS systems takes up a great deal of a web design agency’s time, energy and resources – not only in the initial build, but also the constant maintenance and this takes their attention away from serving their clients. Perhaps less of a problem when you know your client’s can’t leave you because they wouldn’t have a website anymore!? Our job is to help our clients succeed through their website, whether that means selling more tickets or products/services etc, our time is most definitely better spent helping our clients.

web-design-hourly-rate-card, web design agency, Bournemouth, London

So CuCo take a different approach.

We build our websites on WordPress, and other highly customisable open-source CMS platforms that are built upon the shared knowledge of millions of current developers and users.

We don’t believe in hidden costs, or ‘locking you in’ with us. We believe that if you pay for us to design and build you a website, you should have access to it once the site goes live. We believe that if we build solid relationships with our clients based on transparency, accountability and trust, you won’t want to leave (but it’s still your choice!) We are confident in our level of client service and the quality of our work.

If you want to discuss an open-source solution for your website, our experts are here to help! Get in touch today. We’d love to hear from you!