What is Website as a Service (WaaS)
Website as a Service is a concept where the client pays a regular fee for the product of a fully working, managed, hosted website. There are quite a few elements that make up a WaaS package, but the main ones include; web design, web build, web hosting and web maintenance, all for a regular (usually monthly) fee. New features, extra development, colour changes etc would all be charged outside of the monthly fee for a pre-agreed cost.
In these modern times (2020), it would probably be expected for the website to include SEO best practises such as meta data for all pages, keywords and OG tags, and be optimised for things like page speed, so that Google Lighthouse reports come back fairly positive.
As a standard, the design process would usually include digital branding, colour palettes and any other design materials required to design and build the website. Time would only be spent developing materials that are needed for the website itself, for example time would not be spent developing content for social media posts, flyers, business card etc.
Web hosting in this instance would be covered by the regular fee. Some agencies might offer a tiered regular cost for better or worse web hosting, but hosting the website should never cost a fee outside of the regular fee.
Maintenance is fairly simple when it comes to WaaS. If the website is live, and performs as it did on sign of, you're all good. If performance has dipped, there are regular web outages, or parts of the website don't look or work like you agreed with the client, then you're not all good.
Benefits of WaaS?
The benefit to the client is simple. A fully operational content managed site, out of the box and ready to go for a low regular fee. For e-commerce sites for example, which might cost thousands to get up and running to a high spec, WaaS might be very financially beneficial, as the startup costs would be minimal. The website would also be kept up to date, and usually plugins, themes and other elements (that could become vulnerable to security hacks and attacks if not kept up to date) would be updated on a weekly basis.
Another HUGE benefit to the client is that most agencies offer a free redesign after a set amount of months. Usually they calculate how much a website would usually cost, and then once the client has paid off that in small monthly instalments, they offer a free redesign to essentially start the process again.
The benefits to the agency are fairly simple too - a regular income. You know and can plan how much money will be coming in each month. You also know how much work is likely to come your way per month. Most agencies would agree a monthly fixed amount of time that they agree to spend on the website. Usually 3-5 hours per month comes as standard with the regular payment, and anything outside of this might be charged on top.
Downsides of WaaS?
The downsides of a WaaS to the client are minimal. You have a low startup cost, and can get your digital presence up and running fairly quickly without an expensive outlay. The maintenance and management of the site is all handled, so all you need to worry about is updating content. One downside might be that design changes and or amends outside of the monthly allocated time may become expensive depending on the agency you use. The likelihood is that you will also be tied into a contract for X amount of months, or until the cost of a traditional website has been covered. So if you are paying £50 a month, and the agency decides that the website is worth £1,500, you might be tied in a contract for 30 months. A generous agency would lower this amount.
The downsides to the agency are slightly more obvious. At the start of the process you have a lot of work to do, for not much money. If the website takes you 1 month to design and build, but you're only getting one monthly payment of £50 for your time and effort, the cost / hour is going to be tiny. But a clever agency would use prebuilt templates, or reuse already built elements to speed up the process. There is always the worry that your client might take your lovely designed and developed website and cancel their business with you, but the fact that you (should) host the website on your servers, you (should) have all of the code in your version control repository, and you and the client (should) have signed a legally binding contract - then you shouldn't have to worry about this too much.
If website-as-a-service sounds like it could be the right fit for you, please get in touch and we can discuss everything that we need to get started. Whether you're building a blog, a portfolio, an ecommerce web shop, a directory or anything else, please get in touch and we can get started building your next venture!