Many companies that develop websites and applications claim to be “full service,” meaning they possess a complete range of programming, design and marketing expertise in-house.
In reality — good intentions aside — that’s probably not the case. Internet technologies evolve so quickly, it’s impossible for anyone, or any small team, to master them all.
Every good company will have a subset of specialized abilities. It’s in your best interest to do your research upfront and hire the right firm with the skills and expertise you actually need.
The first step is to determine the goals of your project:
- Are you looking for a simple, manageable website to bolster your online presence?
- Are you looking to aggressively attract customers and enact a marketing strategy?
- Or are you trying to develop a living, breathing web application that will process information?
Looking for a simple site? Choose a WordPress developer
WordPress is the most popular blogging platform in the world. With inexpensive themes, free plugins and widgets, it is easy to develop all kinds of websites. As an independent blogger or small business, you can’t go wrong with WordPress. The software is free, hosting is easy to find, and you can easily add functionality with drag-and-drop widgets.
WordPress developers and other independent web developers can help you get yourself or your business online at an affordable price point. Even with a customized design adapted from a template, you can probably get a quality website developed for a few thousand dollars, whereas a simple site could cost you even less.
Looking to hone in on prospective customers? Choose a marketing agency
The line between marketing agencies and internet development companies has become blurred. As more and more online marketing channels open up, traditional agencies have had to adapt to stay relevant. This often translates into hiring in-house web development staff or forming partnerships with tech-focused firms.
The key value a marketing agency brings is in strategy development and branding of your firm. Once they have a plan, that plan can be translated onto your website and beyond. Urban Lighthouse does website and application development for several prominent Calgary marketing agencies and we understand the immense value of their work. We’re not marketers, but we know that an integrated marketing approach across all media can ensure brand consistency and reinforce advertising effectiveness.
There are two potential drawbacks to electing a marketing agency. The first is that you might end up paying more for development if the agency outsources the programming work. The second is that your website will end up being more about marketing than process improvement or functionality. With agencies, it’s quite easy to spend $10,000 to $15,000 on a website.
Looking for something intelligent? Choose a custom app developer
Full disclosure: As custom developers, we’re a little biased when it comes to this section. Custom applications are our bread and butter, and we are damn good at making them. Sure, we can develop in WordPress and create slick sites that align with marketing strategies, but those projects aren’t the ones that get us super-duper excited — like small-child-on-Christmas-morning excited.
Custom development companies put programming first. They build database-driven applications that are products themselves or improve the way a company does business. Web and mobile apps aren’t about direct advertising or improving your web presence, they’re built primarily for function.
Custom app developments are typically larger-scale projects. Compare a website for your neighborhood video rental store that shows you its hours of operation, address, phone number and maybe some new releases, to Netflix. Netflix revolutionized the video industry by making it possible to stream unlimited movies for one low price. It wasn’t an incremental improvement in sales and advertising. A great application can transform an industry. Only a talented team of custom developers can take on projects of this nature.
If you need any help deciphering the type of web developer you need, contact the Urban Lighthouse team and we’ll point you in the right direction.