This is NOT a post about CO2 emissions or travel to Iceland

Even though I love spending time in Iceland and care deeply about our environment, there is a different reason for the iceberg being the lead image in this post.

Some of our prospects look at proprietary online self-service website builders as alternatives to enterprise-grade CMS systems. Why you may ask? It is simply because they appear so easy to use and competitively priced at first glance.  This is where the iceberg analogy starts to come into play… 

The advertised costs are often a fraction of the real costs over 2-3 years. Often times they are also indicated as a monthly cost while they are billed annually. The typical ranges are between $15 per month to $500+ per month for the platform and hosting alone. More importantly the customer is expected to do all the work themselves, selecting a template, sourcing and adding images, videos, building forms, writing the content and learning how the system works in order to achieve a professional result.

As the design process goes on, additional costs start to appear:

  • Do you need more than x number of forms on your website? 
  • Do you need more than x number of questions on a form?
  • Do you need more than a certain length of videos on your website?
  • Do you need a file download area on your website?
  • And so on…

Many of the things a user never thought about while paying for the first 12 months of service will cause the costs initially regarded as very competitive to rise very quickly as the website or e-store takes shape. 

As the design progresses further there is more bad news on the horizon:

  • Do you need to change the look and feel of the site and use a different template? You may need to start the build process from square one.
  • Do you need to change a small portion of the template on a certain page? You may need to hire a developer from the vendor’s community.
  • Do you need to add a functionality that is not part of the standard platform? You may need to buy a third-party app from the vendor´s community.
  • Do you need to add a functionality that is not part of the vendor’s app community? You may need to hire a developer to develop a custom app.
  • Do you want to switch to a different provider? You may have to re-write your content as content export is not available.  
  • You get my point...

At this stage it becomes very clear that the initially attractive looking cost of the solution is just the tip of the iceberg, not even considering the time investment that is taken from the organization’s core activity. 

So please, keep the image of the iceberg in mind when selecting technologies and vendors for your next web project. You can use the money you save to help the environment and the time you save for a nice trip to Iceland.