Is Web Development a Commodity?Monday, August 1, 2011
Over the past decade or so, web hosting companies have been trying to reverse the trend in the industry thatís pushing it toward commodification.
Whatís a commodity market? Itís one where competition is based solely on price, in which the end-user doesnít care about where the product came from because there is little to distinguish one from another; if youíre buying soybeans by the ton or spools of copper wiring, it doesnít really matter who your supplier is, assuming the product meets an acceptable standard of quality.
Why do hosting companies face this issue? In many cases, end-users donít care about the hosting itself, they just want the cheapest price. Of course they wonít be happy if the server is down half of the time, but assuming a minimum level of uptime and performance, they wonít care who made the product, unlike a pair of shoes, a car or something else they take pride in owning.
Of course, some hosting companies have successfully addressed this issue, retaining loyal customers even when other companies try to undercut them on price. They do this with things like value-added services and excellent support. They make sure their clients are happy and remain loyal.
What lesson can a web development company learn from this? If it isnít careful, it can face the same type of problem. If this company is just building sites and throwing them over the wall to let the client deal with them, thereís no reason for the client to stick around when someone comes along offering them a lower price.
So if you run a web development company, how can you differentiate yourself? You do it just like hosting companies do, with value-added services and excellent support. Donít just launch a clientís website and never talk to them again ó is their content being continually updated? Do they have a good marketing strategy in place? Do they call you every time they need to update their site, or have you provided them with the tools and knowledge to do this themselves?
Being a successful web development company requires a lot more than just building websites; if you put your clients in a position to succeed and help them along the way, you will be as valuable to them as they are to you.