A Website as a Service (WaaS) is a service that provides website design, hosting, security, updates, and ongoing support for a low setup and an ongoing monthly rate, instead of as a one-time price.
With the popularity of “as a Service” products, like SaaS, PaaS, IaaS and other variations of this model popping up, there is some misinformation about what exactly a Website as a Service offer should include.
In this post we cover:
If you come across an offering and it doesn’t include these things, it is not WaaS, as I will explain why in more detail below. Essentially the “as a Service” model should keep the end user from having to worry about the basics of the website for as long as they have it. WaaS must include these things.
There are variations on all of these, but the one I see people leave off the most, is the ongoing website updates. Some do not provide design updates at all, and some only provide design updates every 2, 3 or even 4 years out. This is NOT a WaaS offering.
The initial design and development of your website.
The server environment that your website and all of its files and database live.
Regular updates and testing for ongoing functionality improvements.
Ongoing support to help ensure that the website matches the level of service and quality you provide.
Ongoing front-end design updates to keep your site up to date and modern.
Website, server, fraud and browser protections, including SSL certificates.
Regular backups and a recovery plan to get you back up quickly if something goes wrong.
Ongoing service and maintenance to make sure everything is running smoothly.
Website design, and ongoing design updates, are important to a WaaS service for several reasons, but to understand those reasons, we must first understand what the “as a Service” model is, what the benefits are of things like SaaS and why it is so popular.
SaaS is a really popular buzzword in business right now. For a bit of a better understanding of this model, I will go over some familiar options:
Office 365 is a SaaS (Software as a Service). If you remember their old model (still available) you would shell out roughly $300 for a CD, DVD or even a Floppy Drive in the good ol’ days. Then you would install that on your computer. In a couple of years, when it was so outdated you would be forced to update, so you would shell out another couple hundred dollars per person.
This had several drawbacks. People and businesses were always behind. It was an expensive chunk to dole out every so often, so companies would wait as long as humanly possible to update, sacrificing productivity, time, frustration and typically forcing users to jump between versions with drastic design and functionality changes.
O365 gives them the option to pay monthly and always stay up to date. No more worrying about how “out of date” is too “out of date” and going through a massive migration.
QuickBooks is very similar to Office 365. Users found themselves on outdated technology and features and extremely costly, time consuming and frustrating to migrate to newer versions. Especially if there were more than one version between them, which happened often for the same reasons stated about Office 365.
Now QuickBooks has an online version that is always up to date AND is always available in the cloud. No more running on old software, using dated technology and having to hire outside help to manage massive migrations and updates to the accounting software.
Unlike the first 2 examples, AWS is not just a SaaS offering, it is also PaaS and IaaS as well (Platform as a Service and Infrastructure as a Service). [Sidebar: This is what we use as a hosting platform]
Before this offering if you wanted to have your own server you had to set something up inhouse, racks, firewalls, routers, switches, cooling, CPUs, RAM, etc., or hire a company like RackSpace to do it. Spinning up and down a server was a massive undertaking, that required planning and serious expense. Especially if you got it wrong and didnt project growth correctly.
Enter AWS with Platform as a Service. They remove the need to worry about the underlying infrastructure and allow the subscriber to spin up whatever resources they need, for however long they need them. Saving the need to project for the future, plan out components, etc. Now they can spin up the server they need right now, and scale it up (or down) as needed. Awesome.
So much like these products, you should not have to worry about the website design of your site, going out of date. I have seen some try to get out of this by saying this should be “Website Design as a Service” but that is not correct. With Office 365, QuickBooks, AWS and all other “as a Service” offerings, it sets up the infrastructure to allow the user to just focus on their content, and not have to worry about if something is behind or outdated, that includes the design when it comes to a website. As that is the most important part of the website.
There are 3 main benefits to the “as a Service” model being applied to website design and everything required to properly run and maintain a website.
Instead of paying 3 – 5k for a well built, medium sized website, you spend a much smaller setup, from $400 – $1,000 and a monthly fee that ranges from $150 – $600 per month. The monthly can range based on how many new requests and changes per month that are included, to advanced functionality, like integrations, chat, eCommerce, scheduling and anything else that you could possibly need your website to do, including social media sites, bookings, events, multi-vendor eCommerce website, and more.
With a website the old fashioned way, where you pay for the site as a product, what typically happens is the website goes live, and it is great and modern. The internet is fickle however, and there are 3 major things to account for.
This goes along with a website design never depreciating as well, but it also includes some level of support and update requests.
From being in website design and development for a long time now, I know that it is common to want to change your mind. Something that works today, no longer works tomorrow. Something you liked yesterday, you no longer like today.
A website is a moving living thing on a fast moving, always updating, internet. Ongoing maintenance and support allows businesses to be flexible with the rest of the internet.
Updates, especially on highly functional and complicated websites, are always going to have to have special attention paid during updates. Does everything still work correctly? Does the design still look the same? Do all of the links and pictures work?
WaaS offerings like ours add automation to this. Our update process launches a new subdomain, runs scripts we write specific to each website to make sure everything is functioning properly, then, pushes the update if all the checks pass the test, and alerts a member here to do a brief manual check as well. If it fails then a member is alerted before the update is pushed.
Sometimes this happens several times a day, sometimes several times a week, but it is important that ongoing maintenance is included to make sure there are no unexpected out of pocket expenses.
We have seen pricing ranging from $200 to a $3000 setup and a monthly charge of between $100 and $600 per month. This typically depends on how complicated the website is. A basic informational website with some contact forms and a chat will be a lot less expensive than a website with eCommerce, multi-vendors, payment gateways, and events.
Our pricing ranges from $800 to $1,750 for setup and $179 to $349 monthly, with no contracts.
For as little as $800 you could have a site that competes with the largest corporations.
Here are some things to look out for when looking for someone for website design as a service.
ExecuServices WaaS tries to go above and beyond what others are doing and providing. While we are not the first to call ourselves “WaaS” I believe we are the first to actually offer it in the U.S. as it actually should be.
We are offering a mockup of the home page of your website for new clients that sign up this year.