Treat Your Website as a Service
BY Jason Bland
WaaS: You need to know what this means
The concept of Software as a Service (SaaS) dates back to the 1960s. As computers became more mainstream in daily business operations, the software that made these machines work was generally a one-time purchase per version. Over the last 30 years, the majority of software was sold using the standard model of selling a version and making users upgrade every two to three years.
Enterprise users learned a long time ago that this was an impractical way to maintain their software. Their needs changed frequently and their software needed updates monthly, not biannually. Thus, software developers could offer SaaS solutions. SaaS gives developers a monthly stream of income, allows them to accelerate software development and, by doing so, to meet the changing needs of their clients.
With the advent of cloud computing, powerful mobile devices and faster internet, boxed single-version software is quickly being replaced by cloud applications with monthly fees. QuickBooks software users are no longer upgrading every two to three years, they are moving to the $12 to $40 QuickBooks Online. Adobe Systems in 2013 stopped selling their Creative Suite and individual software, and instead users now pay $29 per month for an individual application or $49 per month for Creative Cloud and access all of their software. Freelancers and businesses that used to get hit with $1,800 to $3,000 license fees every two to three years now pay a convenient monthly fee and always enjoy the most up-to-date offerings from Adobe.
While SaaS has gone from a Fortune 500 standard to the cloud software solutions used by startups, small businesses and households, websites have not followed suit.
Website as a Service
Your law firm’s marketing process needs to be dynamic. It needs to be monitored and updated, and it must adjust to changes from legislative reforms, market influence, competition, demographics and so on. Yet websites remain in this cycle of:
1. Fresh design and programming.
2. Design goes untouched for two to three years.
3. Website is stale and obsolete in four to five years.
4. Rebuild and repeat.
As your website limps along in obsolescence for a few years, you miss out on new cases. It becomes that thing you need to deal with instead of a valuable part of your marketing plan.
Some companies are already starting to coin the term “Website as a Service” or WaaS, but it is far from mainstream and probably four to five years away from being a common practice among law firms.
What the concept promises is an ever-evolving website. Rather than the current pattern of design, stale, obsolete, redesign, stale, obsolete, a WaaS model keeps your design, content and back-end framework always up to date. As users expect new features, new layouts and compatibility with new devices like smart watches and Google Glass, your website can adapt. Instead of buying and waiting then
re-buying, you are paying for ongoing service.
If you have recently built a new website, you don’t have to wait for a WaaS solution to knock on your door to try one. You can treat your website as a service by budgeting for website updates throughout the year. Whether it’s design changes, programming upgrades, features, content or all of the above, your website should never be considered complete. It should be a living, growing, changing organism that reflects your living, growing and changing law firm.
What WaaS solutions will promise in the future, you can deliver today simply by making your website a priority. People are using various devices to access the internet but they are still looking at websites. Whether it’s on a five-inch screen, a 10-inch iPad, a one-inch watch or a frame in the corner of a client’s eye, your website needs to be there and adapting to every form of media. Therefore, your website’s look, feel and framework should be an ongoing investment and never crossed off your list as “done.”
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