We understand why so many agencies pride themselves on their ability to craft custom solutions to their clients' unique problems. But even highly customized websites are built upon many "standard-issue" components. So why is it that so many agencies reimplement similar functionalities every time they build a new site?
If you're wondering why you can't seem to capture the margins you're after on custom site builds, consider this: Customization may not be the problem. The real culprit? The basic features you build again and again with each new project. Rote repetition — that's what is really driving up costs.
The solution can be found in something that sounds an awful lot like the problem: repeatability. Here's what you need to know.
How Does a Repeatable Web Development Solution Work?
There are great tools out there for agencies that build the same simple sites over and over again. It’s a solved problem. We’re talking about agencies whose sites have similar needs but still require more custom solutions, be those similar data groups, scheduling tools, or any other industry-specific must-haves. Delivering on these requirements is a more sophisticated problem that requires a more sophisticated solution.
A platform or process allowing for strategic repeatability is the solution.
Let’s say your agency builds sites for a number of clients in the same vertical. Due to the nature of that vertical, there is some overlap in what those clients need from their sites. Healthcare sites are typically going to offer some kind of portal access, for example. However, these clients also require some level of customization on their sites, such as advanced security features and other deviations. There’s not a cookie-cutter, off-the-shelf solution that will deliver the functionality they need.
But there is some overlap in their needs, and that’s where your opportunity lies.
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Many agencies like yours spend too much time reinventing the wheel with each new website build. You can benefit from repeatable solutions that eliminate redundancy in both the website build stage and in the ongoing maintenance of those sites. How many of these boxes do you check?
Repeatability Frees Up Resources and Empowers You to Focus on Innovation
There are a few ways in which building a repeatable solution can save you time, money, and internal resources. We’ll expand on these below, but the short and sweet version is that doing so can help you:
- Improve maintenance and security. When you take advantage of a platform enabling repeatability, you allow the burden of maintenance and security to be shared across all clients on that platform.
- Save more as you grow. When you create platforms or processes that support multiple clients, you’re going to sink some additional time into planning. But as you scale, the opportunity for savings grows along with your business.
- Free up internal teams. When you have a platform in place that allows for repeatability, you can manage tasks like keeping dependencies up to date, maintaining security best practices, and addressing security risks at the platform level, instead of for each individual site. As a result, you free up your team to focus on addressing client desires and developing features that will move the needle for your clients.
When you have more bandwidth to focus on exciting new features and other client-pleasing technology, your business can thrive. The behind-the-scenes work is important, but it’s not what excites potential and existing clients. Once you get rolling with repeatable solutions, there is no ceiling on these benefits.
Repeatability Does Not Mean Limiting Your Options
We’ve provided a number of clients with the tools and platforms necessary to build repeatability into their processes and workflows. We understand your reticence about doing things differently. But we’ve also seen time and again how much benefit there is to be had for agencies struggling with this problem — whether they realize it or not.
One concern we want to dispel right off the bat is the notion that opting for a repeatable solution (like a codebase) somehow means limiting your clients. Quite the opposite, actually. Think of it this way:
You have sites A, B, and C to build, and they all have pretty much the same needs. You have your platform for repeatability in place, so you can deliver these sites very efficiently. Then along comes site D. This site has much more specific needs and a more sophisticated vision. It still needs what sites A, B, and C got — and then some.
That’s great. Because you already have a foundation in place, you are free to focus more intently on client D’s unique requirements. By eliminating the rote repetition of reimplementing overlapping functionality, you’ve freed up time and resources to focus on those unique needs that actually demand more customization.
This extends into site design as well as development. You’ve got the building blocks of functionality in place, but you aren’t locked into anything in terms of visual design. If you have a client that needs a number of sites that share similar designs, that’s totally fine. Plenty of savings there. But if you have clients looking for more sophisticated brand integration on their sites, that’s also no problem — you’ve got time to devote to it because you’ve already got the basic functionality covered in your platform.
Streamline Behind-the-Scenes Work to Deliver on Client Expectations While Scaling Your Agency
Think of repeatability as another tool in your arsenal — one that allows you to excite your clients while you scale your business successfully. Repeatability offers benefits when building sites, but there are long-term, ongoing benefits as well.
Clients don’t necessarily care about the behind-the-scenes work that makes their sites run securely, right? They aren’t wowed by the fact that no one has hacked their site. We're not saying this work isn't critical. Your clients will surely notice if they do get hacked or things start to break. Still, these foundational elements just don't provide the wow-factor of new features they see in the browser.
When you’re building sites and solutions in a repeatable way, you’re keeping costs down as you grow. That first site you build is where a lot of the investment happens. Maybe you’re spending 10 hours a month maintaining that single site. But then the next site only brings that maintenance time up to 12 hours. Eventually, you’ve got 10 clients using your platform, but only 15 hours of maintenance monthly.
This is where those profit margins really start to show. You’re not building new tools for every individual site as a standard practice. You develop a great new tool, and it’s available to every site at that foundational level. Meanwhile, your internal team is innovating cool new features that excite your clients — and win their loyalty.
Consider the areas of overlap (those functionalities that you’re currently building out for every site, be they workflows or web tools used across sites) and abstract them into a platform or process that is more easily repeatable. There’s opportunity there — a very scalable opportunity (and opportunity that you may need a partner’s expertise to uncover). It’s not about giving up customization. It’s about customizing only where customization makes sense.
Take Advantage of the Savings and Opportunity Repeatable Solutions Create
Repeatable solutions, including platforms like the codebases mentioned above, can solve a lot of problems. They can reduce the cost of building custom sites as you scale. They can also free up your internal teams to focus their time on more worthwhile tasks and projects. But before you can take advantage of repeatability, you need to identify areas of opportunity within your agency and your client work.
This is where you may struggle a bit. Our expertise allows us to help agencies like yours pinpoint the areas of overlap where they have the most to gain by eliminating them. From there, we can build the platform and tools your internal team needs to implement repeatable solutions. Depending on your size and resources, we can also handle the implementation and maintenance side of things. But it all starts with identifying the opportunity, and that’s something a lot of agencies need our help with.
Having trouble finding areas of overlap and opportunities for repeatable solutions? Not sure how to manage your growing ecosystem of sites, but know that something has to give? Let’s talk about what a platform enabling repeatability can do for you.