Have you seen the news?
WebDevStudios Acquires Maintainn
Today, website development company WebDevStudios announced the acquisition of Maintainn, a professional WordPress support and maintenance company.
– Marie Dodson, Editor at Torque
Is the agency model truly dead?
My opening post on this site was pretty down on web development agencies. But do I believe there’s any hope at all for the agency model?
First of all, let me clarify what I mean by “web development agency”.
A web development agency is a team of people or a solo freelancer that “builds websites” by providing any or all of the following services:
- Front-end design (the look and feel of a website)
- Back-end development (building the Content Management System used to edit the site)
- Training in the use of the Content Management System (CMS)
- Setting up social media accounts
- Designing email newsletter templates
Businesses that offer the following services wouldn’t typically be described as web development agencies (although web agencies might offer some of these services as well):
- Content strategy
- Online marketing strategy
- Usability and user experience (UX) guidance
- Search Engine Optimisation
These are all essential components of a successful online business platform. They are also all services that can be provided in a consultancy format. They are services that can be delivered in the form of advice that is best provided by highly specialised experts. This advice can then be put into action by your in-house, full-time, dedicated staff (or your polymath self if you are still at that stage).
These sites all offer WordPress fixes and support, either for one-off fees as a problem arises or for a small monthly fee in return for a set number of fixes.
Let’s call this the Maintenance as a Service (MaaS) model. See Wikipedia for the roots of that acronym if you’re not familiar.
I think this is a model with great potential for success. These companies aren’t reliant on taking large lump sums off you and then leaving you in the lurch whilst they look for the next big payout. These companies can offer quick fix services at lower price points to a larger client base. You can build your in-house team and farm out small pieces of development as and when you need it.
Back to the program
Now I don’t want to diss WebDevStudios. Those guys and gals are amazing at what they do. Brad and Dre host my favourite WordPress podcast (the DradCast – check it out) and Brian Messenlehner wrote a brilliant book on Building Web Apps with WordPress.
But I wonder if they worry they’re not serving their customer’s best interests? I wonder if they’ve experienced the same disillusionment I have when the agency model has failed my client?
I can only assume their acquisition of Maintainn is an attempt to round out their offering and avoid these pitfalls. Now that they have a MaaS arm to their business their development team can move from big ticket job to big ticket job safe in the knowledge that their existing client is being taken care of into the future. And all without passing profit to a third party.
The two ways agencies can work in this space
So in summary, building websites is best done in-house by you and your team, but there are a couple of agency type businesses who can help you on your path:
- Consultants with specialist knowledge who can advise you on a specific topic, such as how to structure your content or how to make your site easy to navigate
- Maintenance as a Service companies who provide fixes to problems as and when you ask for them, maybe because you’re short on manpower or because you can’t fix the problem yourself
Do you agree?
So what do you think? Have I misunderstood this acquisition? Are there agencies out there who are nailing it for every one of their clients?
Or perhaps you agree with me on the whole, but you’ve thought of some other agency type businesses that work for building an online business platform?
Let me know on Google+.