A fairly small company I know keeps a competitive web presence for its size, and the way they achieve this is quite interesting. They have an arrangement with a bright local web designer involving just a relatively small fee, payable each month (my guess is that it’s no more than about £400). For this, they can throw ideas at the designer whenever they arise, and see them implemented within a few days.
The result is that the company’s website has been developing substantially over the two or three years the arrangement has been in place, keeping up to date with trends and opportunities without ever needing to go the the expense of a major redesign. Whenever the company reads about something they’d like, from the incorporation of a “Twitter panel” to a new category heading, they just fire the idea over to the designer and it gets done. From the smallest tweak to a major overhaul like introducing responsive design, nothing is outside the arrangement.
This isn’t rocket science, but the difference between this way of working and conventional “payment by the hour” stuff is huge: things actually get done. So many small changes to a website never happen because it doesn’t seem worth raising a PO, and anyway, the designer’s minimum charge makes it expensive. The change gets put on a to-do pile but never actually gets done.
I know plenty of web designers who would be delighted to have an arrangement like this, and any company which can’t devote £5,000 a year to its website development is going to find it increasingly hard to compete. If your site barely changes from one month to another, maybe this could be a better way of working.