Do you operate a web development agency? Do you build, launch, host and manage your clients’ websites for them?
If you’ve been in this line of work for a few years and are experiencing significant growth in customer volume, then you’re already aware that site design, administration and updates is extremely time-intensive. Working on many clients’ websites at once is especially hard to do when you’re operating at scale.
And you’re likely to face still more challenges as your customer base grows.
Having to log into each site’s admin panel or hosting setup separately and apply maintenance and upgrades can be overwhelming. The good news is that there are platforms that let you manage all of them from one central control center. But these platforms vary considerably in terms of features, usability and value. Selecting the best one for your agency’s needs can be overwhelming.
Factors to Look at When Choosing a Platform to Manage Client Sites
It is important to choose the right platform if you need to manage multiple sites. Here are some factors that you need to look at carefully.
Security is becoming an even greater concern these days. Nearly two-thirds of businesses that are victims of a cybersecurity breach will fail within six months. It will be even worse for companies that manage websites for their clients. Would you want to pay somebody to manage your website if they didn’t know how to keep your site safe?
The platform itself needs to be secure, as well as all of your clients’ sites. If a hacker gains access to your account, they will have access to all of your customers websites.
The GDPR is a new set of privacy regulations that took effect in the European Union in May 2018. Basically, it demands that every website catering to European audiences provide disclosure information and opt-in mechanisms regarding the site’s data collection policies.
Since European citizens can access almost any website, it is a good idea to ensure that your site is compliant with this new regulation. In addition to making sure every client site is compliant, you need to choose a website management platform that meets the criteria as well.
Finding an affordable website management platform is also important. Some services charge a flat fee, which allows you to benefit from economies of scale as you expand your base of customers.
Some platforms are cheaper than others, but often, you get what you pay for, especially when it comes to uptime guarantees, support availability and the power of the platform’s features. Some are even free – or freemium, at least.
It is also a good idea to use your website management platform for design purposes – if it supports powerful enough design features.
This streamlines web design projects, which minimizes the time you need to allocate to them. You can pass these savings on to your customers.
Popular Platforms for Managing Multiple Sites
There are a number of platforms that let you manage multiple websites. Here are some of the most popular among web development agencies.
Duda is one of the most popular tools for building high-quality websites in a short period of time. This platform has received the PC Magazine Editor’s Choice Award and proudly claims to be the “fastest website builder out there.”
Brandon Klayman, the Founder and CEO of Conscious Commerce, states that it has been extremely valuable for his company. They have built great websites by spending 50% less time than they needed to spend on site builds using WordPress.
There are a number of reasons that Duda is a great platform for managing all of your clients’ domains. One benefit is that you can easily design new sites with a very intuitive drag-and-drop interface. It also has a platform that is accessible from a tablet, so you can easily edit websites on the go.
You also don’t need to spend a tremendous amount of time on your designs. Duda has a number of templates and hundreds of fonts and icons that you can use in your designs.
Most importantly, you will have a central dashboard to manage all of your sites. The Client Management platform has a number of features that allow you to seamlessly manage all domains under your control. These include:
- Traffic and engagement statistics can be automatically emailed
- Domains can be easily connected
- SEO management tools allow you to tweak meta descriptions, titles and other important elements
- White labeled email alerts to clients regarding work flow status changes
- Manual editing of site code and stylesheets
- Site designs can be easily tweaked by various “roles” both on your team and your clients’ teams
Duda doesn’t mention any limits on the number of client domains that you can manage, so I assume that you can add as many as you need. All sites come with SSL certificates, can be set up for dynamic content personalization and can even be easily converted into Progressive Web Apps at no additional cost, which is also a nice feature.
Overall, Duda’s features have been built with the ground up for maximum usefulness to agencies that want to scale.
Gone are the days when you needed to hire a web developer, graphic designer, content management team and an IT guy. This is old world thinking and not in line with all of the advanced technology that is available on the internet today.
These are all key components to not just starting an online advertising or management company, but also how many solutions cater to their customers today. A perfect example of this can be seen through Webflow and the site creation and management tools they offer.
Webflow has created a platform that is built for designers, marketers, and content teams.
- Designers have the ability to create amazing looking sites from scratch, while also having a visual interface that allows for complete control – even if you aren’t a tech wiz or coder.
- Marketers will love the platform for its ability to launch and edit new landing pages based on the needs of the designer. Tweak nearly all components of your landing pages, while also adding in SEO markup and customer quotes without interfering with the original page or site design.
- Weblow also supports advanced content management, as it allows for completely custom content structures which includes tagging, authors, topics and more – all accessible right through the Webflow Editor.
Webflow is free to try, and there is no credit card required, so you can start building out one site today, and then, if you like it, you can upgrade to a premium hosting, account, or team plan to unlock more features.
While the platform is certainly powerful and includes some intriguing functionality, Webflow’s emphasis on visual sheen may come at the expense of overall utility to agencies.
GoDaddy is famous for offering domain registration and web hosting services. It has recently expanded its product offerings to include a free platform known as Godaddy Pro, which allows agencies to manage numerous client websites at once.
GoDaddy Pro has a number of tools that enable you to manage numerous client sites at once. Here are some of the key benefits of GoDaddy Pro:
- You can update every client site with a single click
- Automate WordPress cloning and backups
- Monitor performance and security in real-time
- Manage DNS, setup emails and handle other administrative duties
- Purchase new plugins and features directly from your dashboard
- Enjoy discounts on many website plugins and products
Godaddy Pro is used by numerous agencies to manage client sites more efficiently. However, given that it’s a free platform that operates as a type of springboard for resellers, savvy agency managers might wonder if they’d see better value elsewhere.
With WordPress now powering more websites on the internet than any other platform, it only makes sense that there would be a few standout solutions for multi-site management.
ManageWP looks to not only solve the problems associated with multi-site management, but also has made it as simple as a three-step process as well.
- In minutes, set up ManageWP and add your first website
- With one click, run all updates and create your first backup for free
- Automate your workflow and start saving time
In addition to making it easy for anyone to run and manage multiple WordPress sites, their solution also has built-in security and monitoring to make sure your sites are always updated and safe. This is very useful, as one would alternatively need to log into each WordPress site they are managing, then update them one at a time.
The pricing structure for ManageWP is setup only a “pay for use” basis. Since not every website will need to same tools or features, their plans are based off the needs of each site you manage. Sign up for free, try it out, then upgrade as needed.
If your agency already lives in WordPress, then this might be a good way to go. However, when it comes to design, implementing widgets, hosting, role management and client communication, non-WordPress platforms may have more value.
Wix is a free website builder that is very newbie friendly. It also allows you to connect to your client sites and tweak them at your convenience.
Here are some of the core benefits:
- You can use the Wix Artificial Design Intelligence (ADI) to automatically build a website right in front of your eyes
- More advanced users can take advantage of the Wix Code to create more custom designs
- You can build a site from scratch or use one of over 500 existing templates
Wix has provided a number of features to make website design and management as simple as possible. The platform does support multiple websites within one account and even some child account login roles. However, Wix is hardly made for agencies that seek to maximize efficiency. For example, when launching client websites under custom domain names, you’ll need to purchase a Premium plan for each one. And there are no custom libraries of design elements that you can use across projects.
With Wix often being compared to other platforms like Weebly and Squarespace, you can see a comparative chart on all three here.
Shave the Time it Takes to Manage Client Sites
Running a website design and management agency can be overwhelming as your client roster grows. You will save yourself a lot of headaches by investing in a solution that allows you to manage numerous client sites from a single dashboard.
Make sure that you invest in a platform that lets you make quick design changes and login to all of your client sites from a single interface. You can cut your time by 70% or more if you choose the right platform.