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Lately, since a couple of years, I noticed that few of my clients with small "brochure-type" web sites, moved indipendently (and without even notify me) to well known ready-to-use web platforms.

They own the domain name so they requested the transfer etc (it's their right).

That fact did not disturb me too much, they were not very important client, but today I found out that a bigger company, that was my client since 2008, from a day to another moved to a well known platform with an important website.

These web platforms offers nice, neat, responsive, full-featured templates for blogs, website, e-commerce, at a low monthly or yearly price, and you build the site with drag & drop and filling some text areas.

I have worked inside this company and the people there are not web experts but still were able to open an account at this platform, build the site and request the domain transfer when ready.

I wonder if on the middle-long term, this means that web developers are going to be with no work to do. Since 20 years ago only highly specialized experts could do web development, then with time, things became easier and easier and now everyone with a small practice (and with tutorials offered in the platforms) is able to build a web site or an e-commerce easily as you open a blog account.

How do you deal with clients moving to these platforms? It could be an idea to "tie" them with a long term contract (like 5 years etc, even that is not resolutive because after 5 years the cliet still can go away)?

You just let them go since it is their own right to move the domain and hosting where they like most?

Is web development going to die or be limited to the big tailored projects or only to big agencies?

Update: I'm 100% able and experienced in the latest technologies in web development, responsivity, etc etc. The problem is not about not being up to date but I think the clients prefer to pay lower prices (impossible for freelancers) to have a full featured platform and 100% of control.

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Here's the problem with ready-to-use platforms. They are often designed so that all of your cards are on their table. They set you up with their proprietary tech in a way that could make it difficult to export your content to a different site. Things seem great at first until you realize how difficult it will be to move.

From here, these services often go one of two ways. Either they keep hiking up their rates, banking on the fact that it will be too much effort for you to rebuild elsewhere, or they can't get enough customers so they go under and you lose your host. Sometimes they raise their rates quite high and then they go under.

(Not every ready-to-use platform has this problem. Some are big and stable, but they are still often more restrictive than a custom solution)

As a result, you will see an endless cycle. A company selects some ready-to-use platform. Eventually the platform gets too expensive/collapses, they feel burned, and they decide not to use a ready-to-use platform in the future. Some new ready-to-use platform appears, and some new companies go with this new platform until they get burned.

How do you deal with clients moving to these platforms?

Point out the flaws in these platforms - overly restrictive rules, the possibility of price hikes, or the difficulty in leaving later. Beyond that, find new clients.

It could be an idea to "tie" them with a long term contract (like 5 years etc, even that is not resolutive because after 5 years the cliet still can go away)?

You might have trouble getting a 5-year contract to happen. At that point, you now share the biggest flaw that the ready-to-use platforms have - tying the client down unfairly.

Losing clients and finding new clients is a normal part of freelancing. You shouldn't get worked up about it, and you shouldn't be trying to chain down your clients. If you are terrified of losing clients or trying to find new ones, freelancing might not be the right career for you. Or you may just want to hire some marketing staff.

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I think it will be unfair to "chain" them to technology which may have better replacements - as is apparent in given case. Best you could do was to keep your skills updated on new technlogies and map customer requirements to newer ones and help them with migration etc - in the process updating your skills with current technology/ies.

Ultimately it is management which will have upper say in using a technology which has lower investment and is scalable for foreseen future.

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