Websites are such an integral part of our daily lives now that we don’t even realize how often we visit them. Consumers use websites for socializing, finding out information, researching products, and finding out about businesses. A recent statistic reports that “The average internet user spends around 4 hours and 25 minutes using the net each day (Wearesocial.Net).” When visiting a site, we expect it to work for us and deliver the information we are looking for. (And it’s very frustrating when it doesn’t do that.) Therefore, a great website must be functional and attractive.
Businesses are dependent on websites to grow and use them as a means to keep current clients updated and to also reach potential ones. It is vitally important to have a website that works properly and has engaging information; you want people to be able to easily find your website and stay on it once they do. A great website is an effective way to generate leads for business and establish your brand identity through online avenues. More and more platforms are becoming available to the business owner to make it easier to create their own website. The real question is… should they?
There are now so many options available to the business owner looking to create a website that it can be confusing. What is the best way to build it? What elements should be on the page? What technology or platform should it use? How will you know that it is built to best practices? We are here to help you navigate through the options of websites and help you determine what would be best for you or your business.
A custom website is one that is built entirely from the ground up using a custom design that is then turned into a website through custom programming. This can be as small as a freelancer who does it all themselves, to a company with a combined design and programming team, through to an agency that has teams of people on the whole process. It all depends on the size of the site and your website needs.
Here are the benefits of custom website design:
> Custom web designs are the way to go if you want more freedom for customization. Since custom designs are completely built from scratch, there is complete flexibility in terms of the design and layout of your website. Marketing elements can be positioned on the website to fit exactly where they can have the most positive impact.
>If you want a website that is completely unique, a custom site is the way to go! This goes hand-in-hand with the point above. A custom website will allow you to have a design that stands apart from your competitors and is built uniquely to suit your brand and your website needs. It also offers greater flexibility to change and alter your website as your business grows (with proper planning).
>A custom website is also great if you already know exactly what you want. If you already have a plan for your website, a custom design will ensure you get just that and be able to implement the features you want. It’s like making cookies from scratch; you get to decide exactly what ingredients go into a custom site.
Some downfalls of custom websites:
> Since custom sites require more work in terms of development, they cost more up-front. However, if you take into considerations the benefits of custom web design, then it is usually worth it in the long run.
A website that we created for one of our on-going clients speaks to the flexibility that custom web design allows. Birk’s Restaurant needed a site that people could visit to find out who they are, see their menu, and make a reservation. They came to us wanting a website that was very image-focused. They had an idea in mind of the design style that they wanted and shared this with us to provide inspiration for their own unique site.
By creating a completely custom website, we were able to integrate images that showcase their restaurant and their renowned dishes of steak, seafood, and other cuisine. In the layout of the website, we also ensured that valuable information was easy to locate. The menu and the Open Table booking system are available on every page. They specifically wanted the food images to appear uncovered by website text so we cust coded the site to ensure the images are front and center with content just a click away.
So custom design results in a unique site that is tailor-made for you. However, it may not be what you’re looking for and a template site is the better option for some.
Some benefits for going with a template web design are:
> Template websites tend to be on the cheaper end. Many people go this route because they are more affordable when first starting out or putting their toe in the water to test a business idea.
> They are easier to launch in a shorter amount of time because the framework for the website is already there and usually it just requires the entry of content and images.
> Template sites are easier to update for people who are unfamiliar with web development. For example, WordPress is a common route for businesses because they are then able to update the content manually and easily and have a flexible platform that can grow with future use.
On other hand, here are some things to consider when going with a template design:
> Templates are limited in terms of functionality; you need to be okay with working within those limitations.
> Templates may sound simple but no matter how simply they are laid out there are always unforeseen issues that appear in the implementation process and actually require quite a bit of extra development time.
> Some platforms offer limited SEO capabilities or require additional fees for SEO capabilities.
The main point is to be sure to know your needs before you choose a website.
Template Horror Story
We had one client purchase e-commerce template site and asked us to then set it up. Since the system was not intuitive, we spent hours of extra time customizing the layout. Upon completion, we discovered that the template purchase process was so extremely clunky that it actually repelled clients and no orders were made online. It would have been more successful to build an e-commerce template, instead of working with the one they had purchased. An initial consultation allows us to discuss what website options there are and prevent possible obstacles such as this.
Template Success Story
A client came to us with a limited budget but needed to get a website up and running so that he would have a web presence to be found online and to direct customers to so that they can learn more about the products he offers. With a limited budget, we were able to get basic information and product information on his website so that people can now find him and he has a basis for future marketing activities.
If you’re unsure of whether or not you should get a custom website or a template website, you are not alone. Most of our clients don’t know what type of site they want when they come to us, and that’s okay! Let us help you figure out what type of website would best suit your business and it’s needs.