Custom web development. WordPress. Squarespace. Wix. Should I build this website myself? Or do I need to enlist a firm? Can I use a pre-existing framework or is a custom solution in order?
When it comes to web design, it’s very easy to feel intimidated. In this post, I’d like to pose a few questions to help you understand if custom web development is the correct route for you or if a pre-existing solution could get the job done.
Do You Have a Very Specific Vision for Your Website?
When you think about a new website for your business, do you have a very particular image of what you’d like to see?
If you’re flexible with the look and feel for your new website, solutions like Squarespace or Wix may be worth considering. On the other hand, if you’re looking for something very specific, you may want to proceed with caution with these “do-it-yourself” solutions. These solutions are known for limiting the extent of customization without getting a professional developer involved.
To clarify, here are some characteristics of someone who has a “specific vision” regarding their website:
- You have very clear expectations around fonts, colors, buttons & interactions
- When you think of staple components such as portfolios, staff bios and contact forms you have very concrete layouts in mind
- You’re a very detailed person and border on perfectionism
- You value flexibility and not hitting limitations with technology
For some businesses, the main objective is to simply get a website that talks about their products & services, their company and includes an inquiry form. If your company has a lower budget (less than $5,000) and isn’t concerned about the finite details then custom web design may not be the route for you- and there’s nothing wrong with that.
However, if you have the budget and you have a clear vision, custom web development may give you the flexibility you’re desiring.
How Much Will Your Website Need to Scale?
This is another important question when figuring out if you need custom web development: how much will your website need to morph and grow?
At JTS Tech Services, it’s not uncommon to talk with businesses that haven’t touched their website for years. Sometimes it’s an important oversight. Other times, the website simply isn’t that important for their business (hint: this is pretty rare).
If you’re mostly needing a website that will require content updates (i.e. new staff members, new products or services, new case studies) and you don’t have tons of content then you may find that an expensive custom website is overkill. On the contrary, if you’re planning on regularly investing into the features or functionality of your website, it’s not unlikely that you’ll eventually hit a “brick wall” with a pre-canned website solution.
Another consideration with website scalability is how much data or records you’ll have on your website. When I say records, think staff profiles, project profiles, job listings, and other similar items where you’re adding or subtracting entries. If you’re going with a templated or do-it-yourself solution, you may find growing pains are regular and frustrating.
For instance, let’s consider project profiles. Let’s say you own a construction company and you want to showcase your past work in the form of project profiles. You’d like to list out the project requirements, timeline, budget and photos for each of your project. Well, if you have a templated system, generally what happens is you create your first project profile and come up with a layout and a design that you like. After that, when you do your second one, you simply duplicate the first and make changes accordingly.
There’s just one problem with this method… you’re creating a new autonomous layout every time you create a project profile. What happens when:
- You want to change the way your photo gallery work?
- Add a new section for “key project members”?
- Remove a section that no longer makes sense?
With the process I described above, things will get messy quick. Maintaining your website is no longer fun and consequently, it starts to lose its integrity.
So how do you avoid all of this? Well, with custom web development you’re able to define elements as actual records stored in a database. Your web developer would create one master layout for your project portfolios and then each record is simply loaded into that layout when needed. If you make an adjustment to the layout, all of your project portfolios are updated automatically. It’s a simple as that.
Now on to my final question.
How Critical is Your Website to Your Business?
My final question is in regards to how important your website is to your business. Does it generate new leads for you? Is it an e-commerce website that generates 50% of your revenue? For most businesses, it’s usually the case that their website is very important.
When you pair custom web development with a top-notch web development firm you end up with the best result. Going with an off-the-shelf or do-it-yourself solution can seem like a cost-saver in the beginning, but what happens when you can’t fix a fatal error on your website? What happens when you’re wanting to create some new content for an important campaign and you just can’t get the layout right?
For many businesses, they would without much hesitation invest hundreds of thousands of dollars in payroll or real estate acquisition costs. But remember, your website is like an unpaid salesman who works at an online location 24/7. If your business is profitable and your website is important, then creating a custom website that is specifically tailored to your needs is surely worth consideration.
Are you someone that has a specific vision for how you’d like your website to function or how you’d like it to look? Consider custom web development. Are you a smaller startup company just looking to get started out on the web and trying to conserve cash? A pre-canned or do-it-yourself solution may be a good fit.
Is your website a fixed quantity that won’t change much? Or do you want the ability to scale and morph the website as your business continues to grow? In general, custom web development with a reputable firm will give you the most flexibility when it comes to growth.
Is your website essential to your business? Is it critical? If so consider a custom website something that’s a must-have in order to protect your brand and your company. If it’s just not terribly important or if a solution like Squarespace or Wix works for your company, then relax and don’t worry about a custom website until you really need it.
Not sure about any of this? Contact us today and request a free consultation.