Every company should have a website. No matter your size, product, or ambitions, having a digital presence is just a way of life these days. That being said, every company has different needs and goals for their website design. Some websites need to be designed to be hyper functional, with eCommerce platforms and rich media displays. Others simply have to be able to be found, and pass along some key information.
Whatever the functionality of your website might be, there is one thing that’s always important. It needs to speak to your brand. Building a website, no matter how complicated or simple, is an investment in your company. It’s a key marketing tool that will tell customers not only what you sell, but why you sell it. It needs to be informative, intuitive, and impressive, but most importantly it needs to be strategic.
For the most part, there are two options for creating a new website, Building a custom site or utilizing a template. We’ll explore both options a bit, but I’ll let you know from the jump that a custom site is always going to be better than one built from a template. In general they are better designed, more responsive, and have the all-important brand factor built in.
Template Website Design (Or Lack Thereof)
Templates are probably the most common way for people to start building a digital presence. This is the case for two reasons, they are simple and cheap. Many companies, or individual enterprises, will create a WordPress site and apply one of the free, or relatively cheap, templates to give their site a structure. From there they just plug in content to the existing fields and hit publish. It’s a quick and dirty way to get a site up and running.
Recently, companies like Squarespace, Wix, and even GoDaddy, have been making a big push in the template website design market. These services take template web design to an even more basic level, with a simplified user experience and limited design options that even your grandmother could figure out how to use and manage. Websites built on Squarespace or Wix, while clean and functional, are super limited in their functionality, and often come with unneeded add-ons and code that can slow your site down. That’s not good.
There are some workarounds available for template sites that allow you to add customization. You could take the template to a web design professional and ask them to add or alter specific code, but honestly that’s a little insulting to what they do. If you feel up to it, you could try and add custom code yourself, but beware, even a small error or typo could break the whole design. And, even if you do successfully customize your web site design with custom code, it most likely won’t last for long. Developer updates to the template will alter your code and likely throw off your custom aspects.
Custom Website Design
With a custom website design you get exactly what it sounds like, a website that is specifically designed for your company’s needs, goals and audience. From SEO optimized website design, to a user experience that fits your company’s brand, a custom website design allows you to better communicate and reach the customers you are most interested in, giving you a better shot to build connections and grow your business.
Most of the time building a custom website will involve working with an external team to design and develop exactly what you’re looking for. The process usually begins with an analysis of company’s goals and audience, and some creative brainstorming on how to best address each. Your external team or agency are professional marketers and designers, so they’ll know the right questions to ask to get down to the core of your business needs. From there they’ll start presenting you ideas based on their insights.
As you probably know, SEO is key to any website, and custom designed websites are far and away better suited for search engine optimization than template sites. The rules and algorithms that determine SEO can be incredibly nuanced, and not all templates are set up to follow them. Search engines look to give users the most relevant results for each query, and websites with rich content and design built for those queries will automatically pop to the top of the results.
Another benefit of a custom website design that we touched on earlier is the ability to match your company’s brand to the design. In this day and age, considered and consistent branding is a must for every company. If your organization doesn’t already have a brand strategy in writing, then your web design team, or the agency you are working with, would be wise to help you figure it out before diving into your website. Your brand strategy will help guide you through the rest of your marketing decisions, from the design of your website, to the content strategy, to the keywords you will use to target your audience. A template website won’t offer nearly the same branding opportunities as a custom site.
Get The Right Team For The Job
Building a custom website is an investment. It’s not the fastest or the cheapest way to build a digital presence for your business, but it will be the most effective in the long run. By investing in custom website design you are taking a huge step in taking your business to the next level, so you’ll want to make sure you choose the right team to guide you through the process.
A good website design team will start by asking the right questions. Many agencies and website designers view custom websites as more of a partnership than just another job. They want to make sure that they’ll be able to deliver what you’re looking for, and that you’re committed to building something that makes sense. A good agency will take your ideas and push them just enough to show you what’s possible. They know how to build and design websites that work, but you know your business, so make sure the lines of communication are open.
There are thousands of website design agencies out there, so finding the right one might feel a bit overwhelming. But, don’t let the wealth of options scare you off. Take a look at some of the work each agency has done. If you see a website you like, ask for a referral. Also, different agencies specialize in different kinds of websites. From eCommerce websites to industry specific websites, each requires different skills and expertise that another agency may not be able to offer. So, shop around, but make sure that whatever you decide is on brand and works for your goals.
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