With the rise of websites like Squarespace, Weebly and others, it’s easier than ever to start creating a website on your own. We often use WordPress as a content management system and create custom themes for our clients, yet there are thousands of free themes available.
I’m going to address the big, digital elephant in the room: Why invest in a custom website when the barrier to entry is so low these days?
1. Making websites is hard.
That’s why I have a job. Even if the services mentioned above make it easy to pick a template and update content on your own, it’s difficult to create compelling, interactive and action-oriented content for your users that’s updatable and works well on phones and large screens alike. It’s one big balancing act.
A skilled web team is constantly thinking about your key audiences, making things easy to find, writing and designing great content, making user actions more prominent and connecting these actions to your business operations to make processes more efficient.
2. Businesses are snowflakes: No two are alike.
Every business we work with has different branding, products, goals and systems, requiring different (read: custom) approaches to developing each website. Even companies in the same field with similar goals will have different products they are promoting, actions associated with those products, and internal processes for handling products and customers. Instead of fitting your business into a pre-defined template, wouldn’t you rather create a website that reflects your business needs?
3. We create content for people with specific needs.
Many firms design websites for businesses. We design websites for people. At the start of projects, we prioritize users and create personas that outline behaviors and explain how to satisfy our key audiences on the website. These personas guide us throughout the entire development process to make sure we address the needs of real people.
We also consider extreme users, which helps to create better websites for all. Instead of designing only for an average user (female, age 33, 2.1 kids), we’ll also design for the not-so-savvy 68-year-old color-blind male with a middle school education who lacks fine motor skills. Attention to user needs requires time and careful consideration, and it creates a much better web experience for everyone.
4. Websites don’t exist within a vacuum.
These days, websites are a central part of business and connect to many external services and apps. You might want custom feeds from social media, such as Facebook, Twitter or Instagram, on your website. You might want to connect form submissions or user login authentication to your CRM system. You might want to display events from an external calendar, integrate e-commerce or add an e-newsletter sign-up. While there might be plugins or widgets available to do some of these on template sites, more sophisticated integrations usually require some level of custom web development, especially if you want these features to feel like your website.
5. All templates have limits.
In an ideal world, there would be an extremely powerful and intuitive template to create websites with no coding involved. Unfortunately, every template we’ve used functions far from this reality. Instead of designing for a business or user, it often feels like we’re designing to fit into the template. Custom web development allows the best of both worlds: building on top of a great content management system to create an easy way for you to update your content and create new layouts so that it displays nicely to users.
In short, these are the reasons we do custom web development for our clients. That said, in some cases, when our clients have fewer technical requirements, a template-based website is the right fit. Both options, though, require an investment in customization to stand out. We’re happy to work with all of our clients to create a website that fits their (and their users’) needs.
Daniel joined Neuger Communications Group in 2008. He is an experienced web designer and developer with a passion for creating functional and user-centered custom websites and mobile apps. He enjoys creating and employing websites and other technology-based solutions to help clients meet their goals. Daniel is a friendly guide for our web development clients, effortlessly translating tech-speak into language they can understand. Read More »