Custom website design and development: Build, borrow or buy?

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Recently, Product Hunt (one of my personal favorite reads) posted a collection of services and tools to help people build a website quickly and cheaply. Of course, there are tons more than the ones they listed with more being added every day.

This begs the question, “why would someone build a custom website these days?”

Awesome question! As a pure custom website design and development company, we never use templates or tools when we create a web solution. Our typical client is trying to do something that a template or tool cannot deliver, but there are definitely times where custom is not the best approach.

Here are a few signs that I look for when determining if a custom solution makes sense.

Is strategy, planning or consulting required?

Do you need help writing content, organizing pages, creating calls to action or points of differentiation. Is your brand and messaging solid and do you know how your campaigns & marketing efforts will integrate with it on launch?

Is your budget really small? Is your website just not worth that much to you?

I have had customers tell me “this just isn’t very important to me. I don’t really care about it, we just need something up.” In that case, launch a template with your logo on it and paste whatever content you have on hand.

Is your site is really simple and standard?

No third party application integrations, no e-commerce, no storing data, no conversion improvement programs, etc. Just some pages with words and photos on it. No coordination with other internal teams, specific technology requirements, etc. Basic.

Do you mind looking like someone else?

The downside with templates and site builders is that you can look like others who also used them. This is only an issue if you care about being unique or have very specific desires about how your site looks.

Are you OK with technical limitations or possibly throwing this away later?

Choosing a tool or template means being OK with the limitations that come along with it. Don’t download a template and expect someone to then make it drastically different – it would be faster and cheaper to have built it from scratch. In this scenario, the 70/30 rule applies; get 70 percent of what you want for 30 percent of the cost. When you need it to be substantially different, pitch it and find something else that’s closer. Getting to 80 to 100 percent of what you want almost always requires a custom build approach.

Do you see a website as a means to an outcome or an object to launch and forget about?

Custom website design and development is a service – an ongoing program – where experienced professionals focus on your business goals and reverse engineer a website that achieves them. As your business, technology and consumers change over time (and they will), your web team will continue to advise you on how best to evolve your website and maintain/grow bottom-line performance. No tool or template can modify itself based on shifting business priorities and performance metrics. That’s the role of web agency.

It's also worth noting that most people I speak with don’t actually want a website. What they want is the result they hope a website will give them.

An ineffective solution at any price is too expensive. Be honest with yourself, do your homework and choose the path that you think will best achieve your goals.

Think a custom website design and development program might be best for your business? Drop us a line. We are happy to discuss it.

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