What you need to know before building a new website
Building a new website is a big decision. It’s not one that should be taken lightly or made on a whim.
Whether you’re replacing an existing site or starting fresh, your website will have a significant impact on your business. It represents your brand and your offering in the digital world, and more often than not, it will be the first point of interaction between you and your customers.
Many businesses are entirely reliant on their website for the generation of sales and leads, so it’s important to ensure your site is set up on the right foundations. While a well-designed website will put you on the path to success, a poorly built one could lead to disaster.
A new website is also a considerable business investment. There’s the initial time and money you’ll need to put into getting the site up and running, as well as the ongoing management and maintenance that’s required.
As a general rule, your website should last you between 5 to 7 years. Before diving headfirst into such a major commitment, you need to carefully weigh up all of your options.
There are many factors you’ll need to take into consideration to ensure you’re making the right move for your business. To start with, you’ll need to figure out which website building platform and CMS (Content Management System) framework is going to be best suited to your needs.
Drag and Drop Website Builders
Wix and Squarespace are the most well-known platforms in this category. Offering website design templates with customisable features, these sites are geared toward making life as easy as possible for you. Built for simplicity and functionality, these sites allow you to quite literally create your own website from home. Everything is taken care of for you, from domain names to web hosting and more.
In recent years, these platforms have improved in leaps and bounds, addressing a range of initial limitations associated with Search Engine Optimisation (SEO). For start-ups and micro businesses seeking an affordable and convenient solution, Wix or Squarespace could be the way to go.
While drag and drop builders will get you online quickly, it’s best to think of these sites as merely an interim fix. In our experience, businesses that want to build a strong brand will quickly encounter limitations.
When choosing this option, it’s important to remember that these sites do not offer great flexibility or scalability. As you will be basing your website off a set template, you’ll be confined to certain design and structural restrictions.
Similar to Wix and Squarespace, platforms such as WordPress offer a range of pre-defined themes. The difference here is that these templates are often more complex, with a greater range of design features, however, the components of the theme generally come with limited customisable options.
The biggest problem with WordPress templates is the inclusion of unnecessary code. While the intention is to cater for various design possibilities and layout options, the inflated code leads to a slow and clunky website that is difficult to use on the front and back end.
Custom WordPress Site
WordPress is the most popular CMS in the world, powering more than 35% of all websites across the globe. Its market share is greater than all of the other CMS platforms combined (63.2% in April 2020).
Creating a custom WordPress site allows you to design and build your website to your exact requirements. As it will only include the features you need, the code will be kept nice and lean, leading to improved speed and website performance. If your business experiences any changes in the future, its relatively easy for a developer to modify the site as needed without affecting performance or functionality.
While you could try your hand at building your own site with a standard WordPress template, you will need to look at engaging a developer or an agency to code a custom site for you.
Proprietary CMS Platforms
WordPress may be the dominant player in the industry, but it does have a number of competitors including Joomla, Drupal and Kentico. As each of these CMS platforms are less commonly used, they each come with their own unique set of challenges.
For instance, if there is a need to move your site to another agency, there’ll be a limited number of options available to you. It could be difficult to find a developer with the expertise required to manage your system. Alternatively, you may end up paying a lot more money to a developer who will need to spend time learning how to use your CMS.
Custom Business Functionality
eCommerce, web applications and mobile applications are sites that are built for a specific business purpose, as opposed to being content based. As the design of these applications is driven by the User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX), they often require alternative software and a uniquely skilled web developer.
Other Key Factors to Consider
When choosing the most suitable website framework for your needs, you also need to take the following features and functionality into account.
The UI is the sum of what the user sees and interacts with on your site. For example, the UI for Facebook would include the location of the buttons in its mobile app, the meaning of its icons and how easy it is for users to engage with its interface. It’s important to choose a framework that will allow for flexibility and a high-quality UI.
CMS Interface and Usability
It’s easy to forget about what happens in the backend, but arguably it’s one of the most important aspects of your site. If the backend is difficult to use, it affects the time it takes to make changes to your site. Time is money in business, and you don’t want to find yourself weighed down by a convoluted content management process.
A slow and buggy site will reflect badly on your business and it can also have an impact on the effectiveness of your SEO. For this reason, you need to take speed and website performance into account when selecting a suitable website framework.
Data and website security can play a huge role in deciding what technology to use for your site. Your web developer or digital agency will be able to provide guidance on what will be the most secure option for your requirements.
How To Choose The Right Web Development Agency
While you need to select the best website platform for your business, you also need to choose an agency that’s going to provide you with the right advice. You will need to rely on their expertise to help you make good business decisions, so it’s important to work with an agency who speaks your language and understands your needs.
The world of web can be overwhelming if you’re not familiar with acronyms such as CSS, HTML and JS. A good web development agency will cut through the jargon and keep it simple, but not stupid. Here are some of the questions you should ask when deciding which agency to use.
- What is your approach to SEO planning when building a new website?
- What platform will you use and why?
- Will you be designing and building the site using all your own staff?
- Tell me about your design and development team.
- Can I see your web development process?
- What is your process for User Acceptance Testing (UAT)?
- Do you provide a warranty period?
- What ongoing support do you provide post warranty?
- Can I see some examples of sites you’ve built and indicative costing?
If you’re looking for a digital agency to manage your new website project, get in touch with us today. We’ve been designing and building websites for more than 20 years and know how to deliver the best results for our clients.
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