Most SME owner managers are over-worked and under-paid so the idea of taking time out to develop a new website – if you’re not specifically involved in an online business –  can seem just about as appealing as a visit to the dentist; a necessary evil, an expensive one and an appointment that you might need some time to get your head around.

Actually – it is necessary, it’s not an evil and it doesn’t even have to be expensive either! Here we outline the main website design approaches and highlight the pros and cons of each. Which option is right for your business? This depends on your budget, your sector, whether you need to be totally unique or not and your preference in relation to being able to control the website design process.

Here’s the 3 options we discuss;

  1. Bespoke Website Design – The ‘Designer’ Approach
  2. Template Website Design – An ‘Off the Shelf’ Pre-Built Approach
  3. Purchased Design Files (PSD’s)- Buy Existing Designs, Build Your Site

1. Bespoke Website Design ‘Designer’ Approach

The starting point for this webdesign approach is effectively a blank sheet of paper – you start from scratch. Your webdesign agency will work with you to design the website pages based on

  • your business requirements and objectives for the site
  • your brand personality
  • the appropriate look and feel in your industry sector
  • your personal preferences in web designs
  • best practice considerations

If you’re working with Inspiration, for example, we would first agree the site map for the website – these are the pages required. Based on the final site map we develop wireframes for each of the main pages. Wireframes are simple black / white / grey line drawings which illustrate what the page layouts will look like and where the content elements will sit.

Once the wireframes are signed off we then design a full home page and potentially other main template pages – this will show you graphically how it will look in practice.

Once the site map, wireframes and the design templates are signed off, the site can be built (Quick tip; don’t wait til this point to get your content together; you can be working on this as soon as the pages are agreed!)

Advantages

  • The website design will be tailored specifically around your business objectives
  • The design will be unique to your business
  • You have total control over all layouts
  • The design will follow best practice from a marketing and technical perspective

Disadvantages

  • Longer lead time as everything needs to be designed and developed from scratch
  • Most expensive option as requires a graphic designer to develop the design files and a technical team to build and optimise the site based on these designs.

2. Template Website Design – An ‘Off the Shelf’ Pre-Built Approach

Website Design | Webdesign Purchased Template Option
Graphic www.themeforest.net 

Another webdesign option is to purchase a predesigned / prebuilt website Theme or Template ‘off the shelf’ and apply your branding, content and images.  There are a multitude of websites out there where you can select a theme suitable to your business / sector, you can purchase & download it and then start to customise it for your specific online requirements. Typically you will need some technical support to get the site live effectively.

As a result of our poor experiences in working with these pre-built templates, Inspiration has designed and built a number of generic WordPress templates which are easy to implement for customers, are mobile and are built with very “clean” code. For SME’s looking for a low-cost but professional website – this is a great option Contact us to learn more.

However well known websites offering themes include http://www.templatemonster.com/  and http://themeforest.net/ . This is a very valid option for clients on limited budgets who have no strong design or layout preferences. Thread cautiously though as in our experience many of these templates are “code heavy” and typically very slow to load. Worse still, they can be very awkward to update, if they are not set up in an optimal manner.

Advantages of Purchased Themes

  • Probably the cheapest option for a website design project. Can be 50% or less of the cost of a Bespoke website design
  • Quick to develop as all design and most of the coding is already in situ.
  • Responsive themes using popular Content Management Systems (CMS) like WordPress, Joomla & Magento are available

Disadvantages

  • Tend to be code heavy and therefore slow to load unless a lot of time is spent stripping out the unneeded code (this then adds cost)
  • Like anything off the shelf it’s not unique and therefore you will likely be sharing the design with many others. Many of these theme sites ultimately look similar to each other.

If you want to take advantage of the upsides of a theme e.g. lower cost / faster to develop etc and to avoid the downsides – talk to us about our own Themes which we can customise to our client requirements. Contact us to find out more!

3. Purchased Design Files (PSD’s)- Buy Existing Designs, Build Your Site

Website Design | Webdesign Purchased PSD Templates Option
Photo by Stuart Miles from www.freedigitalphotos.net/

With this approach you effectively buy the flat page designs and your website developer ‘codes’ the website from these i.e. develops all the code required using your preferred CMS platform. You eliminate the whole design phase and save those costs while also controlling the technical build so you can avoid many of the pitfalls / drawbacks of the purchased theme approach. There are a number of websites offering these including http://themeforest.net/category/psd-templates

Advantages

  • Typically cheaper than the bespoke option but more expensive than using a template or theme (as these are already built)
  • Try before you buy – with this approach you can see exactly what designs you are paying for.
  • Full Control over the coding side therefore code can be optimised for load speeds and mobile devices

Disadvantages

  • Design is determined by the purchased design files so you have less control over look and feel and the layouts than if you designed it from scratch.

Discuss each option with your Website Design partner to determine which approach is most suitable for your webdesign project. No one size fits all – it depends on budgets, how much time you have to devote to it, how fussy you are (!), how unique you want it to be…….. Ultimately you get what you pay for so we would strongly advise on allocating an adequate budget to do justice to your business. Also if you work with an experienced supplier, they will outline all the relevant costs at the outset – clients want to work on the basis of “no surprises” when it comes to budget!

Contact Inspiration today [email protected] or phone 01 230 3184 to talk through your website requirements!

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