Web design is a very lucrative industry with almost every company or business no mater how big or how small requiring a web presence.
What is required from a company website depends on the business with some businesses simply needing a website to display company information, basically a digital business card, others use their website as an online brochure to showcase their products and services - note the term brochure website - then there are the eCommerce websites or online stores where businesses use their website as a digital store to sell goods either as well as their high store or instead of, then there are the online businesses where the website itself offers a service that is chargeable.
When people are planning a website they also need to choose who will develop this website for them or whether they are in fact going to have a go themselves and this is where many companies have failed or ended up with a poor website simple by not researching their web designer or choosing software ill equipped to produce the desired results.
For people who simply want a web presence and have a very limited budget, online site builders such as WIX and Weebly can be the answer and as professional web designers we understand that these people are not our clients so we have nothing against these systems, however some people use these systems believing that they can build a great, professional looking website with loads of cool features that will dominate the search engines.
The truth is that systems such as WIX and Weebly are very limited in what they can do and many people start with a free package, because this is how WIX for example promotes themselves, 'get a website for free with WIX ' then when they realise the Free package is very basic and has third party ads they upgrade and upgrade trying to make the website work the way they want it work and end up getting billed £15 - £20 a month, forever, for a website that is very basic and your clients think you have done for free, which isn't a great first impression... Another problem with WIX is that they are simply not built to do well on the search engines, now recently Wix claim to have made their sites more search engine but I'm afraid the jury is still out and their are still 1000's of posts online from people asking 'Why wont my WIX site rank' or 'How do I get my WIX site to rank on Google'
In summary online drag and drop website builders such as WIX or Weebly are OK for a veru simple web presence, something to print on your business cards or to use on your email signature so clients can visit your website but if you want unique features and want your website to get found on Google then drag and drop builders are not for you.
Open Source Content Management Systems such as Wordpress, Joomla, Concrete etc are called this because the source code is open source meaning anyone can download it, view it, tweak it and anyone can contribute to it. The most popular open source content management system around is Wordpress, its popular because it's free to install has lots of free add-ons and is quick and easy to learn.
Wordpress started its life as a blogging platform but lots of people now use it as a basic website and don't even use the blog part of it.
Wordpress is a great DIY tool, and if you don't want to pay for a web developer and know your way around a computer , the internet and consider yourself a little tech savvy then this is the route for you, however, it does have its drawbacks, it is very code heavy, it needs to be because of the way it's designed, but this makes it notoriously slow and the mistake people make is installing add-on after add-on to enhance its features and many Wordpress users have ended up with unusable sites that take a full minute ( an eternity in internet time) to load.
Another issue with open source content management systems is hacking. Hacker simple love them and Wordpress sites are the most hacked websites in the world due to the open source code that any hacker can download, read and find vulnerabilities and then there is the whole add-on system which sounds great on paper but allows a hacker to hide malware and virus's in innocent looking add-ons that are then offered to users for free.
Ever week their is new patch released or a new warning about a dodgy add-on so if you are willing to monitor your site 24/7 install patches and upgrades as soon as they are released then Wordpress and other open source content management systems can save you a fortune, I wouldn't recommend open source for large corporate sites, the risk is just too high, for a personal blog or a small business the risks are nominal but do your research before installing.
Bespoke Web Design is a term that is often misused, usually by the novice 'have a go' weekend web designers using the drag and drop software or the open source content management systems mentioned above. These amateur web designers dupe their clients into using there services either intentionally or due to ignorance of the industry that they claim to be a part of, by using the term bespoke design and making clients believe that they are in fact professional web designers and not someone taking money off people and using free readily available tools that their client could simply use or download themselves.
Bespoke web designers do not use drag and drop software or open source content management systems, bespoke web designers are professional coders who are able to build websites from scratch from the ground up using unique, bespoke code which is safer and more streamlined.
With Bespoke web design you get the site and the features that you want rather than a having to settle for what is available as a tool or as an add-on.
Medium to large companies will generally use a bespoke web designer to design and developer their company website so that they can not only portray a more professional image to their clients but to make sure that their website and database is secure and not a target for hackers.
However, there are lots of smaller companies choosing bespoke designers too so that they can outshine their competitors and have a quick, modern website. With a relatively small website the cost of using a bespoke designer is not as much as you might think and the benefits are greater that the savings made by opting to do it yourself.
In summary, when deciding to build a new website for your business you have three options and what option you choose will depend of your business, your budget and what you want from a website.
On a final note I feel that I must issue a warning to people and companies who do decide to pay a professional web designer rather that going it alone. Make sure that they are in fact a professional designer and not just someone using freely available drag and drop software or an open source content management system and passing it off as professional, bespoke web design.
These people used to be easy to spot; we called them the weekend web designers because they would have a full time job, usually low skilled, and build websites for extra cash at the weekends. These people always used free software, drag and drop builders or open source content management systems, think about it? If they where any good and code write bespoke code they would be doing it as a career.
These weekend web designers' usually targeted friends or small business who either knew exactly what they where getting or didn't know any better, however in recent years we have seen a new type of web design agency enter the market, large, professional looking web design agencies with fancy offices, large sales teams - you may have heard the term telesales web design - yet using the same free tools as the amateur weekend web designers, these type of companies should be avoided at all costs.
We hope this little article helps you choose which path you should go down when deciding to build a new website.