Web design businesses will often work to sell you on the “custom” website because your business will better stand out among your competitors. “Custom is better” they say, because it will be a design exclusive to you. Sounds reasonable but will always come with a massive price tag.
Those focused on building custom websites will also tell you that templates are the wrong route to go because your website will look like everyone else’s. They will also make the very compelling argument that the template based websites aren’t flexible enough to accomplish the goals you may need for your website.
I won’t make the argument that custom is always better or template sites are always better, but I will explain some important matters related to both options and help you to understand “custom” vs “customizable” templates.
Template built websites aren’t what they use to be and even today, not all templates are created equal. Some are far better than others. When a developer like myself builds a site from a template, I’m not starting with a product that lacks the flexibility OR customizability. What I am doing is starting with is a product that is nearly a blank canvas and the design I’m building into it is customized to your precise needs. And depending on the needs of your business or organization, it can be built without the five-figure price tag.
Custom websites can actually be quite inflexible, difficult for the owner to maintain, and often no longer update-able when the relationship ends with the original designer. Though this isn’t true 100% of the time, often they are designed with such precision that when the business evolves, the website is unable to evolve with the business. These websites will also “break.” Their lifespan is lessened by having a custom framework that can’t be updated by the click of a button.
“Template” is truly a misunderstood word and so much more can be said about templates as a smart product decision for business owners. When looking into the investment of a website, make sure you ask about your ability to update the website’s software independent of a web designer, your ability to maintain the content of the website, and the flexibility of a site to evolve with your business.
When you start a business you expect to be successful, so you need a plan. A business plan is really a rational strategy that will help you meet your short and long term goals. It includes a few key areas including: business goals, mission statement, target market, competitive analysis, pricing strategy, promotional plan, marketing budget, action list, and a way to determine if you have met your goals. Key to this plan is your unique selling proposition. In other words, what sets you apart from your competition? What makes your product or service the best available to your target market?
Start formulating your unique selling proposition by answering these four questions:
- What is my product? (i.e. “skin care cream”)
- Who is my audience? (i.e. “women over 40”)
- What do I do well? (i.e. “demonstrating the skin improvements in past and current customers”)
- What is the problem my customer needs solved? (i.e. “aging skin”)
Answering these four questions will lead inevitably to your unique selling proposition. What is it that differentiates my business and my product from my competitors? What makes my product unique? (i.e. “my product is demonstrably effective for women over 40”)
If you’re not entirely sure that your product is unique, that your service isn’t distinguishable from that of your competition, you likely need to revisit your preliminary questions. Take a few minutes to answer these questions for yourself and see if you need to make any changes to your overall business plan or if you’re on the right track!
Hero images have become quite popular in the world of web design. We are an image-driven culture and connect with our customers through the use of the visual. But the use of these large-scale images on websites has taken away from the necessary focus on the written content. Once you’ve gotten their attention with images, visitors will probably continue to read, but sometimes your visitors are just looking for information, and some bells and whistles become more of a distraction than an appeal.
The appeal of content “above the fold” in the newspaper industry is that readers would likely see whatever is placed in that area of the paper first, before they visit any other page in the paper, or even before they look at what is “below the fold.” The same concept applies to web design. If on every page of your website, the content that is seen “above the fold” is stock photography or content that simply does not meet the visitor’s need for information gathering, something needs to change.
While imagery definitely speaks to the masses, the masses also want to easily find the information they were seeking when they came to your website in the first place. They don’t want to scroll into infinity looking for your menu or click out of all kinds of pop-ups just to see what time you open. When you plan the appearance of your website, keep in mind that ultimately you’re trying to make a sale or find agreement over a cause. Whatever your business or organization’s mission, don/t let the great visual design elements of web design hinder your visitor’s pursuit for the information they are seeking.
Within my coaching relationships, there are certain patterns of thinking that I find are most common. It’s definitely the case that leaders of businesses and organizations often know what it is they want to accomplish, but in the process of getting there, they fail to recognize road blocks—many of which they place in front of themselves. (more…)
Business consultants and coaches often overlap in their mission, to guide their client to meaningful decision-making toward the present and future of their business. Typically a consultant helps you work through business planning and strategy, marketing, project planning, website planning and the overall direction of a business. A coach will help you uncover obstacles from lack of focus, poor vision and self-sabotage and guide you toward clarity, purpose, and structure. (more…)