In contrast to 15 years ago when you had to be a developer or hire one to build a website, today pretty much anyone can make a website. There are a plethora of web solutions available with free and paid-for templates that users can simply upload, add content (text, images, videos, etc), hit publish button and they are done.
From a business perspective, however, these templates may not be a perfect fit for you. Although they are quick and easy to set up, there are many things, functionalities, you might be missing out on, some of which could directly affect your business goals.
That’s why we’ve seen an increase in custom web dev solutions with startups and establish businesses in recent years.
On the other hand, a custom solution, while it covers all your needs, comes with a price.
So, how do you know if custom is the way to go? Let’s start from the beginning.
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First-hand web development case studies and topics explained!
What is a custom web development solution?
Custom web development refers to a customized website solution for your brand, business objective, product, or services. It enables you to have a unique website.
Apart from the obvious design of the website, a unique website also includes various functionalities developed to be as efficient as possible, to help your business goals instead of harming them.
Why you may need a custom web development solution?
While it’s true custom solution helps you stand out and gain a competitive edge over your competition, whether it is necessary for your business depends on the type of your business and the website you want to build. The complexity of it.
If you own a restaurant, for example, you don’t need much. A simple website featuring your menu, team overview, location, and contact information would probably be enough. There are thousands of pre-made templates that can do exactly that.
But, if you are looking for something that will help your restaurant stand out (and not just from a design standpoint, I’m talking about added functionalities such as reservations, reviews, ecommerce, etc.) custom approach is the way to go.
Web development and web design are two somewhat overlapping terms that are frequently used easily in posts much like this one without clear differentiation. So, for the sake of clarity, think of web design as of user experience aspects of website development (the web graphics, user interface design, what makes it ‘pretty). Web development entails front-end and back-end coding. I'm talking about the work that happens behind the scenes that enable a website to look as designed, work fast, and perform well on every screen and every browser.
Custom website development vs. ready-made template
There is nothing wrong with using ready-made templates, or any of the popular templates supporting web dev solutions for that matter, for your business website. In most cases they are easy to use, time-saving, and money-saving solutions.
The flip side is you’ll end up with a generic design appearance that lacks showing uniqueness of your brand/business/product. And you’ll be trapped into template customization options, or the lack of those, meaning you won’t be able to do anything beyond the mold (template) you are served with (both design vise and functionality vise).
Benefits of custom web development solutions
To start with, your website will have a unique look that matches your brand.
With so many pre-made templates today, you’ve probably noticed websites that look and feel very similar. That’s because the same templates were used and (in most cases) only images and text were changed. Being an original in the pool of copy/paste solutions helps you stand out big time.
With a unique website that customers haven’t seen before, you instantly draw attention and look a lot more professional and trustworthy. Custom solutions allow more space for original corporate branding which is vital to growing your company as reputable and reliable in your field.
Finally, with a custom web development solution, you get to dictate every visual inch of the design and every functionality you may need. That means that you’ll be able to develop a website completely to your and your audiences’ liking, including the ability to test various visual clues and/or functionalities until you find the ones that convert.
It’s one thing to stand out with your website in one country. But to do that in 9+ more?! Well, that’s something else. And it could only be done with a custom approach to website building.
That way you can take into account different functionalities you may need per country, evolve your website with propper testing solutions and finally, personalize and trim buyers’ journey for each of your customers. Take a look at how we did that for one of our clients in the Dr.Smile case study.
Great long-term investment
Although the cost of developing a custom web development solution may be bigger than simply using a template, it is a great long-term investment.
For example, custom web development solutions scale easily. So, as soon as your business grows, your web developers will easily be able to scale the existing website or web app.
In addition, customized websites are adaptable to your business requirements and objectives. Because they are developed with individual clients in mind custom solutions have a much higher ROI.
Great for complex websites
Let’s say you decided to use WordPress for your website platform and installed a simple template. A bit of customization and you are ready to go live. But, after a while, you start adding various plugins and functionalities, high-quality photos, and blog content.
The next thing you know your website is painfully slow.
Custom solutions allow you to eliminate unnecessary bloatware while allowing functionality. And with the growing API microservices landscape, you can cut costs even more. Instead of developing certain functionality you can opt-out to a well-known solution and integrate without influencing your website speed and performance.
Great user experience
With a website built with your ideal customer in mind, that works great on a variety of browsers and devices, and that’s blazingly fast, you deliver an amazing user experience to your visitors.
As one of the most important factors today for both search engines and your customers, a better user experience can influence your customers to choose you over your competitors.
Most templates out of the box, depending on a platform, are not built with performance and speed in mind. And even those that are, require a good bit of maintenance to keep them performant. It is not to say that Google prefers custom websites and web apps but since you are starting from scratch you are building your website with performance in mind.
This approach can help your website rank better because your website will be fast with a great user experience on both desktop and mobile. And when you rank better, it is easy for your potential customers to find you.
Backlinko, one of the top SEO companies in the last couple of years, struggled with website performance. Much of it they owe it to heavy pages ie long posts with a lot of images and user comments, and the fact a lot of legacy code has accumulated over the years of WordPress development and update which caused page rendering issues.
Wondering what we did to help? Check out Backlinko case study.
Downsides of custom web development solutions
Developing a custom solution will certainly cost you more as far as initial costs are concerned. You’ll have to hire a team of web developers, spend time creating the plan for your website, and then spend time having it developed.
However, while getting a template might be more affordable in the beginning, you’ll most likely have to pay for licensing packages over a period of time, keep a tap on frequent theme/plugins update, and to some extent, be dependent on the template designer.
Designing the website takes time, hiring web developers takes time, developing the website takes time, and any adjustments, bug fixes, updates, and upgrades will take some time as well. A lot more in contrast to using templates.
How do you know if custom is the way to go?
When it comes to choosing whether you should opt-out for a custom approach or not you’ll have to take a couple of things into consideration.
Be sure about your business goals. Seriously, what are goals do you have for your websites? Think this through before you look at the options. It’s not the same if you need a website just for branding purposes or an ecommerce shop.
Plan your steps. Every project, be it a house or a website, needs proper planning. Once you are confident in your business goals think about who is your targeted audience? What pain points will the website cover for your audience? Where is the website in your buyers’ journey?
What’s your budget? More than anything else your budget dictates the price of your website. And don’t forget to include running costs, costs of maintaining a website (if needed), and recurring hosting, theme, domain name, etc. costs.
Compare. The above should give you enough info about your needs. Now is the time to compare not only the two available approaches but also proposals for them. Your browser is your best friend at this stage. Google everything from company reputation and reviews to pros and cons of the tools they use.
The bottom line is that it is your business and your audience needs you should think about when deciding. The website is just a means that connects those two dots in the best possible way.
Go through the list of pros and cons above, compare them against your business goals, and decide what the right choice for your business is. But if you are looking for outstanding design, a tailor-made user experience with custom functionalities and high-performance custom is the way to go.
It may cost more, but your business will most definitely rake in more profit because of it.
Need a custom web dev team to back your ideas and bring them to life? Let’s talk.
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