We get a lot of enquiries for our web design and development services. While website design has been around for nearly two decades, many businesses find it difficult to find their footing when it comes to their online presence.
The vast majority of issues come down to purpose. What is the purpose of your website? For most businesses, a website is used as an online brochure that is available globally 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. For some businesses thats completely fine, but for a lot of companies, their website can do a whole lot more.
When we take on a client in need of website design and development services, we explore the different needs of their business first. Are they established in the community? Are they looking to expand their reach beyond their immediate area? What message does their site need to communicate? What is the makeup of their existing user base? These are a small sample of the questions we try and answer in our first meeting. What we’re finding is that the vast majority of companies looking to rejuvenate their existing website are suddenly open to a whole new world of potential. Instead of looking to create an online brochure, they have the ability to communicate more effectively with their ideal audience, automate services and have their website work for them.
Not all web designers are equal
There are many web “designers” out there who charge for free or inexpensive themes from services like WordPress Themes, Wix Templates or Weebly Themes. While there is nothing wrong with using off-the-shelf themes, it’s not ethical to do so without the client’s knowledge especially if one is selling web design. There is a big difference between custom web design and free theme-based services. We try and educate our clients as to the pro’s and con’s of each so they can at least make an educated decision as to the direction they want to go.
Every design project we take on is a custom project. With web design, this means we design the site to your specific needs. This also means that we code your site by hand. While the vast majority of sites we develop are based on a WordPress framework, we still hand-code your custom design as your very own WordPress theme. The advantages to this are the fact that we can custom develop unique features. Do you want to randomise graphics or content? No problem. Would you like your design or content to change according to the time of day, season or month? No worries. We understand HTML, PHP and CSS and hand code features and effects so that they run smoothly and efficiently.
Plugin and turn on
One of the advantages to website frameworks like WordPress and Joomla is their support for plugins. You can think of plugins as small web applications that run specific functions for your site. A classic example of this are the common “Contact Form” plugins that add an email form to your site. Ten years ago if you wanted to have that function, you typically needed to utilise a CGI (Common Gateway Interface) script. Your web developer needed to hand-code your form, connect your form to a specific CGI script, then setup the script to work with a mail gateway to process the emails being packaged within the web form. This potentially opened up your website to nefarious users who would search for “open” CGI scripts and exploit them for sending SPAM. As a result, many web hosting companies limited the use of CGI scripts.
Fast forward to 2015 and adding a contact form to your website is as easy as clicking “Install Now” and entering a few lines of code. The plugin architecture of WordPress and Joomla mean that when it comes to developing your website, common functionality no longer needs to be hand-coded. We can complete a website setup and installation in as little as a few hours depending on the site. We focus our hand-coding skills on the features that are most important to you and that is what we deliver at Excell.
Custom design not within reach?
Thanks to WordPress and other CMS (Content Management System) style platforms, the development costs for websites has fallen drastically. Despite this, not all clients can afford custom design. In that scenario, we recommend individuals utilise free or near-free website builders such as Wix, Weebly and Square Space. Their simple to use interface and easy setup make it a perfect fit for individuals seeking a free or inexpensive website. All that is required is the filling out of a couple of forms and inputting some copy and images. Within minutes, you have a website.
The flip-side to free
These free site builders lose their advantage once you require a specific functionality that is not included in their system or you need your company to stand out in a competitive environment. The main disadvantage to using off-the-shelf themes is that you are not the only one using that theme. Chances are, if the theme looks good, then a lot of people are probably using it. Free site builders also involve some kind of advertisement for the service which means your company site becomes a mascot for that service – not ideal in some cases.
At Excell, we pride ourselves in the level of service we provide our clients. Whether the budget is large or small, we help all customers find the right fit. When it comes to web design and development we take special care to educate our clients so they understand what they need, what we are giving them and how they can reach their goals.