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Custom Website Development
Types of websites
Broadly speaking, you have two main options when considering a website: a pre-made one or one that’s custom built. Pre-made website developers, make their money by selling the same site at a low cost to as many people and organizations as possible. In addition to their low price, pre-made websites can launch very quickly. As the name implies, they are already built — all you need to do is get them set up on a server, and your content, and connect a domain. Platforms like SquareSpace and Wix make it even easier by offering hosted websites. On the other hand, custom website developers, like Corporate Zen, build and design sites one at a time. If you get a custom site, you’ll have something no one else does, tailored to your aesthetic and functional needs. This uniqueness comes at a cost. Custom websites cost more and take longer to build. On this page, we talk about both options and when you should consider one over the other.
For a large segment of users, pre-made, default sites will work well and save money. Plus, over time, pre-made websites and themes have increased their feature sets to allow users to add their own colors, fonts, and more. So, these days, pre-made websites do allow for some customizations. So, if you’re just looking for a basic and straightforward site, you may not need a design and development firm and should at least consider SquareSpace, Wix, and similar platforms.
However, pre-made sites don’t always follow best practices. Plus, without the needed knowledge, it can be challenging to get a pre-made site to match your brand. Sometimes customization efforts end up making pre-made sites look worse. Plus, while most pre-made sites don’t require any coding, all have a learning curve if you want to take advantage of customization features. If you’re new to Squarespace or Wix, expect to spend significant time learning how to fully utilize the customization tools.
When to consider a custom website
If you have explored pre-made, do-it-yourself options and discovered that you want a more customized site that matches your brand and helps you standout from competitors, you should consider a website design and development company that specializes in custom website development. Could you figure out some customizations on a do-it-yourself platform — change some colors, add your own logo? Certainly. But, once you figure out how to make the customizations, you’ll need to invest more time learning how to make your site look the way you want it to. In fact, the amount of time you’ll need to fully understand the nuances of typography, color, ideal image format, and so on often makes it more efficient to hire someone knowledgable when you want a truly custom website. Some of these things may seem minor — do you really need the exact font your brand uses or will a similar one be close enough? Yes — often, it’s these seemingly minor changes that add up to make a big difference and add another level of polish to your site.
Up to now, we’ve only talked about customizing how your site looks. When you move beyond the look and feel of a website and want to tweak what it does, you’re moving to a new level of complexity. If you do find yourself in need of custom functionality, then you should definitely consider a development firm. Learning the correct way to build and edit websites can take years of training. Unless you have a lot of free time and are in no rush to launch your site, a good design and development firm that specializes in custom websites will be critical to a successfully adding custom features to a website.
How Corporate Zen handles website design and development
At Corporate Zen, we offer both design and development services, so you can come to us for help with both the appearance and functionality of a website. We specialize in customizing websites for a wide range of clients. When building custom sites, we rarely start from scratch. Starting from an existing platform, like WordPress, allows us to reduce development hours. Plus, WordPress and the other platforms we use, provide users with a built-on content management system (CMS) that gives them control over the content of their websites — no coding required. The CMS lets you freely edit content, add images, and so on, giving you the freedom to make updates rapidly. To make sure you maintain the look of the site, we do our best to set parameters within the CMS, limiting the chances that you’ll stray too far from the intended design.
Our focus when designing custom sites is to provide an on-brand look that will tie your website back to your brand and inspire trust in potential customers. We want you to stand out — in a good way — from your competitors. When it comes to functionality, we’ll invest time talking with you to and find out exactly what you need and why. Then we’ll formulate the best, most efficient way to build a site that meets your needs. (For more on our process, read this post by our lead designer or check out our About page.)
Whatever your needs, we can design and build a custom site for your aesthetic and functional requirements. As an example, we customized a WordPress website to allow Vietnam Veterans to create profiles and show their connections to other veterans. We also tailored the site’s appearance to align with the client’s branding. This required heavy customizations as the project’s functional needs went well outside of WordPress’ default functionality. However, whenever we could, we still found creative ways to use WordPress’ existing features. For example, WordPress includes a user management system by default. We customized this to allow veterans who create profiles to login, modify their profiles, and make connections.
Still wondering if you need a custom website?
When it makes sense, we strongly believe in the value of a customized website — the site you’re on right now is a customized WordPress based website. If you aren’t sure whether you need a custom website, feel free to reach out. We are glad to discuss and give you our honest opinions. Just fill out the form below and we’ll be in touch.