Expanding your reach, growing your business, strengthening your brand — each of these aspects is crucial if you are to successfully move ahead of your competitors.
What’s more, each of these depends on a custom website design.
A custom website design is something unique. It is modified to suit the specific needs of your business and your audience. It is not built of generic, ‘off-the-shelf’ elements — instead, it is something that is truly yours. In many ways, this design is you — or at least the face you present to the world online.
In this article, we take a look at the different components of a custom web design project and assess which platform is the best option for you and your business.
What to consider ahead of your custom web design
The outcome of your custom web design project is going to be intrinsic to your brand and to its identity. With this in mind, you need to make sure that you have planned your project thoroughly before you begin. Here are a few elements you need to consider.
How much do you want to spend on your web design project? Or, more accurately, how much can you afford to spend to achieve the goals you have in mind for your project? Budgeting is not just about finding the cheapest option — it is about finding the most cost-effective way of getting the project done right.
You don’t want to rush your project, but you also don’t want to drag it out indefinitely. Putting together a time frame will help you to recognise whether or not you are on target to hit your objective. Divide this time frame up into manageable milestones to keep your team motivated.
You also need to think about how much time your team can afford to invest in the project. Bear in mind that if your team members are working on your custom web design, they won’t have as much time to devote to other tasks.
What are your competitors doing with their designs? What do you think is working, and what would you change? You don’t want to copy your market rivals, but it is certainly helpful to check out what they are doing. Use this as a baseline for your own project.
It’s easy to become blinkered when planning your custom web design, but you need to remember that the design is not just about you and your business. Instead, it’s about providing your audience with exactly what they need. Draw upon your audience data to decide what customer problems your design can solve and to identify which elements your audience will best respond to.
Design is not just about achieving a great-looking website. You need substance to go along with all that style. Think about the key bits of functionality you need to achieve, and refer to your buyer profiles so you know that you are providing your users with the best possible experience.
A great website is crucial to your performance as a brand, but you need to know what you are already working with. How strong is your brand currently? Does your audience recognise you and what you offer? How can you boost this recognition and identity with the right web design? Your approach here will depend on whether you are reinforcing your identity or completely rebranding.
A custom design project does not exist in isolation. Instead, it is a fully-fledged aspect of your broader online strategy. With this in mind, you need to consider how your design aligns with this strategy and with your short- and long-term goals. Every move you make for your business should be methodical and carefully planned, including your web design.
Choosing a web design platform
There are a number of different web design platforms out there for you to choose from, but how do you select the one that best suits your project? Take a look at three of the leading examples of web design platforms.
WordPress is one of the elders on the web design and development scene, having been available for almost 20 years. This is why WordPress and its famous logo have become immediately recognisable, even outside of the world of business and online marketing. Thousands of websites are powered by WordPress, and the platform’s library of plugins makes it a formidable option.
The ubiquity of WordPress sometimes makes business owners wary. They may think of the platform as a little unprofessional — better suited to personal projects and blogs. However, this is far from the case, and WordPress features a highly capable software architecture that can provide outstanding results.
WordPress might be among the most established candidates here, but Joomla is not far behind. First launched back in 2005, the open source platform has become known for its intuitive functionality and its relative ease of use, making it accessible to almost anyone. But this is not the full extent of what it can do.
If you have some development expertise — or if you can draw upon a team that does — Joomla is a great option for creating a custom website. You have a wealth of different customisation options at your fingertips and a flexible array of functionality.
Drupal is in fact older than the other two names on this list, but it has not been so widely used in recent years. Those that do use Drupal, however, swear by it. There is an enormous community of users online, providing resources and advice for developers who are starting out.
The reliability and ease of use of Drupal certainly make it an attractive option. However, with the right development know-how, you can push the functionality of the platform even further, creating brilliant custom web designs that support the needs of your business and your audience.
WordPress, Joomla, Drupal – which platform is best for your custom website?
In order to find the best platform for building your custom website, you need to strike the right balance. You certainly need a system that your team can use easily to achieve what’s needed without putting too much strain on your personnel and resources. At the same time, you need a highly capable and flexible solution that can give your team the features needed to build a custom page.
In terms of ease of use, WordPress comes out on top, thanks to the intuitive design of its installation process and its user interface. Joomla and Drupal require a bit more knowledge and expertise from your team to get the best out of the solution.
For capability and for the customisation of your website, all three options are viable. However, it is WordPress that has the most plugins and add-ons available, with 55,000 to Drupal’s 44,000. While all three of these platforms are open source, it is WordPress that has the most third-party extensions, further adding to its flexibility.
As WordPress is the market leader, it also gets the most attention from hackers and cybercriminals. The WordPress security team is top-notch and can certainly be relied upon, while the relatively low profile of Drupal and Joomla — coupled with great vulnerability patching from their own security teams — makes all 3 platforms a safe and solid option.
All three platforms will require the assistance of a developer or design expert if you are to create a truly unique website. While there are plenty of templates available across WordPress, Joomla and Drupal, you will want to avoid these and instead choose something wholly your own.
Making the right choice for your website
Before you get started, you need to ask yourself: does my website really need a custom design?
The answer to this question depends on the scope and intention of your project. If you are simply building a blog site to share your thoughts with the world, you may not need to invest in custom design. However, any multi-functional website intended to showcase the branding and identity of your business will benefit from this custom approach.
Working with a custom website design agency takes some of the pressure off you and your team. You will have the time to focus on doing what you do best while simultaneously connecting with design services that go above and beyond expectations. Reach out to Kicking Pixels to learn more.