Small businesses often ask for bespoke web design. Some know exactly why they need it, but others aren’t quite so sure. Still others see it as a waste of money. So does bespoke web design really help? Is it really essential?
Well, yes — and sometimes. First, though…
What Is Bespoke Web Design?
Bespoke web design means websites that have been designed from the ground up to help a specific audience achieve specific goals.
That takes a lot more work than customising a pre-designed template. So it’s a safe bet that anyone offering “bespoke website design” for less than four-figure sums is either customising templates and exaggerating, or unlikely to stay in business.
To be fair, customising templates can create distinctive (if not entirely unique) looks. For many small businesses, that’s “bespoke” enough. Still, that’s not the only way that truly bespoke website design creates value.
How Bespoke Web Design Boosts Business
So what can bespoke web design do for you? Why buy a bespoke website? Well, as any web designer will tell you, first impressions matter. Visitors assess your website almost instantly, and visual design contributes a lot to that.
Still, there’s far more to it than pretty pictures. There’s a stronger business point to be made. Whilst graphic designers often focus entirely on visuals, the real value of bespoke web design lies in Conversion Rate Optimisation.
What is Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)?
Conversion Rate Optimisation means boosting the percentage of website visitors who “convert”, i.e. perform a desired action such as buying a product or signing up for a newsletter.
Selling online ultimately depends on two things — traffic (i.e. site visitors), and conversion rates. Traffic can either be bought (e.g. paid ads), or earned (e.g. search engines). Conversion rates are the percentages of visits that lead to purchases or whatever other actions you’re trying to promote. Basically:
Sales = Traffic x Conversion Rate
So, just as search engine optimisation (SEO) boosts low-cost, earned traffic, conversion rate optimization (CRO) boosts conversion rates. Trust and audience targeting are critical to CRO, and good design helps with both of those. That, in turn, can make any investments into getting traffic that much more cost-effective.
For instance, paid ads can easily cost around £1 per visitor. Often, less than 3% of those are ready to buy, and less than 1% actually will. So with that conversion rate of 1%, each sale could cost you £100 in paid ads. Just doubling that conversion rate through CRO-focused bespoke web design could halve that cost per sale.
The more precisely your site design matches your target market, the better your conversion rates will tend to be. There’s a limit to how effectively templates can do that. In a highly competitive world, that difference can be business-critical.
So firms like Apple don’t spend huge sums on bespoke website design because they have money to waste. They do so because it makes them more money. They know bespoke web design is a sound investment.
Amazing, professional service and speedy communications. Very impressed and highly recommended. — Barbara H. Web Design:
Common Misconceptions About Bespoke Web Design
Still, many people think web design is something that it isn’t. So before we go any further, let’s clear up a few common misconceptions:
- Design isn’t just about making things pretty and freedom of expression. That’s art. Design identifies constraints and makes things work within them. So it’s also about making sure your site layout and structure are user-friendly.
- Web design isn’t just about building websites. That’s like assuming a bricklayer is an architect. Both are valuable skills, but they aren’t the same. Similarly, customising pre-built site templates isn’t bespoke web design, despite what some website builders claim.
- Websites aren’t printed pages. They are sets of interactive content that adapt to the devices visitors use to view them. So good web design is responsive web design, changing to fit various sizes and orientations of smartphone, tablet or desktop screens. So professional bespoke web design really delivers several layouts, not just one. Sadly, even now, some designers (mostly those with print backgrounds) still overlook this.
- Effective bespoke web design focuses on serving the end user, not just the website owner. As a site owner, achieving your goals depends on helping visitors achieve theirs. Forgetting that and focusing on personal preferences is often how DIY designs fail. Web designers see lots of data on how website visitors really behave, and it’s often unexpected. So part of our job is to act as user advocates.
So with that said, how does the bespoke web design process work?
Excellent and professional work from beginning to end. Pete was open to ideas and able to make suggestions on how to develop my site. — Lisa P. Web Design:
The Bespoke Web Design Process
Bespoke web design processes can vary a bit depending on the size and nature of projects, especially for web applications that require bespoke programming (as opposed to just layout coding). Generally though, here’s how I approach bespoke web design projects:
1. Getting To Know You
We start with a free initial discussion to outline your goals, assess the project scope and make sure we’re a good fit. That leads to an initial rough estimate, though confirming that usually requires a lot more detail — which is what the next phase is about. Still, estimates mean little until you know what achieving your goals would be worth. Startups are often unsure about that, so I can help you work that out too if needed.
Discovery is a deep dive into key details like your target audience, products and services and so on. This can take a lot of time, especially for complex projects, but it helps to refine the initial estimate. Sometimes it turns up new opportunities — and occasionally unexpected pitfalls or extra costs. Either way, it’s better to know these before committing to the whole project. So I generally recommend treating Discovery as a separate, pre-paid project that precedes the main one.
Once you give the main project the go-ahead with an initial deposit, we can start planning it in detail. For larger projects, that may include creating simple diagrams of site structure (aka “sitemaps”) and page layouts (aka “wireframes”). This depends on what’s needed to have a clear discussion about what content and features each page will require.
Ideally, as the expert on your business, you’ll already have created the content, or can create it quickly after the planning stage. Writing for the web isn’t like writing normal business communications though, so I can offer guidance on this if needed. Alternatively, if you can provide a clear, detailed brief, I can get content created for you.
A note on rebuilds: if you have an existing website with existing content, a content audit will still be wise. Pushing outdated content into a new design rarely helps much, and if we’re changing platforms, URLs (page addresses) may need to change. It’s important to do that the right way, as the wrong (simpler) way can destroy any past search engine rankings you’ve built up.
5. Design & Build
Larger projects often split this stage into two phases, starting with design mockups for key pages and possibly interactive prototypes where relevant. That lets us review and modify the designs before we start building. For smaller projects though, it’s now more cost-effective to use flexible design frameworks and “build in the browser”. Doing that on a private “staging” site lets you log in to see how the designs really work on your own computer, tablet and phone.
Business websites aren’t static, fire-and-forget projects. They need technical updates occasionally (which I normally provide along with hosting), as well as content updates. So most sites now include a Content Management System or “CMS” (usually WordPress), to let site owners do the content updates without having to pay for more coding. That often requires some training, which I can provide. If you prefer to send updates to me, that’s fine too, but will be billable. Still, the web changes so often that a support plan generally helps either way.
7. Launch & Support
Once you’re happy to launch your website, we’ll make it public and inform the major search engines. We’ll also add things like analytics, which don’t apply until your site is live, and have a chat about how to use them to keep your online business growing. I generally offer 30 days of free support to deal with any teething troubles, after which any further support will be billable (at lower rates on a support plan).
Whilst templated designs can be passable if your finances are stretched, bespoke web design can increase sales and reduce marketing costs. It doesn’t really do that just by looking pretty, but by appealing more precisely to your target audience.
- 5.0 from 28 reviews
Thanks, Pete! Since you updated my site, business has gone crazy – I now have more work than I know what to do with!
I use Netcentrics for all my business needs. Always a professional, super-prompt and to date flawless service. Excellent.
A fantastic service! We are a small business just starting out with a new venture. Pete at Netcentrics has gone above and beyond to provide us with not only a fantastic website, but also invaluable business and marketing advice. The whole process has been incredibly positive and beyond what we expected compared to previous experiences. He is incredibly knowledgeable and supportive. His support did not stop at the end of the website build, he has continued to make himself available ensuring that we know how to maximise use of the website for our start up. We wouldn’t hesitate to recommend Pete to anyone.
Thanks, Pete — your advice is like gold dust!
Oh my goodness, thank you so much! In over 20 years of online retailing this is the best and most comprehensive bit of help I’ve ever had relating to the dreaded SEO. I really appreciate it — many thanks again
You’re amazing — highly recommended!
Amazing service. Professional and outstanding company to deal with. Pete has great understanding with online requirements and core issue’s. Spent hours on the telephone explaining and working on the website to bring it up-to-date. Noting but gratitude and respect to Netcentric. Highly recommend to any one through my experience they have gone above and beyond.
Pete is the most professional and knowledgeable web developer I have experienced since 2016 as I have had many since. You won’t regret. I highly recommend him.
Peter expertise is exactly what I needed . When I have ideas Pete makes them work. I could not run my website without him
Can’t recommend him highly enough. He was extremely professional, laid out exactly what we needed to do and his role within that, setting expectations all round very clearly, and working within our budgetary constraints to set clear boundaries. He was extremely prompt and punctual in his responses and work. He was also extremely patient with his recommendations and explanations, which were clear and simple to follow. Excellent value for us as a charity. We’re very grateful to him — he was a real pleasure to work with.
knowledgeable and professional service designing and building a website for a local SME business.
Very helpful staff who really understood the problem and dealt with it.
Ali van Dam
First rate! Knowledgeable, professional and creative. I would absolutely use Netcentrics again for future projects.
Amazing, professional service and speedy communications. Very impressed and highly recommended.
Netcentrics designed, implemented and have maintained our company website for many years.If you want a secure and reliable website I strongly recommend Netcentrics.
Alison van Dam
I can’t say enough good things about Netcentrics.co.uk — thorough, knowledgeable, dedicated and innovative. Highly recommended.
Very pleased with my new e‑commerce site from Netcentrics. Very professional, knowledgeable, and highly recommended.
I have been using Netcentrics’ SEO service and they have impressively managed to get over 250 of my keywords onto the first page of the search results. A very friendly and thoroughly professional service. Highly recommended.
Many thank’s Pete for all your advice and expertise over the years. A first class professional service and excellent value for money.
Just saw that my site is now in 2nd place on the first page of Google. I’m not sure what you have done, nor do I understand it, but it worked! Many thanks!
It is a pleasure dealing with a professional with a high degree of technical skill allied to a ‘can do’ positive attitude. Your ability to explain technical concepts in layman’s language is also a great advantage. I would have no hesitation in recommending your services.
Excellent and professional work from beginning to end. Pete was open to ideas and able to make suggestions on how to develop my site.
Fast, friendly, efficient service that exceeded the spec and made a complicated job hassle free for me. Five stars, would highly recommend and would happily employ again for all things web and internet based.
A flourishing web designer, who is thorough and meticulous in everything he does. Will create a great looking unique and professional website particular to your needs.
Pete is one of the most creative, reliable, competent and ingenious people it has ever been my very great pleasure to work with. There is no problem he can’t find an ingenious and unexpected way out of, and he has a work ethic you could bend horseshoes around. I cannot recommend him highly enough for his breadth and depth of knowledge and his total commitment to whichever project he is currently undertaking.
DogLost is the UK’s largest community of pet owners and rescuers. Other developers have struggled to meet our needs, but since Peter rebuilt our site and support systems we have gone from strength to strength, winning major awards including the 2013 Innovation Award from the International Fund for Animal Welfare. We couldn’t have done that without him.
Cody’s Pet Deli is an online business that sells pet food & accessories. Approaching Pete to set up a new website was the best move I have made. We wanted a system that was easy to navigate and look good when customers shop online.Pete made the whole process simple and dealing with him was a great pleasure. He can’t do enough to help and solve any problem that may arise. I would highly recommend Pete for his experience and knowledge and total dedication to see the project through to final conclusion.Steve H.
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