Bespoke Web Design For Small Businesses
Professional web design adds value that standardised solutions just can’t provide. Advanced features and bespoke user experiences boost sales and competitiveness, leading to faster growth.
Still, such custom work takes time and skill to analyse, design and implement. So Simple Sites aim to help small businesses on limited budgets. When those aren’t enough – or even if you just aren’t sure – get in touch to discuss your goals.
Why Professional Website Design?
Experience matters when assessing advanced website projects. There may be several solutions, some using common (or uncommon) components, whilst others may need to be designed and built from scratch. The details of your goals and circumstances will affect which of these will be most suitable.
Sometimes, it’s pretty obvious that you need more than a basic solution. Common professional web design requirements include:
- Bespoke Web Design — memorable branding and premium design services help your company stand out
- WordPress development — WordPress is so flexible that most CMS projects use it.
- Advanced ecommerce — including large catalogues or features like dropshipping or print-on-demand
- Membership sites — from members-only content to forums and multi-level memberships
- Bespoke web development — some projects need coding from the ground up
Professional web design and development isn’t just about graphic design and coding, either. It’s about avoiding mistakes like these and these. In business, mistakes lose sales. Those lost sales can easily cost you far more than engaging an experienced, professional web designer.
Investing In Success
Unlike a personal website, your business website must compete in the 24/7/365 marketing race. It’s both a vehicle and a sales team. The chassis, engine, fine-tuning and training all make a difference to performance, so your leading competitors invest heavily in those.
Sure, a standard runabout will get you on the track — and around it, if you know how to drive. It won’t give you the best chance of winning though, and underinvestment or cutting corners both increase the risks of failure.
So, if you want a better chance of winning, do you spend ages drawing up a detailed blueprint for a new vehicle yourself and hope a local garage can build it? Or engage an experienced professional to analyse your goals and develop a better plan?
Business Sites — Professional Blogs & CMS Websites
WordPress is by far the most popular CMS platform, powering over 30% of websites and almost 60% of all CMS sites. That’s because it’s extremely user friendly and flexible. Thousands of plugins let WordPress (WP) provide advanced ecommerce, book appointments, run online communities and more.
Still, contrary to what some WordPress developers will tell you, it isn’t ideal for everything. So other CMS platforms like Joomla, Drupal, CMSMadeSimple and OctoberCMS can have their uses — as can fully bespoke coding. On the other hand, being popular, WordPress also attracts some unfair criticism. It is flexible enough to let amateurs make mistakes that experienced WordPress developers would not.
Whilst I’ve been a keen WordPress developer since 2004, I have used several of these alternatives over the years and coded a few from scratch, too. Still, if you need a cost-effective, editable, professional website, it’s often best to consider a WordPress solution first.
Unless you need very unique features, there’s probably a WordPress plugin for them. Even if you don’t like something about the interface, an experienced WordPress developer can often adjust that, too.
WordPress developers who code (as I do) can also write bespoke plugins to provide features that existing plugins don’t — and dig into the code when necessary. That may be needed for troubleshooting, or — increasingly — to optimise the site for speed and SEO.
Still, it’s worth noting that not every WordPress developer can code. Whilst they can develop basic WordPress sites, fixing technical problems is not their forté. These can become significant limitations as your business evolves. So before you start, it’s worth checking that your “Wordpress developer” is an experienced programmer.
Ecommerce can mean anything from adding a payment button to a site, to bespoke web development for unique sales systems integrated into existing third-party platforms and workflows. Usually though, ecommerce refers to sites with categorised online catalogues and shopping carts. Managing these — and customers, orders and transactions — is complex.
Ecommerce sites also need to integrate more closely with marketing strategies and external systems like payment gateways, stock control, drop-shipping and print-on-demand services. So choosing the right systems can make a big difference. How do you get that right if you’ve never used them before? Ask an experienced web developer, that’s how.
Again, I’ve used and investigated many ecommerce systems over the years, including several WordPress-based solutions, Prestashop, OpenCart, Magento, Zen Cart, osCommerce and hosted platforms. Some I would recommend for a variety of uses, others I wouldn’t. If you only need a standard online shop, check out my simple ecommerce website package — otherwise, let’s talk.
Clubs, charities, events organisers and professional associations often want to create “members-only” content. Some charge subscriptions for this, whilst others are free. Still, all membership sites need a system to let people register, login and manage their on-site profiles. These sites may also let members chat in forums or publish their own content — among many other possible features.
Unlike blogs, membership sites aren’t limited to a few staff logins. As such, security and performance concerns are even more vital for this type of site.
Pricing & Planning Professional Websites
Since 2005, my goal has been to help small businesses. So if it seems like you only need a simple site, that’s what I’ll recommend.
For professional websites though, I offer a risk-reducing website pricing process. This involves a paid “Discovery” phase to allow for proper analysis before you commit to the whole project. For projects that seem likely to cost under £3k, this costs just £300.
If you then decide to go ahead, this fee reduces the project price – so it is effectively free. That way, you get lower risk and a better solution, and I get a happier client.