One of the main decisions to make when building a website is whether to create a custom design or to use a template. Templates are cheaper to use because that same design gets used by many other businesses. Designers create templates and then sell them to be used by many businesses. At Pinpoint Digital, LLC we provide complete custom web design services and have a proven process that we have implemented over hundreds of websites. We should note that we do also build websites using templates when appropriate and when we have one that works well for a clients particular industry. For established businesses and organizations that have moved beyond the startup phase we typically recommend a custom design.
Having a visually captivating and user-friendly website is crucial for any business or organization. Whereas it used to be a “nice to have” marketing element for a business, the website is now a critical component of it. While it may be tempting to opt for using a template to save money the end result often falls short of expectations. For example, typically a designer will create a mockup of how the template will look when fully built out. These mockups are oftentimes exponentially better than what the template will look like when you build it out with your own content. You will find that stuffing your content into the template looks “meh” at best. Templates are often restrictive in terms of design flexibility. Often, what you build when creating a templated website doesn’t come out looking as good as what is showcased in the example website. Limited customization options can hinder your ability to create a visually appealing and functional website that aligns with your brand’s identity and goals.
So when can a template be a good alternative to custom design? In our case we have a library of templates that we use for a specific industry (landscapers and other outdoor professionals). We’ve created these templates in such a way that they work really well for that industry. Since we created them we can leverage our knowledge of them to easily make modifications to them. This hybrid approach can result in a website that oftentimes looks as good as a custom designed website. When this is a good option for our clients we will recommend this hybrid approach but we only do so when appropriate.
Our design process includes the following steps. These steps are the same whether it’s a commercial business or a nonprofit organization.
Design Kickoff Meeting:
The first step in our custom website design process is to have a kickoff meeting with the client. During this meeting, we discuss the client’s goals, target audience, brand identity, and any specific requirements they may have. We also do competitive analysis of other websites in the same industry to see if there are any approaches we want to leverage. We’ll also figure out what navigation should be present and what elements are important enough to feature on the homepage. During this meeting we often also plan out the sitemap or list of pages that the website will have.
A logo plays a vital role in setting the tone for the brand and conveying essential information about the organization. It serves as a visual representation of the brand’s identity and helps establish recognition and credibility. Oftentimes our clients already have a logo so it’s just a matter of obtaining the logo files from them. However, when there is no existing logo or when the logo doesn’t align well with the brand we’ll design a new one. Our logo design process involves creating one or more concepts based around the branding for the organization.
Website Concept Creation
Once we have the logo and a a clear understanding of the client’s requirements, we design a concept for what the homepage will look like. This is a design showing what the new homepage will look like. We create our designs in Figma so that they are able to be easily shared. We typically create one mockup, but in some cases, we may provide a few variations to explore different design options. This step helps our clients visualize how the website will look and provides them with an opportunity to change the design. We offer unlimited design requests. On some projects we will also create design concepts for additional pages, such as section landing pages, e-commerce product pages and other types of pages that will have a unique design. The main purpose of the mockups are to be able to share a design approach with our clients and give them an opportunity to provide feedback before we start actually doing development. In general, moving pixels on a screen is oftentimes much quicker and easier than actually making changes to code on a website.
Once the design has been approved and no more changes are needed we get to work with developing the website. We use the WordPress content management system to build most of our websites. WordPress is the most popular content management system in the world and offers a user-friendly interface. This allows our clients to easily manage and update their website content. We build out the website in a staging area that is password protected so that Google doesn’t index the development site. We also add the content and any additional functionality to the website at this point. This might include adding e-commerce functionality or other custom functionality.
Once the website buildout is complete, we proceed to launch the website. During this phase, we take special care to ensure a smooth transition, especially if we are migrating from a previously built website. We conduct extensive testing to ensure that all features and functionalities are working correctly across different devices and web browsers.
After the website is live, we monitor its performance using various tools such as Google Analytics and Google Search Console. We analyze the website’s traffic, user behavior, and conversion rates to ensure optimal performance.
Pinpoint Digital, LLC – Your Custom Web Design Services Partner
Contact Pinpoint Digital today for a free evaluation and quote on your project. Be sure to also check out our portfolio and reviews. The following are some screenshots of a recently launched website for the Building Owners and Managers Association of Greater Hartford.