Our new website goes live!
Today our new website has gone live. Below I will explain the descision making process, what type of website we chose and why.
As with any project, I started off with a list of things I wanted to achieve. I usually find if I have a list of desirable things I'd like, I don't railroad myself into a compromise because I happen to know of an instant solution without having to think about it. My list was as follows.
- Responsive. In 2016 I don't even think about building a website that doesn't work on all devices. I should expect around 34% of all traffic to my site via mobile for my type of business. If I give someone a business card with my website address on it and they google it there and then on their phone, I want it to make a good impression. Finally Google hammers your search ranking if you are not mobile ready. It is an absolute must for me, the site must be responsive.
- Flexible. I don't want to be rebuilding this website every few months, I just want to improve it and expand upon it. For that I want something I can modify any way I want and something I can easily add new features to.
- Appealing. I am very aware that people coming to redkitecode.com are going to judge the website as a benchmark of the quality of our work. Whilst I want a simple and easy to navigate website, I'd also like some of my customers to think "Yeah, I want something like that, these are the people". I'm always amazed when I look at rival companies with awful aging websites, that they don't feel it costs them business. I'm sure it does.
With my wishlist complete, below are 4 options I could have pursued, the pros and cons for each, and why we settled on the solution that we did.
Wordpress is the gold standard of budget websites. They are a website template that you can bolt together quite easily to make effective straightforward websites. A company making the template will have spent in some cases 1000's of hours designing and coding the template for all the most common things you might want on a website. They'll have bits of code that do login pages, contact pages, example blog pages, different types of heading, little widgets for galleries etc. You'll never need all of the features in such a template, but you can save yourself 100's of hours of coding and that means money. It also allows people who don't know how to code to later modify the text and content of the website, meaning you don't need to spend money on developers updating your website for you.
Wordpress templates are just that. If you want to do things that are not included in the template, you start running into problems and altering the raw code can have knock on effects smashing other parts of the template that relied on the things you just changed. This then becomes expensive and messy to put right. If you want to modify more heavily, you'd be better off with an HTML template as mentioned below. Wordpress are also less flexible when it comes to things like SEO. There are SEO pluggins, but the entire process is a bit more clunky.
Bang 4 buck the cheapest website you can buy providing you can either code or you don't need to change it. Incredibly flexible and as with the Wordpress, someone else has already done the design and style coding for you. There are 1000's of templates to choose from and unless you need something bespoke, you'll find something you like. If you want a site on a budget, that looks great and you have no intention of continually updating it, this is the choice for you.
Unlike Wordpress it doesn't have a CMS, so you can't change the content yourself if you can't code.
Why we chose this route for redkitecode.com.
I didn't have a specific design in mind when I set out to make the website. I just wanted something that looked nice and professional. I went to evanto.com and chose a template I liked that had the features I needed. The template cost less that $20 and saved 2-3 weeks in design and coding time. I actually find it faster to code an HTML template than a wordpress site because I don't have to peck around a CMS to find the things I want to change. I can go straight in and manipulate the code. For me, this was always going to be the cheapest, fastest and most effective way of getting a new website up and running quickly. It ticked all 4 points on my wishlist.
Bootstrap templates tend to be used for more sophisticated projects. They are usually lighter on design elements and focus more on helper methods and functionality. Personally, I like Zurb Foundation. It is structured well for theming and retheming sites (for example if you reskin your site depending on profiles) because it uses SASS and SCSS for the styling. It is also easier than a regular template to convert into a web app, should you wish to make a downloadable app from your website in the future.
Structurally great, but you'll need to invest in design and spend money making your site look pretty. This is designed for more complex projects and so such a deployment is going to be superior, but with a bigger price tag.
The designers and developers are going to start with a blank piece of paper. You can have anything you like, exactly as you like it. You can stipulate designs down to the pixel, choosing every font, every shade, shadow colours, size, transparency, any visual element. You can have any functionality, any animations, any method of interactivity, any communications, absolutely anything you like. And you will end up with something completely unique, executed in exquisite detail.
All this freedom comes at a cost. A financial one. With every single element being designed from scratch and every function being built from the ground up, it will take developers a long time to deliver this ambitious project. Only clients who know exactly what they want and have a big cheque book to ensure they get it, should venture down this route.