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The multitude of choices for web design is confusing. We give three basic options. Source: Shutterstock

Web design choices, from bespoke to point-and-click

ANYONE starting out in business or an existing organization wishing to refresh its image has several options for website design. In order to get that attractive, powerful, and well-designed site, here at Tech Wire Asia, we examine three of the common options for business-site creation and discuss the pros and cons of each.

1. Bespoke design
The traditional way of creating a website was to go through a third-party agency. By bringing in outside expertise, the organization could continue to focus on its core business, leaving the design and underlying code of a website to the experts.

During a brief period in the early 2000’s, commonly used web design packages such as Macromedia Dreamweaver (which became Adobe Dreamweaver) were commonly pirated, encouraging a slew of cheap web design agencies. However, since then, most businesses happily outsource the coding process, at least, even if they have in-house creative staff.

For today’s organizations, the requirements for a website are far from standard, and the underlying psychology of users, as well as search engine optimization methods, are both areas in which specialists can excel. The tech knowledge required for an e-commerce facility is often missing among those that commission.

Pros:

  • Truly bespoke design
  • Dedicated development and creative team
  • Experienced specialists offer cutting-edge technology
  • E-commerce security

For any enterprise which values its e-commerce facilities, the last point is of particular importance. A bespoke e-commerce facility, if well constructed, will be inherently safer than an online shop created from off-the-shelf solutions and templates.

The reasons for this are fairly self-evident: the difficult skills required by hackers are best employed against as many targets as possible.

Successful hacking of a well-known framework (the basis of many sites – see below) will open, therefore, the way to many targets. On the other hand, a bespoke e-commerce facility is unique and offers little to recommend it to hackers wishing to profit.

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2. DIY solutions on well-known web development platforms
There are a bewildering number of platforms on which organizations can build their web presence. To name but a few, WordPress, Joomla! and Drupal (between them) run under a good majority of the world’s websites. The user base for these platforms is vast and they are therefore highly extensible, configurable, and possess all the power and ability which most organizations will find sufficient.

It should be noted that bespoke web developers will often use these platforms in order to minimize development costs. Commissioning a bespoke design needs to be done carefully, therefore, if the use of these widespread platforms is specifically not required.

While much of the heavy lifting of website code is done by the platform, there is a great deal of malleability on offer. Despite the ubiquity of common platforms, the resulting sites are incredibly varied – most website visitors are not aware of the underlying code base of sites, in that there are no tell-tale signs at first glance.

Pros:

  • Relative speed of development
  • Easy extension of function by use of add-ons
  • Huge user bases and development communities
  • Relatively low technical overheads for developers
  • Plug-in e-commerce facilities, SEO, web security, etc
  • Wide range of adaptable designs and templates for free, or at a nominal cost

Cons:

  • Need for occasional but on-going maintenance
  • Updates might break plug-ins (and vice versa)
  • Some experience creating code-based content required

3. Template-based website design
By using swift-build template services, an attractive website can be generated in a matter of minutes (if you are to believe the advertising). While this is ostensibly true, website content and the considerations behind page choices and design usually make the process a lot longer than advertised.

Consideration still needs to give to text, image, and multimedia content, look and feel and corporate branding considerations.

Providers often offer very low-cost sites, which bundle in a domain name(s), email account(s), shared workspaces and the like, as part of the price. This presents an attractive package for those wishing to get up and running at speed, or those whose web presence isn’t key to their business.

Pros:

  • The quickest way to put together a website experience
  • No web design coding or development skills required
  • Attractive templates freely available
  • Help and support on demand (although often as a paid-for add-on option)
  • Basic facilities such as online shops (including payment gateway accounts) and image carousels can be quickly integrated

Cons:

  • Despite numbers of templates, sites can easily have the same look and feel as many others
  • Commonplace e-commerce code presents attractive target to hackers
  • Lack of control over finer elements of design
  • Sometimes difficult to port site to other providers

Conclusion

The choice of method used to create a website will depend on the individual organization, its priorities, and its specific requirements. A good web design consultancy will always offer its services for free; at Tech Wire Asia, we advise consulting with professionals before beginning anything like web design, which can have serious PR implications.

Having said that, the World Wide Web is not as influential as it once was. Demographics of web users are changing, and the mobile app is often used instead of the browser, especially amongst younger Internet users and certain (for instance, Asian) populations.

While a website is still deemed to be as necessary as headed notepaper and a logo, start-ups, in particular, may wish to consider app development and a very simple, token web presence. Not offering a fully fledged website is becoming, in many markets, not as extraordinary as was thought even three or four years ago.






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