When it comes to websites, every company’s needs are different. That would lead one to believe that to provide the best user experience, a company should only consider a custom website. However, let’s explore this a bit deeper.
A custom website typically starts with an analysis of your business needs. Defining who your customers are and determining your customer’s needs when it comes to providing information on your website. A custom website typically involves a team of professionals including a business analyst, graphic designer, web developer, database analyst and programmer. Rarely will you find all these skills in a single person. The business analyst will work with the business owner to define the specific functions of the site, which will then be turned over to the database analyst, programmer, and web developer to code. The designer will provide the look and feel of the website.
A website package, on the other hand is usually a pre-defined number of pages and standard functions that most website possess. The package is typically a combination of features picked from best of class websites and assembled in a manner that allows them to be used by almost any type of company with little or no modifications. The core functions of the website exist in the package, providing fewer hours of coding. Website packages can come in many different sizes and functions. They may be defined based on number of pages in the package. Or they may be defined by the functions they provide. For instance, you may have a website brochure package, an E-commerce package, a leads generation package, or you may have a single page package, a 5-page package, 10- page package, etc.
So why choose a package over a custom website? The most frequently mentioned reason is cost. Most website packages are provided at a lower cost over comparably configured custom website applications. The second most often mentioned reason is development time. A package website can often be deployed in a matter of days rather than weeks or months of development time. And the third most common reason is ease of making edits.
A custom website may provide the exact functions a client is requesting, but the ability to modify, add functionality or change the application may require rewriting the code which could involve most of the team be involved in defining the scope, coding the application and testing it to ensure the integrity of the code changes with the rest of the website applications.
Most package application include the ability to make simple and sometime quite complex changes to the applications to be able to fit a wide variety of business types with a single application. By design they are created to be flexible whereas a custom website application is designed to do specific tasks.
Package website applications became quite popular after 2003 when WordPress was created as a blogging platform. The flexibility of this initial blog platform allowed designers and HTML coders without much experience to modify the look of their site, add pages, update menu items, and quickly publish their content. As the platform developed over time more and more features were added, making it an even more flexible website platform. As its popularity grew (nearly 60% of all CMS web applications are now built using WordPress), some incredibly good developers began adding add on functionality (Plugins) to the CMS that increased functionality further. Today there are more than 50,000 plugins to add functionality to the WordPress core application. In fact, it is hard to find a function where a plugin does not already exist that does the task. Since the source code is available to developers, we can code additional function when the needs arise making this platform particularly attractive to custom web developers.
Designers began creating themes to allow users to change and customize the look of their site. Currently there are more than 11,000 Themes and more being created on a nearly daily basis for users to choose from. Add to that the number of theme builder application that allow the creation of custom themes on the fly and you have an almost unlimited number of layout options for the look and design of a site using WordPress.
Due to the flexibility of today’s CMS applications, many designers and web developers use these core applications and add their own designs and/or code modifications and call their websites custom website design. These are typically hybrid sites and frequently cost a bit more than a comparable website package but less than a custom website.
ProFusion Web Solutions provides custom websites and hybrid website packages. Most of our sites are built on the WordPress platform with a specific set of theme files and plugins that provide added functionality that almost all websites need. We have compiled this set of tools over our more than 18 years of experience in building custom website as well as providing packages for hundreds of small and medium sized companies in almost every conceivable industry across the USA, Canada, UK, Switzerland and Spain.
In having consulted with thousands of companies over the last 18+ years, we have come to realize that 80% of what constitutes a company’s need in a web site are universal. Everyone wants those features. It is in the 20% that determines the uniqueness of a specific company. Since 80% of the need is universal, why not create packages that provide these universal needs and then customize the remaining 20% to fit the specific business needs. This allows us to provide more features and a company to have a total custom site designed specifically for them with the features they need at a much more reasonable cost then building a total custom site.
Our packages include all of the 80% features that most companies are looking for and include custom design to ensure the client is getting the custom look they want in their website without having to try to shoehorn their brand into a template designed for a specific look that may not be an exact fit for the brand. Our custom theme builder application allows our designers complete freedom to create whatever look they feel best represents the company’s brand and then allows our web developers to integrate that design into the application to allow creation of new pages that fit the look of the site.
All our packages are designed around the concept of a website that does not convert is a website that does not work. A website exists to provide some value to the site visitor. Ideally your site provides information that the visitor is looking for. It answers their questions like: What are your hours? What is your address? Do you deliver? Can I buy directly from your site? Etc. A good website should help your prospect along the buying journey to help them decide on what or how to buy. A great website will help bring them to the conclusion that you are the best available option for what they are looking for. It will help the visitor to plan or narrow their options before they even decide it is time to talk to a salesperson.
Because all people visiting your site may not be ready to purchase today, we want to be able to communicate with them while they are on the buying journey until they are ready to buy. We do this by providing Calls-to-Action (CTAs) on the website to help capture name, email and/or phone numbers of prospects by offering to provide them with something of value in exchange for their information. This exchange on the website is referred to as a conversion. In exchange for something of value (your contact info) I will provide you with something of value (discount, report, comparison chart, etc.). A conversion could be as simple as give us your email address and we will add you to our newsletter that provides additional tips and bonuses. Or it could be an actual purchase on the website. Every business need and every website are different, and the CTAs must be different depending on the needs of the business.
Because every business has different needs, a custom website package must accommodate an ever-changing landscape and allow a company the flexibility to add CTAs, order forms, registration form and even sell directly from the website. All our custom packages include a very robust top of the line form builder tool that allows unlimited forms creation and integration into many applications like E-commerce, E-mail marketing applications, Customer Relationship Management (CRM) applications, etc. These, often additional cost items on other packages, are included at no additional fees on our packages because they are an essential part of being able to communicate with your clients any time of the day or night.
A website must provide visitors with confidence that their information is secure. All of our website packages come complete with an SSL Certificate to encrypt the data a visitor provides to you through your website via a form, request, or order. But an SSL is only our first line, we also include additional security functions for each site that include brute force attack protection, site lockout protection, unauthorized or unusual activity alerts, down-time alerts, virus protection, additional login security, etc. This additional security also includes monthly reporting on updates and activity on your site. These kinds of additional features can be built into a custom package site at little or no additional cost whereas they would add significant additional cost to a custom package. And these additional features are usually not included with basic package plans.
Many custom website estimates do not include hosting. They are for the design and development of the site only and the hosting is up to the client to provide. This puts the onus of management of the code on the site owner and sometimes can cause a conflict between hosting provider, site owner and developer. If something goes wrong, who determines where the problem lies? Is it with the hosting company as the developer may imply or is the fix up to the developer as the hosting provider may declare? What happens when the hosting provider must upgrade the server applications and the custom application no longer works as expected? Who will resolve these issues? Who will pay for any changes that need to be done? These are important questions that need to be discussed with your business analysts when discussing custom website development.
On the other hand, with custom website packages such as we provide, we quote our packages with hosting. This means there is only one entity to point a finger at if something is not working. We are the developer, we are the hosting provider, any problems are ours to resolve. And chances are any problems will be discovered and resolved long before you even are aware there was a problem.
The answer to Why a business should consider a custom website package rather than developing a custom website lies in the convenience of being in control and lowering your overall website costs. A custom website package can provide most companies with everything they need at a lower cost, while getting a custom designed site that is easier to manage and maintain website in a much shorter delivery time than would be available from a custom designed site. And the convenience of a single source for all of their website needs provides a degree of comfort and security at very little extra cost over a simple template designed package plan.
If you’d like to know more, please feel free to reach out to us via our website, phone, email or chat.