There are so many things that go into making a customized website that knowing where to start can be difficult.
Upon a quick Google search, we see that there are many companies offering suitable solutions, but rest assured that there is no ONE right way to build a website. The secret lies in understanding your options and figuring out which route is right for you is crucial to saving you time and money.
If you want to create a customized website, you generally have three options:
- You can DIY with a website builder platform like Squarespace or Wix;
- You can hire an agency to do the job for you;
- Or you can co-create your website with a partner agency guiding you through the process.
What is a custom website?
A custom website is designed to specifically answer your business marketing strategy and goals. They are typically built on a robust CMS platform, like WordPress, but can also be built on simple drag and drop CMS’s like Squarespace and Wix. In both cases, the website’s customized elements may include colors, fonts, layout, plugins and other functionalities based on your goals and branding.
Customized websites are great for businesses that want to create a unique user experience for their customers, showcasing your organization in a true and relevant way for both buyers and business owners.
How do I create a custom website?
Table of Contents
Answer these questions
Each and every option comes with their ups and downs, so let’s take a breather (do it, take it now) and follow with some questions to define which website building option serves you best.
What is your budget?
Customized websites can cost anywhere from $500 to $10,000. The amount of customization and who you choose to build your website with are the two biggest facts that will affect the final cost of your website.
What is your time frame?
Just like the cost of a website, how long a website takes to make will depend greatly on who is building your website and how much customization is required. A website that requires a lot of custom CSS code will take a lot longer than a website that primarily sticks to a CMS template with just a few modifications.
How are your competitors’ websites?
Like every facet of a marketing strategy, you want to surpass your competition in every way possible. With website building it’s no different.
To see what your competitors’ websites look like, open up Google and type in “a keyword related to your niche” + “your town or city”.
For example: “Bakery Orlando, FL”.
You should get a number of results for bakeries in the Orlando area that will give you ideas on how your competition is customizing their website, and displaying their products.
Ask yourself, how complex are these websites? Are they using very generic templates? Do they have cool graphics? Are they able to process payments directly on their website?
The answer to these questions will give you an idea of how much customization your website will need and what platform you should build it on.Most importantly, they’ll help you decide on what functions it must have to be competitive in your niche market..
Option 1: DIY with a Website Builder
The cheapest website creation solution available is creating a website on your own.
The only costs are those of your website builder plan (which can be anywhere from $12 – $32 / month depending on the platform you use), and your domain name.
Beware! If you do not have experience with any website builder whatsoever, taking on this project by yourself might prove time consuming and you may end up falling short and with a website that you are unhappy with.
Nonetheless, if you’re feeling confident in your web design skills, follow these steps.
Find a Website Builder that you’re comfortable with
We start by choosing the right website builder for your particular situation.
Website builders like Squarespace and Wix are great options for simple, straightforward websites that don’t need a lot of bells and whistles. Luckily, we wrote this amazing article on Wix vs Squarespace, exposing the benefits and hindrances of each platform.
Name your website domain
Coming up with your website’s name might seem like the most important part of the website customization process. However, in order to save time make sure you always have a domain hosting platform open while you are scrambling your brain for the right name.
GoDaddy or Namecheap are two really great domain hosting platforms that give you the ability to search for available domain names before you buy one. Searching for available domains is crucial to setting your expectations before getting too caught up on a specific domain name.
Pick a design template
You will have a wide array of templates to choose from regardless of your website builder choice. Most platforms will also let you filter which templates are the best based on your company’s industry and your website’s purpose.
Each template has a unique layout, design and font. Take your time picking one out, but keep in mind that you can modify your template to your liking later.
Customize it to your liking and needs
After choosing a template, play with it for a while. Change colors, fonts and layout to best match the website that your business needs.
Customization also means adding functions to your web pages. These can be added by installing applications (or plugins) to your CMS. Some plugins are free and some are not, but they all grant you in-depth analysis on how your site is performing, and add creative options to your pages layout.
Remember when you checked out your competitors’ websites? Now is the time to add functions that might differentiate your business from your competition, like fast-loading images, for example.
Test, Preview and Upload your customized website
You want to check that everything is in its rightful place before putting your website online.
- Check your copy for grammar;
- Make sure all functions are working;
- Pages are loading fast enough;
- You have no broken links on your pages;
- All clickable elements actually take the user to another URL;
- Don’t forget to optimize it for mobile visualization.
Option 2: Use WordPress
If your website is going to require more complex tools, such as SEO analysis and email marketing integrations, opting for a more robust CMS that is compatible with many plugins and applications might be your best bet.
We highly recommend WordPress for cases like these. WordPress is not only designed for web developers and non-developers alike, it is also a great tool for small businesses that have a long term SEO plan that they hope to build out in the future.
Keep in mind that WordPress is a little trickier to learn than your average website builder, definitely not impossible to pick up, however, it might be interesting to look into hiring outside help to make sure that you are not wasting too much of your time.
If you’re knowledgeable in HTML, you can use WordPress.org software to create your own website. You may start your project on your own and make modifications to your websites and register domains, host, and more if you’re confident in your programming abilities.
If you have the required talents, WordPress can be a fantastic platform for developing websites, and we all know that there is nothing better than a freebie.
WordPress also integrates beautifully with many popular e-commerce solutions allowing you to create digital catalogs and provide in-depth product browsing experiences for users in an effortless manner: WooCommerce, Magento or PrestaShop, just to name a few.
WordPress is also a fantastic tool for self-promotion and business promotion since it allows you to establish an online reputation as a blogger.
Blogging on subject areas that are relevant to your business makes you a more dependable source of information for consumers seeking answers about your sector. For most individuals, blogs are the first step in finding a suitable offer.
Use your blog material to promote those answers. You may generate a lot of organic traffic to your website by optimizing your blog articles with a little bit of keyword research and SEO efforts.
WordPress makes it easier than ever to create a website with its simple interface, large variety of templates (called themes), and thousands of free or low-cost plug-ins (or add-ons) that may be used to customize the site appearance or add features like online store capability, social media integration, analytics, and more.
Option 3: Partner with a professional
If you are in over your head with your custom website the easiest, most cost efficient option can be to hire someone to create your website for you. Custom website building is not for beginners so it can be difficult to create a great site without prior experience.
What to look for in a Web Developer
The first thing you want to look at is a developer’s portfolio. Here you can see their previous work and figure out if it appeals to you.
- Client Testimonials
Reading client reviews online or asking a prospective web developer for testimonials from past satisfied customers is the best way to learn about what your experience may be like.
Custom web development services aren’t cheap, so choosing someone who is within your budget, but still has great reviews from past clients is really important. You deserve the best bang for your buck!
- Time frame
In the end, you want someone who can get your website up and running quickly while bringing to life your vision. Make sure that you set expectations with your web developer from the get-go.
- Company Values
Every web developer and digital marketing agency is different. Their values, their creative process, the way they treat their clients and employees can vary. Figuring out what company or developer that you identify with is a great way of guaranteeing that you feel heard and that your vision is carried out.
Like mentioned above there is no wrong or right way to build out a custom website. Each of the three options outlined in this blog have their pros and cons. The best way to begin thinking about how you are going to make your custom website a reality is by asking yourself the 3 questions outline in the beginning of this blog:
- What is your budget?
- What is your time frame?
- How are your competitors showcasing their businesses online?
These questions will get you thinking about what you hope to achieve with your website and where your limitations lie. From there you will have a better understanding of how much customization you want / need and how you can make it happen. The important thing is to be realistic about your goals, budget and time frame.
Regardless of which of the 3 options you choose to adopt, just know that the SomneoX team is always here to help answer any questions you might have. As a digital marketing and web development team we know the struggles of small businesses and are always here to chat through any customization ideas you may have.
Shoot us a message or follow us on our social media to learn more about us and our services!