It can be difficult for clients to shift through the specific differences of custom solutions vs prebuilt themes and templates.
We often work with our clients to help them understand the pitfalls that are included in many of these "quick and easy" website solutions. While we've seen a growing understanding about this, we wanted to share some of our common considerations below.
A site that fits your content: we take a content first approach in any of the projects we work on. Most builder platforms take the reverse approach and you are left hoping your content architecture doesn't get completely reworked in the build process. Taking this content first approach ensures that your users have an intuitive experience from the minute they access your site.
A site that conveys your brand: a custom built site allows for unlimited branding and design flexibility for your new site. You don't want to look like everyone else in your sector and you can ensure that your message is communicate.
A site that is relevant for many years to come: building a custom site ensures that the site can be maintained and expanded on for many years without hitting the limit of the platform you've chosen.
A site that you own: many website builder platforms allow you to "lease" the site as long as you continue to pay and remain on their platform. All the sites we build are fully owned by our clients and we offer ongoing support at their option.
A site that is search engine optimized: many quick and easy website platforms (WIX, Squarespace, Webflow, WordPress.com) offer a promise of allowing you to build a site that performs well for search engines. This year Google's algorithm will be significantly reworked to heavily prioritize page load times as an indicator of search priority. Website builder platforms are inherently slow loading and bloated due to the one-size-fits-most approach.
The team at Avanath came to us after an ongoing frustrating experience with their current site hosting and maintenance provider. Floodlight had originally built out their network of 50+ apartment complex sites, but decided to have their current provider host and maintain their sites. After many ongoing issues with their provider they decided to allow the team at Floodlight to take over all of the sites hosting, maintenance, and ongoing development needs.
We were able to implement a seamless process that created no downtime for any of the sites and much higher system performance and support resolution time.
We are excited to continue to support Avanath in growing their footprint in the Apartment Complex property management space.
The team at Gordon-Conwell came to us after a failed RFP process. They received a handful of proposals that were far outside their budget constraints and overkill for their needs.
They reached out and we talked with them about a collaboration approach where their internal team designed the creative and we consulted and built the site. The site launched on schedule and we created a functional extendable platform that we will support and maintain for many years to come.
Take a look at their newly launched network of (28) sites here - https://gordonconwell.edu
We often work with clients that need more of a partnership relationship with their digital agency and thrive working in this type of arrangement.
We often have client's reach out to us with a specific need or executional challenge.
Over the years we've become less reactive to solving their initial issue and more curious about their needs as a whole. Our goal is not to sell a prescriptive set of services, but to truly understand the past-and-future of the client's goals in-order to provide solutions that stand the test of time.
One of the main ways we achieve this is by offering a workshop-style discovery process that clearly articulates clients' goals, the perspective site users, their content, and their sitemap. Without this, we've found we are running in circles.
If your organization has grown tired of and endless stream of website updates we'd love to partner with your team to create a roadmap for you to execute against for many years to come.
For some of the sites we work on it makes sense to develop the site on the intended launch domain name. For these situations we provide instructions to clients about how to modify their "local hosts file" to view the site prior to it being live for the whole world.
If you are using a PC or Mac the process is pretty simple although it does require some command line access (gasp!). It can be intimidating to use an non-GUI interface, but if you closely follow the simple steps below, you will be all set in no time.
Please be careful with these steps as you can really mess with your DNS settings on your computer, but if you follow closely you will be able to view your development site easily.