If you’re launching a new website or planning an update of an existing site, you might be preoccupied with thinking about how it looks on the surface. But just like with building a house, you have to start with a solid foundation before you start decorating. With a web development project, that means you have to decide what type of website you’re going to build. Will you build a completely custom website? Or use an out-of-the-box framework with a CMS, such as WordPress, Shopify, or Magento? How do you choose the right framework for your particular needs?
There are a lot of things to consider when deciding whether to build a completely custom website for your business, or to use an existing software platform.
The foundation of your website will be the backend code, but the design is what your users will experience and what they will judge the site on.. Choosing a custom website will give you free reign on design, allowing you to have exactly the site you want with no limitations. With a custom site, you can perfectly match your website design to your brand, which will give it a more professional and luxurious feel. Sites based on existing content management platforms, however, have to be designed within whatever structure is allowed by the CMS. You can have a custom template designed, but it will still be a template, tied to the restrictions of the existing code.
One thing many people love about CMS platforms is that they have thousands of plugins you can choose from to add various functions to your website. While that seems great on the surface, using prebuilt plugins can actually cause a lot of problems for your site. Plugins are all created by different developers with no real oversight to ensure that they operate efficiently or that they work together on your site. Not only can plugins create problems with functionality and loading speed, they can also present security risks when they aren’t built by reputable developers.
CMS platforms are also much more bulky than custom coded websites, because they have to have a system for owners to log in and make changes. With a custom website, all of that extra code can be dropped, because your web developer can go and make changes directly in the code. This will result in faster loading times and a better experience for the site’s users.
CMS platforms are often billed as being more user-friendly for the site owners, because you can log in and make adjustments yourself, rather than relying on a developer to edit and change your site. However, making those changes aren’t as easy as copy and paste or point and click. You still have to spend the time to make the updates, know where and how to make the changes, how to format them properly, etc. Incorrectly updating a site, or not making updates at all can cause a lot of problems with your site and give users a negative impression. Having a developer make changes directly through the site code will save you time, ensure the updates look professional, and make your site load faster.
Ranking high in search engine results is a key metric for online success. With a custom website, your developer can incorporate the most current best practices for SEO, and give your site the best chance for success in search ranking. Your developer will also be able to make future changes that allow your site to keep up with ever-changing search algorithms, which will help your site to continue ranking highly well into the future. With pre-built CMS platforms, your SEO could be months or years out-of-date, depending on when the platform was created, putting your site at a disadvantage right from the start. In addition, it could be difficult, or even impossible to make updates that set your site up for success as SEO ranking algorithms change in the future.
Generally speaking, basic CMS websites are cheaper to set up and maintain than custom developed websites. However, that is only a surface comparison. If you want to customize your CMS with specific functionality, or make changes to the design or basic template, it can cost the same, or even more, than a completely custom solution. In addition, the money you “save” might end up costing you big in terms of usability, design, or SEO.
A generic website built on an existing CMS using a premade template could be launched in a matter of minutes. But faster isn’t always better when it comes to launching websites. If you’re looking to create a site that truly supports your business, offers value to your clients, and can help you build a visible online presence, then a custom site that’s designed to support your specific goals is a better choice. It will ultimately take longer to launch, but you’ll have a site that is exactly what you need to thrive in a crowded online world.
Many proponents of CMS platforms tout the wide array of third-party plugins and systems that are available to extend the functionality of a basic site. You can use them to add a blog, an online store, appointment scheduling and more. The list is practically endless. However, those systems may not all work in conjunction and could ultimately lead to problems in site functionality. In addition, many of those added services require a monthly subscription fee, as well as other fees for payment processing, support, etc. A custom developed website will be created by one development team who will ensure that all parts function in harmony and the site offers a seamless experience for users. A custom site allows you to grow your online presence at your pace and make future updates compatible with all existing features.
Although CMS platforms get a lot of hype for ease-of-use, unless you want to become a web developer and online marketing expert yourself, the best option for most business owners is to partner with an expert web development and marketing team who can guide you to the best platform for your needs, develop it to your specifications, and provide ongoing updates and support to help you achieve your online goals.
At Regex SEO, we develop fully custom digital marketing strategies that take you to the front page. Whether you want to drive more traffic to your website or convert more visitors into paying customers, contact us today for a free personalized consultation. We’ll help you find the best solutions for your project and deliver a custom quote to get the job done.
July 30, 2020
A very informative and comprehensive article. I am starting a small online business so I will definitely be using this information to help guide me.