Lately, I’ve been getting a lot of questions about websites and the best way to build custom websites. There are many obvious reasons why you want a custom website. We build custom websites on WordPress but to many people, WordPress seems to be just another website builder. Whether you use WordPress or another platform to create your website, you can still end up with a good looking finished product.
So what’s the big deal? Technically, WordPress is not a website builder, it is actually a content management system, or CMS for short. If you aren’t familiar with using CMS’s, you may have a lot to learn. If you are looking for something that is a little easier to master, a website builder may be better for you.
Below I’ve laid out some comparisons of CMS’s such as WordPress versus website builders in order for you to decide what may work for you. It is a good thing to note that when choosing a platform to use, it depends on your comfort and your skills.
Ease Of Use
First, let’s talk about ease of use. If you use a website builder, you are pretty much guaranteed that it will be user friendly. Sites such as Weebly have easily managed page editors that help you add, move, or remove elements from your page in a flash.
On WordPress, you will not see this same visual interface. WordPress uses what is called a WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editor to create a visual interpretation of the website. As far as ease of use goes, a drag and drop editor is much easier to figure out, especially if you are not that computer-savvy. WYSIWYG is basically like a Word document. If you can edit a Word doc, you can use WordPress and WYSIWYG. Below is a screenshot of the WYSIWYG post and page editor for Wordpres.
Other ease of use elements includes the ability to insert new themes or plugins without using code on website builders. To do this on WordPress, you may need to change code, and not everyone is savvy with this. Another thing to consider is the difficulty of performing simple actions on WordPress. The interface itself can do many wonderful things, but the challenge may be finding out just how to do them.
The second element I want to discuss is flexibility. One of the best things about WordPress is that it can be used for a variety of website needs- whether that be a blog or an online store. As you just saw, sometimes the cost of this flexibility is the ease of use. Because WordPress can just do so many different things, it is bound to get a little complicated. If you are using a website builder, you generally need to be a little more picky and choose one that will suit the type of website you want to create. Some website builders will power small business websites or personal websites, while others are more suited to power large multi-page sites. For unconventional types of websites, you may want to look to WordPress as it can change to meet your specific needs.
Themes & Plugins
Next, themes and plugins is an element to consider. Due to the large number of people using WordPress, there are plenty of themes and plugins readily available to you. If you want your website to perform a certain action, there is probably a plugin that will let you do it. But with this volume of themes and plugins comes with some that do not work that well. Some of these plugins may require extra tweaking which defeats the purpose of the ready to go plugin. On the flip side, website builders may not have as many themes and plugins available, but the ones they do have always work.
Many people want to know what is better for SEO. Having done SEO for a few past clients websites who used Wix and Weebly, they’re SEO is pretty good. You can add page titles and descriptions for each page. We did not notice that their websites were impacted negativly from using their platforms.
For a few reasons though we love WordPress for SEO simply due to the fact we love the Yoast SEO plugin. There are a lot of great features to that plugin and the major one is being able to create templates for page titles and descritptions for pages. This saves a lot of time as a template can be used to ensure pages and blog posts have the proper SEO information filled out. Wix, Weebdly and other website builders don’t offer this.
Yoast also has a feature that allows you to see all of your Google Search Console data from your WordPress dashboard. This saves the hassle of logging into your Search Console dashboard.
Again, we believe that the website builders have pretty good SEO but WordPress and Yoast are a step above.
Finally, let’s talk about hosting. When you use a website builder, your domain name gets connected to the builder and is already configured. With WordPress, you need to find your own web host. It may also require some reading up on FTP, which is a way to upload your WordPress files to your newfound host. A benefit of finding your own host is that you are able to download your WordPress content and move it to another host, while website builders will host your site forever. If this puts you in unfamiliar territory, you may need to recruit a friend or face a learning curve.
The big takeaway is that choosing between a website builder and a CMS like WordPress heavily depends on you- how much time you have to invest, what your current knowledge of computer code is, and what you want your website to do. If you have an unconventional idea but aren’t sure if you have the skills to navigate WordPress, don’t be discouraged. There are plenty of online tutorials that can get you started.
One of the common misconceptions out there is that web designers are the same as web developers. You may think they do the same thing when in fact there is a difference between the two. Let me explain below what each person does.
A web designer is an expert with graphic design software such as Adobe Photoshop or Illustrator, and uses these graphics to create certain themes or looks for a website. The designer’s creation is then attached to coding and uploaded online. It is important to note that not all web designers are experts at writing code, and they do not always deal with the coding that their designs will be attached to.
Sometimes designers do not even meet the team who will help their design go live. Web designers are creative and imaginative, and need to have an eye for aesthetically pleasing images. Supplementary education for a career in web design includes graphic design, or other arts classes such as photography. Many designers even study classical art techniques in order to better understand colour, use of space, or audience. One of the most important things for a successful web designer is a portfolio of their work, used to showcase what they are capable of to potential employers.
Once a web designer finishes a website, they will have to hand the website over to a web developer to code it to a live, functional website.
Although some parts of a developer’s job can overlap with a designers, there are some aspects that are completely different. The main job of a web developer is to work from the back-end of a website in order to build the frame, a frame which the design is then placed on.
So, it is clear to see that both jobs have a specific function in completing a greater goal: the creation of a website or online interface. In order to make a site that users enjoy, the design must be appealing, and the development must be sound so that it runs smoothly. When both these elements work in harmony, the user is more likely to return to that site.
Now for the complicated part: it has become more and more common for designers to delve into learning code and for developers to begin learning design theory. This is great for those who are exploring both fields as they have a greater skill set, and it is great for employers who may only have to hire one person for two jobs. It is possible for someone to be both a developer and a designer, and this makes them a hot commodity.
A benefit of this merge is that it is becoming much easier for developers and designers to communicate effectively. Due to the amount of jargon in the fields of design and computer science, it can be easy to fall into an explanation that someone outside of the field does not understand. A way that many designers and developers combat this is to avoid jargon as much as possible, and show each other rather than tell what they are looking for. As more people cross over from design to developing and vice versa, these techniques may not be needed as much.
So, now you know the difference between web developers and web designers, and how that distinction is quickly blurring into one title. Although it is very possible to do both tasks well, most people will always be better at one job, and they usually make that their primary focus. Remember, don’t always assume that a designer is a developer, or vice versa!
Over the years, we have worked on close to a hundred websites. A few of our current and past clients have come to us with websites created or designed by another company. In a few of those cases, the client has paid a web design company to “design” them a website.
But they haven’t paid for a custom design. Instead they’ve paid for a pre-made theme. I’ve listed one major reason why custom WordPress themes can be a nightmare. Another reason why pre-made themes are not a good option is that they are often bulky and very slow to load. Sure they look pretty, but they have way too many plugins and files that take the web browser too long to load. This obviously affects the user experience.
In the end, how can someone can call themselves a web designer or web developer if they don’t create custom websites from scratch or have little coding experience? I’ve heard of a few reputable web design companies charge $7000 to simply plug in content to an existing theme they paid $70 for over at Themeforest.
Full disclaimer: we have done this for a few clients on a serious budget. But we don’t take credit for the “web design”. We don’t believe this is true web design.
In saying that, should you employ someone to create a website from scratch, or buy a pre-made theme and plug your content in? Read on.
The system to use on a website varies on two factors: the server technical requirements and the developer’s level of knowledge on different platforms. Custom and pre-made templates have their share of pros and cons, depending on the site’s budget, goals and needs.
Custom Website Design
A custom website design involves a designing firm that will do all the professional work, someone who will focus on your brand, goals, and needs. The firm will take into account the SEO best practices and determine what ROI type you are looking for. With a custom website, you will have full control of the whole process and the features to be used.
Since custom websites don’t only consist of how a website will appear, the development process usually takes longer during the early stage. But, in the long run, it will save time since the designing firm will make sure that your website will perform as designed.
Website designing entails great effort and time, and glitches may arise if not done properly. This is where a designing firm comes in. Templates are great for simple organizations that want a website that works only as a business card and without intricate processes. However, if you desire more than that, then custom website design is ideal for you.
With a theme-based website, coding and layout are already done. WordPress, an open-source blogging tool, and CMS, offers a wide variety of themes you can choose from. Theme-based websites are available on websites like ThemeForest, a theme website developer that aims to sell as many copies as possible.
With these premium themes, they often over do it with an excessive number of plugins that are unnecessary and too many plugins causes the page load speed to slow down. What these plugins achieve could be done with just a little bit of extra coding. When using plugins. You are prompted to update them for compatibility as WordPress updates are made. This can cause the site to break and you’d have to incur extra fees by hiring someone to do the maintenance updates to ensure no compatibility issues.
When using WordPress with too many additional and unnecessary functions like plugins and extra settings that are not applicable to your business, it can make your WordPress interface cluttered and confusing. Causing you to struggle to make simple website updates and changes to your site. We’ve lots of frustrated SEO clients with existing premade themes needing assistance to make, what should be, simple edits.
Some web designers prefer theme sites if a client isn’t too selective about the looks of the site. This way they can easily produce a website that is up and functioning quickly. Most of these theme-based sites have coding already written for customers. The only thing to work on is applying images and content, make some minor adjustments and you are ready to go.
Based on its quick setup, new WordPress sites produced from premade themes normally cost less compared to custom-coded websites based on a customer’s specifications. However, that is roughly the sole benefit a customer can get from buying a theme-based site.
The Bottom Line
A website can be an extremely potent tool if created properly, but a poorly made site can work against you. No matter what kind of website you require, the most crucial factor you should focus on is choosing the right designer.
So choose wisely and ask the question “Am I getting a custom website or a premade theme?”.
There are many new web design trends are introduced yearly. Similar to the trends in fashion, new trends in web design are embraced instantaneously while the previous ones wane. New trends are inevitable due to the different needs of our society and the ever changing industry. However, web designers must be wise in utilizing these trends.
Below are web design trends to use with caution:
The green highlighted box in the above image is known as a hamburger menu.
Due to various technological advancements, the most widely used devices to connect to the internet are handheld devices like smartphones and tablets. As a result, web developers have made designs much simpler by introducing hamburger menu. This menu hides all the navigations, and this resulted in the development of the desktop website. The hamburger menu helps by making the website clean and with one tap, you’ll open a menu instead of putting all items on the site.
But this type of menu doesn’t apply to all websites. With news and e-commerce websites you have to place each menu on the front end instead of hiding it all in a hamburger.
Many modern websites utilize carousels. Carousels keep the text formation and photos in order and permit the addition of visual interest. If a carousel is used frequently, the website will look almost the same and less difference will be observed. SEO specialists claim that a carousel isn’t good for search engine optimization since it has no text and prevents sufficient meta info from getting into a page.
It isn’t vital for a text to be over the fold; however, Google will not recommend placing the content lower down the page. A carousel will push the text lower, which greatly affects the usability.
It seems that you can find floating element almost everywhere – from floating social media icons that let you click it to floating menu, which does not disappear even if you scroll down the page. It’s no wonder that they catch the attention of users. However, floating elements can push away users by obstructing the content they want to look at.
For users who access a website through their mobile, floating elements can be a nuisance, since the small screen can block more of the content. This is a sure way of dissuading users from staying or going back to your site.
Flash Animated Load Screens
Nobody wants to face a complex load screen which can’t be easily removed and forces users to sit through it. If a site has a flash animation that lasts more than 10 seconds and doesn’t let the user see the content, it’s likely they will not revisit the site at all. Another loading screen that prevents the user from revisiting is a counter that climbs to 100 percent. This counter is normally placed in the middle of the screen and requires the user to wait until the site finishes loading.
Parallax scrolling produces an impression of depth by letting the background of the content move slower than the foreground content as the user scrolls down.If used well, the results are amazing, and recently it has become popular. A good example of parallax scrolling used effectively is the site for the Firewatch game.
It is perfect for sites that require amazing presentation and have less text, like websites that showcase services and products. However, issues may arise if parallax scrolling is applied on sites with a lot of content. Parallax sites have the tendency to use a single page instead of separating the content into various pages. This can badly upset SEO for it can restrict the amount of content that search engines can crawl. Sometimes there are texts that are embedded in graphics, which further restrict content visible to Google.
All of the mentioned trends are amazing if they are used properly, however, be careful and take into consideration the possible problems you might undertake prior to using them. Websites greatly vary, and it is in the hands of web designers to determine what’s best for a certain website.
Whitespace, also known as negative space, is a part of the page that has been left unmarked, left blank or the page’s empty space. In the world of web designing, white space refers to the space between images, columns, text, graphics, and other components. This space is intentionally left untouched to smooth everything out and turn the page into something amazing. Whitespace also aims to show that simple designs are elegant and a page doesn’t have to fill its layout with graphics and text to convey a message that’s clear and direct.
Even though it is termed as white space, it doesn’t have to exactly mean that it has to be white. The blank space may be coloured, blue, green, red, etc. as long as it doesn’t have any graphical and text elements. Whitespace is also linked to style and intricacy since it’s an approach to organizing elements and help users in attending to particular elements.
For you to have more white space in your layout and provide a much better outcome, begin by discerning a page’s every detail. Think about the images, words, menus, letters, items in a list, header, footer, and margins. Think of all the above mentioned elements, and try to provide more space between those elements, considering that you want to make something stylish and clear and at the same time improve the user experience. A good user experience means having enough space for elements to breathe and letting the eyes of the readers relax. Putting size 11 text and filling it in the bottom part of the page will not provide a good experience for the readers.
Below are tips on how to use white space effectively.
Use white space wisely
As previously discussed, white space is the blank area around a page’s design elements and it’s not necessarily white as other colors can be used. One of the feelings that a white space convey is open-air and calm feeling. It’s highly recommended to leave huge portions of white space surrounding the vital area of the page, which will make it more noticeable. A good example of a website that uses white space effectively is Apple’s website.
Obviously, the same concept applies in designing black or dark-coloured themed websites; however, having a dark background can somehow convey something different. Objects on a page that are surrounded by a huge dark background convey drama and excitement.
Let some elements float
Normally, layouts of web pages are equally geometric and boxy. Though it is usually a great idea to have all your elements align in a grid, if you follow this rule exactly your page can appear too rigid. To make the page noticeable, play around with the vital elements. Let a vital element break the rule a bit and fall outside the grid. This will help your page stand out.
Remember, less is more
Obviously, the less things you plan to put on your page, the easier it is to take into account floating elements and white space that stands out in the grid structure. Try to restrict the number of less trivial things on your page, and instead place these on another page that focuses on that particular element.
Layer elements by their importance
Distinguish a value proposition from actionable info on how to start with differentiating product offering with balance white space. Position the vital messages on the top of the page and use white spaces to guide the eyes of your readers from one content asset to another.
White space needs balance instead of symmetry. Even a site that’s made from the huge amount of images like Pinterest will try to avoid using images that have the same size. The white space all appears even around the elements; however, the elements themselves have different sizes. White spaces will only work great along with well-made positive spaces. Make sure that the positive spaces of your page are layered, natural, interesting or enclosed by white spaces for a spectacular visual result.
Pay attention to micro white space
Micro white space can be seen inside individual design elements instead of the broad spaces in-between elements. The visual experience of users can be greatly affected by line spacing and letter spacing. All text, which includes button text, headers, and footers, must not look too cramped and hard to read. Links and navigational menus must also have micro white space to help improve reading.
The Bottom Line
White space doesn’t only generate balance and harmony, and aid in creating a design, it is also useful in leading a reader from one element to the next. A designer’s goal should include making sure a website looks simple and organized, and be able to provide information that readers will enjoy.
It’s vital that white space isn’t only considered as a “blank” space, it should be treated as the element of design that makes objects for a page to exist. It’s the space that helps in balancing things out in a page. Although white space is unquestionably something good to utilize, it can also be something that can produce a great amount of resistance between clients and web designers. This is mainly because most clients do not want to look at a huge amount of space on their sites, which leads to designers to have to talk about the importance of white space and its role in website designing.
Sure, at first glance, white space just seems to appear empty and ordinary. However, in the end, it will help the whole look and feel of the design of the site.