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Custom Website Development vs. Pre-Built Websites

By August 13, 2020Blog

As a business owner, sole proprietor, or otherwise individual looking for a new website, it’s incredibly important to spend the time to do your research. There’s thousands or different methods to build a website – platforms, website builders, frameworks, and more, all of which claim to be the best for the job. But how do you know which fit is best for your new website project? Do you want to do it yourself or hire a website design company? Do you want one design firm to design it and another build the actual website? Do you want to be hands on? With so many different potential options, we want to give our recommendation for what we’ve found to work out the best for our clients, as well as explain why we do what we do the way that we do it.

Here's the thing...

The more you’re able to trust the people you work with and the businesses you hire, the better any development project will be. There are too many variables to handle alone while also running your business. Find someone you believe in to help get your website development project across the finish line.

So, what do you do?

We recently began working with a non-profit that is using another 3rd-party development shop’s proprietary website builder/e-commerce store. To explain, this non-profit has an e-commerce platform where they’re selling products to help raise funds for their goals, and the platform itself isn’t open-sourced (freely published), but rather is a unique property of the 3rd party company. This means that only the 3rd-party company really knows the ins-and-outs of the platform, and that making custom edits is significantly more difficult. Actually, making most edits to the e-commerce store is more difficult than other open platforms like WordPress or Magento or Shopify.

Not all of those options are “open source,” but when you’re talking about e-commerce, you want to work with one of the big players in the game. You want a website that you can control and manage easily, build in new functions, and otherwise customize. E-commerce is uniquely situated for those needs simply because it has direct income tied to it. Managing a brochure website doesn’t have the same pressure and urgency that an e-commerce store does, and therefore, you will want an e-commerce platform that can be functionally used.

In this scenario, the 3rd-party e-commerce platform is managed offsite on a subdomain (something.website.com), and then the products/categories are pulled into the website via javascript. The front-end user may not care about this, but it makes any SEO or Google AdWords incredibly difficult since the text for the products isn’t actually on the page itself, but rather part of a larger script.

While this specific scenario may not apply to you, the methodology behind it certainly does. You may not even want to be that involved in the creation/management of your website, but you certainly NEED the ability to be involved if you wanted to. The more control you give to a 3rd party company without your ability to step in and manage, the more difficult it will be to get someone else’s help when you need it.

When it comes to building new websites, we always recommend platforms that have the most available support and documentation. The more support and documentation that exists, the more our clients are able to learn and do on their own. Even though we will gladly train anyone on HOW to use their new website or what to look for in a web design build, having the information out there will make a huge difference in the health of any digital marketing occurrence – anything that you want to control online needs independent support. This isn’t always the case, but most “pre-built” websites that come from proprietary systems are incredibly restrictive for your access and control. Certainly so when it comes to access for another development firm should you want custom work done.

Trusting the businesses you work with will go a long way, but ask the right questions is how you should build that trust. Ask what happens if you want to move your website to a different host. Ask who controls your domain name. Ask how much phone calls cost for support. Getting these answers can help you build trust for a new web design project and make sure your website can last for years.