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The 3 Types of Website Development

Updated: May 2

Nearly two out of five website visitors immediately go elsewhere when they encounter images that won't display correctly, slow-loading webpages or unappealing layouts, according to Forbes. This fact highlights the great importance of a top-notch design for your company's website. Before you can create a desirable site, you need to identify the best web design strategy.

We believe that three major types of development exist. Each method offers different pros and cons.

1. Template Websites

Templates aren't very flexible. Wikimedia Commons, Lyn Lomasi

Several well-known web design systems rely on templates. They include Weebly, GoDaddy Website Builder and SquareSpace. You might also find individual templates for sale on marketplaces like eBay. Templates provide ready-to-use layouts, but they're often difficult to change. You may need to pay a web developer to add features or update content. This disadvantage can raise costs and decrease the usefulness of a template in the long run. Nevertheless, it's easy and relatively inexpensive to start a template-based website. You don't need any coding knowledge. Unlike a custom site, you can fully preview its appearance before setting it up. Some templates have highly attractive designs. However, you should be aware that certain existing websites may look the same as your new site. The similarity could confuse users or cause them to believe that unrelated companies have the same owner.

Oftentimes, template developers don't really care about long-term satisfaction. This is especially true when their product is sold in exchange for a small one-time fee. They know that appealing, eye-catching styles boost template sales. As points out, this means that template designers frequently overlook less obvious considerations, such as speed, browser compatibility and search optimization. While a website's appearance certainly holds importance, people are less likely to return to your site if it doesn't perform well.

Template-based services usually have low-priced options with limited features. For instance, Weebly's basic plan costs nothing. However, you'll need to pay at least $6 per month if you want to attach your website to a domain name of your choice (like The high-end plans cost about $12 to $29 monthly; they include unlimited storage space and better technical support. GoDaddy Website Builder starts at $9.99 per month, but you'll have to spend at least $16.99 if you desire sophisticated e-commerce features.

When we give web development advice to business owners, we tend to discourage the use of templates. One of our core values involves teaching clients to accomplish tasks on their own. Template-based websites often make this far more difficult. You may need to repeatedly spend money to update or upgrade your website. Some changes might require you to purchase an entirely new template, abruptly changing how your website looks and functions.

2. Platform Websites

Easy drag-and-drop web development. Wikimedia Commons, Raysonho

Services like Webflow and Wix enable you to customize your website more thoroughly. You can also easily make changes without learning to code. These systems let you choose a template or begin with a blank screen. Next, you'll use a graphical editor to place the desired elements on web pages. Examples of these elements include text, contact forms, pictures and video clips. Platform websites also enable businesses to set up blogs and post new content at any time without a developer's assistance.

In addition to adding webpages with a wide range of content, you can customize many aspects of a website. These services typically allow you to choose the colors and fonts. They also let you set up the navigation system and decide what links will appear on a site's main menu. A platform-based website generally has a more distinctive appearance than a template, but it may not look as unique as an entirely custom design.

Small and mid-sized companies can benefit from the back office solutions provided by many website builders. These systems help to simplify the process of running a business. They assist staff in completing routine tasks, such as keeping track of inventory. A company may run more smoothly after integrating back office solutions into its website. For instance, inventory tracking could reduce the number of orders that you must cancel due to out-of-stock items.

Some platform website builders supply basic features for free. Others charge around $10 to $45 per month. The expense usually rises as your website becomes larger or more complex. These fees frequently include the cost of web hosting. They might also cover domain registration. If not, you'll need to pay about $15 yearly to register and renew a domain name for your business.

Webflow's free "Starter" option is rather limited. You can't set up your own domain name, and any forms on your website will stop working after people use them 50 times. On the other hand, the affordable "Basic" plan meets the needs of many small businesses. It lets you use a domain name and allows visitors to submit up to 500 forms per month. Likewise, Wix offers multiple free and paid options. It costs around $16 to $45 per month for more storage space and better tech support.

When using platform-based development, you can establish a new website within hours. You won't have to wait for a web designer to complete the project. This method also lets you instantly update your pages. You can even do so from any location with internet access. Your files and the website-builder software are available online rather than being stored on an office computer's hard drive.

We love to recommend platform website development to our clients because it provides flexibility and independence at an affordable cost. You don't need to rely on us or a web developer to update your website. Your company can also benefit from sophisticated marketing and automation features that templates seldom deliver. Platform-based design enhances the browsing experience, helping you attract more repeat visitors.

3. Custom Dev Websites

Custom development isn't simple. Wikimedia Commons, Markus Spiske

A custom-developed site is made from scratch by skilled programmers. It can provide specialized functions and doesn't need to rely on existing code. Major companies often choose this option, especially if they offer internet-based services. Every aspect of the website may be fully customized. If desired, coders can prioritize speed, appearance, ad revenue or interactivity. You could also integrate your site with custom desktop or mobile software applications.

This costly development method may prove beneficial if you have a completely new concept in mind. For example, perhaps you want to start a free email service that's integrated with a payment system and lets users "attach" money to their messages. You can't create this website with a drag-and-drop builder. Custom development might also appeal to a business owner with excellent coding skills. In this situation, it becomes free but still demands a substantial amount of time.

It doesn't make sense to devote your time and money to reinventing the wheel. If you want to sell products or let customers book appointments on the internet, you probably don't need custom-developed code. The same goes for guides, forums, blogs and other common types of websites. Even if you seek to create something more sophisticated like an online auction system, you might save money by paying for existing code and adapting it to your needs. Custom-developed websites cost around $1,500 at the minimum, according to Upwork. Small companies usually spend under $10,000. If the site employs a complex database or sells hundreds of different products, the price of this service often ranges from $5,500 to $65,000. These fees may or may not include hosting and a domain name. Costs vary based on the developer's education, experience and skills. The number of separate pages will have a major impact as well.

A downside of custom development is that it frequently takes longer than using a template or platform. You'll have to search for a competent programmer who knows how to design secure, reliable websites. The developer could need to complete an existing project before he or she has time for your site. You may require this person's assistance to perform future updates. Other programmers might find it difficult to understand and edit the original developer's code.

We usually only recommend this solution to Tandem clients with highly specialized needs. It typically costs far more than the alternatives. Platform systems and templates have improved significantly over the years. They can meet the needs of many small and mid-sized firms. We fondly remember working on custom development projects in the early years. This is still a great option if you're looking to create the next Twitter or Google. Nonetheless, platform websites provide a more convenient and budget-friendly solution for most businesses.

Tandem Collaborative clients benefit from the decades of technology and marketing experience accrued during Elizabeth Mead's career. Our expert advice helps businesses enhance commercial websites as well as online and offline advertising campaigns. You can sample our services with a one-time session or gain continual support through a membership plan. To get started, please book a meeting, consultation or retreat today!


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Upwork, Tandem Collaborative,

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