Choosing the Right Type of Website Design

30th July, 2010 in Design/Development

Following on from my recent post on Static or Dynamic (Content Managed) Website - Which is Best? part 2 of my Choosing the Right Website Series focuses on the differences between various design options available for your website, the advantages and disadvantages of each one and the recommended choice.

Types of Website Designs

There are an infinite number of website designs possible and would be a mammoth task to discuss them in detail, so I am going to categorise the designs into three groups: Basic, Template and Bespoke.

Basic Design

 The most basic of all design types would not require any graphic design and could be created by any person not experienced with web design principles. The basic design is generally a simple header image, left or right hand column for the menu, then the main content area. be no special imagery or buttons, just a simple colour scheme, company logo and header image. With only a couple of hours required to design this may be considered the lowest cost option and suitable for people on an extremely low budget that do not have a need to impress visitors.

Advantages

Quick Development
The layout is the most common website layout and very standard so no time is required on that aspect. Choosing a few colours based on company logo would be straightforward, and inserting a basic header image would take no time at all. So creating this layout and design takes very little time.

Very Low Cost
Due to the speed at which this layout and design can be thought up and implemented, the cost should be very low for a website of this design type.

Minimum Code
The simple layout and design means the website code could potentially be quite minimal and optimised, although you will find websites of this nature do not tend to have optimisation in mind because the designers are not considering end user experience, only budget.

Disadvantages

Amateurish and Low Quality
The low investment in this design type will show, and the website will look very amateurish. The visitor will make a direct link between the quality of your website and services and products offered.

Low user experience
With only a simple menu in place and little thought on maximising user experience on the website, the user experience will be quite basic and not very impressive at all.

Portrays low quality products or services
The basic image of the company and lack of user experience will give the user a perception of low quality product and services.

Unprofessional
In business it is important to be professional and strive to provide high quality products and services all the time. The basic website will not show much professionalism, and break down any professionalism you have spent time offline, such as networking events, building up.

Negatively impact on a business
All the above points will no doubt have a negative impact on the business, with visitors taking away the perception that your products and services are of lower quality than others in the same industry with very well designed websites.

Template Design

 A Template Design is a design that is already pre-built by a graphic designer and available to purchase online. Various websites exist to sell templates, such as our own template scheme at http://www.web-designs-and-templates.co.uk. The templates are low cost because the designer operates on the basis of multiple people buying the same template over and over again, thus generating a combined income for the designer. Templates are professional and often impressive considering the price, with a vast selection to choose from.

Templates are a good way for someone on a low budget to have a professional and graphically designed website. The main drawbacks are that other people may also be using your design and that the designs look too manufactured/off the shelf sometimes, which can provide a feeling of lower quality due to lower investment.

Advantages

Low Cost

The idea is the template website will sell many of the same designs, and using low cost, quick graphic designers, templates can be churned out quickly thus allowing a lower cost sale price for each one.

Graphic Designed

Graphic designers are used to create the designs, so they often look quite professional and visually impressive.

Large Selection Available

New designs are being added on a daily basis to the template websites, and because they have been around for along time, thousands of designs exist to choose from.

Quick Development

Using a template design means no graphic design time is required, the design is ready to use right away for your website.

Disadvantages

Other websites may have the same design

Templates can be purchased outright for a hug fee, but usually people buy the low cost template which leaves it open for others to purchase the same design over and over again. This is how the designer will make a profit from the time spent on this design. This means others may have the same design as you, even your competitor down the road! Although the chances are very slim. You therefore lose any unique online presence and more importantly your brand image.

It looks "manufactured"

Templates can often be identified as templates and not bespoke designs. This may be due to out of place logos (see below) or just a "too cosmetic" design that would not represent your company image at all. If it looks like a template it can portray a lower quality due to lower cost feel.

No thought of company brand or image in mind

The template would have been designed by a designer not knowing anything about your brand or business and would like it to be as generic as possible in order to sell more designs. Therefore once your own logo, header and colours are inserted the website design may become disjointed from your company brand, and could look like you have just dropped your logo in there without the website being designed based on it and look out of place. This may then also provide a feeling of lower quality products or services. 

Over Bloated Coding

Quite often the code to build the template which you may end up using is over-bloated with too much, unnecessary code used, and packed with unnecessary features like animations, JavaScript effects and too much imagery. This is likely due to wanting a fast design and development time by the developer due to the low cost of sales. The unnecessary code usually means the site is not designed with a SEO or page speed in mind, and is not streamlined. The site may therefore take longer to load than a bespoke designed site and potentially not conform to web standards.

You do not own the IPR

The designer, or more likely the website selling the designs, will likely own the IPR for the design so can re-sell it. You will only be licensed to use it so cannot then sell on the design or images, and may have limitations on how you use the template purchased.

Bespoke Designs

 A bespoke design is considered the Rolls Royce of designs and if designed right will portray the highest standard of professionalism and quality of your business. Visitors will perceive a high standard and quality of your products and services, and ultimately be more likely to do business with you than a company with a basic or template driven website. The cost for bespoke is of course higher, but the idea is you would have a return on the investment in the long term from increased business due to a high standard website.

Advantages

If a suitable and experienced web graphic designer is used, your website design should have the following advantages:-

Unique to your website

The design will not exist and is created from scratch thus ensuring no other website exists with the same design as yours. This ensures your online brand identity is only your brand identity which will strengthen it.

Designed for your brand and company in mind

The design will be created specifically with your business products and services in mind. If you do not have a logo, a logo and website will be designed as a brand image rather two separate entities. If you already have a logo the design can be seamlessly integrated into your brand image ensuring the design is strong as a whole and not disjointed. The design and colours will represent your products and services online.

Designed for optimised user experience and content

The layout and design will be considered based on the objective of the website and users visiting. The menu positioning and hierarchy, images, content positions and other functionality will be carefully considered and planned to ensure the user finds and understands the information they want quickly whilst having a pleasurable experience on the website.

Portrays a high standard of products and services for your business

The design will portray the high standard of service and products your company provide which is extremely important.

You should own the IPR (make sure this is agreed with designer)

In agreement with the graphic designer you should own the IPR to the design and possibly images (depending on where they were sourced) to be used as you would like. Check the terms and conditions with your designer to make sure IPR is covered and agreed to be with you.

Disadvantages

A bespoke design does come with it's disadvantages though:-

High Cost

The additional time for planning and design will of course need to paid for. The time taken for this would exceed the template and basic options and therefore cost could be dramatically higher than the other options.

Longer development time

There will also be additional time spent to plan and design the website so development time will also take longer.

Which Design is Best?

As with most choices to make it all depends on your budget, but if budget is not a factor then the bespoke design option would be far better choice for any website and is the recommended option to take. With the personal service a graphic designer can provide, the website's unique and professional online presence, your brand image strengthened and perception of high quality products and services, bespoke design is a clear winner. Your website visitors will be far more impressed and know your products and services will be of higher quality which should ultimately lead to more business.

But if the added cost of bespoke just really is not an option, then a template design should be the next choice so you can still portray a higher standard of website compared to basic.

I think the basic design should only be used by amateur and self learning web designers who want to create their own website for no cost and are just starting out with the basics. In this case the website subject would be of a personal nature such as a club or hobby, and not a business website at all.

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