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Posted 14th May 2015 by Lawrence McCrossen

In a previous article we discussed the first step - the choice of a content management system (CMS). Once you have made this decision we can start the process of actually designing and building your new site.

The first question to answer for the design of the site is whether a template-driven approach is appropriate, or a completely bespoke design.

The most obvious difference is uniqueness. There are many free or low cost templates available online, but by definition they won't be unique to your business.

The things you will need to consider are:

  • Do you need your site to stand out in a unique way?
  • How well the template will fit in with the CMS that you've chosen. Some templates are simply front-HTML consisting of graphical elements only, so development work will be required to fit the template into a CMS. Other templates are CMS specific, including plugins or modules that interact with the template. In this case a template built for say the Drupal CMS will not be suitable others such as DotNetNuke
  • How easy it will be to work with the chosen template and add functionality
  • Whether the template will work well with the SEO that you wish to implement (see our later article on SEO)

Bespoke Design

If you really need to implement a simple website fast and for the lowest cost possible then a template may be the way to go. In many cases our clients are initially attracted to the potential for cost savings in a template driven approach, but often decide to take a more strategic approach which will save costs (and very importantly, their time) of redevelopment in the long run.

Of course, if you do decide to opt for a bespoke design, you must for insist that the creative design has to be good enough to actually look different.

When we work with designers of bespoke sites, we work hard to ensure that the technical implementation preserves the integrity of the creative design.

As with any software development project it helps a lot if you know up-front what you want to do. And, of course, thorough testing is essential, particularly for sites with complex logic within modules, or high volume sites requiring performance testing.

But for website development there are also a number of specific issues to look out for:

  • The designer of the website should ideally be a website designer or, if not, then at least familiar with both the potential and the limitations of web based technology. A designer without this knowledge risks wasting time by providing nice-looking designs that are either not practical or too costly to convert to the online environment. What works in print doesn’t necessarily work in a web browser! When designers work with The Bridge we can help the creative if we are involved early on, when we can provide guidance on what works and doesn't work in a browser
  • Provide content as early and as fully as possible. While content, including graphics will change over the lifetime of the website, the style of the content will to a large extent determine the best structure for the site
  • Also for content, allow sufficient time to create your content. This will often require the approval of multiple stakeholders within your business (and sometimes external to your business where lawyer or consultant reviews are required prior to the content being made public). Loading content from a previous site can also be very time consuming, and often not easy to automate
  • Arrange training for non-technical staff on how to use the CMS, otherwise the website developer will need to update content, thus defeating the purpose of having a CMS!

If you'd like to discuss your website design and development options with The Bridge at no cost or obligation, feel free to call Lawrence on 02 9993 3300 or email lawrence@thebridgedigital.com.au