Website Design is an important part of a website’s project cycle and is crucial in creating the foundations that will pave the way for the overall success (or failure) of a project. You have several paths you can choose to follow when it comes to securing a website design. Depending on your budget, the purpose of your site, and how much time you have before a scheduled launch date, you are sure to find great fit for your needs. Several directions you may opt to explore could include:
Option #1: Hiring a Designer or Design Agency
Great Website Designers possess a balance of artisan and creative along with a strong grasp of the science and engineering needed to make a site functional as well as stunning visually. Finding an aesthetic that reflects your company and brand identity on top of it all can prove to be very difficult as both parties need to be in sync and on the same page. Perhaps the most important aspect of working with a designer is in the cultivation of the personal relationship between the two parties. We recommend that you explore several before settling with someone that you communicate with well and that can help realize your vision for your digital property.
Willing Web works with several designers and design agencies, turning their website designs into fully functional WordPress themes. Make sure to work with a designer that is accustomed to designing for the web and not just on paper alone. Often print based designers have problems with the dimensions and envisioning how to properly render your vision onscreen.
Be sure to keep an eye out for a designer’s ability to design sites that are “mobile first” and highly responsive to any screen size. We use a framework called “Bootstrap” (comprised of rows and columns) that was developed by Twitter to ensure it’s compatible at various sized screens. It’s common for the designer to provide a separate design for one of the pages (usually the homepage) indicating how it should look on a smaller sized device.
WordPress Web Design on 99Designs.com starts at about $800. For us to then code that design into a theme it can take 1-4 weeks depending on the complexity of the layout. You can see our developer rates on the Website Development page.
If you can’t find the perfect mix of function and design in a single solution, it is also an option to have someone like Willing Web to the leg-work for a graphic artist, ensuring the function is just as clean as the visual elements. Let us know if this is something you’re interested in and we will guide you through the process.
Option #2: Replicate Another Website or Websites
In some cases, it makes sense to skip the design process altogether. Usually this is done for budgetary reasons or simply because the website design doesn’t require overly customized features to satisfy it’s roll . In this case, you can use example or template websites to indicate how it should look and feel. It’s a good idea to look at businesses in the same industry that are trying to accomplish similar goals. Make a list of links as you browse the web in general. What we are looking for is a website that looks and functions like the one we are going to build.
We can change the colors, fonts, and content easily enough, but we want something we can replicate to save time and money when budgets are a factor. If different websites portray how different sections of how your site should look ,then we can mash them together in the final design. However, it’s still good to have a single website example that reflects the overall feel so that Willing Web can then drop the other sections in without cluttering the User experience.
If you haven’t already done so make sure to give your logo some consideration as well. If your logo is large or square, have a look at designs with a similarly shaped logo. Logos with a similar height as width are often better centered on the page or above a left column main navigation. We don’t want a design where the name and branding don’t flow through the site.
When we can see your vision through your provided examples, we can then easily build it into a theme. It can take 1-4 weeks depending on the complexity of the design. We may end up recommending an existing theme that could be used to cut corners but this will limit the ability to make design tweaks easily or add custom functionality. You can get an idea of cost from our developer rates on the Website Development page.
Option #3: Purchase an Existing Theme/Design
We wish this was as simple as it sounds. Purchasing a design and filling in the blanks seems like a great solution for many. Sadly, this comes with its own set of problems as well, though many can be avoided if precautions are taken.
It’s unlikely you will see the same website performance levels on a purchased theme versus a custom build. This is because a purchased theme tries to cater to a wide audience and therefore includes a lot of code under the surface that is obsolete. A good analogy is an iceberg compared to a boat. The boat or custom build is constructed for a singular purpose and remains trim and easy to maneuver. Changes to the iceberg itself, however, may be a little slow and not as responsive but if it looks good, accomplishes the task at hand, and if you’re happy then go for it!
A great marketplace to discover WordPress themes includes Themeforest. There are definitely some great works of art available.
Here are some tips to keep in mind when selecting a theme:
- Start with themes made for your industry.
- Check the popular ones and those with high and plentiful reviews.
- Do some research on the theme developer.
- See if the theme is responsive and loads quickly.
If this is your chosen direction, then you want to find a theme that will stand the test of time. Sales are a good indication of this as the developers have the funding to continue to support the theme in the future. One of our go to themes is Avada. It has remained popular due to its flexibility consistent updates.
Custom functionality must be seriously considered as modifying existing themes can be very cumbersome and time-consuming, yet, at the end of the day, if you want something that looks good, goes up quickly (often cheaply) then jump right in.
When we offer quotes for setting up a purchased theme, we give an estimation of development time needed and offer both optional and unlimited five-hour review rounds after that. That way you’re in control of your spending and can decide going forward on where the time should be spent. Typical theme setups are 15-40 hours with one to two five-hour revision rounds on top. Our hourly pricing can be seen here.