23Mar
By: Steve Riley On: March 23, 2016 In: Reverse Delta's Blog, Website Design Comments: 0

pencilsThink about the websites you visit regularly — it doesn’t matter whether you’re into food, politics, football, bicycles, horses, meditation, music …whatever. Engaging, colourful, thoughtful, provocative, fun. Brilliant aren’t they?

We’ve come a long way in the last few years in the digital world. Websites are better than ever, and we’re right to expect that. Now is a great time to be browsing the web.

Everyone has a website and everyone knows someone that’s ‘knocked together a little site’ for the snooker club/book group/local ironmongers. Some of them aren’t bad.

Crazy question: do we need web designers any more?

You can grab a template and do it yourself. Start with WordPress or whatever.’ Tempting isn’t it? Just as having Microsoft Word means we can all type a letter …doesn’t access to modern, cheap and powerful tools mean we can all build websites?

Well, yes and no. Access to a word processor makes you a more powerful typist, it doesn’t transform you into a brilliant writer. Sure we can all build websites, but will they be good enough? Will you be able to wield the full power of the toolkit or will you build something dull, or just plain ugly?

So who really needs a web designer?

  1. Someone who wants the kind of niche functionality you won’t find in a list of template and WordPress widget offerings – CV uploads, job alerts, candidate registration, that kind of thing
  2. Someone who wants something unique to their company and brand – somebody that consults with them and captures what makes them and their company unique.

We often find ourselves running a re-brand exercise by stealth: companies come to us for a website and it forces them to think hard about what really makes them tick. Along the way we consult with them and tease out their ideas and personality and before you know it they’ve achieved something they never knew they were setting out to do – define their offering and knowing more about who they are as an organisation.

The new website becomes a catalyst for a wholesale rebrand and before long we’re cheerfully fielding questions like “Can we have a copy of that artwork for our stationery?”

So are templates all bad?

No, of course not. We build websites from templates ourselves. They offer a robust and tested codebase upon which to base a site. We can then fine-tune the templated offering to a client’s particular needs — colours, logos, CSS and other design touches.

A template design can offer a cost effective starting point for a semi-custom design.

In the new world of responsive design there are so many devices and browser sizes to test, it can be a thankless task just ensuring a website behaves well on all possible devices

A template gives you a reusable ‘design pattern’ that work on all devices: tried and tested through many implementations. Why this is good:

  • cost of custom design in a responsive world – simply put there is more actual code in a modern website
  • more design work for various screen sizes
  • more QA testing on various screens and devices

What are the pros and cons?

Pros

  • Tried and tested
  • Already works on all devices and screen sizes
  • For web applications (eg job boards) familiarity for users. Most things have been tried on the web and psychologically people are beginning to settle into a level of familiarity with trusted layouts and don’t actually like the radically different. It’s a sort of behavioural ‘regression to the mean’ that means we know what we like and like what we’re (mostly) used to.

Cons

  • Templates can be ‘one size fits all’
  • Sites can start to look too similar

The happy place

Brand customisation is essential. Nobody wants a site that looks like their nearest competitor. A ‘cookie-cutter’ approach where a new logo has been dropped into an otherwise vanilla templated site is never going to impress anyone. We never do that. We always customise home pages and modify inner pages to suit the brand. We do this whilst making good use of a tested codebase (carefully avoiding reinventing the wheel again).

How does Reverse Delta work?

Our offerings tend to fall into three categories with most cost effective at the bottom and most effort at the top:

  1. Fully templated, including homepage (BUT customised to the brand)
  2. Semi templated with custom homepage and maybe other custom pages
  3. Fully custom – design attention to all key pages

This gives clients a spread of offerings to suit all budgets and covers the need for our perfectionists to arrive at a solution that is both ‘just so’ and unique to them.

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