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What's a custom website and why your business needs one

By Walter Kimaro

Websites, hmmm, not exactly a novelty anymore, right? most businesses and organisations even ones that don’t need one yet(more on this needing part a bit later) already have a website or are in the process of making one.


What is a Custom Website?

A custom website is a website that is created to support your business or organisation’s brand(personality, look and feel….that sort of thing).


Hint: What exactly is a brand? (Learn More)


What exactly is the alternative?

You might be wondering, aren’t all websites custom made for a business? No, not really.


Here’s what I mean, if you’ve tried to go to another company for a website, the development conversation normally starts one of one way(yes one of one way 😀). “Sasa kuna hii template hapa……(so there is this template we found….)”


So, why exactly do most web developers choose to go about it this way?

1. It's Expensive to start from scratch

It goes without saying that creating a completely brand specific website is no small feat, there is a lot of prototyping and canoodling(simply means trial and error) involved in finding something that completely works for a particular brand. This makes the process painstakingly long even for experienced brand experts and more so for teams that aren’t passionate on the matter. So the easier way is just to find a template online that is close to what the client’s brand is and customize it(or not :p). This means that teams willing to go through this gruesome process are bound to charge you more and rightfully so.

2. Some clients just don’t know what(exactly) they want

Now you’re thinking…."There's no way a business owner who doesn’t know what they want? That’s just not possible” and while we’re tempted to digress and ‘go on a telling escapade’ right here, you’ll have to read on till you reach the ‘how do I know it’s time to invest on a website' section and we’ll try and make our point there. Spoiler alert, yes it’s very possible.


Phew, that was a long detour, let’s get back now. When a client doesn’t know exactly how they want to be represented, this job falls on the developers and needless to say not many people will be willing to take on that role because assume they have ten such clients, it could get crazy….quick. So the solution is normally simple, go on google, google(continuity pun definitely intended 😎) for some similar but more well defined companies/businesses in the same sector as the client and shift over some of their brand. Or again,  ‘just go grab a damn template for chrissake’.


Note: Templates aren’t always a bad idea, sometimes they work pretty well, but other(many more) times especially if you’re working with an inexperienced team….you guessed it, they’re a colossal mess.

Note: Templates are pre-made websites that are created for a fictional brand.

How do I know it’s time to invest on a website?

Quite straightforward right? Well not so much. Different businesses require websites at different stages, and websites don’t just end with an initial online presence, a company might start with a simple website and improve(or just change) as they go on.


Here are some few variations.


1. Nature of business

An unfamiliar business venture will need to invest in explaining their idea to potential customers much earlier possibly even during their inception stages. This is because they might otherwise never get discovered and end up having to close up shop before they’ve started. This could also apply to companies providing a popular solution but in a unique way such as the then introduction of ridesharing services in a taxi filled world.


2. Marketing budget

If the company has little or no marketing budget, it makes sense to not even think about investing in a website since primarily that’s normally the area where a website fits in best. Although, this could be countered with, why exactly is there no marketing budget?


3. Change in strategy, focus or goal

This is normally for companies that have been around a bit, so they probably already have a website, what we normally do for such cases is redesign the existing to match their new direction. This in itself is a long post befitting of its own blog post. So we wrote one for it. You can see it here.

Why you shouldn’t just opt for a cheap website?

Well first, you might have heard of this “Cheap is expensive”(It’s good advice, you should follow it?). Second, there’s no such thing as a straightforward website; each business(even those with similar products/services) is unique because otherwise how exactly would it standout? This means that what might apply for one business won’t necessarily be applicable for another no matter how similar they are.


Well, now that we’re on the same page, let’s jot down some points.


1. Commitment

This one should be quite straightforward, but in case it isn’t here goes. When you pay little you should expect little in return. Like we’ve discussed before, a good website(focus on the word good) is not easy to make because it requires(well the title already gave this away) commitment. Constant communication, refining to make sure the end product completely represents exactly your business. No one is willing to do this if they’re not getting well paid.

Another thing is if a team is doing work that pays little, they need to do more work which means less time spent in each particular work which consequently means less quality for each particular work.


2. Confidence

Imagine two drivers on the road, one in a mercedes benz and another in a(...insert a cheap car here….) How would you imagine their confidence levels are? The mercedes driver is obviously much more confident since they know they have a superior product that is safer, more secure and better representing. Well so does it apply to websites, a website is representative of your business so if your representative is cheap and unseemly, it goes to say just as much about your business.


3. Customer trust and loyalty

People are attracted to good things and this is not only in a jealousy way but in the fact that if someone is willing to spend time to invest in something then they must really care about it. This is similar to a company or business, if a customer sees that you are willing to invest in good marketing strategies such as a modern, mobile first aesthetically pleasing website, they are bound to consider you over your competitors because they will know that you care enough and are confident enough about your business that you wanted it to be properly represented.

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