Because the demand for Web development has surged so have the amount of developers. It’s great for the evolution of the Web  but we understand that sometimes it can be hectic looking for the right Web developer or digital agency. Some specialize in only certain disciplines, some are more well rounded when it comes to a fully functional, online business model.

At the end of the day it all comes down to your needs and objectives. But to help you navigate your first few steps in finding the right Web development firm (and we certainly hope it’s us) here are 5 quick points by which you can start your assessment.

What does their website look like?

This is usually a dead giveaway as to what you can expect. If their website looks straight out of the 90’s, America Online days then chances are that’s what you’ll be getting. If their site doesn’t squash and stretch depending on browser dimension or device then neither will yours. If you climb into a Pinto you shouldn’t expect to hit McLaren speeds on the highway. The same goes for Web development.

Do they understand responsive design?

Back to the squash and stretch effect. There are so many variables that go into responsive design that it takes hours of testing to make sure your website has integrity throughout. Your site has to look good on every smartphone, every tablet, and every desktop. Not to mention every browser across all devices which are numerous these days. Firefox, Chrome, Opera, Safari, and the list goes on. Skilled developers know these variables and will keep them in focus as they build your online presence so that everything fits.

Do they build for mobile first?

Everything Web development in today’s day and age revolves around mobile. And if anybody says otherwise they’re fibbing. Most searches are done on mobile first, then a bigger device later. Think of your own search habits. You search for information on the go, and if you need to, you save it to the cloud to look into it further when you get to a device with a larger screen. And guess what? So do your prospects. You want to look the part on any device and have consistency across any browser so they can get information from your website with ease of access.

Do they understand online marketing?

You may have all the marketing plans set to go as soon as your website is built. You may not need to hire any outside firm, but your web developer should know how to integrate social media and other elements essential to online marketing. They must know how to make your site visitor friendly so your conversion rates are as optimal as possible. Some developers are very talented in frameworks and design but only the most skilled know how to put it all together in a way that turns visitors into customers.

Do they really understand graphic design?

Remember, Web development and Web design are two different things. A developer can be an absolute virtuoso of building frameworks, structuring databases etc but be the bottom of the barrel when it comes to aesthetics. One works hand in hand with the other to form a perfect union of looks and brains. You can have a fantastically built frame complete with forms and buttons but if the color scheme isn’t right, or elements are in the exact places where the visitor will want to see them then conversions will slip through the cracks. In other words, looks do matter.

By now you’ve seen all the “free website” commercials with smiling entrepreneurs on an iPad customizing their online shopping carts and selling like a boss. A few of them even feature employees telling their own bosses to get lost while they unveil their new D.I.Y. website that will launch their business into the online stratosphere.

The majority of our experience with D.I.Y. web solutions comes clients who tried the D.I.Y. option then find and hire us to build them a quality website.

What we usually hear is “we wanted to save money so we tried so and so and built our own site and it turned out to be a disaster.” Now keep in mind that isn’t always the case. Some clients have a short, successful run with the D.I.Y. option but eventually outgrow it and hire us.

Some business owners and or brand owners find a D.I.Y. web solution that works for them (usually they are super small businesses or freelancers of some sort) and keep up with it as their base of operations on the Web.

We’re going to briefly dissect what’s appealing about a do-it-yourself website and some of the not-so-appealing stuff so you can make an assessment for yourself. Remember, we’re going off of our own knowledge as well as some of our clients’ own accounts. We’re not competing with the D.I.Y. web solutions industry. They have their markets, we have ours.

 

The pitch:

You’ll be able to build your own website FREE! It’s as easy as dragging and dropping items and uploading your products. They show various designs you can choose from in different industries. You’ll be all set and rarin’ to go. But wait…

It all looks and sounds so great, but is that how it really goes? As with anything in life, if it seems too good to be true…it is.

A lot of small business owners, artists, photographers, and musicians try their hand at building their own websites. They’re lured in by these “free” and “D.I.Y.” headlines.

 

The Truth:

There are pros and cons to launching your website with one of these D.I.Y. services. And depending on what you’re and how you’re doing it there may be more cons than pros.

For starters the “free” part gives access to limited feature. Everything is upsell, from removing their company logo on your site to the hosting. It’s a way to get you on their platform. I’m not saying it’s not good business, but you should want to know the level of upsell packages you’ll end up purchasing in the end.

You’ll also be investing time in learning whatever proprietary system of “drag-n-drop” they’re running. Which may need graphic design or coding knowledge to customize. Or perhaps you may not have customization options at all.

But with that said some people can get away with going with one of the D.I.Y. options. If you’re running a one-person operation, doing a little freelance work on the side, or planning an event like a wedding that may be all you need.

If you’re running a business and really need a website that’s built to perform a lot of different functions you don’t want to be trying to wing it with a D.I.Y. website. It’s unprofessional and the hassles outweigh the shortcuts.

But if you’re wanting to find out if it’s a doable option here is a list of the pros and cons of D.I.Y. webbing.

 

Pros

  • You’ll save money. This is usually the number one reason business owners and other folks online try D.I.Y. solutions.
  • Some D.I.Y. solutions offer a free domain ($10 value). Not bad, but the D.I.Y. company will more than likely make up for it in the upsell packages.
  • Some offer free templates. A few D.I.Y. companies have some pretty nice templates to boot. This may be because of overall market growth.
  • Some offer free storage. This is a nice bonus.
  • You’ll get to practice laying out your website without coding. This can be a positive if you’re wanting to get some experience in layout design and seeing how it turns out in real time.
  • Accomplishing something new. Building your own website can be fulfilling as far as creating something goes.

 

Cons

  • You’re going to be choosing from templates already being used by other people. Meaning if you’re starting a golf site and there’s only one golf template you’re site is going to look pretty much like the other folks with a golf site.
  • Very little in the way of customization. There is a strong lack of customization with their one size fits all approach.
  • Slow loading time. Your site is going to be on a shared-hosting server with about a billion other sites. All sharing resources.
  • No backups. So if something happens with their server you’re at their mercy.
  • You’re going to pay to get the web company’s logo off your site. Most if not all D.I.Y.
  • Huge learning curve. It does take time to learn how to build on their proprietary platforms, so look to invest time.
  • Lack of functionality. There’s really not much you can do in the way of function. Most of the functions are in the upsell.
  • Lack of professionalism. It’s sort of like using a yahoo or gmail account as your business email. You could do it but it’s highly unprofessional and may cost you.
  • Not seo optimized. Since you don’t control the code on your site with D.I.Y. platforms you can’t see if its been optimized for search properly.
  • Migrating your D.I.Y. site is extremely difficult. If and when you decide it’s time to get a real web development firm and hosting it’s a pill trying to package it up and move your site to another server.

In closing…

Most of the features you’ll need will be in the upsell. Meaning they lure you in with the “FREE” but to do anything you’ll have to buy one of their premium packages.

But I’m no hater.

I don’t consider any D.I.Y. web solution companies as competition. They and I are in completely different markets. And to further prove I’m not a hater or in competition here is a list of the best D.I.Y. web companies with links in the logos to go straight there and see for yourself.

Weebly

Wix

Shopify

 

If you feel you can do the whole “Web” thing on your own and have the time to dedicate to making it work then by all means have a go at it.

 

Web development and web design are sometimes confused as being the same in the business world. Account managers everywhere often find themselves stumbling over having to explain to clients the difference between the two. So we thought we’d make an informational post on this exact subject to help both account managers and our beloved clients understand…

The difference between web design and web development.

Since somebody in the office has a birthday today and I’m anticipating a slice of cake later…let’s start off talking about cake.

Matter of fact think of a website as a cake…

And think of development as the raw ingredients, the eggs, flour, water, etc., even the ingredients of the icing. Also it’s the actual process, the measuring of everything correctly, the utensils for putting it all together, knowing the right baking temperature.

You can think of design as determining the size and shape of the cake, what color, where the icing goes, words written in icing, and any decals to be featured.

Both the development and design both contribute to the eating-cake experience. The taste and texture and the cake overall. The cake may be beautiful and yummy but without both components, development and design working together there would be no delicious cake.

Development Is Function

And as you can see by our little cake analogy above the development side is the more complex aspect of the whole process. It’s the most painstaking part in that it requires a wider knowledge base and proper testing to make sure it comes out perfect.

When we talk development we’re talking database structuring, frameworks, api’s, different scripts working with and talking to each other. There are a lot of moving parts in the development of a website that are oftentimes not covered or accounted for. But the difference in getting it right or not can mean either a website working or not.

Web development includes CSS, HTML, PHP, JavaScript, and all other coding languages being put to use. Functions like e-mail opt-in forms, shopping carts, inventory tracking, social media auto-posting, security, and many other elements. It covers frame/layout, databases and how data is called from those databases.

Some stuff you see and most of the stuff you don’t.

Development also has the larger impact on project cost because it takes the most resources and time.

Design Is Form

Design is art, it’s the creative principle, the majority of the visual aspect. It’s the right brain contribution to the overall solution.

Design has the most to do with your visitor’s interaction with your website. You prospect’s first interaction with your site is through sense of sight. If your visitor sees how well put together your site is, how professional and balanced it looks this will lead to further interaction.

When we talk design we’re talking about Photoshop, PSD files converted into templates, some layout elements, and even some coding languages. A lot of design can be viewed as subjective just as art is subjective. But ease of access and overall visual appeal can be measured by how visitors engage with your web site. Uniformed theme in the look of your site can create a sense of pattern and familiarity with your visitor and at the same time keeping them interested.

People want information before they want a product or service. Having that information displayed in an engaging and visually appealing way is the goal of the designer.

In order to understand web design as opposed to web development think in terms of logos, shape, color, perhaps moving parts…basically the aesthetics.

Development and Design – function and form merge together.

Developers and designers work closely with each other to create the complete website. And during the process development and design overlap in many areas. Coding languages utilized to create a certain effect that will display an image slider…which pulls images from a certain area of a database would be on example.

Here at ArcaGraphix our developers and designers have vast knowledge in both sides of the process which is what makes us a cut above the rest.

We have designers who are exceptional artists but also know the development side. Our designers understand development and how to transform ideas, carrying over the visual aspects to the development side to make sure they make sense.

Rarely do you find developers who know all the minute details of design or designers who can code custom scripts themselves. Having devs and designers who know each other’s roles is an advantage in the game of Web building. And as you can see by our portfolio, we get it.

Crucial things to know for those in the market for web development:

As far as cost goes if you have your own colors scheme, logo, graphics, images and already sized then you won’t as much design work as a person starting from scratch.

Unless you have your own logo, completed images and or graphics, you’re going to need design work. Design work will be factored in to the whole cost of building your website but it is a separate cost. When the design work is created then the designer works with developers to implement graphics in the layout and placement to make it all work.

So in other words not only are design and development separate in terms of the building of the website, they are separate costs factored into quoting a website price.

We hope you’ve found this post informative and that you better understand what it takes to build a quality website. And we hope you choose ArcaGraphix for your next digital project.