This article is intended for clients who are looking for the best solution to get a web presence in a reliable fashion that will represent their brand and serve them a long time.

So you want to get a website for yourself or your brand and you've been window shopping for a while. Chances are you've seen several options ranging from custom web design to digital marketplaces that sell premium templates. Whilst searching, you might have also seen a couple of applications that are called website builders (they do advertise a lot). When you look at the live demos, almost all of the end results look the same to you. How do you know which one is the best option for your project?

Well, It's not an easy decision but there are plenty of good options that can get you up online. Let's take a look!

WYSIWYG (website builders)

In the web development industry, drag & drop style website builders are called WYSIWYG (what you see is what you get) editors. For the most part, you aren't required to code anything and you can use a graphical interface to get a design up and running fairly quickly. These tools might prove useful for hobbyists who want to experiment with web development without getting their hands dirty. Also, digital marketers often use these tools for their landing pages and A/B testing their conversion rates. However anything beyond these applications, WSYIGWYG services are not even worth considering in my opinion. The code output of these editors are not reliable for serious projects and they're not versatile enough to satisfy custom needs and features.

There's one other thing that you should be very cautious when considering WYSIWYG editors for serious projects; if you get a website built with these tools and decide to hire a web developer for a custom solution later down the road, your developer will almost definitely start coding your project from scratch. There won't be anything to extract from the builder other than a quick screenshot that'll serve as a mock-up. That's the main reason why I categorize these tools for hobbyists and marketers as they'll lock you in their platform and you won't be left with much when you decide to leave.

Regardless, here is a list of known WYSIWYG editors and their offerings:

  • WIX Combo Plan: Monthly $16
  • SquareSpace - Personal Plan: Monthly $16 // Business Plan: Monthly: $26
  • Weebly - Personal Plan: Monthly $8 // Pro Plan: Monthly: $12

HTML & Wordpress Templates

Buying HTML or Wordpress templates and plugins is one of the most common practices that exists in the industry at the moment. Due to custom web design being a pricier solution, many companies buy affordable ready-made templates and get a license to use it for their businesses. However, the template market is really saturated and it's essential to choose a good template with solid and maintainable code base. After the purchase, you'll need to get it customized for your liking. Clients hire developers to do the customization and the implementation for them. Compared to custom web design, this is a cheaper alternative and the reason is simple. It takes far less time for a web developer to customize a template for you than for him/her to create a custom design.

Most clients leave the purchasing of the template to their developers as well, since they don't want to spend time opening accounts in various template marketplaces. The developer will find the best template for the job, deliver the desired customization and send the license to their client.

You can think of this process as hiring a contractor for him/her to reliably assemble and customize a set of flat-pack furniture.

Here are some popular template markets and their price ranges:

Custom Web Design and Custom Solutions

Hiring Teams
For larger projects, you'll need to hire teams

When you have very specific needs and goals for your website or for the graphical interface of your web application, you might want to consider hiring developers for a custom solution. Depending on the complexity of your project, you might even need to hire a team. Teams usually consist of a specialized designer who only focuses on the looks of your project and one or more developers that will code the end-product.

With custom solutions, everything depends on your budget and the size of the project. If you're looking to save money or the scope of your project is rather small, you'll most likely hire a single well-rounded developer with solid design skills.

However if you have large project, it might take a very long time to complete the project with a single developer. In such cases, you'll definitely need to have a larger budget just so you can hire a team. And if you do hire a team, make sure to appoint a person that will act as a project manager otherwise the collaboration will be a nightmare.

Here's a list of platforms where freelance developers offer their services:

Note: All of these freelancer platforms have some sort of an Escrow solution that'll handle a safe transaction and project delivery.

Wrapping things up, I'd recommend either a good implementation of a suitable premium template or a custom web design for your online presence. Depending on your budget and how quickly you need to get online, you can choose one of these and you will be fine. Just make sure that you hire the right person for the job so that your brand is represented in the best way possible.

If you have any questions, feel free to tweet me and I'll be happy to help you out.