Custom Website Designs

What are custom websites and how are they different from theme-based websites?

Custom websites are for clients who want to have websites that are customized around their brand and their business strategies. These sites are for people who would prefer to have sites laid out in a specific way, and have the flexibility to place information and graphics exactly where they want. Custom sites are also for people who want to be guided through the process of determining how to most effectively market themselves online, and who don’t want to be confined by predefined layouts. The main difference between custom websites and theme-based websites is that custom sites are designed and then built rather than pre-built and then populated with content that fits into the pre-built space. Having this flexibility costs about $1,000 – $1,500 more than a theme-based site because there is extra programming work that has to happen to build a website using a unique design.

How much do custom sites cost?

Custom sites start at $3,000, and depending on the functionality and features required, can go up from this point.

What is the value of building a custom site?

Not only can a client get exactly what they when they build a custom site, but they can experience a process that is gratifying and enriching to for the client’s business or organization. From the client’s perspective, following a well-defined and cohesive process can make the experience of building a website fun and enjoyable rather than disjointed and frustrating. Building a website is much like building a house. If you have a great plans and all the right materials, the home-building process goes much more smoothly than it does if you are working with poor plans and missing materials. When the client is willing to take the time to put thought into the strategy of the website, write great content for it, and gather inviting imagery, the final product is impressive and can be instrumental in the future successes of the client’s business.

How do I know if I should build a custom site or theme-based site?

Theme-based sites serve a purpose, and there are times they are exactly what a client needs. If you find a theme that matches what you have in mind, then using a theme makes good sense. Themes are also very helpful for situations when you need to launch a site very quickly. If your budget is less than $3,000, then you should probably look into a theme-based site.

What process do you follow when building a custom site?

Below is a description of the process we follow when building a custom site.

Layout and Content Planning

At the outset of the project, we work with the client to get answers to these questions –
  • Who is the target audience of the website?
  • What is the overall purpose of the website?
  • Is a logo needed?
  • What pages are needed on the website?
  • Who will write the content for the website – the client or HLJ Creative?
  • What kind of imagery is needed for the website? Can we use stock photography, or do we need to hire our photographer to take specific photos?
  • What features and functionality are needed on the website? This can include a photo gallery, an embedded calendar, forms that can be completed and submitted, online payments, a webmercial, membership listings, etc.
  • Is organic, on-page search engine optimization needed?
  • Does the client want to be able to update the site him or herself?
  • Will help be needed with social media management, local listings, ongoing blog articles, and other forms of online marketing?

Wireframe Creation

After planning the layout and content of the site, wireframes are created. Wireframes are like blueprints – they define the layout and positioning of information on the pages of the website. They don’t convey design details such as colors, graphics, or fonts. An example of a set of wireframes can be seen here: https://invis.io/FC53RV7BR.

Content Space Creation

After an outline of all the pages of the site has been confirmed by the client, we create a document that follows this outline and give the client access to add all of the website content. It allows you to upload and collaborate on content in one centralized location.

Content Collection – Text and Images

The client uploads all of the required content including text, images and videos into the content inventory space. If the client needs copywriting, we work with our copywriter to get this content written. If the client needs photography, we work with our photographer to ensure that the right photos are taken for the site. If you need custom graphics, we can create those too.

Layout Design

We will design the site in Photoshop. Design prototypes will be shown in web based software that allows for commenting and revision requests. An examples of a set of designs can be seen here: https://invis.io/2G3A50WPS.

Project Timeline Creation

Upon acceptance of the client’s content, HLJ Creative will create a project timeline that will outline what remaining work will be done and how long it will take to complete it.

Build Website

We will take all of your content and the agreed upon design and build the WordPress website on a temporary web address.

Internal Testing

Once we’re done building your website, we will test each page. We’ll look for issues with browser compatibility, broken links, submission forms, image quality, site speed and more.

Client Testing

During this phase, the client is expected to vigorously test the website and look for any bugs/errors.

Website Launch

After the client has approved the new website, we will take the site live at its permanent domain name. In order to do this, we will need the name of your domain name registrar along with the login and password to that account. If technical assistance such as DNS record editing, email support, domain name account transfer, etc. is needed, we can provide this for an additional fee.