New website design - where to start.
Your website should be thought about as another salesperson who deals exclusively in the digital realm. This is often the first interaction that your future customers have with your company. If your site is mobile optimized, then you will have some thinking to do, but if your site is not optimized then you are in definite need of a new design or at least some updates.
In the world of website design, there is an infinite number of designs that could be made or purchased. The main question that you will need to ask yourself is what design will give my future customers the information they are looking for? A B2B website will speak to a specific type of customer while a B2C or eCommerce website will have a completely different design. There is no single design that fits every business.
The first thing that we look at for our customers that are ready for a website redesign is their current hosting. Hosting refers to where your website files are stored and ultimately the platform that your website utilizes. Not all hosting services are created the same and ultimately in our opinion, the main thing to pay attention to is the speed of the servers. This will greatly influence how fast your website will load and the amount of traffic that your website will be able to handle at any given time. Website hosting like most things in life, “You get what you pay for”.
The hosting that you choose or decide to remain with will also impact the platform that your site is designed on. Most hosting providers utilize the number one used content management platform of WordPress, there are also hosting providers that specialize in their own systems such as Shopify. While Shopify is directed at eCommerce websites, WordPress can be utilized for anything from a simple informational website to a complex eCommerce website. For most WordPress websites a template and plugins are typically used which can cause their own issues.
Utilizing templates on WordPress will make for a quick and most of the time user-friendly platform to build and update your website. These templates often weigh down your website pages with tons of unnecessary code that your customer’s device must “download” and sort through before they will render. This will often slow loading speeds and result in lower search engine rankings. There are plugins to help with this but they will need to be customized for your site. WordPress and plugins will need to be continually updated in order to keep your website secure. We have had design projects where our customers failed to maintain their site and because of security flaws in either their template or plugins allowed bad actors to inject malware into their servers. This caused the hosting company to quarantine their site (the site would no longer render for anyone trying to visit it) until all of the malicious files (and code within critical files) were removed.
I am not trying to scare anyone away from using WordPress. It is a great content management platform but it also happens to be the one that has caused the most headaches. The final advice for choosing where to host your website would be to make sure that you either choose a system that your designer is familiar with or to find a designer who is familiar with the system you want to use.