I Need a Custom Website. What Should I Do?

Read this simple roadmap, with tips on how to build a custom website for an affordable price, and help your designer and developer get ahead.

Web design
June 5, 2023

In need of a custom-built website? Learn how to save time on design and development when building business websites, and cost-effective solutions for a custom site.

Custom web design can be costly, but for many people, it is also hard to know the full process and skills needed to build a website.

In this comprehensive guide, we’ll lay out a roadmap on what the steps are, which are the most affordable strategies for website development and what you, as an owner of a business, can do to help your web designer and developer in their work.

Do your research

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Before you hire a professional or build a site on your own, you need to research the anatomy of a good website, as well as the trends and tendencies in the industry and marketing.

Research competitors’ websites and make an outline of what is the proper way for your website’s construction to look like.

Spend some time reading about web design and marketing trends (internal search engine optimization on your website is one of the most important pillars of good marketing), as well as planning ahead all of the different features and functionalities on your website.

Will you need to add an ecommerce widget? What about a content management system? What about social proof and testimonials?

A good website is more than just your general information and explanation of your services and products. Research how other small businesses and startups do things, and think about how you can implement their strategies, or even improve further.

Create a mood board or collect inspiration from other websites

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When you are searching for design inspiration or simply browsing through website’s you would like to use as a base, make sure you collect screenshots, make lists and save other visual material that can help your web designer understand what you would want your website to look like.

Through creating a mood board that includes layouts, photos, illustrations, color palettes, typography and pretty much anything that you set your heart on, you can help the designer create the look of a website that is close to your brand’s identity.

If you already have a branding guide and a defined visual identity, make sure to create a website that follows those guidelines.

You can also search for web design inspiration of popular blogs such as Web Design Ledger, Awwwards, A List Apart, etc. Or, simply browse through website templates on website builders like Wix, Shopify, Squarespace and similar. You can also use a website builder for a functional and affordable website, however, it probably won’t be unique.

Sort the important information and decide what to place on the website

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Before drafting up a web design project, choose the pages you want to include.

For small businesses, usually, the main page with products and services, information about the team and brand story, as well as how you can reach them, are essential.

Testimonials are a great way to build confidence in potential clients, so it can never hurt adding that to your final pick.

When it comes to content creators, you would need to focus more on content marketing and have a more visual website. Consider a well-structured blog, social media widgets and an affiliate program page.

Startups, however, are a different beast. A startup’s website is as important as a brick-and-mortar’s company’s actual storefront. Everything you do and everything your brand represents needs to be placed on the website and clearly described so you don’t lose people’s interest because they don’t immediately understand what your business is all about.

You will need to describe your product or service, as well as the pricing, the way it works, and who is part of your target market.

Once you understand what needs to go onto your website, you will also need to write the copy text of your website, and create a consistent tone and messaging through every single page of the website: from the homepage to FAQs.

Decide who to hire

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Based on your budget and wishes, you can take many different options in the web design and web development process.

Since we are talking about custom websites, we are not going to account for website builders and WordPress website tools. However, if you want to research that option too, check out our comparison guide on Wix vs Shopify.

Web design agency

Web design agencies usually include way more services than just the design, such as SEO copywriting, responsive design, ecommerce features, custom themes and style, domain names, content management systems, etc.

The cost of hiring a web design agency can be anywhere between 3.000 to 100.000 dollars on average for the US market. For the smallest price, you can expect to get just the look and layout of the website.

It comes at a heftier price, but a higher level of professionalism and larger scope of services is to be expected.

Freelance web designer

There are plenty of freelancers who offer their services on Fiverr, Upwork, Freelancer, and other platforms.

You can hire freelancers to take on the full website building process, or just the design portion of it, and discuss the details, time management and scope of work with them.

But, the risk of working with freelancers is the time of delivery, lack of quality assurance and the possibility of a lot of back-and-forth without effective communication.

Essentially, if you can handle managing an outsourced freelance worker, you can have a good web design project in your hands. However, if you don’t quite understand what you need, it’s better to go for an option that includes management of output and scope of work too.

Unlimited graphic design

This is not the most usual approach, but you can hire an unlimited graphic design service to create the look and feel of your website, and then use the designs to build your website on a drag and drop builder.

Or, you can use the service to create all of the needed visual materials, and hire only a web developer to make your website responsive and functional, so you can cut down on expenses.

You can get both a website design and other graphic design projects like custom illustrations, social media posts, digital ads, print design, landing pages, etc.

And it is truly unlimited. There is no maximum number of design projects you can request, and the turnaround time is around 1-2 working days, depending on the complexity of the project.

Update and improve the website regularly

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A common mistake businesses make is that they create a website with the help of a designer and professional, and never tweak it or update it.

It is very important to keep your customers informed about your new services, products, progress, team, as well as add new testimonials once in a while to raise credibility.

Apart from the content of it, the design of your website should also keep up with the latest trends. A super outdated website can do your business a lot of damage, especially if it’s not easy to navigate and it’s not intuitive.

Make sure to rethink the design and contents of your website every once in a while. It might be a costly task to do often, but it is incredibly important to let people know you are active and can take care of your website and branding overall.

Journalist turned content writer. Based in North Macedonia, aiming to be a digital nomad. Always loved to write, and found my perfect job writing about graphic design, art and creativity. A self-proclaimed film connoisseur, cook and nerd in disguise.

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