Website Design

What is a good website design?

Website design is a topic where you will undoubtedly come across different points of view and opinions.

I recently came across a very successful developer who said:-

There’s nothing wrong with WordPress, it’s an amazing CMS but to create solid solutions to problems, it’s not the best.

What people pay is for solving problems.

Let’s say Domino’s website only had images of pizza and you have to make a call to place an order. But, their web app is dynamic and you can order via it.

The developers who developed the application obviously got paid a lot. That’s not it.

The most important thing is, they solved the problem (created a solution) of ordering pizzas online.”

The guy who wrote that clearly did not realize that WordPress has the option to do just that. And the ability to allow different pricing options for delivery or picking up the pizza personally. So maybe Dominos paid a lot more than they needed to in order to solve a problem that could have been resolved quicker, easier, and cheaper than paying someone to write the required code on their website from scratch.

Now, we are not saying that WordPress is going to be the best option for every situation. Clearly, that is not the case. For complex sites, there is often a need for one operating system for the front end and another for the backend. So maybe React is the right for the front and Python or Ruby on Rails for the backend. There are many options for both front and back-end code.

What are the front and back-ends of a website?

Simply put, the front is what a visitor sees appear on their computer, tablet, or smartphone when they view a website. The back-end is the part that sits on the host server and enables the site content to be served to the screen. It will also include the website database that stores information needed to enable functions such as login details, usernames, passwords along with other data that is stored to enable the site to operate successfully.

If you are seeking a bespoke website you may well find a “front-end” engineer who can design and write the code for the visible part of the site.  You may well then need a “back-end” engineer who can set up the database and the program needed to run the site from the server. You will also come across “full-stack” designers who can do both parts.

One of the major advantages of WordPress is that when you download the FREE package you have installed both a front-end Client Management System (CMS) to build out the visible site, and a complete back-end with a ready formatted database included.  You never need to think about the back-end as anything you then include, such as a theme, login, password, or plugin, is immediately added to the backend and database as necessary.

Items such as passwords are automatically encrypted and safely stored in the database. Images are also uploaded and stored ready for retrieval in various sizes so that you have a choice to display on pages or posts.  Text can be written and edited directly onto pages using a WYSIWYG text editor or now using the Gutenberg Block Editor and added to the site navigation. There is no HTML or CSS to write unless there are very specific alterations wanted.

One of the frequent difficulties we encounter when discussing a new website with a client is that often the client does not fully know what features are required at the design stage.  This is one aspect we do try to discuss, in-depth, as it will make a difference to the type of site and, if WordPress, the Theme we recommend is installed. Even so, it is not unusual for changes to requested part way through the build or even after the site is complete. Sometimes the client will realize that site visitors want additional options or that to offer a full service more features are required.

If the site is a bespoke design this can often result in a major revision and recode of certain parts to present a new feature.  With WordPress, it may only need the addition of a new plugin to add a new facility.

Let’s take the example of a restaurant website that may have had a table reservation system incorporated in the design.  When Covid-19 arrived, and restaurants were forced to forego internal dining facilities there may well have been a desire to offer a “take-away” service in place of seating.  With WordPress that could have been achieved very easily by temporarily replacing the reservation system with an online ordering and take-way service.  With the ability to switch back, or run the two services in tandem in the future.  A bespoke site may have taken a much longer time to code a special takeaway option and online ordering system leaving the business in limbo.  Additionally, the new bespoke coding would have come at a much higher cost.

Ultimately it is always the client who makes the final decision after we have discussed the project and considered all the pros and cons. One factor will be time.  A WordPress site can be designed and working very quickly whereas a bespoke site may require months of work unless a developer can re-use code from a previous similar project to speed the process along.

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