Designer’s Intuition: Knowing What Web Design Approach is Best for The Client

Hi Everyone!Pure Designs Logo

I apologize for missing you last week. I’ve been busy on a big project (golden pains) and needed to give it my full attention. Things are going well so, I made some time to write about something that is on my mind. Read on…

As I mentioned in a previous post, Content Management Systems (or CMSs) are very powerful web design tools that allow designers to build custom blogs, websites, landing pages and newsletters for their clients quickly and efficiently. While they are a great option, and often my preferred option, there are certain situations where they might not be my first design choice. In this post I’ll list instances where I feel that a CMS solution is best and, conversely, where a hard-coded option would be a better choice. This is by no means an exhaustive list; these are merely the instances that I work with most.

What I’ll talk about:

  • Blogs/Photo Galleries
  • Long-Term Maintenance: Client as Maintainer
  • More Than One Content Creator
  • Speed to Launch

Plus More…Read On

Blogs/Photo Galleries

This one is easy. Any type of blog or photo gallery needs a CMS. A key reason is that these types of pages are often updated frequently by my clients themselves. Sometimes, clients will send me the content and I’ll update but, most times, they prefer to take care of this themselves. With a CMS, updates are easy; all you need to do is place text and graphics in their designated areas.

Where a designer/developer can come in is when you want a custom design or special functionality associated with your page. A little customization from a pro designer can make a dramatic difference in the look, feel and overall experience that your blog or gallery gives to visitors. Your pages will be unique and a proper reflection of you.

Photo Facebook Cover

Long-Term Maintenance: Client as Maintainer

When I am building a website for a client who will take over updating and maintenance once the initial build is over, I almost always go with a CMS. The only time I won’t is if the site is small (no more than five pages) and/or if the client knows how to code. As with blogs and galleries, updates are easy and intuitive to the non-developer when a CMS is used and you can work with a designer to create a custom look and feel.

More than One Content Creator

When you have a group of individuals contributing to the site, be it articles, photos, blog posts; a CMS can once again make maintenance a breeze and, as with the other instances, your look and feel will remain consistent. Each contributor can be given login information along with permissions, to make their respective updates and contributions. Each contributor can even have the option to maintain their own blog within the parent site.

Speed to Launch

When a site needs to be launched quickly and updating is often the same (as with a news site), a CMS is a must. You’ll save time and frustration by utilizing a CMS and you content will get published to the web (and any connected social media) quickly. The best part is, your looks and feel will be maintained because it has already been established.

You’ll often see me write about the importance of consistency, especially in your brand identity. This is vital! With so many companies, groups and individuals publishing content to the web, you need to do all that you can to maintain a consistent image and presence. This builds trust and will ensure that you are recognized above all of the other noise out there.

Ok, I think you get the idea. Now, there are instances where hard coding a page or even a whole site is best. Read on to see my take…

Stand-Alone Page

Sometimes called landing pages, these are pages that a client might need to promote a specific product or communicate a particular message. The beauty is, with most CMSs, you can create menu links that lead to these individual pages. These pages can also connect back to your shopping cart system for easy checkout, that is if you are trying to sell something with this page.

Below is a link to a page that I coded for an article.

Stand Alone Web Page

Small Websites that Are Rarely Updated

If you are creating what I call a brochure site, where there are five to seven pages that are fairly static and are not often updated, and you have the time to do it, hard-coding is a great option. There are no security risks (always a concern with CMSs) and you have granular control over the design.

In some ways, this is a dream for me; in other ways, it can be a pain in the neck. It takes time to coordinate the different types of code that are needed to build the site. Often, sites need interactivity, which means incorporating Javascript, Jquery and, sometimes, PHP. It’s certainly possible, but it takes time, which is often not on my side.

Newsletters and Online Media

Newsletters, invitations, ads, email marketing campaigns-whatever you might call them, these are the pieces of marketing material that get mailed to your lists (customers who have opted to receive emails from you pertaining to your business). In terms of strategy, these are vital pieces of your marketing campaign and should be given careful design consideration-but that’s another post.

Content will vary depending on the client and a custom design, stemming from your core brand identity, can work wonders in this age of information and advertising overload. There are hosting providers that exist that are specifically designed to support these types of media (an example is MailChimp). They are great for supporting you in analyzing the effectiveness of your campaigns. Often, these hosting providers will allow you to design a custom template for distribution (there are also pre-designed options).

My Favorite Mix

Of course, a combination of both techniques would be the best, in my opinion. That is, while maintaining a consistent look and feel across the CMS pages and hard-coded ones. This is especially useful for commerce sites that want to promote specific products or services depending on the season or other factors. As always though, each client will have particular needs and the solution that fits best for them will need to be determined.

Have a great weekend everyone!

Thanks,

Jennifer

Pure Designs is a creative company I launched that offers graphic design and web design services. With over ten years of experience in Marketing and Design, I have a wealth of information and inspiration to share. I love what I do and look forward to each and every day that I can design. View my portfolio here to see a selection of my work. Please feel free to post a comment to my blog or use the contact form on my blog or website to reach me with any questions or to book a consultation. Talk soon!

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One thought on “Designer’s Intuition: Knowing What Web Design Approach is Best for The Client

  1. Pingback: Dress Rehearsal for Your Website…Using a Test Site | Pure Designs Blog

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