Website development

Website development

There are so many ways to build a website these days that the choice of which technology to use may seem overwhelming. There are website-in-a-box solutions like Wix and Squarespace, solutions using off-the-shelf template frameworks like Wordpress, and options using bespoke architecture.

Storm12 has been building websites since the company was formed in 1999 (one of our first websites was for Sony's TV product range!), and has explored many of these options over the years. We've always returned to providing bespoke solutions because they meet our customers' needs so much more effectively. Read on to find out how and why.

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"Website in a box"

You'll have seen adverts for Wix and Squarespace in the mainstream media, and these platforms offer a solution for people that need an uncomplicated website with a low up-front cost. They offer simplified point-and-click page building tools that mean you don't need any technical knowledge to get started. They contain most of the essential functionality that a simple website needs, but modifying the built-in functionality isn't possible so they're most suited to small businesses that don't need anything unusual.

The upside is their low cost. The downside is that you'll be doing everything yourself: planning your content strategy, writing the copy, finding the images, setting up the site, creating the pages and checking it all over.

Many busy business people just don't have the time (and in some cases the skills) to do all of this well themselves.

Wordpress and its templates

Wordpress is the most popular website content management system (CMS) in the world, by a long way. According to some sources, over 40% of all websites use Wordpress, and you'll almost certainly have visited a WP website in the last few days whether you realised or not.

Wordpress started out as a community-driven blogging platform and it still has this at its core. Over the years, though, developers have built plugins and templates to extend its functionality so it can be used for websites of many different types. There are tens of thousands of themes and plugins that modify Wordpress's functionality, but not all of them will be very good...

There are plenty of agencies out there building websites using Wordpress, and indeed Storm12 has built a few WP sites in the past. Although Wordpress has its place, our experience has told us that it's not a platform we're happy to recommend for most of our clients. Basic WP websites can be very cheap, but they offer limited, inflexible functionality. Sophisticated WP websites add the missing functionality and flexibility, but can cost just as much (if not more) than alternative tailor-made solutions. In both cases the CMS interface can be confusing and hard to learn.

Also, Wordpress websites require constant maintenance and patching to remain secure. Plugins may become incompatible with each other or with Wordpress, and so a required security patch could force a rebuild of a website. Unless you built your Wordpress website yourself and are happy maintaining it you're likely to be paying your agency frequently to update, maintain and fix it.

The bespoke solution

The solutions that Storm12 develops are bespoke. They're unique to each client, which means they don't use a third party, off-the-shelf CMS platform as their basis. Our in-house development team listens to each client's requirements and works with our designers to create beautiful, reliable and scalable websites that can last for years. (Our oldest-surviving site is Castle Debates, which has been live for over 12 years and doesn't cost its owners anything other than hosting fees.)

With our bespoke solutions there's no limit to what we can achieve for you. If your business has a complicated ecommerce model, no problem! We can create a website that follows your processes and allows you to work in the way you already do. If you need it to connect to your CRM system to maintain your database of contacts, we can do that too. Want to present your services in a clever way that none of your competitors can? Our designers and developers can build whatever you can imagine!

Growing with your business

Websites shouldn't stand still! Just like your business, your site should always be evolving. Whether that means adding new features, modifying existing ones, or removing stale ones, regular updates will keep everything fresh. With the flexibility of a bespoke solution it's easy for Storm12 to alter how our clients' websites work.

And it's not just the functionality that should develop - as your company's brand evolves with your audience, your website's appearance will need to change to keep up, using new colours, fonts and layouts to grab your visitors' attention.

Changes to a bespoke website's functionality or appearance don't need to mean a complete new website each time. We've applied complete redesigns to many of our clients' websites over the years, and added huge, complex functionality to give them new capabilities and extend their life, maximising our clients' return on their investment.

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Other off-the-shelf platforms

Wordpress isn't the only off-the-shelf CMS platform. Others include Joomla, Drupal, Magento, and many many others.

Some platforms are free to use and others can cost an awful lot, not just in set-up fees but in ongoing licencing. (Magento Commerce can cost $22k per year in licencing costs, for example!)

The popularity of these platforms is tiny compared with Wordpress and their features may be too limited to deliver what your website needs. You'd need to speak with a specialist agency to explore these options.

The language of love

Our bespoke websites are built using the language PHP, just like Wordpress, Joomla and many other websites. They can be maintained and updated by any PHP developer. We work hard to maintain long-term relationships with our clients by providing a great service and good value, but if a client wants to change partner we don't stand in their way.

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