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A website is a product best built by hand

The benefits of mass production are well known and have been for some time. Manufacturing a product on an industrial scale drives down costs – and opens up new opportunities for to sell to customers who might not have been able to afford the product before.

You name it, from smaller ticket items like clothes and furniture to the more expensive items like jewellery and cars. Products are created in huge volumes in factories at low cost and shipped around the world for sale to wherever there are consumers. Despite that, many businesses and individuals that trade in one-off, handmade versions of these products are still thriving nonetheless. Why? Because while mass production and standardisation has its clear benefits, it has its drawbacks too – if so many things are the same, then it doesn’t really say anything unique about you.

So what does this have to do with websites?

Well, everything. Just like any of the things mentioned above – a website should be considered to be an ‘item’ too, even though it’s not something physical that you can hold in your hand. Just like the other products I’ve mentioned, there are options for buying a website that range from simple, template based sites to completely bespoke creations.

There isn’t a wrong choice to make in terms of just getting a website up and running, but the further up the range you go – the better the finished product will be, and the more benefit you’ll get from it.

Let’s get on to some of the advantages of a handmade website:

  1. Visual design – some templates have a tendency to look quite cheap while others can look quite professional, but they are still templates and as such, they are impersonal. A designer will create something unique to your business that fits in with any existing marketing materials so that everything looks like it’s meant to.
  2. Functionality – There are limitless ways in which you could offer users an experience unlike any other through your website, for example, perhaps you want to compare specific products in a certain way, or tailor a registration process or a form so that it asks people for the information that’s important to you. If you’re using a template, then you’re often limited to what’s already been provided, rather than having something that’s completely customised to your requirements.
  3. Speed – often, templates can offer a certain level of customisation to try and persuade you that you really are getting something different – a bit like having the same car as everyone else, but yours can have different wheels. In the case of your car, that’s okay, because the old wheels are replaced by the new ones – but often with a web template, all of the components that aren’t visible are still there, meaning your files contain a lot more information than they need, and end up being slower to download.
  4. Compatibility – once upon a time, we all browsed the web using Internet Explorer on a Windows PC, but those days are long gone. On a PC alone, there’s something like five different ‘Triple-A’ web browsers (and many hundreds of others you might not have heard of), and then there are several smartphone makers, each with their own individual browsers and configurations, and the tablet market which has positively exploded since the launch of Apple’s iPad. A bespoke site can be written with the latest (or emerging) web standards in mind ensuring a up-to-date browsing experience, whereas a template might have been written a few years before, for the browsers and platforms that existed then.
  5. Search engine rankings – Everyone wants their website to be featured as highly as possible on search engines, and clean, unique code written in a way that robots can understand as well as humans is an advantage.
When deciding whether you should have a one of a kind website or something created just for you – you should ask yourself this question: Is your business or organisation unique, or is it just like all the others? Unlike a hand-built sports car, a hand-built website doesn’t cost as much as you’d think!
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Codecraft Online is a web development company based in Leeds, Yorkshire.

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