Often credited to Aldo Gucci, of Gucci handbag fame, is the following quote: “the bitterness of poor quality is remembered long after the sweetness of low price has faded from the memory”. A fitting start to our latest blog, I’m sure you will come to agree…


After looking through a lot of new websites being produced by agencies in the North East, we feel that it’s necessary to cover the looming issue of website builders. It’s important for businesses to know how they differ from custom build sites made by qualified web agencies and the restrictions found in online free website builders being sold as developed websites. We have seen a lot of companies pay for a web presence that would otherwise be free, but are they a good idea?


So, where did it all begin? It’s important to understand that there are usually two evolutions of web agencies. The first, a development agency that relies on creative talent to sharpen up their designs, the second, a creative agency that develops into a web agency through its team. Naturally, Creativehill falls into the latter and our Director had a few comments on our place in this category that can show what a difference it can make:


“When we develop custom websites it always starts with design. It doesn’t start with where our technical capabilities are, it starts with how it looks. Then we find the ability to build the technical side, that’s why we deliver the best websites.”- but what did we do before we had the development ability in house?


As a creative consultancy in 2012 we needed a web presence. At the time the newly launched Squarespace had just come to market, so that got us off the ground, but rather than use the generic website builders, we felt that we needed more control over what our website looked like to our visitors. What we found when it comes to the templated website builders is that they are less reliable to use for both the user and creator. The website templates are not built to be SEO friendly which is why they require additional marketing attempts to make them as successful as custom builds, and as we all know, there is no such thing as free marketing.


There are a host of issues with builders ranging from being unable to integrate booking software, business systems or custom features to massively restricted design parameters and security. But, the main issue is that there are limited templates available. Wix, for example has 90 million users, and only 500 customizable templates, so ask yourself the question, who else has a website like yours?


So, during a period when our knowledge was limited, we employed various experts to bring our pre-designed site to life, and we haven’t looked back since.


It was natural for our design studio to extend its services towards web. But before making that leap, we needed to invest in bringing the right talent into the business, this was needed to be able to provide our customers with the quality of websites that live up to our standards. Through this process we made a point not to use website builders with our customers, as it felt unethical to sell the sort of package made by a service free to use by anyone.


Our Strategic Director, Tony made a few comments on our current approach when creating a website for our customers and how that links back to the growth of the company.


“It was, the great American author and consultant, W. Edwards Deming who told us “quality is pride of workmanship”. To show quality to our customers, to have pride in what we produce, to stand by our workmanship it must first be, unequivocally, our workmanship. Not a template that you could put together yourself in a couple of hours on any of the many cheap “stack ‘em high” web builder tools. To give our clients the quality of service and product, that they both demand and deserve, we need to be fully bespoke. Inhouse design and development that delivers EXACTLY what the customer needs. Our customers don’t expect to bend to fit the will of the web, they expect the web to bend to their will.


From a strategic point of view, there is no possible justification for being anything other than fully bespoke and delivering the customer the best solution. It would lower the overall level of work produced. To a degree, poor design can be masked by great functionality. The reverse isn’t true. Great design merely exposes the weaknesses in the poor functionality of off-the- shelf web templates.


Our customers aren’t shopping off-the-peg, they are in tailored suits. Why should their web be any different?”


Knowing that our speciality lay in the Lifestyle, Leisure, Hospitality and FMCG sectors, we knew that the companies we would work with would be looking for a professional agency to handle their web and design. Which is why it was important for us to offer the right services, regarding website languages and custom builds.


Yet another reason to go down the custom build route, to be able to give our customers the best possible online presence. Not only are our websites SEO friendly, but they are both manageable and reliable for both the company and its visitors to use. We ensure back-ups of all websites so that when making edits or additions there is always a previous copy to fall back on.


There are even some agency’s that use services like this to create websites and pass them off as custom built without telling you. Be careful of this happening and make sure your proposal covers the relevant technical specifications and you know what you are paying for.


Some examples of websites builders include:

  • 1 and 1
  • 123 Reg
  • Fasthosts
  • GoDaddy
  • Squarspace
  • Weebly
  • Wix


So next time you approach a web agency, make sure you ask how they plan to build your website - you could save yourself a lot of time.