Most websites are thrown away and rebuilt every 1-2 years with a new concept and design. Isn’t there a more sustainable way too? Just as you’d want to invest in high-quality furniture that you keep for a lifetime, you’d want to invest in a high-quality website that lasts for decades. How can you do this?
One reason why websites are short lived is because of a lack of understanding of their purpose. Do you want to present yourself? Your product? Sell stuff? Provide support for your customers? It’s important to define clearly which customer interactions your website should be able to handle.
Most websites are stuffed with content, and badly organized. Why is that? Because it’s easier to add everything that comes to your mind rather than asking the question, what are the essential bits? Those are the building blocks of your website, and if you get them about right from the beginning you don’t need to fight with your website for years.
Some parts such as the home or the about section are meant to stick around unchanged for a long time. Other sections are frequently updated — you want to publish up to date information there.
From my experience most problems can be solved with two kinds of pages:
Designed pages: You want to have a visually appealing presentation of your homepage, and your products and services. You want these pages to be visually distinct and very easy to consume. You’ll update these pages once or twice a year at most, e.g. when you launch a new product.
Articles: Most web pages out there can be represented as an article. You can give an article a title, and use headings to structure it and add images and videos to support the content. However, you don’t have much freedom for styling here. But that’s totally fine. These pages are meant to be practical and tell a story or provide information to the visitor.
This is a must in my opinion. Even if you are a designer yourself, please resist the temptation to do the design yourself. The reason is that you have a tunnel vision on your project/venture. You’ll likely come up with text and visuals that nobody except yourself will easily understand. Hiring an experienced designer with a neutral view on your project is one of the best investments you can make. A good designer can deliver you a visual framework for your website, including colors and typography along with a number of design elements, which you can reuse in different places. Invest into 20-50 initial design hours. If they did a good job, he’ll provided you with a flexible visual framework and you’ll only need them occasionally for feedback and smaller additions when necessary.
The advantages of a custom-tailored site are obvious. It’s easy to perfectly execute the design. And most importantly a custom website only includes exactly what you need. Hence your site will be blazing fast and only store the minimal amount of data needed.
For comparison a Wordpress instance may store thousands of records in hundreds of database tables. With a custom website you’ll probably need less than a dozen database tables, tailored to fit your data.