To Customize or Not to Customize... That is the Question?

December 16, 2020

At a recent grip-n-grin networking event in Irvine, I was asked by a business owner of a small manufacturing company whether they should build a custom website for their business, or if a templated solution was the better choice. This is a common and fair question to ask. Let's discuss the differences and dig a little deeper.

First, let me clarify templated and custom. What my friend at the networking event was really trying to articulate were the differences between a "Static" and "Dynamic" site, as well as "Optimized" sites. Let's take a look at each of them.

"Static" sites are exactly that... static. You have your HOME page, CONTACT US, SERVICES, and maybe a few other pages, and what's seen by your customers is the same, all the time. Sure, you can change the text and paragraphs, and add a few images, but that's about it. That said, however, "Static" has its advantages. Static sites can be assembled quickly, require no programming experience and many packages start at less than twenty dollars per month. If you have ever heard of Wordpress, Codeigniter, or Laravel, these are platforms that allow non-programmers to build a site using amazing themes already developed. Sounds great, right? It is. There are a hundred good reasons to choose a templated solution, and there are thousands of excellent themes to choose from. Sites like GoDaddy, Theme Forest, Template Monster, and Elegant Themes are but a few of the thousands of choices in the market. Do you want a website for your insurance agency? There are ten thousand "insurance" themes to choose from. Maybe you need a website for your interior design agency. There's a theme for that, too. The choices are endless, and if you are a small business or start-up, and you need a website as a first introduction to your company, a templated solution is the smart short-run path to success. You can be up and running in no time and spend less than a few hundred dollars (assuming you purchase a theme). You will be able to write and edit your own content, can upload, and manage your own images, and you can even add some videos and podcasts for your customers to listen to and watch. Currently, there are an estimated 75,000,000 websites in the US alone.

"Dynamic" sites are sites that provide a unique "user experience" for each person visiting the site. This is accomplished using a "back-end" database, algorithms, and a hundred other elements and components that make it all come together. Take an online watch store as an example. If you are looking at men's watches on a site, you will see other suggested watches on results pages that, by no coincidence, just happen to include other men's watches. Yet, at the exact same moment in time, another person, a thousand miles away, might be on the same website, but all they see is women's watches because that is what they were searching for. This is why the sites are referred to as "dynamic". Dynamic sites use advanced programming tools and require a completely separate set of skills to execute than static sites, but many of these sites have built-in "web content management" tools that allow your staff to create and maintain the content, add images, and otherwise manage the information across the site after it's launched. Some examples of large (10,000,000+ subscriber based sites) include Facebook, Target, Amazon, Pinterest, and Yahoo, to name a few. Going one step further, if you have ever heard of PHP, MySQL, SQL, C++, or Ruby on Rails, to name a few, then you have been reading or talking to someone about the database construct that makes "dynamic" sites run. If you are a small business with remote sales teams, complex ordering requirements, forms that dynamically change based on the type of work a customer is looking to complete, then a dynamic site, or more accurately referred to as a web application, maybe in your future.

"Optimized" sites can be either static or dynamic, and when done right, can deliver the holy grail of site traffic. Ted Turner once said, "Early to bed, early to rise, work like hell and advertise!", and that is what a great SEO accomplishes for your business. In 1996, if your business had a website, you were automatically the most popular company in your town. Why? Because you were also the only company who had a website, but according to siteefy.com, a resource tracking site growth across the planet, about 380 websites are newly launched every single minute of every day. For those who can run the numbers quickly, that is about six new sites every second or roughly about 200MM new websites launched every year. That's a lot of new websites. In the US, there are over 1 million retail businesses and over 30 million other small businesses. This means that in the US alone, there are at least 31,000,000 websites.

To get optimized, you must use a multi-pronged approach, and a big driver of this approach is Search Engine Optimization (SEO). To execute SEO well, you must first identify your target industry and audience, after which you must perform keyword research to identify what search terms people are using to locate your services. You must then analyze and understand your mobile SEO strategy, site crawling, indexing, keywords, and link building, and others. Additionally, at Los Angeles Bizz, we believe that content is the single most critical aspect of a solid SEO campaign effort. Add all of these together and you are off to a great SEO start, but there's more. As big as SEO is to the success of "optimizing" your site, there are other aspects you must consider. This includes Email campaign services like Constant Contact, Web Monkey, and Send Grid, as well as your social media footprint on Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin, et at. At Los Angeles Bizz, we adhere to a (4) stage approach toward optimizing your site. This includes;

1) SEO
2) Social Media (LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, Youtube, etc.)
3) Stellar article content
4) Email campaigns

So, there you have it. What my networking friend asked was simple enough, but like most things in life, requires a much more involved answer. If you are a start-up, you must clearly understand your target audience, what they want, and how they get it now. If you are an established company but find yourself on the losing end of generating sufficient lead calls and site traffic, you are not alone. SEO and site optimization is big business because millions of companies are having to deal with the same issues. If you are struggling with site optimization, it could be that your competition is beating you at your own game, or that your market is changing, or that there is more competition in your space and you didn't even know it. These are genuine issues that require critical thinking and a solid plan to solve. Oh, and the biggest question we get all the time is whether SEO works? Here's the answer. If you are reading this article on Los Angeles Bizz, it just worked.

We hope this information sheds some insight on the subject so you can make smarter, more informed choices, and if you have any questions, think Los Angeles Bizz and give us a call.

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