We’ve been working with WordPress websites for nearly a decade. In that time WordPress has come a long way but so have other platforms that people can use to create a website cheaply and quickly. However, this approach has a long list of cons. Given this, it can be hard for people who are self-employed or with small businesses to decide how they should create their website.

So here is a bit of an explanation as to how we have tried to find an ideal solution.

Where do you start when you need a new website?

If you need a website, it is important to start off by thinking about what you want it to achieve. Focus on your objectives and your audience but don’t get too hung up on exactly how it should look or what the structure will be. Your agency or developer should help to guide you as to how it all works together. It can be difficult getting the exact journey on a website right and if it is wrong or confusing, people will quickly leave a site and find another.

We have a team of designers and developers who are experienced in putting together websites so will consider things like UX and accessibility when considering the sitemap. Furthermore, while it is great to get inspiration for a site’s look, a designer can then translate this into what works well online. For example, you might have a colour scheme you love but if the contrast ratio just isn’t working then it is important to think again. You don’t want to wait until the site is live and you realise some text isn’t that legible!

What should a website cost?

It is understandable that for any business, regardless of its size, you need to think about your costs and what to budget for any kind of expenditure such as marketing activities. Websites are a crucial part of this – especially in today’s COVID world where if you don’t have an online platform, you simply can’t compete. Many people don’t know how much a website should cost. £1,000? £2,000? £10,000? The answer comes down to what you need your website to do. Realistically, a brand new fully designed and developed site should never cost under £1,000 as this shows enough time has not been put into it to make it work. Furthermore, unless the site has a lot of functionality, it shouldn’t really cost over £20,000. Those are the furthest ends of the scale so don’t worry, most businesses will fall somewhere between £1k and £10k.

It is useful having some kind of understanding of the figures involved as we do see companies paying more than they should for a website that is pretty simple. At the same time, we see some businesses unwilling to pay more because they think they can’t afford it, and instead they go for something like a pre-built WordPress theme.

Both of these scenarios make us pretty frustrated. Because one shouldn’t be overpaying, and the other is going for something they think is cheaper, but in the long-term they will end up paying more for. We are pretty up front about why we don’t work with these kinds of themes – they simply don’t perform how businesses need them to. And there is a solution that would avoid each of those routes.

A bespoke WordPress starter theme

We have created our very own starter theme that has a lot of the functionality you need for a new website built into it. Called Lark, our theme covers security, accessibility, performance and efficiency. This ensures that when we start a website, we aren’t building it from scratch. Not only that, but it is highly flexible. This is because Lark is built taking a similar principle of blocks that you find in most WordPress off-the-shelf themes.

How our WordPress starter theme works

Don’t worry, we aren’t going to get technical in talking about the code aspects of Lark. But we do want to explain how Lark works in practice if you have a website built using this starter theme.

We have a number of blocks that you can add to a page then drag and drop in any order to create the structure you want. Most websites will have the same types of blocks in them – a hero, text, image and text, accordion, contact etc. So we identified a large number of blocks that our clients or prospective clients might need and created them.

Now when we start a new website, we can add in the blocks we have already and add the new design and styling to them. This means they fit with the client’s branding, have any additional functionality that is required and so on, but we have taken days off the development process.

If at any point you decide you want a new page on your website, you can simply construct it using these blocks. You can make it in the same order as other pages to have a consistent layout, or you can try a different format. If we provided multiple colours across a site that feature within blocks, then you can even give a different feel to some pages. For other clients, they may want pattern backgrounds instead of solid colours on blocks. They may choose to use them just for one service area or perhaps blog posts. The point is, there are a huge number of choices and this approach gives you a great deal of flexibility.

Ready for Web Vitals

One important point we had to take into consideration in the development of Lark was Web Vitals. Google helpfully gave us the heads up they would be introducing a new update, which was aimed at ensuring websites are focused on user experience. This means any new build from this point onwards needs to ensure that a website is ready for the update. Otherwise it is going to constantly be behind. Our Lark websites are fully prepared so you never have to worry about how it will perform.

Scaling up or pivoting

When it comes to any business, there may be a plan for where you think it will go but this can’t always be followed. The past year has shown exactly why that might be. So it is important to have a website that is flexible to allow you to either pivot at any point with what you are offering without having to start again, or to scale up.

Our Lark sites are built through blocks and you can add to these at any point. So say you want to start off with a brochure site but then decide to move into making direct sales, we can add this functionality to the site. It won’t remove anything that was done before, we will simply add on what you now need. If you want to go for a new look, then we can refresh it through changing fonts, colours and also features into blocks.

Whatever happens to your business, we know that the site will be built in a way that it provides a strong foundation that won’t need to be pulled down in order to add to it.

What next?

With any new client or enquiry we get, we always ask questions to try to really understand what they are trying to achieve. This is because each Lark site we create is really tailored around them. We don’t simply have a fully designed and built site ready to go. We start off with the building blocks of Lark and then adapt it to be a specific solution for each client.

So if you want to find out more, get in touch and we can find out what you need and how we can provide a website that will meet your objectives.

Want to know more?

To find out how a Lark website could work for you, get in touch and we can discuss your exact needs. Whether you prefer a Zoom call or a face-to-face meeting, we're happy to discuss your project. We're also always happy to give advice and will never recommend a solution unless it is the right one for you.

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