Custom website development is the key to delivering a website tailored to both your business needs and the needs of your customers. In today’s world, you should be fast, quickly adapt to changes, and listen to your customers’ changing needs.
And one of the best ways to achieve this is to build your website via the headless approach. It’s a powerful and effective method of creating sites and applications that allows you to customize your platform precisely to users’ needs, and, as a result, grow your business.
Let’s dig deeper into why headless is a good idea when you want to meet clients’ high demands by developing a customized website.
Here’s what you’ll learn in this article:
- What is custom web development and why is it so popular?
- The difference between a custom website and pre-built website templates, aka the more traditional approach to building websites
- The good, bad and ugly about custom web development
- Why should you consider going for a headless approach in custom web development?
- Why are Jamstack and headless so good for building a customized website?
- The different possibilities you get for customizing your website and improving the customer journey, along with ROI, with the use of Jamstack and headless
What is Custom Web Development?
Let’s begin with the basics – what is custom web development and why does it matter?
Custom web development means creating a unique website tailored to the end-users’ needs and preferences. You can do it by taking into account your business requirements, industry standards, preferences, and knowing your customer personas.
Custom web development, from the technical point of view, means using modern tools, frameworks and technologies, as well as following the latest trends. It gives your team of web developers an opportunity to work flexibly within their favorite developer environment.
Whereas, for the end-user, custom web development and web design mean a fully-responsive website with a personalized user experience, neat graphics and layouts, fast loading time, and other factors that influence the UX and UI.
Overall, custom web development incorporates both good front-end and back-end practices and measures, so your customers can easily move around your platform.
Custom Website vs Pre-made Website Templates
To better understand how a custom website works and why it’s so important for e-commerce, it’s first of all worth taking a look at its alternative – pre-built website templates.
There are many platforms that offer ready-to-use website tools, for example, Wix or WordPress. You just choose the one you like the most and adjust it to your needs. However, these are limited in functionality.
You can customize pre-made templates only to a certain extent – you can only use what the template gives you (you have a certain theme or layout, and you can change the font, swap colors, or move small elements). But there are specific fixed components that you can’t change.
Additionally, they need to be optimized for SEO to ensure your page ranks well in search engines, and you can’t use custom technologies to install and work on them.
Although it’s easier and quicker to develop websites with templates, they’re best for non-complex pages such as personal blogs, portfolios, or simple business websites.
On the other hand, custom web development gives you limitless options for building a website just the way you want it to. You can freely make small tweaks, or big changes, customize different elements flexibly, and your team can easily update and deploy changes.
What’s more, a custom website works seamlessly across all devices, is SEO-friendly, and enables working in the preferred dev environment (tools, frameworks, technologies, methodologies, etc.).
That’s why custom websites are much better – they give you more flexibility and all the room for maneuvering you need. You can customize even the slightest elements, beginning from layouts, to fonts, width, headers, web animation and everything else you feel like modifying.
The Pros and Cons of Custom Web Development
A customized website can be a real pleasure for the end customer. It’s like a personal space where your clients can easily and quickly find what they’re looking for.
But even custom web development has its drawbacks, however great it sounds. Let’s take a look at the advantages and disadvantages of building custom websites so you can get a bigger picture of the whole dev process and whether this kind of approach is the right fit for you.
Pros of custom web development services
- Higher ROI: customized websites are positively perceived by the users, they encourage interaction and, as a result, can contribute to a boost in sales. You can sustain a better conversion rate when your users are satisfied and can easily go through their preferred customer journey route. As the saying goes “a happy customer is a loyal customer”.
- Flexibility: using third-party integrations, APIs, and different technologies gives your team of web developers a convenient work environment and the tools necessary for work. Consequently, it’s easier for changes and adjustments to your website, but it also improves deployment effectiveness.
- Credibility: with a well-performing, highly customized website, your platform is perceived as customer-friendly and professional, with all the necessary components to attract and maintain loyal customers. This can also help you stay ahead of the competition. Having a fast, customized, and functional website means you have a strong position in the e-commerce market – your clients can easily reach out to you and find your products, while you have higher chances for strong positioning in the industry as well.
- SEO-friendly: when you perform your website customization through the Jamstack approach, web pages are scalable and have high performance. It’s easier to position them in search engines.
Although building a customized website gives you a lot of opportunities for personalization and enhances the user experience, in certain situations, it may not be the right answer.
Cons of custom web development
- Requires technical knowledge: unless you have a dedicated team or hire a web development company, it’ll be difficult to build a custom made website on your own; with more components to leverage, it requires deeper knowledge, experience, and resources to manage and administer all the complexity.
- More expensive: because you need a dev team, using a single pre-built website template will not be enough – you just need to invest more money. You’ll need more tools and resources, or you can simply outsource to the best web development company that offers custom website design services and will build the perfect platform for meeting your business goals. Either way, you’ll need a specific budget. How specific? Check it!
- Not suitable for all: if you have a small business, provide specific services, and need a simple solution to be visible online, templates or simple websites may be a better solution. Customized websites are best for large companies and e-commerce.
In practice, however, it is not that simple. There are millions of small and medium-sized business websites that have been made in a customized manner. Decision makers are finding that such sites can be faster and thus better indexed by Google.
What’s more, the digital landscape is changing rapidly and it cannot be ruled out that, with the fast-paced popularization of lightweight, flexible solutions in the future, pre-built web solutions for web development will be a constraint for growing businesses. Long page loads and outdated UX will adversely affect website traffic or the willingness to purchase a product or service.
It’s a good idea to consider all the pros and cons of building a personalized website as it requires not only thinking about your needs but also your customers’. Or, you can hire a web development company that offers custom web development services to help you clear any doubts and decide.
Why Should You Go for Customized Web Development?
Customized web development favors using the Jamstack and headless approach. You simply won’t be able to create a platform tailored to customers’ needs without using the non-monolithic approach. But we’ll talk about it in more technical terms in a while.
Firstly, let’s take a look at why customized web development may be good for your business. Especially, if you want to be over the top, easily adapt to changes, and secure your e-commerce business for years.
Helps Your Business Stand Out
Because the technical aspects of headless commerce influence overall website performance in customized web development, it provides a great way to ensure your brand’s visibility in the online world.
With many components and elements to monitor, you can precisely determine your goals to achieve and metrics to observe. It helps to stand out against the competition and optimize it for monitoring very specific KPIs, OKRs, setting specific business objectives and as a result, growing your business and ROI.
Furthermore, because customization with Jamstack and headless is search engine friendly, with the right team of marketers, your business website can surpass the competition.
eCommerce personalization is a growing trend in the web development world. No wonder – it’s a powerful method of attracting new customers, making them fall in love with a brand, and encouraging them to stay.
A customized website lets you better target your audience. With e-commerce personalization, you can give your customers dynamic websites with dedicated pop-ups, special offers, targeted campaigns, discounts, and many, many more – all of these can be location-specific.
In custom web development, you can easily target your audience by flexibly adjusting to their preferences, localization, personal choices, previous history, or intent. This is all thanks to headless commerce and the ability to combine different components. There are no functionality restrictions.
Good for Complex Websites
Complex websites require complex solutions. With APIs, the use of different tools and technologies, you have more flexibility in building custom web solutions tailored to diversified groups of customers. You can mix, combine, and experiment.
That also allows you to go omnichannel and reach your customers at different levels, be it desktop, mobile apps, or even a smart TV.
Your website may have many functionalities and allow users to follow different customer journeys and can still be fast, scalable, and user-friendly.
With no databases and servers, you don’t have to worry about your data’s safety. Everything is stored outside your business, so your and customers’ data and personal information are safe and sound.
Headless Approach and Custom Web Development
Let’s get to the point and take a closer look at what possibilities you get when you decide to go for customized websites.
In custom web development, Jamstack and the headless approach are crucial. But why do website customization and headless go hand in hand? Because building a customized website with Jamstack allows you to create the perfect platform that is fully responsive, adaptable, and user-friendly.
Here’s how it looks from the technical point of view. In headless, the main database is removed from the presentation layer, so you can freely use different technologies to build and deploy the website. In other words, it’s decoupling (separating) the front-end of your system from the back-end.
With a decoupled front-end, you can flexibly customize the website and easily introduce changes to the visual layer (templates, themes, pictures, content, etc.). At the same time, the back-end, which in headless doesn’t require lots of code digging, makes it easier to attach different “heads” to the core body of your web environment.
So, the separation of the back-end from the front-end gives you full flexibility in building the website tailored to customers’ needs. It’s just much better than using ready made templates that impose limitations on customization.
Jamstack and the Custom Web Development
To get into more details and help you better understand why headless is so good for website customization, let’s focus on Jamstack.
Jamstack consists of three main elements (JAM) that make it such a powerful tool in the context of custom website development:
- APIs: third-party services or your custom functionalities that enable the creation of a website or application that seamlessly interacts with different types of applications, works across devices, and provides an experience tailored to users’ needs.
- Markup: a method of creating website’s contents and visuals through prerendering the whole website instead of dynamic delivery via web server; it’s the pre-built website that goes through SSG (Static Site Generator) and is served to the browser via a CDN (Content Delivery Network). It’s a fast way to serve the website to the end-user.
These components, when combined, provide a flexible environment for building modern, interactive websites. And the options for customization are limitless.
The Jamstack approach to building websites and applications ensures scalability, speed, security, and better developer experience for dev teams. There are no databases, and serverless architecture provides effective workflow and quick deployment.
The Possibilities for Customized Web Development With Jamstack and Headless
If you care about having countless possibilities to create the shape of your website, there’s no better way than to build a customized website with Jamstack and a headless approach.
You can have different combinations and configurations, as the tech stack for headless gives you plenty of options you can use to customize your platform.
Let’s take a look at a few examples within the entire Jamstack ecosystem and how you can use the different tools and technologies to create a customized website.
How to choose the best JS framework? Think about popularity (to ensure it’ll develop) and the tools it works well with, as well as its sustainability, documentation, community support, and all the technical aspects. But it’s also important that you choose it so it’ll be easy to build and customize a website for the specific niche your business is aimed at.
Static Site Generators
Static Site Generators (SSG) are simply generating websites by taking the pre-built page stored on a CDN and serving it to the user whenever they visit a website.
And just like with JS frameworks, each SSG has a different purpose. Some are good for building simple sites, while others are used for creating complex platforms. You can use SSGs to build different types of websites and applications – a simple website with your services, complex stores, hybrid platforms, and anything else you feel like.
For example, there’s Gatsby, Next, Jekyll, Pelican, Publii, and many, many more. There are over 450 SSGs, so there’s a lot to choose from!
If you’re not sure which SSG is best for your website, check out our guide on the best static site generators (those popular and less-known).
A headless CMS (Content Management System) gives you lots of options for planning and displaying content.
Thanks to the rich customization options, you decide how the content is visible for the end-user, and can freely move it around your website and adjust as you like.
It’s also helpful in custom web design, as the UI and UX elements don’t have to be fixed but can correspond to how people move around your site.
You can choose from many headless CMSs such as Storyblok, Sanity, Contentful, Prismic, Forestry, or Webflow, to name just a few.
User Experience & User Interface
User experience is one of the crucial factors for customer satisfaction. According to the report by Forrester, “a well-conceived, frictionless UX design could potentially raise customer conversion rates up to 400%”.
There’s a multitude of tools your dev team can leverage. Many of them support the idea of motion UI – a website that provides a flawless, smooth experience, is design-driven, remains fully responsive with visuals and provides interfaces that make it user-friendly.
Some of the tools that can help you create a perfect custom web design include inVision, Figma, Fractal, Pagedraw, or Anima.
These can help you plan, design, store and organize ideas, as well as provide your team with all the tools needed to administer their workflow and customize a platform with a headless approach.
With APIs, you can create custom functionalities or extend those already available on your website. They can help you better customize the website.
Here are some of the examples of what you can use APIs for:
- Site search engines can help users quickly find what they’re looking for with relevant search results (e.g.,Algolia, Elasticsearch, Swiftype)
- Shopping carts so your customers can easily shop on your website (e.g.,Snipcart, FoxyCart)
- Chatbots help your customers quickly answer common questions, find products, get help in choosing products, and more (e.g.,MobileMonkey ,Drift, Octane)
- Payment processing so users can quickly pay for your products (e.g.Stripe, Adyen, Foxy)
- Authentication and authorization for security (e.g.,Auth0, Netlify Identity)
- Comments plugins so your customers can engage, express their opinion, and you can hear their voice (e.g.,Disqus, Webmention)
- Forms will let you take surveys, ask clients for opinions, research what you could do better (e.g.,SurveyMonkey, Typeform)
There are plenty of options to choose from and many of these tools let you adjust the functionalities as they offer many options for customization.
When building a website or an app, it’s worth considering the pros and cons of different approaches, but also your business needs. With the right website development strategy, you can ensure having a perfect platform.
If you’re looking for a simple solution, you can opt for pre-made templates. But if you want to give your customers a better user experience, go for headless and choose Jamstack. And if you need help, our team at Naturaily will help you build a perfect website as we’ve been providing custom web development services for over 10 years now.