What’s the difference between Design in a Day™ & Custom Website Design?

What's the difference between a custom design process and a quick Squarespace website launch? The reality is that they're two entirely different processes, and they work for very different business scenarios.

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We celebrated our one-year anniversary of offering Design in a Day™ this week, so I thought I’d take the opportunity to address one of the common questions I get—what’s the difference between that offering and our custom, strategic design process? Aren’t both a website?

Well, that’s true, both options are indeed a website, and they have some commonalities, because we don’t want any project to go out our doors without being a complete, polished website, which is why both include the following: 

  • Quality control & proofreading
  • Basic search engine optimization and Google/Bing submission
  • Page layout
  • Connection of items like MailChimp and social media
  • Training
  • Blog setup
  • Domain mapping
  • Facebook debugging

Without these elements, we believe a website is not complete—which is why we don’t offer those elements as add-ons, they’re simply part of the process. 

However, here are a few items that our custom design clients receive that are not included in the Design in a Day™ process. 

  • A free intake call so we can make sure that we can work well together and that the platforms we work on will be a good fit for you
  • Strategy time with Sarah (that’s me!)—we talk you through your site and your business goals to make sure that we create something that meets your goals, both now and in the future
  • Advice on the right platform for the job
  • Development of your site map, how your pages will be interconnected and how we’ll integrate calls to action
  • Competitor/industry research, which feeds both your design and the SEO work we do
  • We write the site descriptions and other SEO elements for you
  • Advice on pillar pages/content clusters (this helps with SEO)—this of this like a guide on how to grow your content so you can elevate your online presence, findability and authority down the line
  • Small, handy graphics like backgrounds, icons and the like—our Design in a Day™ clients have to source these themselves
  • Stock image sourcing and editing
  • Content review—sometimes website content isn’t quite right, maybe it’s too long or the tone doesn’t match your goals, so we review it and make recommendations
  • Check-in calls
  • Rounds of revisions—Design in a Day™ clients do lightweight changes with Kath, live on Zoom or Skype, but revision rounds for custom design clients are handled quite differently
  • An iterative design process—again, this is something that’s not possible with Design in a Day™; custom design is very collaborative, and we’ll ask for feedback early in the process so we can make sure we’re on the right track
  • Lots and lots of coding, as appropriate! 
  • The opportunity to have a larger, more complex site with third-party integrations (for example, I often help nonprofit organizations identify the right donor database and donation processing tool for their organization and we make sure it plays nicely with their chosen platform)

While custom design projects are substantially larger investment than Design in a Day, they’re also an entirely different process and product.

Yes, you get a website when you’re done, but as a company, our goal with every custom design project is that our clients will see their new website as a beginning, as a springboard for growth, for being able to work more efficiently and as the hub for their marketing efforts. We work to make sure that it not only looks beautiful, but feeds your entire business strategy. For me, that’s the differentiator. 

However, not every business is ready for that! Many times, what you really need is just a website—and that’s great! If you are still working through your business goals, only need a portfolio style site, are just starting out or are launching side business, Design in a Day™ is plenty! Our aim with that process is to get you started on the right foot at an accessible price point. While extras like graphics, strategy calls and SEO research aren’t included in this process, some clients elect to add those items on to their Design in a Day™ project, if time and budget allow, so even our Design in a Day™ clients can infuse some of the extra “specialness” or the custom process into their projects when it’s right for them. 

Which option one is right for you?

Well, that depends on a lot of factors. Obviously, budget is an important one. But it’s also important to ask yourself if formal revisions rounds are important to you. Can you commit to providing live feedback during your training and editing session with Kath? Do you need consulting time and want guidance through decision making process? Are you comfortable gathering content and doing your own competitor research? With that said, here are some of the businesses that we’ve found Design in a Day™ to be a great fit for:

  • Artists
  • Photographers
  • Florists
  • Copywriters
  • Books/Academic Projects
  • Videographers
  • A product or service launch
  • Journalists

Obviously, that’s just a small sampling, and there are many other businesses and individuals who would be a great fit for this process, but we see these over and over again as prime candidates for an abbreviated, focused effort. Most of these businesses naturally already have great copy and imagery, so they can skip the content strategy process. 

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