One of our favorite things about redesigning a site is not only what happens on the outside, but on the inside as well. Refacing or restyling a site so that it appears different to the viewer can spike enthusiasm and renew site interest. Adding new tools for customers or that allow you to make your internal processes more efficient can spike your profit! These facts are what make us continue to promote ourselves as middle of the road. Think that's not very complimentary?
In our experience, there are two basic types of web design teams found in smaller firms--those focused on function, and those focused on form. We make the distinction of smaller firms here but what we really mean are "affordable" firms. Large firms can bridge the gap, but who can afford them?
The first type--the function meisters--can provide a full gamut of functional applications for your site, such as event registration, lead generation forms, online shopping, and project management. The problem is, they don't focus much on how the site looks. Although there are many examples available on the web, here is one that has the distinction of being one of the worst sites of the decade: LingsCars.com. If, after looking at this site, you don't get our point, simply click the "X" at the top of your browser window, because the rest of this post won't make sense to you.
The second type--the form fanatics--are so focused on originality, creating "art", or creating an aesthetic that their design process contains absolutely no thought of anyone actually using the site. For many of these sites, Flash® is the tool of choice for design, which means that designer has built a revenue stream for themselves for the lifetime of the site. These designers seem bent on making the navigation so untraditional that it is...well...unuseable! There is possibly some functionality, but who could find it? There are a few good examples here and you may be surprised at the names: The Edison Foundation and Hermes.
Enter the "web design spectrum". This is a scale of form to function, and we strive to stay right in the middle of this spectrum, striking a balance between the look of the site and the useful features of the site. Although we use the phrase "beautiful interface", many of the form fanatics are designers constantly in search of "cool" or "different". Different may be good if you are making a fashion statement or discussing framed art in your living room. When it comes to your organization's web site, however, a "cool" navigation feature can possibly result in reduced pageviews and missed sales opportunties.
By using Joomla!, we are also able to bring vast functionality to the sites we build for a reasonable price. The list of Joomla! extensions is currently at 8,514 and grows daily. Many of these extensions are free, carrying only the cost of installation, custom styling for your site (so we stay in the middle of the road), and training. Just in case those extensions don't work for you "out of the box", our team of developers can adjust it to march to the beat of your drum.
All-in-all, we find the middle of the road to be the perfect spot for us to operate in providing the best of both ends of the spectrum for our clients!