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Web Development

Open source and SaaS/PaaS tools, high value sites & components, code re-use, agile workflows and open communication.

Your operational needs alongside your branding and company culture will determine the best shape & structure for your online presence.

First we gain an understanding of how your organisation/business operates, both internally & in your connection with your customers. Your website needs to reflect the culture & brand of your organisation, and allow your users to behave and feel the same when they interact with your website, as they do when they are interacting with your organisation in any other way - in person, on the phone, by sms etc.

Once we have an operational & branding understanding of how you connect with your users & manage your operations, we can build your online tool set to make these connections more automated & interactive, allowing scalability for your organisation while delighting your users. 

It's important that you have a platform that works for your business today, and will also offer a clear path for future growth.

Common Platforms

While we are always keeping our eyes out for new best of breed platforms to appear, we have currently settled on three website development platforms that cover the needs of our clients: Drupal, Wix & Shopify.

  • Drupal covers all complicated client needs, and creates very simple finished systems for site owners to use when managing their content.
    • This includes manufacturing, wholesale, retail, community organisations, libraries, educational facilities, studios, large corporations, and many more types of organisations.
    • For a more detailed list of Drupal use cases, so our Drupal development page
  • Wix covers a very specific set of needs that happens to be very common in the small to medium business category. 
    • Easy builds -  as long as your business operational needs are fairly standard
    • Cheap development with a great range of plug & play elements
    • Easy for owners to change their design elements as well as their content
    • Scheduling/Booking, Events, Blog, Simple Ecommerce, brochure sites, easy social media integrations, and an ever developing set of plug & play features
    • Managed hosting on a SaaS platform - no security or system update concerns
    • It doesn't suit: use cases that don't fit cookie cutter solutions; for example complicated Ecommerce installations and larger organisations where more than one person will want to edit the site at the same time are not suited to Wix
  • Shopify covers standard retail operations
    • Easy builds with a moderate level of customised code, and a good number of starting points for standard use cases to remove much of the tedious & time consuming set up parts of development.
    • Import / Export & Sync options to handle inventory levels & pricing.
    • POS system available, so that you can use the website as your Point of Sale system in store, assuring stock levels & pricing are standardised across different purchasing modes.
    • Incentivised development - Shopify earns a percentage of your sales as part of their hosting. This incentive can be seen in their development of tools to grow your business, as your growth instantly benefits their bottom line as well.
    • Ecommerce focused - Online retail & shop POS is what they do, and their focus on this one function shows in their development directions. They don't waste time on developing features and functions that don't fit their customers' needs, so they can focus on the needs of retailers alone.
    • It doesn't suit: If you have both wholesale & retail aspects of your business or other detailed pricing rules then start with Drupal Commerce instead & save yourself the double build expense. Shopify also only handles standard discounts & coupons, and has difficulty with combinations of the two.
  • WordPress, Weebly, Squarespace - These all have inherent problems with that don't justify their use over the three platforms we've chosen to specialise in. While we can work with customer sites that are already built on these platforms, we do not build on any of these three.
    • WordPress - This open source platform has no peer review process in place for their plugins. For this reason, we inherit sites that have been hacked or failed completely do to security holes or incompatible plugins that are used on sites. Often these sites have not been maintained on managed hosting platforms, and so are very vulnerable to security issues. We don't update these sites without full access to the hosting server and a verified backup, as any incompatibilities that arise from such updates can make the site inaccessible and unrecoverable. We generally rebuild WordPress sites in a more stable environment, with reviewed code bases, and on managed hosting, be it our own, or a SaaS platform. For customers who really want to keep their WordPress site, we have a WordPress dedicated maintained hosting option with regular backups.
    • Weebly - This hosted SaaS platform gives people templates to build their own sites. It is superficially very similar to Wix & Squarespace, and is fine for some applications, but has really been left in the dust by more modern site builders such as Wix. Two issues that have often limited clients on this platform are: 
      1. Header tags. Weebly only has H2 headers & subheaders for all headers on all pages. You can't easily create H1, H2, H3, P outlines with your content using Weebly. This causes issues with SEO, as page organisation is very important in page ranking.
      2. Google Analytics code - Weebly has their own Google Analytics code that they put on all Weebly sites. This allows them to track the traffic on all of their sites, but causes conflicts with site owners who want to manage their own Analytics accounts as a separate entity to all other Weebly sites. If SEO ranking isn't important to your site, then neither of these issues will apply to you.
    • Squarespace - This platform has strict templates that keep their sites looking clean & professional, and so is a favourite with designer personalities. The main problem we've come across with this platform is the way they handle their photos. Delivering huge file sizes to users regardless of what device they are on can see users losing their entire monthly data plan on one visit to your site. This mismanagement issue also results in slow site speeds. Site speed is now a search ranking factor, and so should be considered for both your incoming traffic, and in being considerate to your users. All Squarespace layouts can be created in the other three platforms mentioned, and their feature set isn't anywhere near as extensive as the other platforms, there isn't currently a compelling reason to use Squarespace over the other platforms.

Our considerations when choosing a platform

  • Feature Set - What features will you need on your site? We'll then let you know which platform allows you to have or build these features, or if there are other systems that can be integrated if you only have a few features that are outside of a platform's capabilities.
  • Budget - Wix & Shopify are generally budget conscious options, while Drupal sites are much more involved and require a larger budget.
  • Custom requirements - If your feature set requires custom development, then we'll need a platform that will let us develop those custom features into your site. As all three of the above platforms allow development code to varying degrees, each project needs to be individually scoped.

Ease of data extraction for future expansion - Open Source vs Software as a Service (SaaS)

There are always trade offs and decisions to be made when choosing a platform - and one to consider the ease of extraction of the data on your website. If you use open source tools then you own the data and can do whatever you want with it. You can shift platforms, upgrade, integrate and develop the software and your data however you choose - within your budget constraints.

If you go for a SaaS, such as Wix and, to a lesser extent, Shopify, you will save money on set up and ongoing maintenance but lose full control of your data. Wix provides few ways to export your data, which means that building anything beyond a relatively simple site can leaving you needing to manually move your data & content should you grow out of that platform & have to move to another platform in the future. Shopify allows you to export much, but not all, of your data so that you can re-platform as you need and can analyse & export your data as you want. 


SaaS ( Wix, Shopify, BigCommerce... )


  • Quick & cheap build
  • Great range of pre-existing templates to customise
  • Wide range of pre-existing integrations
  • Fully reliable maintenance
  • Free upgrades & new features


  • Less control of your business data
  • Harder to create business specific integrations
  • Harder to fully customise
  • Reduced ability to implement detailed business rules

Flexible open source platforms


  • Total ownership & control of your business data
  • Ability to build any integrations 
  • Ability to implement any business rules required
  • Full design customisation and responsive flexibility


  • Longer & more expensive build ( this does depend on your level of customisation, but it will always take longer to build to achieve the same level of functionality as a SaaS )
  • Requires managed hosting & maintenance - this is dependent on both your web developer, you, or a 3rd party, maintaining the site; alongside the software community's approach to maintenance. Features can be removed and bugs introduced in new versions of 3rd party modules/plugins/themes.
  • No free upgrades or new features - you will be charged for the time taken to move to new versions of the core software, and if there are significant changes then some customisations may need to be rebuilt.

The more business critical data your website holds and/or the more customisations you need the more you should look to an open source platform such as Drupal. The more of an 'advert' or brochure your website is the more you can look to a SaaS to deliver a good ROI.

Get in touch today to work out which way you should be going and to start your project.