Web Design vs. Web Development – What’s the Difference?

As an entrepreneur, sometimes you’ll have a really great idea that won’t quite fit into the boundaries of a traditional WordPress or eCommerce site. There are many plugins and extensions available for each platform that can help make your ideas work but in some cases something more custom-made is better suited for your needs.

So…Web Design or Web Development?

The terms are often used interchangeably, but for the sake of clarity in this article we’re going to differentiate between the two. Web design typically refers to creating the layout and overall look of your site. Web development refers to the actual nitty-gritty of building a site or app like writing code and making major changes to established frameworks.

At ITD Interactive we primarily do our work on two platforms: WordPress for “normal” websites and Magento for eCommerce sites. Both are open source, secure solutions with a rich support network that make building sites for local businesses efficient and cost-effective. If you’ve got a more complicated idea than a standard WordPress or Magento site, custom development may be a better option.

Web Development Work is Customized for You

Since every client is different, our custom development work is a whole new piece of work for each client. One website might need a custom-made price calculator while another might need a color picker to help customers design buildings.

The great thing about WordPress and Magento is they’re easily adaptable with all kinds of available resources, meaning we have everything we need to make your idea work without breaking your budget.

Custom Web Development is Secure and Efficient

WordPress and Magento are open-source platforms, meaning anyone is free to build “plugins” or “extensions” that add new features to a website. Plugins can be useful to quickly make a site come to life but using too many of them can quickly bog your site down with unnecessary functions. Many plugins can be old and out of date with many vulnerabilities that leave your site open to malicious hackers. Other plugins can be full of added features you don’t even need.

Opting for a custom-built website or plugin means you get only what you need out of your website without any bloated unnecessary features that make your site slower and easier for hackers to break into. When you choose to go the custom development route you get only what you pay for — not a one-size-fits-all solution.

Custom Web Development Gives You Complete Control

Since you’re basically starting from scratch, every single facet of your project is totally up to you from the general look and feel of the site to how it reacts to input from users. We’ll work with you to make sure your site looks just the way you want it and works in a way that will keep your users coming back.

This level of customizability gives you an added benefit in Search Engine Optimization (SEO) because we’ll be able to precisely fine-tune it to get you the best results possible without any of the filler that comes in cookie-cutter website templates.

Maybe Web Design is All You Need!

If this all sounds overwhelming and you just need a simple, basic website or eCommerce store, we can certainly help you out with that too! Visit our Web Design services page or read more on our web design and marketing blog for more information.

Your ITD Interactive Project is Yours

Once your site or app is finished by ITD Interactive, it gets turned over to you as the owner whether you’re a web design or full development customer. We don’t retain the rights or hold your site hostage if you decide to move your it to another hosting or maintenance service in the future. Many one-size-fits-all website solutions leave you tied to a contract that means if you stop paying you no longer have a website and have to start from scratch.

With your ideas and our expertise, we can build something together that will make building your brand and business easier than ever before. Ask us how to get started today!

Low-Cost Hubspot Alternatives We Use Everyday

Low Cost Hubspot Alternatives for Marketing AutomationUnless you are new to the world of Inbound Marketing and Marketing Automation – you have no doubt heard of Hubspot.  You might have even seen a demo or viewed a webinar.  Speaking from personal experience as former Certified Partners, Hubspot is the cream of the crop.  They offer an incredible array of features and insight into your visitors.  There’s just one problem – not everyone can afford the price tag!  The entry level packages start at $200/month, but in order to get the most popular features, you are looking at $800-$1000/mo for a minimum number of contacts.  One of the main reasons Hubspot is so expensive is that they cover so many things on their platform.  Email, Contact Lists, Lead scoring, Content Management, Social Publishing, SEO Analysis, etc.

So What are some Hubspot Alternatives?

One thing we found when we used Hubspot was that being a WordPress user, we weren’t taking advantage of a lot of Hubspots features – but we were sure paying for them!.  So, as much as we loved Hubspot, we decided to take the time to find alternatives that would cost much less, while offering the same results.  We get a lot of questions about hubspot alternatives and decided to write this post to cover some of our favorites.   We hope you will find them useful as well!

Hatchbuck – Marketing Automation

Hatchbuck - Marketing AutomationHatchbuck, which starts at $99/mo, is the most full-featured of the products we chose to facilitate our marketing automation.  Hatchbuck’s standard features include: contact management, lead scoring, form generation & conversion tracking, CRM, email creation. and mass-email service.  In a nutshell – Hatchbuck serves as the core of our marketing automation system.  It handles our marketing emails, automated drip email campaigns, and more.  Hatchbuck keeps track of each visitors activities on our site and wraps it all up in an easy to use contact management interface.  All in all – we couldn’t be happier with Hatchbuck.

WordPress – Content Management

Wordpress for Inbound MarketingOne big criticism many have of Hubspot is their content management system.  It isn’t that their CMS is bad, to the contrary, it is a very robust CMS.  The bigger issue is that there are so many great CMSs out there – why would you want to reinvent the wheel?  There is also the risk of something happening to Hubspot, and your site data is locked in a proprietary CMS that you do not host.  We have long been fans of WordPress for its ease of use and for the fact we can make a WordPress site look any way we wish.  It is a great platform for Content Marketing and is very SEO friendly.  Best of all – WordPress is absolutely free!  Wordpress is by far the most popular CMS out there (in terms of installations, not personal opinion here).  It is also completely open-source and non-proprietary, meaning you can take your site anywhere.

Gravity Forms – Lead Generation

Gravity Forms - Best Form Builder for WordPressFirst of all, Hatchbuck lets you build forms and embed them in WordPress.  However, there are times we would rather control that process entirely on the website.  Gravity Forms makes it quite easy to set up a landing page form with downloadable content hidden behind a form.  Gravity forms is inexpensive ($39 for a single site license), and allows the user to create practically any type of form imaginable.  With their free addons, there is virtually no limit to what you can build.  Order forms, surveys, quizes, and of course – general contact forms.  One of the best things about Gravity Forms is the flexible confirmation and notification options.  You can develop custom notifications based on conditional logic.  For instance – you might have the user choose “general contact” or “technical support” when they fill out the form, and you could display a custom notification based on the choices they make.  These notifications can be used to deliver whitepapers, ebooks, etc.

Lead In – Lead Intelligence

Lead-In - Lead Intelligence for WordPressLead-in is a plugin for WordPress that was actually developed by Hubspot.  The idea was simple – to bring Hubspot-level visitor intelligence to WordPress, and NOT charge for it.  Lead In is a free plugin that offers a lot of additional functionality through “Power-Ups”.  Power-Ups include specialty stats, connectors for popular email services, pop-up forms and more.  Out of the box, Lead In pulls in a good bit of detail about a visitor, once they have filled out a form.  It tracks return visits, gives you detailed drill-down paths so you can study their behavior, and much more.  Lead In can often get the users company name and information, size and even social profiles, making it easy to get some background information on a lead before you reach out to them.

Mailchimp – Email Marketing

Mailchimp - Email Marketing & AutomationPersonally, we route all of our email through Hatchbuck.  However, we have a lot of clients that don’t need that level of marketing automation such as drip campaigns, etc.  For those situations, it is hard to beat Mailchimp.  For the record, you can actually set up drip campaigns in Mailchimp – however, if you plan on doing that a lot, you need to look at a system designed for that sort of activity.  At its core, Mailchimp provides a fantastic interface for creating and designing emails, managing your contact lists, and sending out mass marketing emails.  Mailchimp is free as long as your contact list stays under 2000 members (and you don’t mind the little monkey at the bottom of your emails).  When it becomes time to pay for your account, it starts out at $20-$30 per month.  Very reasonable!

A Final Thought…

This is certainly not an exhausting list of Hubspot Alternatives – if you are truly interested in apples-to-apples competitors of Hubspot, there are a few out there.  Google “marketing automation” and you will find a slew of products that fill this space.  Be warned though, many are equally expensive and some are even more!  If you have that kind of budget, you can’t go wrong with Hubspot.  For start-ups and small businesses, however, part of being a nimble and adaptive business is diversifying your tool-set.  Don’t put all your eggs (data) in one basket.  With the tools we mentioned above, you can put together a customized marketing automation suite that does just what you need.

Need Help with Marketing Automation, Inbound Marketing or SEO?

ITD Interactive is a full-service digital marketing agency.  From website and eCommerce development to full-scale inbound marketing and SEO services, we help businesses, large and small, increase their exposure online and generate more leads.  We have services available for all sizes of businesses and budgets.  Click on the link below to find out more!

ITD Interactive - Inbound Marketing, SEO, eCommerce and Web Design

 

Middle-Earth “Places To Stay” Reviews

A Hobbit Hole built 20 minutes from our office in Flag Pond, TN.

A Hobbit Hole built 20 minutes from our office in Flag Pond, TN.

It’s time for the final installment of The Hobbit films.  The Battle Of The Five Armies opens tomorrow.

As Yext certified partners, we’re always keeping an eye on local search marketing and online reviews.

So I did a little digging and found these reviews of Places To Stay In Middle-Earth.  Should you find yourself on an adventure in those parts, this may be helpful.

The Prancing Pony

“The ale is good — supernaturally good.  But you may have to remind the proprietor, Butterbur, to bring it to you a couple of times.  Quite forgetful.” – Meriadoc Brandybuck, 4 Stars

“Finding a guest at The Prancing Pony is about as easy as crossing the Ford of Bruinen at high tide.  Won’t be back.” – Black Rider, 1 Star

Mirkwood

“Someone call an exterminator.” – Bombur, 2 Stars

Helm’s Deep

“I asked for a wake-up call at 7:30.  Jumping dragons, I’ve never heard a horn like that.  I had the shakes all day and Gandalf had to use sign language til we got to the Gap of Rohan. (And boy does he know some sign langauage.)” – Pippin, 2 Stars

Weather Top

“Great view. Rough neighborhood.” – Strider, 2 Stars

The Paths Of The Dead

“As advertised.” – Gimli, 1 Star

Lothlorien

“Be warned that if you leave a bad review of this place or the lady who resides here, you will rue the day.  Aragorn can track IP addresses, Legolas has the eyes of an eagle, and my axe is hungry. Forth, the three hunters!” – Gimli, 5 Stars

Shelob’s Lair

“Bombur, you got the number for the exterminator?” – Frodo, 1 Star

Isengard

“Host is less than hospitable.” – Gandalf, 1 Star

“Gandalf, don’t be hasty.  We are now under new management. Please visit again and stay a while. horuummm borrruuummm snorruuuummmm” – Treebeard, 4 Stars

Osgiliath

“The place could use a reno.” – Faramir, 2 Stars

Minas Tirith

“Grandfathered in before elevator codes took effect. Get in shape before you come.” – Pippin, 3 Stars

“Wonderful library for bookworms.” – Gandalf, 5 Stars

“Excellent infirmary.” – Faramir, 5 Stars

The Dead Marshes

“They advertise it as a historical landmark with thrilling haunted tours. True, but it’s not worth the money.” – Frodo, 1 Star

Mordor

“I think there’s a Peeping Tom.” – Frodo, 1 Star

“The bathrobes are itchy.” – Samwise, 1 Star

Fangorn Forest

“Nice break on a lonely stretch of road.  Chilly in these parts, but there’s a lot of good firewood here.  Hey, is the wind blowing that tree?  Wait a min…” – Ugluk, 3 Stars

Edoras

“The courtesy of this hall is somewhat lessened of late.” – Gandalf, 2 Stars

“I don’t know who does the hiring here, but putting that Worm-tongue guy behind the front desk? Mistake.” – Gimli, 2 Stars

Bag End

“The silverware is exquisite.” – Lobelia Sackville-Baggins, 5 Stars

Rivendell

“Sweet conference room.” – Gandalf, 5 Stars

“Sharp knives.” – Boromir, 1 Star

The Old Forest

“Wonderful place to take a nap, but the old man who runs the place is a few mushrooms short of a full basket.” – Samwise Gamgee, 4 Stars

The Lonely Mountain

“Swanky!” – Smaug, 5 Stars

“This facility is no longer available for public use.” – Thorin Oakenshield, 5 Stars

The Misty Mountains

“Careful, there’s a trap door.  But there are some great finds here.” – Bilbo, 1 Star

“Keep your valuables locked in the safe in your room.  Thievesses about.” – Gollum, 4 Stars

Mines Of Moria

“Frequent power outages and a weak foundation.  Bring your own linens and a change of underwear.” – Gandalf, 1 Star

The Shire

“If anyone sees one of the Entwives, please email fangorn999@aol.com.” – Treebeard, 4 Stars

“I haven’t had pipe-weed this good in an age.  Longbottom Leaf! Longbottom Leaf! Longbottom Leaf!” – Gandalf, 5 Stars

The Grey Havens

“The ferry ride was nice.  Superb retirement community.” – Frodo, 5 Stars

 

ALSO SEE: Your Website Is Like Bilbo’s Ring

Looking for Website Maintenance Services?

Website Maintenance ServicesITD Interactive offers a wide range of website maintenance services for companies of all sizes and budgets.  Our web maintenance services are arranged in a series of straight-forward packages that allow us to discount our hourly rates based on the number of hours in the block.  This provides great value to those who need a higher level of updates per month – and the flexibility of using a smaller block of hours allows companies with smaller website maintenance needs to save money as well. (more…)

Website Development Pricing: Numbers You Won’t Expect

E-commerceIt’s time to get your small business website built (or rebuilt).  But what can you expect as far as website development pricing?

For a small business website of up to 30 or so pages, you can expect to see anywhere from a few hundred dollars (some teenager working from his bedroom) to tens of thousands (ad agencies in metro areas).  We’re glad to show you our pricing below, but first let’s consider some of the more intangible numbers.

When you get a firm number from a web designer, you’ll want to add these numbers to the bottom line.

The Headache Cost – $200 – $500

If you’ve been through the process before, you’ve probably had to take some ibuprofen ($5 right there) before the new site launched.   (more…)

General, Search Engine Optimization, Website Design, Websites