Expert Interview: Tom Locke

The founder and CTO offers advice on website development and what to look for in a CMS.

By Cat HowPosted in Ideas

Tom Locke is the founder of Noughts & Ones, a Bristol-based creative development agency. The team specialise in custom Squarespace and Shopify websites.

What do you guys do at Noughts and Ones?
We’re coders with character! We specialise in front-end development on platforms like Squarespace and Shopify - and we’re all about pushing the boundaries of CMS platforms in a way that is honest, open and approachable. We’re proud to work with ambitious brands as design and build partners and creative agencies as ‘dev guns for hire’ to deliver websites that stand out from the crowd.

What advice would you give a company about to embark on a website redesign?
Obviously, every company has different needs from their website, but I would generally recommend considering a few key things:

  • What is the core reason for a re-design (sounds silly I know)?
  • What challenges are you facing with your current website?
  • Do you have a clear vision for the aesthetics and overall design of the new site (perhaps it’s part of a rebrand)?
  • How drastically will your sitemap and URL structure change?
  • Will the general functionality requirements remain the same or are you looking to add new functionality?
  • Is your customer changing?

If someone is looking for a new website, how would they choose a CMS?
This is a great question! When it comes to choosing the right CMS we always base our decision on the functional requirements of a given project. Before doing any specific research into specific platforms I would make a detailed list of the functionality that you require and overall usability before looking at which platform(s) tick those boxes. Here are a few examples of things worth considering:

  • What is the purpose of your website? Do you need it to provide informational content, perhaps it's a commerce store or maybe it’s a content-driven blog site?
  • Do you require relatively straightforward content (i.e. text, images, video, forms etc) OR do you need something more in-depth, like interactive content?
  • Do you need any specific functionality like a member area with ability for users to create an account?
  • Does your website need to have multilingual functionality?
  • What journey do you want your website visitors to go on and what action(s) do you want them to take?
  • Does your website need to integrate with any other software that is vital for running your business?

Once you know what/how your CMS needs to perform, you are in a great position to start researching and exploring what platform is right for you!

Why do you guys use Squarespace and Shopify to power the sites you build?
The platforms we choose to work with are based purely on passion and creativity. If we’re passionate about a particular platform, then we’re always going to be looking to push it further and produce the best possible work.

These are currently our two flagship platforms at the moment, however we are also developing and upskilling in Craft CMS, Webflow and Netlify simply because we know them inside-out and have the capability to really get stuck in and help guide the creative phase of a project to ultimately end up with a website that’s as close to the original vision as possible.

Do you have any tips for anyone setting up a Shopify shop?
The biggest tip I would give for anyone looking to set up a Shopify store (or any site for that matter) would be to carefully map out the Customer Journey - this is always Step #1 in any design and build project we work on. Clearly defining who your customer is, what journey they need to take and what actions (at given points in that journey) you want them to make will form the foundation of your website.

Once you have this framework, you can pick the most suitable theme to start with, define your sitemap and design and build your site with something you can constantly reference to ensure that the site is always driving that customer journey.

With regards to Shopify specifically, I would also advise trying to achieve as much as possible within the core theme itself - it can be tempting to install an app for every specific piece of functionality you need, which can very quickly a) slow your site down and b) make it look like a ‘frankensite’ with no cohesive feel.

Who is a Squarespace build appropriate for?
As a platform, Squarespace is much more flexible than people think and you can achieve a great deal in terms of design and layout. Generally speaking, we believe that Squarespace is appropriate for more ‘brochure’ style websites that need to showcase content and share information in an impactful, design-led way. Something like the following:

  • Small / medium sized business websites
  • Professional / corporate businesses
  • Photography portfolios
  • Startup MVP sites
  • Freelancers
  • Creative agencies
  • Bloggers
  • Restaurants
  • Small makers or commerce stores with simple products

If you could give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?
Don’t be afraid to try.

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