Modular Web Design: Versatility, Usability and Agility

Your website is one of your most powerful business tools. And if you’re like many B2B marketers, you know your company is in need of a new website — or a complete overhaul — but you’re hesitant to get started due to multiple concerns (cost and timing, complexity of your offerings, an overall fear of the unknown regarding today’s big dev choices, commerce integrations and more!). My job is to allay these concerns and guide web design and development for The Mx Group’s digital development teams to create highly effective websites that meet serious B2B business goals. A major way we’ve been doing that lately is by creating websites with the modular web design method.

As you know, web development spans a broad spectrum, from totally custom to cookie-cutter, with client needs and budgetary considerations driving the decision. Custom websites are completely unique, like a snowflake, but they represent the most expensive method, as everything must be created from scratch. This method is best suited to situations where radical individuality or brand identity is required. On the other end of the spectrum is the cookie-cutter site: lift-and-shift endeavors that cost less and go live quickly. A cookie-cutter site reuses assets from an existing site and looks similar to its predecessor. Is there a happy medium?

For most of our B2B clients, their web development needs fall somewhere between snowflake and cookie-cutter, and that’s where using a modular approach pays the biggest dividends.

What Is Modular Web Design?

Modular web design is taking “pieces” of a design and building them into blocks. Websites are created from templates, which are full-page layouts that provide the structure for individual webpage types — home, products, service pages, etc. These templates are used to create all additional pages of the same type throughout the website.

Each template contains different types of content blocks to achieve different goals — e.g., to drive a user action or to provide product specs. These are building blocks, or specific modules, and they are the key to our approach. The conventional method of website development focuses on creating additional templates for each new goal or objective. The modular approach introduces another layer of granularity: Blocks are a foundational element that combine to create block patterns, or groupings, that create reusable layouts. These block patterns help users select premade designs that they can customize using an infinite number of options.

Create Endless Configurations With Website Modules

Modules, or blocks, are reusable and can be easily mixed and matched. And when we tie in a content management system (CMS) such as WordPress or a similar web platform on the back end of a site we develop, marketers or their site administrators can create new pages quickly by selecting from the variety of custom-made modules or block patterns.

A Modular Layout for Improved Performance

Usability on the back end is a major benefit of the modular approach. Configuration of the back end of a website is one of the most time-consuming and costly aspects of a build. When a modular approach is used, not only does it streamline the look and user experience on the front end, but it does the same on the back end for developers and admins as well. For developers, it establishes a development model, avoiding the need to custom-code and custom-configure each content type on a page-by-page basis. This in turn creates an organized modular system, making for a much more user-friendly admin experience, which means marketers will not become frustrated and quit updating the site. The design system itself is a future-proof software architecture. Marketing teams can be easily trained to add individual content blocks, assets and new pages using the logical, pattern libraries — making web projects enjoyable.

And talk about versatile: A library of 30 modules or blocks represents the potential for 155 million different configurations! With our deep experience creating B2B websites, we can also offer clients valuable advice on which configurations drive the highest conversion rates for different objectives.

How Does Modular Design Assist With Content?

Modular content are the components, building blocks found within modular development that, when arranged to tell a story, allow marketers the flexibility to construct rich experiences using pre-approved ‘blocks and patterns.’

Modular websites offer medium to larger businesses an easier way to stay on-brand and execute their content strategy. This is especially helpful when marketing teams span across regions and departments. Unlike the traditional page based design process, modular web design means marketers can create personalized digital experiences for B2B buyers quicker and with confidence. Existing modules can be altered for aesthetic appeal, video, imagery and content to reach a target audience. And, marketers are able to create topic clusters, or multiple, interlinked pages, helping their website rank higher in search results.

What Are The Benefits of Modular Web Design?

Build “Faster, Cheaper, Better”

Beyond allowing for endless configurations and continuous improvement, modular web design also delivers on all three aspects of one of the mantras of this digital world we’re living in: “Faster, cheaper, better.”

FASTER DEPLOYMENT: New webpages, and even entire sites, can be built with existing modules or blocks and assets from the client’s pattern library.  Reusable components save time. When utilizing the modular approach with a CMS like WordPress, speed really comes into play, because copywriters or clients themselves can go directly into a module and add or change the content whenever needed. And, because the modules / content blocks have gone through the QA process when originally built, the QA step can be eliminated when changes are being made to a page — even a homepage. The net result is a significant increase in the site owner’s agility and ability to react to changing market conditions.

CHEAPER MAINTENANCE: The modular approach maximizes spend to provide a stronger ROI and lower total costs in the long run by minimizing the costs of coding, QA, and back-end work without sacrificing quality. You can use the savings to create new content and conversion paths, and efficiently optimize all your website assets. If a new module or user experience is needed, site administrators can build that one module at a time allowing for scale.

BETTER EXPERIENCE: The emphasis on reusability leads to a more purposeful and consistent site with greater functionality for administrators. Users start to realize that when they see a particular piece of content, it usually leads to something else specific, such as a downloadable asset, a product landing page or a deeper piece of content. Consistent and impressive user experiences drive more conversions!

Is There a Difference Between Modular Web Design and Modular Web Development?

Modular web developers create the code to make a website work whereas modular web designers leverage the modular system to build the site’s interface, look and feel. The two roles work closely together to create high-impact technical solutions with user friendliness and branding.

Your Modular Website Builder

The evolution of your company’s website should be one of the most important pillars of your B2B marketing plans. If the prospect of utilizing a modular approach for your web development project sounds appealing, let’s connect. Together, we’ll ensure that your website achieves both the individuality and the efficiency you desire, along with the business results you require! Start your next modular web design or development project with MX.