If you are starting a new website or you have an existing one that is dated and needs a redesign, you have likely been thinking about the methods you will use for establishing your new one. A good website is a powerful tool in helping to sustain and grow your business, while a poorly done or inadequate one can ruin your venture. From that perspective it is important to make the most practical and most efficient choice. There are two primary models when it comes to designing a website: custom website design or templates.
So what is the right approach for your website? There is a lot to consider, but there are some definite points of reference when choosing from one of the two options. Think of the main difference like you would think of purchasing a vehicle. If you’re buying a car for a college student, you need something practical, that will get them from point A to point B, have four tires, all the parts a car needs to be sustainable and functional for the time they are in college, as well as not being something that breaks the bank. This is different than if you were looking to get a family car to accommodate the many conveniences that one of those requires, which will also come with a significant price tag. The former vehicle would be comparable to using a template, while the latter is the custom option.
Let’s take a look at some of the differences, advantages, and disadvantages before you make your decision.
Using a Website Template.
The template option is one that can be appealing to those who are in a hurry to get the sites up and running. Putting together a website from scratch with the appropriate functionality, visuals, and navigation is a commitment of time (reasonably several weeks or months) even if you are using a web design agency. Templates allow for an already established model to help you progress more rapidly through the design.
A common way that a template website is started is to set up a site from WordPress and purchase a template from a template store like Template Monster, Elegant Themes, or Theme Forest. There are a lot of choices, but not all options will be suitable for your particular brand or style. There are also services like Squarespace and Wix that have templates that can be edited within the website’s frame. Using this method will allow you to set up a website quickly, for a low cost, without much coding knowledge needed, but your website will be simplistic and minimalistic.
It’s important to keep in mind what templates are. They are frameworks available to ease the pain and cost of customization, but they have some notable drawbacks. For one, they are available for anyone who chooses to use them, meaning that you will be far from the only one to select that option. That will mean that using a template will make your website look like potentially hundreds of others out there. If you are looking to customize some aspects, you will likely find yourself limited in this regard as well.
Templates come with some built-in features which may not be ones you want or need. These can affect the website’s performance in terms of SEO and speed. Because these are built-in, you will have little choice but to put up with these features regardless of how you feel about them. Keep in mind that they may not necessarily fit your brand or your vision. Theoretically, you can hire a web design agency to work on your templated website and customize it, and that would work…for a time. But once WordPress pushes out an update, the template, not retrofit to account for the changes, is very likely to experience frustrating display issues due to the customizations made.
If you do choose a template, it helps to be sure that it’s suitable for your needs beyond just the website esthetics and navigation. Additional considerations like mobile responsiveness, content width, header options, as well as the inclusion of video/graphic features should be made.
So when you are considering custom website design or templates, if you choose the template route, here is the basic summary of the pros and cons:
Pros of Templates:
Cons of Templates:
Using a Custom Built Website.
The process of creating a custom-built website provides a wide range of flexibility over its template counterparts, though it comes at a cost financially and from a time perspective. However, the custom website is a reflection of the very essence of your business, so it should be built and set up keeping in mind your brand, your vision, your interests, and what goals you are trying to accomplish.
In a widespread market with a lot of options, standing out is key. As visitors come to your site, you want them to feel your uniqueness and your personality. For that it takes more than a basic, or even a sophisticated template, it takes a specific touch. Websites designed professionally fuse art and science, with a touch of social appeal. A design like that will not happen overnight. All aspects will need to be carefully thought through, planned out, and systematically executed.
For your website to be seen and easily accessible to those prospective visitors interested in your line of business, your website will need to be visible in search engine queries. As most people searching for a business online will visit one of the top 10-30 search engine results, SEO is a key consideration when building a website. This is an area where custom-built websites are much more powerful, as SEO aspects will be custom-built into the initial design. Many templates do not follow the SEO standards and rules, so they are unlikely to have the upper hand in search engine rankings.
Web design experts always study their field to keep up with changing styles, trends, and strategies. This is another key factor in website design as a custom-built website can not only incorporate these new aspects but can also be more easily manipulated to adapt to new ones in the future, something templated sites will have a hard time accomplishing as they are confined inside a particular set of parameters. SEO ranking rules may also change with time. This is yet another adjustable aspect that is important for adaptability, which customization is conducive to, while a template is already behind the eight ball in this regard.
The incorporation of all these aspects will not be cheap. Most custom websites will run a cost of $10,000 to $30,000, and any with lots of pages and many specific features will cost more than that. However, these are also likely to yield more ROI for your business, which will likely offset those costs after a time.
When you are considering custom website design or templates, here are the basics of what to consider if choosing to go with a custom site.
Pros of Custom Website:
Cons of Custom Website:
Once you have carefully weighed your need, means, and aspiration for your website, you can then make an informed decision about what type of website build you are best suited to pursue.