Custom Designed vs. Template Websites: The Big Debate

Last week we talked about five of the most common issues we see with websites that didn’t get proper attention when they were being designed and built.  Sometimes business owners resort to less than ideal solutions in order to save money, and sometimes they just don’t realize what their choices are. Today we’re going to talk about your two most viable and safe options for a clean and user friendly website. Your budget will play a big role in which option you choose.

Custom designed websites

Having a custom designed website comes with some tremendous benefits which makes it our most strongly recommended option. However, building a website from scratch takes more time to design and develop, therefore it costs a bit more to create.  A custom designed website has the following benefits: 

  • A totally original design that no one else will have.  Standing out from the crowd is really important, and a custom look will help you achieve that originality.
  • Since the website is built according to your exact specifications, you have complete control over the colors, images, navigation, functionality, etc.
  • A custom designed website is developed by professionals who are trained to code the site so that search engines will find it more easily. It’s always good to find ways to help search engines see you and the way your site is coded is one of them.
  • Custom designed websites are scalable.  This means that it can be built in a way that allows it to grow along with you.  If there are things you plan to do in the future, such as add e-commerce to your site, your web developer can build your site with that in mind so that when you’re ready to add things on, you don’t need a whole new site.

The only drawback to a custom designed website is cost.  This is not to say that they are extremely expensive.  Since they’re custom, there’s a lot of wiggle room for options that can be added or taken away as budget allows.  However, since they are built from scratch and take time to design and develop, they are not the least expensive option.

Template based websites

Building your website on a pre-designed template is a more budget friendly option.    Since the website is already built, it takes less time to get it up and running, so the costs are less. After carefully considering your choices, you may decide that building your website on a template makes the most sense for your budget and time constraints.  However, there are a few drawbacks to consider:

  • A template website is not a custom design, so it is highly likely that your website will look very similar to many others.  This isn’t an attractive option if you’re trying to stand apart from the competition.
  • Template websites can be customized, but only to a certain degree.  You can control the images and colors for example, but some functionality and navigation elements will have to remain the same.
  • Often, template websites are not built or designed to be search engine friendly, meaning that you won’t be as easy to find when your customers search for you.  The back end coding is crucial, and without it, your site might not be properly indexed on the Internet.  It may not even be viewable on certain browsers.
  • Since templates are not scalable like custom sites are, when you grow and need to add more to your site, there’s a good chance you’ll need a whole new website.

If your website needs are very simple, or you need to have your site up and running quickly on a very small budget, going with a template could be your best option.

Think of your website like a car. With a template design, you have a base model with a few options you can add and a few tweaks you can make.  With a custom design, you can build the car of your dreams from the tires all the way to the sunroof.  It’s the difference between choosing something plain and practical and picking up one sweet ride!

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