Custom Website Design vs Template: Pros and Cons + How to Decide Which One Fits Your Business
Your website is an integral part of your business. Not only does it provide information about what you do, why you’re great at it, and your pricing, it also serves as an opportunity to establish yourself as an industry expert any time someone does an online search about what you have to offer.
Business sites also enable efficiency, as your prospects get a sense of your brand and can browse at their leisure instead of having to call you several times any time they have a question. It also enables you to better promote your business, particularly if you’ve discovered the wonders of inbound marketing.
Therefore, it behooves you to design a website that provides a good user experience (UX). But when you look at your options, you realize that there’s a wide range of options and prices. Specifically, it all hinges on whether you create a custom website or build it using templates. Let’s take a closer look at both options.
What Is Custom Website Design?
Whether it is a b2b website design or b2c, custom websites are built from scratch. This involves using code to create the customizable elements you want to include on your site. As a result, you have full control over how the site will look and function.
Because of its complexity, you’ll need to either hire an in-house developer or hire a web design agency to design it for you.
Pros of Building a Custom Website
Building a custom website allows you to create exactly what you’re envisioning. You also won’t have any limitations regarding integrations with applications, functionalities, or scalability.
Cons of Building a Custom Website
Building a custom website is expensive and takes a long time to complete. While the timeframe may vary, you should expect it to take close to four to six months. You also need to look for a highly skilled team of web developers to do this for you, since it’s unlikely that the tech savvy go-to person on your team knows everything there is to know about coding (if they do, kudos to them — and give them a raise!)
What Is a Website Template?
Website templates are predesigned elements that you piece together to bring your website to life. You can browse through a platform’s template library to look for any that match what you’re looking for. You can then make slight modifications regarding layout and colors to align them with your brand identity. You can also add more personality by including visual elements, such as images, videos, and modules.
Pros of Building a Website Using a Template
Website templates are helpful if you are looking to design a simple website. There are hundreds of thousands of templates to choose from, so you don’t necessarily have to feel too limited by going with this option.
Templates are also easy to use; and depending on the website builder you choose (such as HubSpot), they may come with drag-and-drop capabilities that require no coding knowledge.
Cons of Building a Website Using a Template
Although you don’t have to feel too limited by using a template, there are limits to what you can do with this type of website. Some templates may not be designed to enable some of the features you’d like to include; or implement a layout that makes sense for your business; or make it easy to modify as your business grows.
When to Use a Website Template Design
Just because custom websites can give you exactly what you want, it doesn’t mean that templates can’t provide you what you need. In fact, templates are an ideal solution if any of these circumstances apply to your business:
Maybe you’re a startup or there are bigger priorities for which you need to allocate your resources. Using templates can still allow you to design a beautiful website with all of the main functionalities you need, such as background banners, desired typography, and a responsive design.
Some websites don’t really need bells and whistles. This is especially the case for smaller businesses and solopreneurs. This doesn’t mean that your site has to look basic or cheap. You can purchase higher end templates or hire a web developer to make it look state-of-the-art.
Since templates don’t require complex coding (and many of the modules are already created), websites that are designed using them can be completed in a much shorter time frame.
No Coding Knowledge
Using premade modules, CTA builders, and drag-and-drop functionalities eliminates the need to have any coding knowledge. That being said, you still can implement code to achieve exactly what you want to achieve, but you can still create a functional website without it.
When to Create a Custom Website
Custom websites can be created around your specific needs and marketing strategies. This is the best solution for your business if any of the following considerations apply to you:
If the nature of your business requires that you incorporate a complicated website structure, a custom design will save you a lot of time going back and forth trying to get it right. In addition, since so many websites are created using templates, yours may end up looking similar to others.
Custom websites are also ideal for businesses who want to include a lot of graphics, interactive content, a modern storefront, quizzes, online scheduling, order status, or customer portals, for example.
Custom websites can be modified whenever you want, and include whatever you want. This makes it much easier to include additional features and functionalities as you expand your products/service offerings.
You Have Plenty of Time
Building a website from scratch requires a lot of time and patience. You’ll be waiting several months before you can launch it, so even if you do have the money to pay for a big ticket website, make sure you aren’t constrained by a specific deadline.
You Have a Larger Budget
Custom websites cost tens of thousands of dollars. The bigger the website and the more features and functionalities you want to add, the more expensive it’ll become. You’re also paying for highly skilled professionals to do the job for you.
More Control Over User Experience (UX)
You want your website to be intuitive and easy to navigate. You want to create specific paths for website visitors, depending on where they are on their buyer’s journey. You may also want people who browse through their mobile phones to be able to do so by simply using their thumb to click around. While a lot of templates do allow for many of these functionalities, creating a custom website lets you incorporate every single requirement you have.
Require Multiple Integrations
A website’s ability to integrate with other software is crucial to provide a seamless customer experience. This is also necessary to make things easier for your team. For example, you may need your site to communicate with your CRM, email, customer service software, social media accounts, and any other critical tools your business relies on. The more add-ons you need, the more it makes sense to create a custom website that conforms to these requirements.
Things to Consider If You Have a Lower Budget
What happens if you would love to get a custom website, but it’s not possible to do so with your current budget? You can still create a visually appealing and effective website using templates. However, look for those that allow you to easily incorporate the following:
Not all website templates are responsive to smaller screens. This is a problem, since most people conduct a significant amount of online searches from their phones; and if your site isn’t loading fast enough or they have to keep scrolling sideways to get your info, they’ll simply go look for a competitor that offers a better user experience.
Search engine optimization is what increases the likelihood of your website being found when your target audience does a Google search. There are many factors to consider to make this possible — such as page loading times, HTML tags, including appropriate headings, meta descriptions, alt text for images, URL format, etc… Some templates include HTML that makes it a lot easier for search engines to make sense of the content. Others don’t load fast enough, or (as mentioned in the point above) aren’t responsive to mobile devices. If you’re using templates, make sure they don’t interfere with any SEO elements.
Whether Third-Party Applications Will Slow Down Page Speed
Sometimes you need features that aren’t included with certain templates. This is solved by integrating third-party applications, which can enable things such as eCommerce, creating pop up forms, or getting SEO recommendations. While they are great ways to implement functionalities that the template alone doesn’t provide, some of them may cause your site to load slower. So if you choose to go the template route, make sure to work with developers who know how to address this issue.
As you can see, there are many considerations that come into play when deciding whether you should build a custom site or use templates. But with the right web developers, the process can become as simple as possible.
Image Credit: Photo by Monoar Rahman from Pexels
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