Custom Website Design vs Template: Pros and Cons + How to Choose the Right One for Your Business
Your website is an integral part of your business. Not only does it provide information on what you do, why you’re good at it, and your pricing, but it also allows you to establish yourself as an industry expert anytime someone searches online about what you have to offer.
Business sites also drive efficiency, because your prospects get a sense of your brand and can browse as they please instead of having to call you multiple times every time they have a question. It also allows you to better promote your business, especially if you’ve discovered the wonders of inbound marketing.
Therefore, it is your responsibility to design a website that offers good User Experience (UX). But when you look at your options, you realize that there is a wide range of options and prices available. Specifically, it all depends on building a custom website or building it using templates. Let’s take a closer look at the two options.
What is custom website design?
Whether it is a b2b or b2c website design, custom websites are created from scratch. This involves using code to create the customizable elements that you want to include on your site. As a result, you have full control over the appearance and operation of the site.
Due to its complexity, you will either need to hire an in-house developer or hire a web design agency to design it for you.
Benefits of building a personalized website
Building a custom website allows you to create exactly what you envision. You will also have no limitations regarding integrations with apps, features, or scalability.
Disadvantages of Building a Custom Website
Building a personalized website is expensive and time consuming. While the time frame can vary, you should expect it to take around four to six months. You should also look for a highly skilled team of web developers to do this for you, as the reference person on your team is unlikely to know the technology and know everything there is to know about coding (s’ they do, well done to them – and give them a raise!)
What is a website template?
Website templates are pre-built elements that you put together to bring your website to life. You can browse a platform’s template library to find the ones that match what you’re looking for. You can then make slight changes to the 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 mods.
Benefits of building a website using a template
Website templates are useful if you are looking to design a simple website. There are hundreds of thousands of models to choose from, so you don’t necessarily have to feel too limited by going for this option.
The templates are also easy to use; and depending on which website builder you choose (like HubSpot), they may come with drag and drop features that don’t require any coding knowledge.
Disadvantages of building a website using a template
While you don’t have to feel too limited using a template, there are limits to what you can do with this type of website. Some models may not be designed to enable some of the features you want to include; or implement a layout that makes sense for your business; or make it easy to change as your business grows.
When to use a website template design
Just because custom websites can give you exactly what you want, doesn’t mean that templates can’t provide you with what you need. In fact, templates are an ideal solution if any of these circumstances apply to your business:
Maybe you are a startup or there are higher priorities that you need to allocate your resources to. Using templates can still allow you to design a beautiful website with all the main features you need such as background banners, desired typography, and responsive design.
Some websites don’t really need bells and whistles. This is especially the case for small businesses and solopreneurs. This doesn’t mean that your site has to look basic or cheap. You can buy high-end models or hire a web developer to make it state-of-the-art.
Since the templates do not require complex coding (and many modules are already created), websites designed from them can be made in a much shorter time.
No coding knowledge
Using pre-built modules, CTA builders, and drag-and-drop functionality eliminates the need for coding knowledge. That being said, you can still implement code to accomplish exactly what you want to achieve, but you can still build a working website without it.
When to create a custom website
Custom websites can be created based on 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 demands that you incorporate a complicated website structure, a custom design will save you a lot of time trying to get it right. Also, since many websites are created using templates, yours may end up looking like others.
Custom websites are also ideal for businesses that want to include lots of graphics, interactive content, modern storefront, quizzes, online scheduling, order status or customer portals, for example.
Custom websites can be changed at any time and include anything you want. This makes it much easier to include additional features and functionality as you develop your product / service offerings.
You have plenty of time
Building a website from scratch takes a lot of time and patience. You will be waiting several months before you can launch it, so even if you have the money to pay for a big website, make sure you don’t have 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 functionality you want to add, the more expensive it will become. You also pay to have highly trained professionals do the work 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, based on where they are in their shopping journey. You may also want people browsing on their cell phones to be able to do so by just using their thumbs to click. While there are many templates that allow many of these features, building a custom website allows you to incorporate whatever requirements you have.
Require multiple integrations
The ability of a website to integrate with other software is crucial to providing 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 essential tool that your business relies on. The more add-ons you need, the more sense it makes to build a custom website that meets those requirements.
Things to consider if you’re on a budget
What if you would like to have a custom website, but it is not possible to do so within your current budget? You can still create a visually appealing and effective website using templates. However, look for those that allow you to easily integrate the following:
Not all website templates respond to small screens. This is a problem, because most people do a significant amount of online research from their phones; and if your site isn’t loading fast enough, or if it has to keep scrolling sideways to get your information, it’ll just look for a competitor that offers a better user experience.
Search engine optimization is what increases the likelihood that your website will be found when your target audience searches Google. There are many factors that need to be considered to make this possible, such as page load times, HTML tags including proper headers, meta descriptions, alt text for images, URL format , etc. Some templates include HTML, which makes it much easier for search engines. to make sense of the content. Others don’t charge fast enough or (as mentioned in the point above) don’t respond to mobile devices. If you are using templates, make sure they don’t interfere with any SEO elements.
Whether third-party apps will slow down page speeds
Sometimes you need features that are not included in some models. This is solved by integrating third-party apps, which can enable things like ecommerce, creating pop-up forms, or getting referral recommendations. While these are great ways to implement functionality that the template alone doesn’t provide, some of them can slow your site loading. So if you choose to go the models route, be sure to work with developers who know how to fix this.
As you can see, there are many considerations that go into deciding whether you should create a custom site or use templates. But with the right web developers, the process can become as easy as it gets.