It goes without saying that your business's website needs to be functional, stylish, and up-to-date.
For most companies, this means a website redesign every 2-3 years.
The question is: should you use a website template or pay for a custom web design?
We’ve broken down the two strategies for you, so you can make the best decision for your business.
1. Template Design
Templated websites are particularly common for blogs, self-employed users, small businesses, and startups who are cost-conscious. Templated sites typically require only limited web design experience and very little programming effort.
Plus, with so many options out there, you can usually find a site template that suits your particular design tastes.
Template buyers generally:
- Spend less money on the site overall
- Spend less time building the site, and getting it up and running quickly
- Update and maintain sites themselves, or forego updating at all (e.g. “brochureware”).
However, there are some drawbacks.
Templated sites are templated. They might be the most beautiful design in the world, but you're not going to be the only company that has that ‘look’. Yes, templates can be customized, but you're still working with the same essential framework as other sites.
And on the internet, a failure to stand out from the crowd can sink your website.
For ecommerce sites, especially in a highly commoditized market, that similarity in look and feel means that at least some customers won't get past your homepage.
The second major problem with templated designs is that seemingly small changes can be difficult to implement.
Say you find an iconography set online that you love. Changing out the templated one on your own may not be possible, or, at best, time consuming and costly.
It’s the flip-side of a template – what you see is what you get, but you definitely can't get something else.
2. Custom Website Design
Custom built websites are when companies hire a design and development team to build their website from the ground up.
These projects come in all shapes and sizes, from a re-skin, which is taking a site and updating the look, to a full strategy and build, where a company's entire brand presence is taken into consideration.
There are many benefits to a custom build.
The end result is better tailored to you and your company. The look and feel are all exactly the way you want. You receive valuable feedback from the development and design teams, so you know your site will serve your purposes.
But the biggest benefit is that the entire experience of a custom site is geared towards your customers.
With market research, user research, and extensive strategy and iteration, a good development and design team can create a site that is exactly what your customers want, which in turn drives revenue.
Of course, there are also some drawbacks.
Custom sites take longer to launch – no doubt about it. Depending on the content management system (CMS) the site is built on, the site could be more difficult to maintain, due to the flexibility of a custom build. This point emphasizes the importance of selecting a CMS that is intuitive and easy-to-use.
Custom built websites are also more expensive upfront, although this cost may be offset by long-term earning potential.
Here's what it comes down to.
There is no right or wrong answer – there are benefits and trade-offs to each approach.
For a truly tailored experience, custom is the way to go. But be warned that it will be a slower and more costly launch.
Custom sites will integrate far better with your overall digital strategy – both technically and strategically. They’ll be a better reflection of your business’s core values, and they’ll be much more effective at hitting your KPIs.
For a faster launch and a less expensive development cycle, a templated site is the way to go.
We're firm believers in the mantra to use the right tool for the right job, and there are certainly cases for both template and custom websites.