Are you a business owner looking to establish a strong online presence? Then you’ve probably come across the question: custom web design vs website templates. With so many options available, it can be overwhelming to decide what’s best for your business. In this blog post, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of both custom website design and website templates, helping you make an informed decision that aligns with your unique business goals. So, let’s take a look at the difference and see which one fits with your business goals.
We will take a look at how most modern websites are built, to understand why some website take a day to be built by a single web designer and other sites months of develoment by a team of specialists in a web design agency. Obviously they will cost vastly different amounts due to the labour and expertise involved.
I will start with a simple website and then compare that to how custom websites are built from the perspective of a web designer using WordPress. The principle is the same for the other content management systems as they too, can use templates to rapidly build websites.
Most web design agencies build websites using a content management system. At Redfox, we use WordPress, which is the most popular content management system on the Internet according to W3Techs with 63% of the market share.
The fastest and cheapest option
Creating a website with a template is the fastest approach, and it is the cheapest. To get started, all you need is your content and a template, also known as a theme. As an example, there are thousands of wordpress themes available on themeforest, which is well established marketplace.
A theme comes with pre-built pages all set for you to add your content. These pages are already coded and ready to be integrated into your site. Depending on the builder and theme, you can usually tweak things like style, layout, and colors to make it match your branding. A key point to emphasise here is that your website content needs to be written to match the pre-determined design if the site is to built quickly.
Using a template is fast to build and when you see cheap website design prices advertised, you can be pretty certain they are using this approach. If you don’t need a super unique design, you can have a modern, and professional website up and running in no time, with minimal cost.
Step 1: Pick Your Template
Start by selecting the template that suits your site. There are tons of templates available on various platforms. Consider the features you want and narrow down your options. Check out reviews and opinions on forums and blogging sites. You can also seek expert help from a web design company to find the most suitable WordPress theme for your brand and goals.
Step 2: Customise
Once you have the right template, you can customise it to your liking (within the theme’s limits). Adjust navigation, functions, and design elements to fit your business. Always keep your brand and customers in mind when making these choices. Your website should represent your brand and cater to your audience.
Step 3: Add Your Content
Lastly, populate your site with content. Upload text, images, videos, PDFs, products, blog posts, and marketing materials. When it’s all in there, your site will be ready for hosting!
Here are the key benefits:
1. Easy to Build: You don’t need to be a coding expert. Most template platforms offer intuitive interfaces and drag-and-drop tools, making it accessible for anyone to create a website.
2. Affordable Prices: Templates can be quite budget-friendly. Many WordPress themes are even free. If you want something more advanced, you might pay between $50 and $300 for a template. Hiring a professional to build your template-based site can cost between $1000 – $3,000, which is a lot less than the cost of a custom website.
3. Fast to Create: You can technically set up a simple site and start hosting on the same day. Customizing might take a bit longer, but the whole design process usually takes only a few days to a week.
4. Plenty of Choices: There’s an abundance of template designs to choose from, ranging from sleek and simple to sophisticated and intricate. You can customize each one to a certain degree, ensuring your website matches your brand’s style.
In a nutshell, using a website template is a practical, cost-effective, and speedy way to create a website without the need for coding expertise. In fact some web designers exclusively use this approach and market to consumers looking for the lowest price.
The more detailed approach
A custom website is built from scratch and does not make use of a pre-designed template or theme. It can be coded in a text editor or built using page builder tools, but the principle is the same, all elements of layout and structure are designed to suit the needs of the client. Read about our custom website design services.
Custom website design is a more detailed and time-consuming approach to building websites. With custom design, you have the freedom to tailor the site to fit your business needs. It’s more flexible and scalable, adapting to your business growth. Ultimately, a custom website design can lead to higher conversion rates, turning more users into sales.
Custom website design can allow the developers to create a website that perfectly matches a particular businesses visual identity. This includes selecting specific colors, fonts, and imagery that aligns with their brand’s personality and message.
A unique design can leave a lasting impression on website visitors. A custom design makes it easier to craft a website that stands out, ensuring that users remember and recognize the brand.
Custom designs enable businesses to map out and implement user journeys that align with their specific target audience’s preferences and needs. This results in a more engaging and effective user experience.
The ability to tailor the design to the intended user actions (e.g., making a purchase, signing up for a newsletter) is crucial for optimizing conversion rates. Custom designs can include features and layouts that guide users towards these actions. This is called conversion optimisation.
Adaptation to Changing Needs: Custom websites are built to accommodate the unique requirements of a business. As those needs evolve, the website can be adjusted accordingly without major constraints.
Future Growth: Scalability is vital for businesses planning to expand. Custom web designs provide the flexibility to add new features, sections, or even entire e-commerce platforms as the business grows.
Tailored SEO Strategies: Custom web designs can incorporate SEO best practices from the start, ensuring that the website is search engine-friendly. This can lead to better search engine rankings and increased organic traffic.
Enhanced Performance: Custom development allows for streamlined code and optimization for fast loading times, improving the user experience and reducing bounce rates.
Custom web design projects require a thorough planning phase to ensure that all business requirements are met. This means meetings with client and developers to get the details right. Professional guidance is required to streamline the process and minimise resource wastage such as client staff hours.
Development time will be considerably longer than building a template or theme based website.
There is no doubt that a custom website design will take longer to build and require more expertise. This leads to higher upfront cost campared to using a website template. However the investment in a more refined product can lead to higher search engine rankings and so more traffic to the site. This can save money on advertising expenses in other areas such as Google Adword campaigns.
There are long term benefits such as improved brand recognition with a custom design, allowing your business to stand out from the rest.
Having a site custom built offers increased longevity or in other words longer time between site rebuilds which also save some time and money.
The most convincing argument for a custom website design is the conversion rate once a potential buyer lands on your website. More sales conversions per 100 users can provide a better ROI over time by catering to unique business needs and delivering better results.
To make an informed decision for your own business you have to weigh up the following:
What is your budget? If you are starting out and want to dip your toe in the water and not blow the budget (say under $3000) you will have to opt for a template based site. But this can still give you the exposure and professional design you need if built by a good web design agency.
How soon do you need the website online? If you need it up in the next couple of weeks then a custom website is out of the question as it is a much longer process. Most custom sites require a minimum of 4 weeks to build.
How important is your website to the success of your business? If your website is the foundation of your business then you should get the highest quality website you can afford. For example, a custom ecommerce website design will convert much higher than an out of the box system. The return on your investment will be greater with a website designed to maximise sales and increase brand exposure. Having a website design team plan each page with care and attention to detail will give you the best chance of success online. Small details take time and make a difference to the quality and finish of the website.
Talk to a web designer about your goals for you business and ask what they would advise you to do. Also enquire about the tools and processes they use to build your site to determine whether you are getting value for money. Do they always use templates to build their sites or will they be doing a complete bespoke design for you. At Redfox we prioritise transparency in communication with our potential clients and would love to talk to you. Get in touch using the details below.