Eight Reasons to Go Custom for Your eCommerce Website Design
Invest in a Custom Design Now to Avoid the Pitfalls of eCommerce Website Templates
Mastering the eCommerce game isn’t easy—both before and after launching your online store, you’ll be dealing with questions about brand messaging, product pricing, ROI, and more. Every. Single. Day.
If you’re currently hemming and hawing over the question of whether to opt for a custom eCommerce website or just go with a templated storefront, let us help you out.
Straight up—we know we’re biased. We love designing and developing custom eCommerce websites for our clients.
But hear us out. There are a number of great reasons you should choose custom over template in this day and age of increased eCommerce competition. Here are just some of them.
1. You’ll Get a One-of-a-Kind Website Planned and Built Specifically for Your Customers
There are an increasing number of eCommerce websites out there, and those trying to get away with a “one size fits all” approach are less likely to be successful. First off—they just don’t stand out (more on this below). Users know a “template” when they see one, and it may make your brand come off as cheap or—worse—inauthentic (we talked about the importance of brand authenticity just last week).
Going custom also means you get to have features and functionality targeted specifically to your customer base. For example, we created a feature for our client Lindsay Phillips that allows users to “build” their own flip flops by mixing and matching bases with straps. For the Kasala website, we designed special “Sale” graphics that automatically appear on products that have their prices marked down in the BigCommerce backend—a special feature that a template couldn’t accommodate but that makes it so much easier for Kasala customers to identify special pricing at a glance. For Radar Skis, we made it possible for the client to feature optimized videos in the background of their homepage masthead area—a great feature for a brand whose products are best viewed in action.
Details matter—and it’s these details that templated websites simply cannot hack.
2. You’ll Stand Apart from the Competition
Having a custom eCommerce website means you’ll have the space you need to talk about what makes your company so special. All of the differentiating factors that separate you from the competition are tough to house on a template geared toward product pages alone (some templates will also let you have a blog, which is good, but—in our eyes—not good enough). A custom site can guarantee that your products remain the star of the show while also helping you personalize your brand.
Does your company have a fascinating founder? A custom eCommerce site will make it easy for you to share staff profiles and have pages dedicated to key company figures. Do you have brick-and-mortar stores in addition to your online storefront? A custom eCommerce site can readily accommodate all the relevant photos and location information you want to share with users to inspire them to come see you in person. Do you want to highlight all the great qualities that go into the manufacturing of your products? A custom website can come equipped with special page designs centered on anything that makes your company unique.
By contrast, templates are literally duplicated structures that multiple websites use to showcase their goods online (they are not designed to get users to take notice). Let your competition be the copycat—this is one of those scenarios when it’s very, very good to be a “snowflake” (ie, unique as all hell).
3. Your Website Will Be Built with Clean Code
Clean code may not seem like a big deal to you; if the front end looks good, that’s what matters, right?
Well, here’s the thing: Having your website built with clean code can mean the difference between troubleshooting a glitch in two minutes and troubleshooting a glitch in two months (or having to remove a feature altogether because you just can’t seem to get it to work).
And templates are notorious for coming complete with nasty, ugly, messy, unwieldy code (just ask anyone who has ever exported a site from Dreamweaver). Templates, by nature, try to predict what they’re supposed to be doing and, as a result, bloat up web code with unnecessary tags and scripts—and those add up over time, with the potential to decrease page load speed and frustrate users.
On the flip side, clean code means a lightweight, high-performance website that’s far more likely to work as intended—and far more agile when it comes to growing alongside your business (we’ll dig into this more below).
4. Your Website Is Less Likely to Have Outdated and Unsupported Plugins
A truly custom eCommerce website will have a backend that’s rich with special features specifically built for that project—and any developer worth their salt will have built those features to last. Plugins are seldom needed on custom sites.
Templated sites are another story. They encourage over-reliance on plugins (how else are you going to simulate the feeling of customization?). And what’s the inevitable result of plugin mania? Features that break because the company that built the plugin stopped supporting it (or because the company folded altogether—it happens all the time!).
5. Your Website is More Likely to be “Future Proof”
One of the beautiful things about custom eCommerce websites is that they can be built in phases to allow the site to grow as the company grows. Sure, you may think a templated site makes sense for you right now because you only have a few products to sell. But what happens if your brand suddenly becomes wildly successful?
Moments of success should be nothing but awesome for you, but…
Are you sure your product category pages will be able to scale up as your product selection grows? Are you sure your server will be able to handle the influx of purchase requests?
A custom eCommerce website can be built to anticipate any outcome once your store is live. It allows you to add new features as needed and will be fully scalable to handle any and all business growth.
Sure, you can always switch platforms down the road or move to a custom site when you strike oil with your products. But the redesign and transfer processes are likely to cost you more money in the long run, and, in our experience, cleaning up all the items that were swept under your website’s templated rug is probably going to take a lot more time than you anticipate (remember all that talk about bad code?).
6. Your Custom eCommerce Website Will Come Complete with a Dedicated Support Team
Or so we assume, because that’s how we do it here at efelle. Any good custom eCommerce website design company will connect you with professionals that know your company, your challenges, and your business goals. They’ll partner with you to find solutions for your website that make sense for your company, and will steer you through all the stages involved in the design and development processes (and beyond).
When you sign on for a custom web design and development package with our crew, we’ll give you a dedicated Account Manager to help steer you through your entire project, from conception to launch; after your site is live, we’ll connect you with our talented and knowledgeable support staff that can help troubleshoot anything that’s amiss in your post-launch world. We also take full responsibility for any post-launch code bugs, because (for real), we want your website to work as flawlessly as you want it to (this is why we do hours of quality assurance testing before any website goes live).
7. Your Website Will Be Hosted on a Reliable Server
Templated websites often break or lag because they’re housed in overloaded hosting environments that don’t anticipate all the users incorporating all the plugins onto their eCommerce stores simultaneously. A custom design agency will make sure your hosting solutions are perfectly equipped to handle your business—both now and in the future.
8. Your Website Will Be Easier to Find on the Web Thanks to Better SEO
Custom eCommerce design agencies like ours by default create their websites with SEO best practices in mind. A good web professional will know how to design and develop elements to make each page inherently “crawlable” (ie, friendly to search engine spiders that track, document, and rank the content on your website). Good custom houses will also offer content creation services that can go above and beyond in helping your website attract and convert users, whether that’s through custom product landing pages, optimized sitewide headings and copy, ongoing blog efforts, etc.
While you should certainly be able to track down an SEO specialist to help you improve the rankings on your templated eCommerce website, the results may leave something to be desired—in many cases, there’s not a lot even the most talented SEO specialist can do when it comes to dealing with bad code, slow-loading plugins, and inflexible content spaces.
We Live and Breathe Custom eCommerce Website Design and Development
Here at efelle, we’ve been specializing in all things eCommerce since 2005. And, quite frankly, we’re really good at what we do (we’d be happy to show you all of our awards). Our team of professionals has decades of collective experience in eCommerce design, development, and marketing strategy, and we love creating feature-rich websites that set brands apart. If you’re looking to upgrade from a template to a fully custom site—or are entering the realm of eCommerce for the first time—give us a shout, and let’s chat about what our team can do for you. You can reach us at 206.384.4909 or via our online contact form.