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Ryne Baerlocher Posted by Ryne Baerlocher on January 21, 2020

Template vs. Custom Website Design: Pros and Cons for Both

Template vs. Custom Website Design: Pros and Cons for Both

A template or a custom website design will determine the course of your company’s digital marketing strategy.

Are you looking to invest in a new website for your business, but haven’t decided if a theme or a custom design is right for you? Whether you know the difference between the two, or just starting your discovery process, this blog should help provide some useful starting points in analyzing what route you should take. 

The Right Next Step for Your Website Design and Digital Strategy

It’s time for an analogy. One of the easiest ways to understand the differences between a custom and template website is to consider a custom-built home and a production home. Both serve similar purposes, but if you need additional features (such as a master bedroom with two closets), it’s going to be much easier to build your home custom from the start. 

The same can be made of website design. The production home/themed website offers easy move-in, lower cost, and specifications that could match your needs. However, depending on what you are looking for, you may outgrow this option later down the line, or have to adapt your lifestyle to fit.

When working with clients to determine which approach would best fit, we first identify the core needs of the website and the people the website will serve. Factors may include the importance of ranking ahead of competitors, uniqueness of the company and brand, budget and timeline, and who is included within the company’s target market. 

Working with a Template

There are a ton of themes and website providers out there that can provide you with a website theme. You have probably seen Wix, Squarespace and GoDaddy advertisements for themed websites, but WordPress is the most popular platform for these sites. They offer free and paid themes you can choose from. If you are looking for a team to build your site, almost any website development agency can build WordPress websites, but not all WordPress sites are built the same. 

For some clients, a website that services a few simple purposes that require little to no custom requirements, a themed approach works fine. Some of the money they save on design and development time can be invested back into the site’s SEO structure and link building for specific traffic generation. However, this approach can reach a breaking point. Your themed site will only be able to load so fast, or you may get boxed in by design issues later on. 

Also, finding support or making edits to the theme may be difficult if your web company doesn’t offer ongoing help since the code will likely be written in a format that is difficult to just jump into and edit. Since WordPress is so widespread, there are limitless ways to write code for a site, and no two developers operate exactly the same way. It’s kind of like getting a copy of Goosebumps and being told to edit it into a Steven King novel. Scary. 

Pros for Templates

1. Faster to market

2. Less expensive

3. Access to more third-party applications

4. Industry-specific themes (Construction, law firm, restaurant, etc.) 

Cons for Templates

1. Limited options for design, end up with a site that is limited to a boxy theme that’s difficult to support

2. Difficult to find support

3. Not always built with mobile responsiveness

4. Themes are built to accommodate a lot of add-ons and third parties, which slow the site down. 

5. Organic SEO isn’t built into the system

Working with a Custom Website Design

There’s a reason why larger companies choose a custom design, rather than work within a set theme. Custom sites are more effective in generating business. 

Since they are built with one company in mind, you don’t have to worry that your site has additional features you won’t use. Much of the issue with templated sites is that they are built for all types of after-market alterations, whereas a custom design is streamlined to offer your company what YOU need. Also, since your code will be cleaner and written for your company, your SEO value will also start at a higher level with a custom site.  

While the major con of custom design is that it takes longer (and therefore is more expensive), it may turn out to be a good thing in the long run. Rather than trying to rush perfection, the custom site allows both teams the opportunity to look closely at every design, or even every page if necessary, to ensure that it is what the user needs. This level of detail can result in a massive difference when analyzing your return on investment. 

Pros for Custom Design

1. Custom to your company and target market 

2. Site is built to be search engine optimized from the start

3. Your site will be tested for all browser and device types

4. Ongoing support is offered by web company

Cons for Custom Design

1. Longer to implement

2. More expensive

3. Requires more time and effort during the build process

Conclusion

The choice between a template or a custom site is yours. There are some companies that will do just fine with a template site. They may have coding or CMS experience, or the site they are looking for needs minimal functionality. But for the majority of businesses, it might make more sense to leave the website, web security, software updates, and functionality maintenance to the website professionals.

While a custom site may cost more upfront, you can almost guarantee that a custom site that is built by a professional web team will require less maintenance from your team, less third party plug-in requirements/payments, and less time spent struggling to get a theme to perform the way you want. 

The money spent on a custom site is an investment in your company’s marketing strategy. Maybe it costs more upfront, but how much does your company stand to lose with a subpar website strategy?

The efelle Difference

Even considering a custom site, not all providers are the same. efelle is in its 15th year of providing conversion-driven websites that take our client’s brand into deep consideration. This process has led to truly unique website designs and positive ROI for our clients on a regular basis. 

If we sound like the marketing partner for your company, email us at [email protected] or reach out to us using our contact page to get a discovery meeting scheduled today.