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Custom Web Design vs. a Template

Nov 4, 2020 | Web Design

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If you are thinking of establishing an online presence for your business, the first thing you have to do is set up a business website. A website is not something that will come into existence in a jiffy. It takes time to create a website that genuinely represents your brand and has an impact on site visitors so they’re encouraged to come back and possibly turn into your paying customers.

The decision to design a website should never be rushed. After all, your website is the first thing potential clients see if they want to know more about you. Therefore, no matter how valuable your products or services are, your website design can make or break your brand image, and deprive you of a large number of potential customers you deserve.

When creating a business website, you need to decide whether you should use an available template or develop a custom website from scratch. There’s no right or wrong answer to this question. Each of the two options has its own benefits and drawbacks, and your decision depends on your unique business needs and the goals you want to achieve by setting up the website.

This guide will help you choose between a custom web design vs. a template. To make a rational decision, you need to understand what each option looks like and then compare the two. Let’s take a look at them individually:

Template Website Design

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What is a Template Website Design?

Using a template web design involves purchasing and using a pre-made framework to set up your website. It’s like an already developed platform with dummy text and numbers. All you need to do is fit your elements and replace the content with your own to personalize it for your business.

WordPress is the most common platform to work with templates. All you need to do is set up an Account on WordPress for free, purchase and apply a theme available on sites like ‘Elegant Themes,’ our theme provider of choice, or ‘Themeforest,’, and start personalizing the site. The personalization stage will, of course, take time. In fact, it’s going to be an ongoing process that will continue even after the website is live.

Keep in mind that whether you use WordPress, WIX, SquareSpace, or any other platform, the functionality and features of the available themes will be based on what’s commonly seen on existing websites. They won’t serve the exact needs of your business because they weren’t built or designed with your business goals in mind.

Despite this drawback, templates are an incredible choice for startups due to the cost savings they offer. If you recently launched a business and are not sure how things will work out or own an established business with a shaky financial footing, investing in a custom website design may not be in your cards. Going with the template approach might be more feasible in these situations.

Let’s now dig deeper into the benefits and drawbacks of using a template web design:

Benefits of Using a Template Website Design

Some of the benefits of using a template web design include:

▶ Cost-Effectiveness

As discussed earlier, template websites are incredibly inexpensive to develop. Depending on the platform you use and the theme you select, you may even be able to build it for free.

▶ Time-Saving

Applying a theme to a site on WordPress or another site-building platform means you can have a simple website up and running in no time.

▶ A Lot of Choices

When it comes to choosing a template or theme, you have a lot of flexibility and choice. Themeforest and other sites offer a myriad of pre-made themes. You can choose the one that works best for your business. Many of those themes can be modified to look less like a template.

▶ Hosting

Depending on the platform you use, you need not worry about getting your new domain point to your site. You can get hosting packages on the same template website platform from where you bought your theme.

Drawbacks of Using a Template Website Design

Here are some drawbacks of using templates:

▶ Commonplace

If you’re looking for an extraordinary business website that will sharply stand out from the competition, a template website design isn’t likely going to work for you. Since templates or themes are designed to serve different types of businesses, they often contain common features. Even the themes designed for a particular type of business are based on what most firms in that industry are doing. Thus, your website won’t look any different from other players in the industry.

▶ Not SEO-Optimized

Many business owners don’t realize that the search engine optimization (SEO) function starts from the web development stage. Many available templates are created without SEO in mind, thus undermining their ability to rank high on search engines. So, if you want to rank on the first page of Google, template website design may not be an ideal option.

▶ Lack of Support

No doubt, there are countless tutorials for WordPress and Wix available online, but when it comes to customer support, you can’t count on them. When working with a template, no one is going to offer you one-on-one support on the phone to solve the issues that arise while building the site. If a tutorial answers exactly what you’re looking for, that’s great. If it doesn’t, you’re stuck. More importantly, if you end up making changes to the backend coding to customize the site, you may never be able to update the site when new updates are available.

▶ Questionable Security

The reason why template-based websites are more vulnerable to security breaches is that hackers love them. This is because breaching template-based websites enables hackers to hack multiple platforms at once.

▶ Lack of Functionality

Templates might be a good solution for blogs. However, when it comes to setting up a platform that customers can actually use, templates can fall short.

▶ Poor Adaptability

When your business shifts gears, you will have to modify your website accordingly.  Working with a pre-designed template means the changes will only be limited to what the platform allows or to the available updates. If you can’t change, update, or modernize your template-based website as per your business needs, you may need a whole new site.

Custom Website Design

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What is a Custom Website Design?

A custom website design is one that’s built from the ground up, adding and displaying anything that’s unique to your brand. Instead of using a pre-designed framework, it’s developed from scratch, which is why it’s way more expensive than using a template web design. Depending on your business needs and the company you work with, a custom website can cost you anywhere between $2,500 and $30,000.

It’s important to understand that a custom website design is not just about the looks and choosing the colors, graphics and fonts; it also involves working on the backend coding to set up advanced functionality and API integrations, incorporate eCommerce features, and ensure lead management.

The best website design agency will take the time to understand what your business is all about, learn about the people you want to target, and your business goals. Based on these insights, they’ll use the right features to build your site so that you can maximize your ROI. Since everything, from colors to images and text, is aligned with the interests of your target audience, a custom-built website is more likely to excite users than a template-based website.

Furthermore, professional website development takes into consideration the best SEO practices and ensures that all the tweaks and technical backend aspects are tailored to rank. For instance, your agency will ensure that the site loads quickly, a critical factor that influences SEO performance. Also, a custom-designed platform is much easier to scale when required.

Let’s take a deeper look into the benefits and drawbacks of using a custom-built web design:

Benefits of a Custom Website Design

▶ Flawless Functionality

Based on what we already discussed, a custom website won’t just be visually appealing; it will do exactly what you want it to do. Everything will be up to you— including the placement and design of CTAs, contact forms, etc. By making things remarkably easier for site visitors, you can provide a tremendous site experience to potential clients.

▶ Unmatched Flexibility

As opposed to templates,  a custom website design can take any shape. Your developer will make it exactly as you want it. It will reflect your brand, your values, and your company culture.

▶ High Scalability

When your business grows or when you offer more products, you will have to modify your website. A custom-created website grows as your business grows. Whether you need to add new content, new integrations, or new functionalities, you won’t face any setbacks with a custom website design.

▶ SEO-Friendly

Your site will be highly searchable online because the web designer will focus on SEO from the start of the web development process. Thus, generating leads should be incredibly easier.

▶ Attractive

It’s true that looks aren’t everything, but we all know they matter a great deal. Using a custom-built web design means you have tremendous control over the graphic and visual elements, so you can think out of the box and design a site that will help you retain customers.

▶ Easy to Manage

As long as you have a CMS, you won’t need a designer to help you add or modify content. You can freely administer your site. Also, a custom- developed site is built with the latest codes that can be updated with your CMS. This greatly improves the lifespan of your site.

▶ High responsiveness

The modern customer can access your business website from anywhere, through any device. You want to ensure that your website offers the best user experience, regardless of the device people use to access it. Every step of a custom-developed website is taken with responsiveness in mind. For example, your agency will use HTML5 to develop a mobile-first responsive web design.

Drawbacks of a Custom Website Design

Customs websites have very drawbacks. These include:

▶ Expensive

The single-most off-putting factor about custom website designs, especially for small businesses and startups, is that they can be too pricey. However, the price is understandable because a lot goes into developing a site from scratch.

▶ Time-Consuming

Another obvious truth about custom website designs is that building them takes time. Since they’re built from scratch, you can’t exactly predict when your website will be ready to go live. After understanding your business needs, your web development agency will provide an estimated time to complete, but that’s only a guess. Depending on your needs, the process can take months to complete.

Final Verdict

In summary, the choice between custom web design vs. a template depends on you. If you’re an established firm and money is not an issue for you, go for a custom-built website. However, this doesn’t mean small or growing businesses should prefer templates over custom web designs. Business is all about taking risks. If you invest in developing a custom-built site today, the platform can soon turn you into a million-dollar company, as it tends to pay off in the long run.


Whether you’re a growing business or a large firm, Nora Kramer Designs can create an awesome business website for you. To learn about our web development process, book a call today.


Nora Kramer Designs, Team 2
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