So you’ve decided to launch a new website for your business - good move!
While the frequency with which you should look at switching things up varies depending on the strength of your current website and your needs as a business, the general rule of thumb is around the three-year mark, but nowadays, your website can grow and evolve as your business does.
Now that you’ve decided to take the leap and invest in your businesses’ online presence, you need to decide what sort of site you want. Generally, most websites boil down to either a custom-made website or a pre-designed template. Both of these options come with pros and cons of their own, and ultimately, the best option for you comes down to your needs as a business.
Read on as we explore the benefits and shortfalls of both custom-made and templated websites to help you decide which is right for you.
Custom Built Website Design
Custom built websites involve your business working with a web developer or design agency to construct your new website from the ground up. Throughout this process, you will be questioned on your requirements and have a high level of input to ensure the end result if the best fit for your business.
As you are working with an expert, your developer will be able to take advantage of real-time updates to SEO and other industry changes to ensure you end up with the best performing website possible.
In saying that, some factors like cost and development time mean custom sites aren’t the right fit for every business.
Here are some of the major pros and cons of custom-built websites.
Pros of a Custom Built Website Design
Stand out from the crowd
One of the most obvious benefits of having your website custom built is the freedom you have over both the look of the site and the UX (user experience) - essentially how your visitors will interact with your website.
When starting from scratch with a web developer, you will be able to decide on all elements of your site, giving you maximum opportunities to express the look and feel of your brand while also ensuring your site stands out from the crowd.
You’ll rank higher
These days, one of the biggest goals of any website is to rank highly on Google and other search engines. While that may sound like an impossible feat to you, this is what web developers do.
Any developer worth their salt is all over the elements of SEO (search engine optimization) and will use these principles in the design of your site to ensure you rank as highly as possible in the search listing relevant to your company. For you and your business, a higher ranking increases the chance of your customers finding you online organically and could reduce your need for paid digital advertising.
It will grow with you
Scalability is a consideration in all successful businesses. Why should your website be any different? By engaging a web developer to custom design your website, you will be able to incorporate future growth plans into the framework of the site to make it easier down the track when you are ready for these changes.
Let’s say for example your business isn’t currently ready to incorporate an e-commerce platform into your business, but you predict you will be in a years time. Your developer will be able to add this functionality to the design of your site so when the time comes, it will be easy to make the change.
It will suit your business
In addition to providing all the features your business needs on your site, a custom built website also gives your business the ability to adapt the look and feel to ensure it’s an extension of your brand, rather than a generic page that fails to engage your audience.
Support when you need it
Your website is a core component of your business, so you need to be sure that when issues crop up, you can get them resolved ASAP. The fact of the matter is, no one knows the ins and outs of your website better than the developer that built it. By engaging a designer to build your website, you can rest assured that they will be available to fix any issues.
Cons of a Custom Built Website
Perhaps the biggest negative of a custom designed website is the hit to the hip pocket. While it’s true some pre-designed themes are available for free or a nominal cost, it’s important to consider the additional costs these may have to your business. A well-designed, custom site may well see your business ranking highly on Google, leading to a drop in your required ad spend and an increase in new business.
Custom designing a website can be a lengthy process. From finding the right developer to the planning stages and the build of the site itself, this can take time. It’s important to keep your eye on the end goal and remember that this process is essential to get a site that works how you want it to.
Too much choice
Too many choices can be debilitating. Many a business owner has found themselves lost down the rabbit hole when faced with the multitude of decisions that come with designing a custom website. While this process can seem overwhelming at first, your developer will be able to provide suggestions based on best practice in the industry to make this as easy as possible.
Template Built Website Design
Pre-built templates can be a quick and cost-effective method to build a new website. CMS’s like Wordpress and even Wix and Squarespace offer a wide range of in-built templates, many of which are available for free. It’s not all good news however; there are a number of trade off’s to consider before your business commits to a templated site.
Pros of a Template Built Website Design
When they’re good, they’re great
Choosing a pre-designed template for your website allows you to shop with confidence and compare reviews from those who have used them before you. If you select a well-established template, chances are any kinks will already be worked out and your website will run seamlessly.
The beauty of templates is that generally, web developers are not needed to assist with set up. Depending on your level of tech knowledge, you may even be able to complete this process unassisted.
The biggest cost saving here is the lack of need for web developers. Depending on your needs, you may be able to find a free web template for your business and set it up yourself. It's important to note however that any customizations further than what is offered in the template will require some level of CSS/ HTML knowledge.
Shorter development time
Forget weeks or months of dev time; many templates can be customized and pushed live in days or even hours depending on the level of customization required by your business.
Cons of a Template Built Website Design
Not all templates are designed equal
While there are some well-designed templates available, including some at no cost, there are just as many that are seriously flawed (including not being optimized for mobile) and may cause your online activities to suffer as a result.
They can be generic
The goal of most templates is to be downloaded and used as many times as possible. For this reason, if you do opt for a standard template you are giving up any hope of a unique and personalized website. With many businesses - especially in their early days choosing to use a templated website, if you follow suit you risk being lost in the world wide web and failing to be found by your customers.
While the very nature of templates makes them simple enough that most users won’t need a great deal of help if you do need a question answered you may run into difficulties as platforms like WordPress don’t typically support third party themes.
Because most themes are developed to appeal to as many people as possible, you will likely find that your template is “bloated” with additional features you don’t need. These add-ons have the effect of slowing down your site and negatively affecting its performance.
Worse than that, some templates are just poorly designed, with no regard for SEO or even user experience. These templates could well spell disaster for your business.
While you can negate much of this by being highly selective and choosing a template that suits your needs, you will be limited to the changes you are able to make within the template.
Custom or Templated Web Design - Which Does Your Business Need Most?
At the end of the day, it will be your budget as well as the unique needs of your business that dictates which option you choose to go for.
As web developers, we pride ourselves on finding the best solution to suit all our clients. For that reason, we understand a custom-designed site isn’t necessarily the right fit for everyone.
If your business needs your website live yesterday and you’re happy to trade off personalization and maximum functionality to make that happen, a template could be a great option for you.
On the other hand, if you want to take the time to make sure you get your new website just right and perfect the user experience to wow all your customers and generate more leads, you’re in the right place.
Whichever direction you are thinking of heading, contact us today for a 4 Pillars Analysis, and let us help upgrade your web presence today.