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Custom Web Design vs Template: When to Use Which

A website is a fundamental component of any modern business. This is true regardless of your business: brick and mortar or click and mortar (or bricks and clicks). While you may not consider hiring a web development services provider just yet, your website is a value-adding feature for your target consumers. It provides them with the right information at the right time—from prices to hacks. From here, your potential buyers can get a sense of the brand while browsing leisurely or purposefully on your website.

On the flip side, your website serves as an opportunity to showcase that you are an industry expert. A website enables efficiencies and competencies that may sustain the business. For example, tools and applications are getting sophisticated. You may integrate Messenger chat on your website and accommodate inquiries, questions, and feedback in real-time. As such, you interact with the target audience on demand, perhaps without the additional overhead.

For these reasons, it behooves any diligent business owner to develop a highly functional website that provides excellent UX (user experience). However, if this is your first foray into the online world, you might get overwhelmed by the plethora of options. Evidently, you need to choose between building a website using a custom web design or a template.

Before you can choose, it is critical to understand the differences between custom web design and a template.

Custom website design explained

Whether you are designing for a B2B or B2C, a custom website design is built from scratch. The developer codes the website to create customizable components or elements to be included in the website. That means, as the owner, you have complete control over the look and function of your website. 

Developing a website from scratch requires technical skills and proficiency, which means you will need to hire an experienced developer in-house or tap the services of a web development company. Either way, you will have a website that matches your specifications and requirements.

Pros and cons of using custom web design

The biggest advantage of building a custom website is creating what you envisioned exactly. You would not be restricted to what tools are available because you can integrate any functionality and feature your website needs. 

Further, you do not need to develop the most advanced or sophisticated website, but only what your budget can afford. You have the option to scale when the need for additional features arises. It means that a custom website grows with your business. Such possibility of scalability is not always present if you use a template when building your website.

On the other hand, one of the biggest challenges to building a custom website is the cost—it is downright expensive. This is why small businesses cannot afford to have a custom website just yet.

A part of the cost goes to the team who will tackle the project. A web design team has at least four members—graphic designer, front-end developer, back-end developer, and quality assurance (QA specialist). You want to hire a highly-skilled web development team, so you cannot scrimp on this aspect.

Furthermore, custom websites take a longer time to complete than template websites. Timeframe generally varies since this will depend on the robustness of your website development project—more technical requirements, longer time to build. At the very least, developing a custom website would take three to six months. 

Template website explained

A template a web developer can use to develop a website is predesigned, including the elements. What the developer needs to do is to piece all the elements together to have a new website. A platform such as WordPress usually has hundreds to thousands of templates in its library to choose from.

Furthermore, you can modify specific elements slightly to suit your branding needs. Usually, the users can change the layouts and colors. Options for layouts are offered so you can add depth and personality to your website. Layouts are for texts and visuals, including images, graphics, and videos.

Pros and cons of using a template

Predesigned templates are more than enough for designing a simple website. This is especially helpful for one-page to fewer-page websites—only the essential navigation requirement such as the about us, product, frequently asked questions (FAQs), and contact us pages.

You would not be limited because there are templates to choose from, and these templates are available in most industry categories. Virtually all these templates are so easy to use. They typically come in drag-and-drop capabilities. Thus, you do not need any coding knowledge.

One of the disadvantages of using a template is its limitations. Some templates may not have the feature or functionality you need despite having a professional look and feel you want for a website. In addition, implementing a layout that makes business sense can become challenging.

Also, there is the possibility of stopping continually improving the template. So it would not scale to your needs when the developer stops publishing updates to your chosen template. When this happens, you need to look for another template that offers the same capabilities as the one you are using now until the updates stop.

The question now is: When should you use a template, and when should you hire a web developer to build a custom website?

When to use a template

Based on the advantages and disadvantages outlined above, below are the circumstances when building a website using a template makes more sense than developing one from the ground up.

1) Simple website requirement

Solopreneurs and small businesses with one product line do not usually require an elaborate website, so they should use a template. Nonetheless, it does not mean that the website will look basic. To address this, you can buy a more professional-looking website template or hire a graphic designer with basic development skills to modify the template for you.

2) Low budget

A tight digital marketing budget is understandable, especially if you are a startup. Of course, you have operation-related priorities that require a more diligent allocation of financial resources. But, of course, you cannot do without a website. Your best bet is using a templated website with all the functionalities you need right now, such as basic optimization and responsive design.

3) Tight deadline

Building a simple website in less than a week is possible by using a template if you need to launch a website in a short period. Complex coding is not required, which brings us to the next item.

4) Zero coding knowledge 

Since templates are built with modifiable modules, all you need to do is drag-and-drop, copy and paste, or upload. You can create a functional website even when you are not adept in coding and other technical know-how. 

When to create a custom web design

If you have more complex website needs, it is better to pursue the custom route. The limitations of using a template in building a website are technically non-existent. If these things apply to you, then create a custom website instead.

1) Unique requirements

If you are looking for a website with a comprehensive navigational structure, a custom website can achieve this purpose. For instance, if you want to integrate the website with other software or want to integrate apps into your website, it will use APIs. Some functions that require integration are software applications such as a customer portal or database, online scheduler, customer service messaging application, payment gateways, etc. You can only do so with a custom website. The more features and functionalities you expect, the higher the prospect of customizing your website.

2) Control over UX

Your website should not only be responsive but should also be navigable and intuitive. When designing your website, the paths users need to take to complete the buyer’s journey should be apparent. They should be able to make an order and pay for it as seamlessly as possible, without any hiccups, such as annoying pop-up ads.

3) Expected scalability

As your business grows, so should your website. You want to add more features as you expand your product categories and service offerings. Having a website that fully scales is possible with a custom design.

4) Sufficient time

Not all business owners wanting to have a website have all the time in the world. But if time is enough, choose to have a fully functional website instead. Being constrained by a tight deadline affects the quality of the final product, so it is best to invest in build time.

5) Adequate budget

More complex websites require a higher budget; if you have that, you might as well invest in a custom web design. No template website can replace a fully customized website. So let the professional web design and development team do it for you.

At Optimind, we understand the frustration of discovering a website that looks like yours. If it confuses you, your target consumers are more confused. We have a team of experienced and highly skilled web designers and developers that can help you build a custom website from the ground up. Call us today!

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