Just recently I read an article about a successful businessman. He hadn’t always been successful, of course, and he was talking about the things he wished he’d known when he launched his first enterprise. Amongst the obvious, like cashflow and getting a loan, he talked about websites.

As a young entrepreneur on a very tight budget, he chose a readymade website template – and then spent a long time wishing he hadn’t!

Custom Web Design vs Templates

Many businesses start with a WordPress site and apply a bought template. These vary in price, and features, but are seen as a quick and easy and cheap way to get started.

In theory, they should be, but the reality is very different. Even with a template you require a certain amount of knowledge to create a really good-looking website. Many people fail to use all of the website’s features, too, because they don’t really understand them.

What seemed like a great idea can quickly become an (expensive) nightmare.

To give you a better understanding of the difference between a template and custom website design, let’s look at the pros and cons of both.

Readymade Website Templates

THE PROs:

To be fair, there are a few. Initially, it is cheaper and, if you have a certain degree of internet and IT knowledge, it can be fast, too. Unlike a custom-built website, you don’t need to spend time talking with a website designer and developer about your business, your customers and your goals.

You certainly don’t need to be a coding genius to get something up and running. Most people do the basics and promise themselves they’ll get back to it later to make it more attractive.

THE CONs:

There are rather more cons than pros when it comes to website templates, the first being uniqueness. In a highly competitive market, businesses require points of difference to stand out, one of which is their website. So, if the website looks like hundreds or thousands of others – quite possibly including your competitor’s website – you’re just not going to stand out.

Template websites have definite limits. You’re working with a standard template, so there will only be so much you can do to jazz it up. Remember, the way your website looks has a lot to do with how it is coded and developed. For example, if you want a shopping trolley and checkout, that needs to be built into the coding.

These websites run on structured systems, so it is impossible to add new technology or features that don’t come on a plugin. This can cause issues, such as incompatibility with some devices.

They are not designed to be particularly search engine friendly, either. They are really meant to be just a simple shopfront. That’s all well and good but it will place you a long way down the search engine rankings. That will make you much harder for customers to find, and your brand won’t be as trusted as those on the first page of results.

If you choose a website template advertised as ‘exclusive’, you will pay a higher price. With little difference between that price and the cost of a custom website – or the template being more expensive – it’s a no-brainer.

Custom Website Design

It’s funny how we always associate the word ‘custom’ with ‘expensive’. Whilst customised products do cost more, they can still be affordable and generally carry more ‘value’.

Custom websites come in a couple of different forms. The most expensive is the website that is completely designed from scratch. However, an excellent option is to choose a customized website template.

Don’t confuse this with the readymade website template – these are two very different beasts. Your customized website still requires input from a designer and developer, but it uses a common base. Think of it as a pizza: the readymade website template is the readymade pizza you buy at the supermarket and simply place in the oven. The fully customized website is where you make your own pizza dough, tomato paste, everything. The customised template is when you buy the pizza base from the supermarket and add your own unique sauce and toppings.

THE PROs

The biggest advantage is that your website will be completely different from your competitor’s and will stand out. This makes it more likely to attract new customers and make you more money.

Your customized website will be built to be search engine friendly, ensuring that, when matched with your SEO strategy, it will rank higher. This will not only catch those customers who don’t look beyond the first page of results but will also boost the credibility of your business.

Custom web design can incorporate your business branding, giving it a more professional look. There’s also a scalability that’s impossible to achieve with a template website. That means that as your business grows, your website can grow with you.

Let’s say you’re just starting out so, initially, your website is telling people where you are and what you do. But you want to turn it into an ecommerce site in six months’ time and will then require checkout facilities. With this knowledge, the custom website developer can put the infrastructure in place ready, thus saving you a lot of time and money down the line.

Custom websites also benefit from having a good content management system, which makes it easier for you to public and control content. It will also be designed to work perfectly on all devices.

THE CONs

Custom web design costs more upfront and your website will take longer to build – at least in theory! Building your own templated website with little knowledge could actually take forever!

So, there you have it – it’s a quick fix versus a long-term investment; a website that works quite well for a while, compared to a website that will deliver for years to come.

If you are on a budget, it’s still worth talking to custom website Design Company. They can usually provide you with an online presence for under $1000, with the infrastructure in place to expand it later.

BIO: Neil McNulty is the founder and owner of Suncoast Web Solutions. He has over 20 years’ experience working with business owners and organizations of various sizes. The areas of Neil’s experience and expertise include Internet Marketing, Website Development, Custom Website Design and Website Hosting. When he isn’t working with customers he is either working on his own websites or with family.