Custom Website or Template? It Depends.
It’s time. After countless hours of learning, creating, planning, and too many other things to name, you’re ready to introduce your product or service to the world. It’s time to get a website—one that will help you attract visitors, convert them to customers, and build a solid business, or take your business to the next level. You now have a decision to make: work with a professional to create a custom website made for your business, or pick out a template and have that professional help you customize it.
A template is basically a website built for the purpose of being resold several times over, and branded by different companies with their content. If your goal is just to get something out there so that you have a web presence—and you are not offering a unique product or service—then a template can probably provide you all that you need. Templates are created with the average business in mind and focus on average business needs. They’ll offer some bells and whistles, and some of them can look and function beautifully, but the key is that they are premade for the “average”. No web design and development agency would spend time creating a template for a very specific niche, because that would defeat the whole purpose, which is to make as many sales as possible by selling your template to the masses.
The most important thing to remember when browsing through templates is that you are looking at “demos.” Think of a fashion magazine or a TV ad; picture a stunning model wearing a dress that looks like it was made just for her. In a way it was, just backwards a bit. The stylist had a gorgeous dress and then searched for a model who could show it off perfectly. In a similar fashion, if we could choose our business (or content) based on a template, then there would be absolutely no reason not to take advantage—we would be getting tailored results. However, unlike stylists who have access to models of every look and body type, we have to make a website for our business rather than a business for a template.
Don’t get me wrong – with good planning and proper expectations templates WILL get you a cheaper website that looks good too. In fact, some templates look amazing and are of the highest quality! Their demos look perfectly tailored, so if you can repurpose your content to fit just right into every spot—just like the demo placeholder text and pictures do—then you’ll get a great looking site quickly and for much less than a comparable custom-designed website. On the flipside, if you try to tailor those templates by customizing them more than simply updating their content, then often you run the risk of taking away from what you liked about them in the first place.
If you require more control concerning creative or strategic decisions—like creating an experience tailored to your target group or launching a new, unique brand—then going the custom route is a no-brainer. At a professional agency, a custom website includes more than just a made-to-order visual design and layout. Most professional agencies will spend time thinking and strategizing – trying to get into the mindset of your visitors. They’ll consider things such as what visitors are trying to find and how quickly they should be able to find it, or how much information they need before they take action. Perhaps best of all, at the end of the day you get to make every single decision about what goes on your page and what every part of that page does with the help of professionals—something a template is just not made to do.
One of the most important things we do here at Weberous is consider the website’s flow. We discuss how (and why) visitors would go from page one to page two and that is how we create an optimal flow to convert visitors to paying customers or subscribers. That is also why the vast majority of our projects are designed from scratch.
In summary, both a template and a custom site can be excellent options depending on your needs. A custom site definitely offers you a lot more control over defining the look and feel of your brand as well as the flow of your visitors, but a template will save you time and money as long as you can play by its rules, and adjust your content and vision to fit within an already established setup.