Custom vs. Template Website Design
Today, there are many different options for website design. This makes building a suitable website accessible to all businesses, from start-ups who need a quick and easy “shop front” to global corporations with highly technical requirements.
What are your website design options?
At a very basic level, you can find free pre-built cookie-cutter templates from providers such as Wix. Go a step further and you’ll find providers like WordPress Premium, which is a little more flexible and technical but still a basic template layout which means you don’t have to worry about design or development. Another step up and you’ll start being able to customize themes in WordPress, so you have the familiarity of the WordPress content management system (CMS) but you’ll also need a certain amount of coding and technical knowledge. Finally, there’s software like the very technical .NET from Microsoft, a cross-platform, open-source developer platform.
There are pros and cons to each option, and which one is best for your business totally depends on your requirements, expertise, timings, and of course your budget.
In this article, we’ll specifically explore the benefits and disadvantages of both custom and template website design. The most widely used website design platform for both template and custom websites is WordPress, as it’s scalable, flexible, and familiar to many. It’s the platform we use at LimeLight Marketing to build custom websites for our clients.
Custom website designs
A custom website design will meet your exact requirements in terms of functionality, user experience, and design. It will also have an easy-to-use, although slightly technical, content management system. Companies usually outsource custom website design to freelance web developers or digital agencies who have the skills, expertise, and time that they may not have in-house.
Pros and cons of custom website designs
Choosing a custom website provides the flexibility you need to get the exact website to suit your business in terms of both core functionality and design – both front-end and back-end. You won’t find any superfluous elements in the content management system that you normally find in template website designs, and this allows your site to run more smoothly. While it’s inherently more complex and you would probably have to learn a certain amount of code in order to manage it properly (although you could consider having an agency or freelancer manage it for you), a custom website still has a user-friendly CMS.
Its customizability also provides better learning results once you have learnt to manage it, and it gives you the opportunity to produce better work.
The cons of custom website design are:
- They are more expensive than template designs, simply because of the increased complexity and the time it takes to design
- This leads us on to the time element – a custom website will take longer to come together than a template website
- It also requires a steeper learning curve, although once you are familiar with how it works, it will provide better results
The cost of custom websites
If you outsourced your custom website design to a digital agency, you could expect to pay anything between $10,000 and $100,000. This is obviously a huge price difference, but the nature of customization means you really can take your website anywhere and the cost totally depends on your requirements and how complex your site will be.
What types of company typically use custom websites?
Larger, more established companies typically require custom designed websites. These companies usually have a good amount of content and certain technical requirements. Companies who are already using a template theme or need an updated content management system also tend to move to a custom design, as do companies in highly competitive industries who need to set themselves apart.
Examples of custom website designs
At LimeLight Marketing, we build custom websites for many of our clients. We have our own customized WordPress template to build websites on, meaning that we have a core structure already in place that we use for all the websites we build. This provides clients with a middle ground between completely custom and template design websites, meaning there’s a viable cost-benefit while still getting the value of a custom site – and it means their content management systems are easy to update.
Clients we have built custom websites for include those who needed to upgrade their website and have complex appointment booking functionality, such as Community Health Center of Southeast Kansas (CHC/SEK), and the Architectural Woodwork Institute’s Quality Certification Program, which requires multiple secure forms, payment options, and has flexible content needs.
You’ll notice that these two sites look completely different. While they are both built from our one custom theme, we are not restricted in terms of design, look or feel.
Template website designs
A template website design is an out-of-the-box option which gives you a structure for the layout and display features of your website. The design is ready for you to use and the coding is complete – most of the background work has been done for you. Pretty much all you need to do is select a theme, turn on the settings, configure the site, and load your content.
Pros and cons of template website designs
Template website designs are quicker and cheaper to build than custom websites simply because a lot of the core functionality is already in place. They are generally very user-friendly and have simple content management systems (CMS) which make it easier for you to build and then update once your site is live.
The disadvantages of template designs are:
- They come with elements that you won’t need to use simply because your site won’t require everything that is included in the template, and you can’t delete these unused elements
- You will also need to update or upgrade these unused elements. If you don’t, they become a security risk and may break your site
- Template websites tend to become harder to maintain over time
- They offer less flexibility and scope than custom websites
- They won’t provide the exact capability that you need, so you will have to make a certain amount of compromise
The cost of template websites
If you outsourced your website design to a digital agency and chose a template website design, you could expect to pay anything between $1,000 and $10,000. The price difference depends on how complex your site needs to be (and therefore the time it takes to build), the volume of content, and whether you have an e-commerce requirement.
When template website designs are best
Template website designs suit newer, smaller companies and start-ups who may need a quick, simple, and easy “face to the world”. These companies typically have lower budgets and are therefore more restricted in how complex their website can be.
Here at LimeLight Marketing, the cost of a website typically starts at around $8,000. This is based on using our customized WordPress template.
Make sure your business stands out – contact us to chat about a new website for your company.