What’s the Difference Between Custom and Templated Websites?
These days, almost every business has a website (or should). When embarking on a new website build or website redesign project, it can be hard to determine what firm or process is best for your business needs and goals. There are many different web firms in the world. Some specialize in custom website development, while others utilize templated website options like WordPress or Squarespace, and some do both.
Custom website design begins with an in-depth discovery and requirements gathering process. This is where project stakeholder meetings are conducted in order for the web firm to learn everything they can about your business goals, brand, target audiences, etc. Often times, custom development processes focus heavily on the end users' experience and accomplishing their specific goals on the site. To do so, user research is employed through various means (e.g., user surveys and user interviews). When the design phase begins, there are no limitations in terms of design or functionality and the site can scale with your growing business needs. With custom development, anything is possible.
Templated website solutions allow anyone to setup a website with or without the help of a web firm. Templated website options like WordPress, are open-source Content Management Systems (CMS) that allow you to purchase different website templates or themes that are often industry specific. Although almost anyone can create a website when starting from a template, many web firms begin with a templated solution. Templated web firms can customize templates by designing a layout to match your brand and add publicly available third-party plugins to quickly setup a basic shopping cart or blog on your website. With templated website development, it can at times limit the flexibility you have to tailor the site to your unique needs. There is so right answer in regards to which website route you take, however, there are pros and cons to both custom and templated website development.
Pros and Cons
Like we said, there is no one-size-fits-all website solution that will work best for every person or business. It’s important that you weigh the pros and cons of custom and templated website development to determine what process and final product will be best for you.
Pros of Custom Website Development
- Scalable – Custom built sites can stand the test of time and grow with your business. You won’t have to worry if there is a plug-in for something new you want to add to the site.
- Unique Design – Starting from scratch allows designers full creative freedom to design unique layouts for both desktop and mobile.
- Functionality - Programming restrictions aren’t an issue when a development team can build features to fit your exact business needs.
- Less Unexpected Maintenance Needs – A maintenance budget for on-demand updates is always recommended, but you probably won’t be surprised by any unexpected maintenance costs due to your technology changing (a common pain point for templated websites).
- Optimized – Custom developed code produces less overhead in terms of speed and performance. There won’t be extra, unnecessary code running like you see in universal website options.
Cons of Custom Website Development
- Longer Timeline – Just like baking a cake from scratch, it can take longer to gather and combine all ingredients, but the end result tastes much better than using cake mix.
- More Costly – The process to gather all requirements, complete the design phase, and develop the functionality of the site takes time which in turn can lead to higher cost than starting from a template.
Pros of Templated Websites
- Budget – Starting with an out-of-the-box solution saves time, thus they are more affordable to build.
- Timeline – Sticking with cake analogies, store bought box cake mix is quick and easy to make.
- Third-party Plugins – WordPress and Squarespace have a large community working to build third-party plugins that can be purchased and added to your site for new functionality or integration needs.
- Design themes for Specific Industries – If you’re in construction or own a restaurant, it’s guaranteed that there are several different website themes available for purchase that save on design time.
- Easy to Use – Universal, templated website solutions need to be intuitive for the average web user and template CMS' are typically very user friendly.
Cons of Templated Websites
- Design Constraints and Mobile Responsiveness Issues – One-size-fits-all solutions have to adhere to a specific design mold. This can become a pain point when you want something unique that stands out from your competition.
- Lack of Security – Because templated solutions are so common, they have become a target for hackers to expose vulnerabilities.
- Limited Support – You can’t really call WordPress if you’re having an issue updating a page on your website like you could when working with a web design firm.
- Speed – Because templated sites are meant to be universal, this means they come with a lot of code that isn’t necessarily used or need by all sites. This can cause your site to load slowly, leading to user frustration.
Which is Right for Your Business?
At A•VIBE, we specialize in custom web design and development and don’t work with templated solutions because we find them limiting in terms of design and functionality. However, this does not mean that we don’t believe in templated options. Templated sites are great for new businesses who need a great looking marketing site to begin promoting their business, or businesses that need a website built and launched quickly at an affordable price. We highly recommend weighing the pros and cons listed above to help determine if a custom or templated site is right for you.
We are happy to help you determine which option makes the most sense for your business. Schedule a consultation with us today.