Templates vs. Custom Built Websites

   By: Kris Gerner

Having a great website is one of the best ways to market your business. It can take your online presence to the next level and build invaluable brand awareness. And with plenty of website building tools out there, it’s easier than ever to get your business online, right?

Well, sort of. Yes, DIY websites are easy, but that doesn’t mean they’re the right choice for your business. By contrast, having a website designed means you can customize it to your needs, but it also means it’s more expensive.

  
So which is right for your business? Unfortunately, only you can figure that out; but we’ll do our best to help by providing a list of pros and cons for each option to make the choice a little easier.
 
Pros of Custom Built Websites
 
  • You’ll stand out from your competition. When you have a custom website built, you’ll work with a design team to create an authentic look and feel that is unique to your brand.
  • It can be whatever you want it to be. You can integrate all kinds of features, from bookkeeping and payroll software, to photo galleries and online stores. Basically, if you can dream it up, it can be built.
  • You can be involved too. Just because you’re not designing it doesn’t mean a custom built website is a hands-off experience. A CMS (content management system) can be added to your site to allow you the option to do things like update content or write your own blogs.
  • It will grow with you. Custom built websites can be updated to reflect your needs as a growing company.
  • You’ll have plenty of support. When you have a custom site built with a company like BlueTone Media, technical support is included should anything need fixed or updated at a moment’s notice.
  • It will be search engine friendly. Good SEO (search engine optimization) is what keeps you visible when people use Google. A good web design firm will make sure your website is functioning at its highest potential when it comes to SEO.
  • It will work with all devices and browsers. A website is no good if it only works for some people. Website designers conduct rigorous testing to make sure every site they create works flawlessly with all the major browsers and devices.
 
Cons of Custom Built Websites
 
  • It may take time to find the right web design firm. There are a lot of different agencies to choose from, and you wouldn’t be doing your due diligence if you didn’t compare at least a few of them before hiring one.
  • They take a while to develop. Custom websites aren’t plug and play. They take hours of time and patience as developers hand code everything to your specifications.
  • They can be expensive. There’s no doubt that custom web design is more costly than an out-of-the-box website solution.
  • Changes can take longer. You may be able to make small changes yourself, but changes to design or functionality take developers a certain amount of time to execute properly. At BlueTone, for instance, we try to handle minor edits within 24-48 hours, but for larger projects we'll provide a timeline for fixes. 
 
Alrighty then. So custom built websites have a few cons, the biggest of which is probably cost, but they definitely have a lot of pros as well.
 
What about those cookie-cutter template websites?
 
Pros of Template Websites
 
  • They’re relatively inexpensive. You can buy a basic template without many additional features for next to nothing.
  • They’re (sort of) easy to use. Most template websites utilize drag and drop design that’s pretty easy to use if you’re somewhat familiar with good design practices. If not though, you may struggle.
  • They don’t take long to set up. Most of the time you can purchase, design, and launch a template website in as little as a couple of days
  • You don’t have to know code to use one. Template websites have tutorials that show you how to do things, so there’s no need to know any HTML or CSS.
     
Cons of Template Websites
 
  • Functionality is limited. You won’t be able to add a ton of cool custom features that your business may require.
  • You can get lost in the crowd. There could be thousands of other sites using the exact same template as you. If you use a template site, you’ll just be one of many instead of standing out.
  • The site may not be search engine friendly. Some template sites are and some aren’t, so it’s basically a gamble.
  • They may not work with all browsers/devices. Again, another gamble. They may work just fine, but as your template gets updated, devices get updated, and browsers get updated, plugins can get broken and things start to fall apart.
  • Your support system may not be that great. Some of the template website companies provide support, but it’s often not as personalized as users would like.
  • What you see is what you get. You have to adapt to the site, not the other way around. Example: some sites have dedicated places where images go that cannot be moved and cannot be resized. You just have to deal with it.
     
We’re not trying to tell you either option is better than the other. Again, this has to be a decision that you arrive at after determining your business’s needs and creating a marketing budget.
 
BUT what we are telling you is, we can help you either way.

Want a custom site? No problem. We’ve built tons of them.  Already have a template-based website and want help spiffing it up? We can do that to. Just let us know what you need and we’ll get started right away!

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