Custom Web Design vs. Templated: What’s the Best Option for You?

In today’s digital age, having a website allows you to establish an online presence, reach a wider audience, and provide potential customers with important information about solutions to their needs. If your website is well-designed, user-focused, and built to attract your target audience, it can also help boost your reputation and build trust.

The question then becomes not whether or not you need a website but where to start.

  • Do you leverage a template to design your website? OR
  • Do you contract a web designer to create a custom website?

There are a few factors to consider when deciding whether to go with a custom design or a web template. This may be where people become stuck or overwhelmed by options. I don’t want you to feel overwhelmed any longer!

In this article, we’ll look at the differences between custom websites and web templates to help you quickly determine which option is best for your business.

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Website Templates: What are they, and when to use them?

What is a website template?

A website template is a pre-designed web page layout that can be used as a starting point for building a website. It typically includes a set of pre-designed pages, layouts, and styles that can be customized with the user’s own content and branding.

The key differentiator is that templates are often created to be easy to use and require little to no technical skills. This makes templates a popular option for individuals and small businesses who want to create a simple, baseline website quickly and affordably.

When is a website template the right option?

If you are a startup business looking for a quick and easy way to create an online presence, a website template may be your best option. They are ideal for smaller businesses where their website and branding are not yet key aspects of their business. For example, a template is great if your website is valued more like an online business card versus a way to engage more deeply with your products and services.

What should I expect from a website template?

Be ready to spend a decent amount of time trying to figure out how to utilize templates on your own. You may find yourself frustrated at times or wondering if what you put together will generate traffic to your site or be clear to your customers.
You can do this, but it will be challenging if you have no prior experience with templates or an understanding of basic design concepts and copywriting.

What website templates are most popular?

Services like Wix, Squarespace, or Weebly have popular template options, allowing you to create a simple website that presents standard business information. These services are fairly user-friendly and typically require no coding skills, making it easy for anyone to build a website quickly and inexpensively.

Custom Web Design: What is it, and when to go custom?

What is a custom-designed website?

A custom web design is a website specifically designed and created for an individual or business based on their specific needs and requirements. It involves creating a unique design with custom features and functionalities that suit the client’s brand and objectives.
The key differentiator is that a custom-designed website is built from scratch and tailored to meet the client’s specific needs, ensuring that the result is unique, high-quality, and converts on their business goals.

When is a custom-designed website the right option?

Custom websites are a great investment for businesses ready to step up to the next level of marketing or establish their unique online presence to stand out among their competition.

When a new potential client comes to us for a custom website, they typically want flexibility and control over the look, feel, and functionality, as well as the option to tailor the website to fit their specific needs and goals.

For instance, a custom website allows businesses to create a personalized user experience for their customers, showcasing its products or services in a more engaging way. It also allows companies to integrate marketing and sales tools to streamline operations (which may be cumbersome or limited in a template).

Those who choose a custom design include businesses with an established brand (or are developing one), plan to develop content on their site regularly, or want to utilize their website to grow their business.

Here is an example of one of my favorite custom websites we’ve built at Floodlight!

What should I expect from creating a custom-designed website?

Since a custom website is unique to your business, it requires more involvement to tailor it to your specific needs and goals.

Think of it like building a custom home. You get to decide all aspects of the website, including any specific preferences. Sometimes, these preferences are uncovered out of frustration with the template process. In fact, many businesses that come to us for a custom site have had prior experience using templates and understand what they don’t like or would like to change.

Understanding your goals and preferences are helpful pieces of data that will help your designer create something that caters to your vision for your site.

For clients that choose to work with FloodLight.Design, I recommend a few helpful tips to streamline the design process and communicate well with your designer about your vision.

  • Create an Outline: Get clear on the desired content structure of your website. Start outlining the pages and the content you want on each page. Any initial outlines you can provide to a web designer will help you and your designer set clearer expectations on the process and overall project scope.
  • Establish Brand Voice: If you haven’t already, establish a clear understanding of your brand voice and the problem you solve for your customers. This language informs the user experience and architecture of your website so that it’s designed to best serve your customers.
  • Get Inspiration: Research your competitors and make a note of what you like and dislike about their websites, as well as how you want to differentiate yourself to stand out.

By starting with an outline, established brand voice, and inspiration for what you envision for your site, you’ll have the foundation to move through the design process with greater ease.

What happens after your custom website is created?

Some people worry that after a designer creates their site, they won’t be able to manage the complexity on the backend. If your web designer and developer have done their job well, you should be set up to easily maintain your site after completion.

At Floodlight, we prioritize streamlining a simple process for our clients around areas that must be updated often. For example, instead of manually selecting related articles, we’d dynamically suggest articles based on categories, tagging, chronological, most viewed, etc. We also ensure that the CMS is well-integrated and straightforward to use.

All that to say, even after everything is delivered, a good web designer and developer shouldn’t disappear! For any other areas that require support beyond the initial design, we make ourselves available to answer questions that arise throughout the life of the site.

Final Takeaway: Custom Design or Template Design? It Depends!

In conclusion, whether to go for a custom-designed website or a web template depends on your business goals, budget, timeline, and overall vision for your online presence.

If you are a small business with a limited budget and timeline, a website template may be a good starting point. However, if you want a website that truly represents your brand, is tailored to your specific needs, and has the potential to grow and scale with your business, then a custom-designed website is the way to go!

Ready for a Custom-Designed Website?

At Floodlight, we specialize in creating custom websites that are unique to each of our clients. Our team of experts will work closely with you to understand your goals and create a website that represents your brand and helps you achieve your business objectives.

If you are ready for a custom-designed website, I look forward to connecting with you and exploring how we can help your business stand out and grow through your website!