Which is better – Custom Designed Website or Template Website?
People mark 2020 in red, but that is not the case with us at Continuum. The key learning that we have taken from our experiences in 2020 is that #digital transformation is no longer a choice – it is a necessity to ensure long term success. It was, in fact, a critical reason for survival for many. We have worked with a lot of clients who have realized that the strategy for growth is creating an online web presence and they are willing to invest in the digital medium to build their presence actively.
Here, I would like to quote a conversation I had with a potential client. This is how it went -
Continuum – What made you realize that you need a website?
Client – Earlier we were focused only on the traditional selling approach. We had sales reps who would personally touch base with existing clients and bring in new clients. These activities were time-consuming and often required travelling, which cost sales professionals valuable time that could be spent in building more relationships. Also, now because of the restrictions imposed due to the pandemic, interactions with our existing clients have become limited and it is almost impossible to target new clients.
Our analytics have proved that we are losing on getting new clients due to lack of our online presence whilst some of our competitors who had already moved to online store are doing much better than us in terms of attracting new customers. All this makes it very important for us to go digital now.
Continuum – And indeed, you have made the right decision.
If you own a small business and you have gotten this far without a website or digital presence – It is very important, now more than ever, to go digital for long term success and to invest in a website for your business. It makes you look professional, trustworthy, and authentic as it establishes your presence in the industry. It is a great platform to showcase your tools and services. A well optimized website also helps attract new customers through search engines.
Now that you have decided that you need a web presence, what kind of a website would you like to create – a custom website or a template website?
Client – Could you highlight the difference between the two and advise which one would be the right fit for us now and for our business in the future?
Continuum – Okay, there are a lot of considerations before answering this question.
Let’s talk about a few stats first:
People make snap judgments and that is true for websites also. Research and studies suggest that it takes only 0.05 seconds for a user to form a first impression/opinion about your website and that determines whether they’ll stay or leave on your web page.
94% of users mention poor design is the primary reason why they do not trust certain websites. How a website looks, how it performs, and how easy is it to navigate – those are the things people see right away. All the thought process that you put in creating the content and the messaging – all that is secondary.
So, design, speed, and responsiveness are the most crucial elements of a website followed by the content.
Next let’s talk about what exactly a custom website and a template website is?
Template Website – Pre-designed website preloaded with standard pages. They are the best option when budget is a factor and you need something now to go up and running and you have limited content/images to showcase.
Custom website – It is custom made or made to order. From the layout, navigational structure, graphic placement to functionality - all of these elements are designed with unique specifications. It includes creating everything that goes into creating a site to reflect a unique brand identity driven by strategic marketing plans. Custom-made websites look better, do more, and accomplish specific business goals.
Now that we know what exactly a custom website and a template website is, how do we decide which is the best fit for you?
We need to analyse 4 factors to help you decide which one would work for your business and why:
With custom sites – the design is made to order. It means that the designer can take into consideration your business objectives and goals, ideal clients, and customer experience that you wish to render visually and functionally. With custom design, you can stand out and get a website that has you drop your jaw in awe.
With templates – you have to fit your business objectives and goals into a mould/template that is already there. If you are looking for something basic that will help you go up and running, then a template website is for you.
#2. Scalability / Future Growth
With a custom website, the designer can take into account how you are really going to grow in the future and what types of services you plan on adding and really what your future goals will be. They can build the site to grow with you, and you are really building a foundation for the future. It also helps you to get into deeper and mature web building thought process to have a more explicit goal. For example, if you wish to convert an existing website into an eCommerce website a few months down the line, the developer can keep in mind the scalability and define an initial framework based on the plan so that in future eCommerce integration becomes much more easier.
With a template website, you can create a website on ready CMS platforms like Wix, Shopify, WordPress, etc., with a good appearance for a shorter span. It addresses any short term and immediate needs. These are easy moving options and more of a temporary solution with lesser long-term visibility.
#3. Professionalism & Support
When you are going with a template, which is always available with CMS platforms, you do have some built in support through them, but it is limited. Especially when you purchase a template for your WordPress or Wix website, and you are self-installing it, you really don’t have any other technical support so youtube and tutorials are going to be your best friend. Unless you have some experience in building a website, it is a time-consuming exercise.
With a custom site, you have experts on board. They know their job thoroughly well and can WOW clients with the latest trends. They know what works and what doesn’t work. There is a consultative approach with an excellent service that includes timely review, sharing the creator's thoughts, attracting the right people, and putting things in perspective with coherent thought processes. Step-by-step planning, wireframes, design, development, copywriting, photography, testing, and optimization are time consuming but ensure the best outcome.
#4. Return on Investment
Custom website might take a little longer time and higher investment, but it is a money-making tool. Selling services and products digitally through a website design and UI that was built with your goals and your business objectives in mind generates an impact and eventually results in lead generation. It can literally change the lead generation curve.
The template is less compatible with giving returns when applying digital strategies. If you need a quick fix to commence digital presence, you can indeed consider ready-made template.
The shelf life of a template site is much shorter than a custom site, so sometimes you have to ask yourself - is it really cheaper. The average use of a template site is 1.5 years whereas the average use of a custom site is anywhere from 3 to 5 years. You might actually end up paying more with a template site for the extra technical support for customization and the updates.
With all that said, we @continuum don’t always suggest custom websites. There are, however, times when a template is just fine for what you are looking for. There are two main advantages of a custom website – one is the cost and the other is the timeline. Because you are not doing a full design and planning and wireframing for a template website, you can typically get that done in a half or a third of the period of time. When thinking long term, with business goals aligned and higher returns on the investment as the focus, consider a custom website.
If you think you have a limited budget and want to establish a digital presence, templates can be a great way to go to get you up and running. But if you can invest the time and more money into the project and you want a higher quality website that is designed to create a better experience for your potential clients - then we definitely recommend a quality custom web design.
I hope that all this information was helpful. If you wish to consult on how to go about it, reach out to us and we will guide you and help you reach a strategic decision!
If you have any questions, please comment, and please like and share this if this was helpful for you.