For new business owners, setting up a website is both an exciting and daunting task. You’ll have to make a lot of choices and one of the biggest is whether to have a custom built website tailored for you or use a website template.
Your website is the central hub of your brand. It’s where all of your other media will point to, where sales are made and relationships are formed. No pressure!
As with any business decision, you need to weigh the pros and cons. Cost, time, expertise and resources are always at the forefront of an entrepreneur’s mind. But so is success! To take the strain off this decision, we’ve considered the advantages and disadvantages of each. So read on and arm yourself to make an informed choice.
When Should I Use A Website Template?
For business owners operating on a shoestring, the idea of using a website template can be a tempting one.
For a start, unless you jump in at the deep end with Wordpress and are particularly lacking in tech skills, a template site will usually take less time to develop than a custom design. For someone with limited-to-zero HTML/CSS coding knowledge, using a template is also an easy choice. You’ll essentially get a website done quickly, largely by yourself (or rather by yourself and with the help of many YouTube tutorials).
But let’s be honest, the main reason most people consider using a template is that the upfront costs are significantly lower. For someone keen to get their small start up business off the ground as quickly and cost-effectively as possible, it can feel like the best option.
That said, a template might be right for you if:
- You need a temporary fix while waiting for a custom designed site to go live
- You need a quick and cheap, simple site for single events and don’t expect to use the site for very long
- Your needs are very simple, e.g. you want to post a few blogs or showcase a simple portfolio.
The Drawbacks Of A Template Website
While templated websites are initially affordable and quick to set up, you need to consider the limitations and future implications of going down this route. A website builder might not be right for you if.. YOU WANT TO BE UNIQUE!
By using a standard template, you will inevitably end up with a similar site to many other businesses. This is particularly problematic if you use one ‘designed for your niche’ since a lot of other people will also make that choice. You could end up looking disastrously similar to your competitors, which will impact your place in the market and limit the recognizability of your brand.
Your website will be multi-purpose
Something else to keep in mind is that all templates place limits on customization. You will have to look at a range of website builders and review their strengths and limits of each. Every website builder focuses on a different market. Some are made specifically for eCommerce, others focus on design profiles and others on blogs. If you are a designer, who runs a blog and needs to host an online shop, you’re going to have problems.
Your content doesn’t fit the mould
If you use a template, all of the copy and images you add to your site will need to be adapted to fit the template’s specifications. And, you can only add content to predetermined areas. If you like being free and easy, you probably won’t enjoy the experience of using a website builder.
You want to be a market leader
Not every template is designed to function on all browsers or types of device. And with two-thirds of all online browsing minutes now spent on mobile phones, your new business won't get very far without being accessible to everyone
Why Choose A Custom-Made Website?
A custom site fully incorporates your company’s brand and is entirely centred around your business’s needs. You can be completely confident that your custom made website will be fully search engine optimized and works on all platforms.
You can request all the functions you need and leave space for ones you might want in the future. What’s not to like?
A custom-designed website can scale, develop and grow along with your company. As your business needs change, your site can adapt along with it. You’ll have the option of all the latest technologies and design features. And you can be sure all the back-end functions you need to get the most out of your main marketing channel, like effective databases and analytics, are included.
Custom websites also tend to outrank their template counterparts. This is partly because search engines preference uniqueness and partly because user engagement is better with custom sites.
A custom website is right for you if:
- You intend to grow your web presence
- You have complex needs, e.g. a shop/blog/portfolio, or an eLearning centre with multi-media content
- You need strong back-end functions
- You want to appear high up the search results
Are There Any Drawbacks Of A Custom-Made Site?
There are two drawbacks to consider in choosing a custom-made site – how long it takes to make and the inevitably higher cost of setting it up.
As mentioned above, businesses worried about time-pressure might want to whip up a quick template website as a kind of ‘placeholder’ for their business. Customers will still be able to find you in the meantime, but you will eventually reap the benefits of a custom site.
There isn’t much getting around the cost. For some, templates are the only viable option. But if your business can afford the upfront cost of a custom site, it’s worth taking account of the implications for your ROI in the future.
It may be cheap to use a template, but the long-term impacts of reduced SEO, usability and brand continuity could end up being costly. For very small businesses with equally small budgets, it may still be the best option. But for the rest, investing in a custom site now can save thousands down the line and bring in far more traffic and therefore profit, for your business.