Custom Design Versus Template Design

Oct 20, 2011

Your website is the “window” to your business. The more professional looking your business appears, the more credible it looks. Before websites, most clients dealt directly with clients by having the client come into the business location. Everything has changed with the new technology available.
More and more customers are looking on line for any service needed. Keeping your site up to date is very important as technology changes. Clients are now asking for Mobile Sites and QR Codes to keep their branding material updated and available to mobile users.

Social Media's Impact

Social Media is now playing a more important role than in the past.   It it now necessary to add Facebook, Twitter and social media links to your website to help your visibility even further.   The look of your website has now replaced your “front lobby.” This is why your branding, your message and everything related to your website must be user friendly and inviting, just like your marketing materials and office’s appearance.  Many do not really understand the difference between having a custom web design done and using website templates. Below we will look at the differences and the cost involved for both.
Pros for developing custom web design:
• Unique design. Your new custom website is created from scratch just for your business. Your website will be different from anyone else’s and it will be search engine friendly.
• How the background coding of your website is done will influence your success in the search engines. Custom design includes better programming tailored just for your company’s unique needs and programmed to target your audience.  The custom website will be more adaptable to your company’s needs as you move forward and grow.  This will allow you to add bells and whistles in the future if your budget does not allow for them at first.
• Functionality:  Your web designer will take this into consideration as they select the technologies to use while building the website.  Your platform will be chosen based upon the functionality you need for your specific business and result required.  If you do not intend to learn how to code a website (or have someone on staff that can do this well) then you are going to have to request that a content management system be incorporated into the web design. There are limitations on some content management systems so be sure to review carefully which content managed platform your web designer chooses. For instance, can you add graphics, images or merely content?
The website design should incorporate your company’s branding. If you have already established your company branding, then that branding should be incorporated into the website.  For a business that hasn’t established a branding or is under going a revamping, then you are going to want to know if you can use the graphics on the website elsewhere, like your letterhead, brochures and signage to mention a few. This will increase the price of the custom web design, but then you will have everything match.
Another idea if considering a custom web design is, just have a template made incorporating the website theme.  You can then, if you have the skills, recycle the template theme to create the web pages for your website.
There is a misconception on how beneficial and economical using free website templates or purchased website templates is. Let’s look at some points about website templates:  You cannot have your web designer copy these, but they do give the web designer an idea of the look you would like.  Copying a website directly could cause liability issues.  Most Template Designers buy the license to use selected templates.  This is why you have many to choose from when you choose this route.
• For those with very low budgets where you need to get up and running as soon as possible.
• Shorter development time.  About 10 to 12 hours will be all that is needed to add your specific information to the template content areas.
Using website templates do have some downfalls:
• There is going to be many others using the same template.
Unless you pay the “Exclusive” price for the template, the template website is going to keep selling that same template to anyone that asks.  Further, even if you pay the exclusive price, there are others who have bought the template prior to you and they still have the right to use it.
• You can change only the content areas on some sites.  Very little customization is allowed.
Without design skills yourself, you are still going to have to hire an outside design firm or someone to help you.
Some templates allow “no changes.”  If you attempt to change the styling of the template, the template may become corrupted.
• Some website templates are not built to be search engine friendly and have no meta tags, etc.
As explained above, it is important how the background coding of your website is done. If not done correctly, it could hurt your marketing efforts on the internet.
• Antiquated coding.  Depending upon how old the template design is you may be faced with backend coding which is antiquated and not search engine friendly any longer.
If the website template uses antiquated coding, it might not work in all browsers.
Browser specific features are another sign of antiqated coding.
Custom Web Design or Website Template?
When deciding if a custom web design is the way to go or if a website template is a better choice keep in mind that you want your business to stand out from the crowd and be memorable.
In either case, you are still going to have to do some work to get up there in the search engine results. Having a website that looks nice is only part of the internet marketing package. You will have to research the phrases that your target audience would type in the search box to find you then incorporate those phrases into the content of each of your pages.
To maintain or build the website yourself you are going to have to invest some time (and money possibly) into learning all there is to building a web page.
Speed costs money … fast do you want to go?  Custom Design is always more expensive than template design due to the fact that it takes longer to build the site.  20 to 40 hours is required to build most custom sites and designers get paid by the hour.  Find out what their hourly design rate is and you’ll have a good idea what your site will cost.  You do need to consider that the more functionality you ask for, the more time will be required to finish the project.
Research before committing to a web designer by visiting several companies and determining what your best course of action should be based upon your own unique set of circumstances.   We would love to meet with you as you start your search.  Call us to schedule a brief design consult.  407.405.4877 (Ask for Jean Holland-Rose).


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