- Template websites are comparatively inexpensive and easy to implement and have design options for various business verticals.
- Professionally designed websites offer advanced functionality and design flexibility.
- You should take the time to evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of each option before choosing.
Your website is the face of your business on the internet. In addition to providing information about your products and services, your website can help you:
- support and elevate your brand,
- increase revenue with a web store that’s always open for business,
- boost your business development by capturing new leads and building your mailing list,
- provide your customers with on-demand support,
- build a community with blogs and message boards and
- steer customers to your office or brick-and-mortar store.
Given how important your website is to your business and its goals, should you use a template or invest in a professional design when creating a website for your business? Here are the pros and cons of each option.
Template websites are a good choice when you have limited requirements for functionality, content and branding. For example, a template may be a good fit for a local store that doesn’t sell products online, a startup company looking to establish a basic web presence or a blogger who doesn’t offer a product line. These businesses may find that template sites offer advantages.
- Cost: Template websites require less coding than custom sites, which makes them less expensive.
- Speed to market: Because most of the coding work is provided in the template, you can set up a template site in a matter of days, depending on how much content and customization you add.
But template sites also have disadvantages that may make them less useful for companies that want to develop their own brand or custom functionality.
- Shared design templates: With numerous companies relying on the same website themes, you may have a difficult time distinguishing your brand or making it memorable.
- Less flexible: While many attractive design options are available in templates, businesses don’t have much flexibility to modify those designs. Some template website builders may come with drawbacks, such as limited or no access to code for customization and limited search engine optimization (SEO) or analytics. And, if you don’t own your website’s design, you may not be able to transfer it to another provider later.
- Diminished functionality: Templates can make it difficult to incorporate advanced functionality into your website. For example, you may not be able to offer an online store or use online forms that integrate with your customer relationship management platform or other applications.
Custom Designed Websites
Professionally designed websites usually require a larger initial investment of time and money than template websites, but they can be economical, especially in light of their advantages.
Professional web designs allow for more flexibility, manageability and adaptability and easily integrate advanced functions. Most professionally designed websites use standard content management systems (CMS), such as WordPress, Joomla or Drupal, which make coding more efficient compared to entirely bespoke sites.
Even when your website begins with a CMS theme that is modified to meet your professional web design requirements, the initial framework is coded with your company’s long-term objectives in mind.
To be sure, this process will require a greater investment of time up front than a template website. However, professional web design is more likely to result in a website experience that reflects your unique branding and increases your customers’ satisfaction.
Here are some of the other advantages that a custom site offers.
- A strong first impression: Visitors’ perceptions of your company are critical for building and maintaining your credibility. A professional design allows a company to make a great first impression with a website that stands out from others. Moreover, beautiful, thoughtful design inspires visitors to stay on your site longer—which increases your opportunity to capture their business.
- Customized design layout: A professional designer will spend the time to appreciate your customers’ needs and create an intuitive navigation and layout to match. As user needs change over time, a flexible, professional website design will provide the flexibility to continuously improve the user experience.
- Fast website load time: Slow websites lose traffic. According to Google, 53% of mobile users leave a website if it takes longer than three seconds to load. With a professionally designed website, your project team will code your custom website to meet your requirements without the extra bloat of a template site that can bog down browsers. The team will also test your site to verify that all links, images, videos and navigation elements work quickly, no matter what device a user views the site from.
- Easy database integration: Your company has likely invested in software that makes your work easier, such as a customer relationship management system or a purchase order application. A professional design team can integrate your website with these other systems in ways that streamline customer service and delight visitors.
- Complex functionality, including eCommerce stores and membership systems: Beyond basic eCommerce, many businesses need to build advanced functionality into their website. Perhaps you want your online store to recommend products based on your visitors’ past purchases. Or maybe you need a customer membership portal that links to a customer service forum to improve customer engagement. During the structured discovery phase, your team will capture and add these requirements to your site.
- Consistent branding: Your brand is your promise about what your customer can expect to receive from your company. A custom website should consistently deliver that brand on every page. For instance, the navigation and layout will be the same across the site, and the fonts, colors and buttons will be uniform. This consistent branding will correlate to a better user experience, enabling you to build better brand recognition and loyalty.
- Enhanced SEO: Search engine algorithms change frequently. While a template website will include basic SEO functionality, it will likely be slow to adapt to changes to those algorithms. However, a professional website design focuses on code-level improvements of your meta content, page performance, structured data and device compatibility. A custom website is equipped with the tools to modify your technical SEO as rapidly as search engine algorithms change.
- Effective website analytics: Many template websites provide limited analytics functionality that allows you to understand and analyze a few aspects of your visitors and your website performance. Through the discovery phase of your professional web design, your project team will define optimal success metrics for your site. Advanced Google Analytics functionality can be added to your custom web design to track your success.
- Timely maintenance support: Since templates are built to be used by any company regardless of its requirements or IT environment, their coding is generalized. If there is an issue with the coding, you may have to wait for the template developer to change the template—and if you’ve modified the template to suit your own needs, subsequent changes from the developer may disable your design or impede your functionality. With a professionally designed website, you have the direct support of your design team to make necessary coding changes—and your design team will correct errors without harming your site.
- Longer design lifespan: Because custom websites integrate with corporate branding, your professional website design will remain effective and on-brand longer than a template website. Also, since your custom website is coded to meet your functional requirements, it won’t require adjustments as often as a template website will.
Get Started With Your Optimal Website
Your website is your chance to make a memorable first impression on prospective customers. Whether you choose a custom website or DIY website builder option, you can expect increased web traffic, higher customer satisfaction and website functionality and design that can grow with your business. Contact us to learn more about how Network Solutions drives online business growth.
Products mentioned in this blog post include:
Images 1-2: Shutterstock