Web design: Custom design vs. template

When you make the decision to create a website, whether it’s on an eCommerce platform like Bigcommerce, Magento or Volusion or on a CMS (content management system) like WordPress, you’ll have to then decide whether you want an template tweaked to your brand and preferences or a completely custom design.

I’ll go through the pros and cons of each, but I want to make it clear from the start that this decision, in 99% of cases, will be based solely on your budget. A custom design is the better option for any business that can afford it. Your website is the first point of contact for your customers, even if you are not solely based online. If you’re an eCommerce site, this is the first and only impression your customers will make. If your site looks amateurish or overly simple, they will most likely leave, and there will be no second impression. The investment you make in your website should be proportional to how much you depend on it for your business.

There really aren’t any cons to a custom designed website, only that it costs more and takes longer to build. What you have to gain more than justifies the cost, so it’s hard to call that a con as long as it isn’t prohibitive. A custom built website is hard to compare to other custom things, like a suit or house or even a computer. A custom site is built exactly to fit your brand, to be easily managed by the owner, to be optimized for SEO, to grow with your business, and to incorporate all the functionality you need for your unique business model and preferences.

A template is something we only recommend to client’s who don’t have the budget to get a custom design. It’s possible to get the basic functionality you’re looking for, but if you end up needing specific development done, getting a custom design instead of a template will end up being a marginal cost. Templates are done quicker, so there’s one benefit. A template might not work on all browsers, and it might also not be SEO friendly. It’s simpler and it’s easy to install, but what you see is what you get. If you can afford to go custom, you should. With 1Digital it starts at only a grand more.

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