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When you first decide to build a website the choices you need to make can seem endless. From picking the colour scheme, to figuring out the layout, to narrowing down how many pages you need and how they should be structured, there are a lot of elements that can determine the way your site looks and feels.
One of the biggest decisions you will need to make is whether you will need a custom designed website or if you will be using a template. There are pros and cons of each option, so it is important to first decide the scope of your project, what you will need your site to do for you and how you want your visitors to interact with it.
It’s important to keep in mind that you will be judged against your competition and no matter which way you build your site you will want your business to stand out from the crowd and be memorable. Whether you decide to get your site built from the ground up to meet your specific needs so it is not only easy to customize, but can also reflect exactly what you want to say about your brand, or whether you are happy with a lower cost, less flexible option that is kinder to your wallet, there are a couple of factors you should consider before committing.
Templates will save you lots of time in the development stage because there is very little you can change. If you have found a template that fits your needs perfectly you will not need to spend any time or money developing or designing your site. Templates are very budget friendly, so if you have limited content and only need basic functions, a template might be the right choice for you.
Another factor that should be considered is how you will manage security updates and any new CMS patches. With templates these issues can often effect your site without any warning and can be especially concerning if you are running an ecommerce website that handles sensitive information like bank and credit card details. While this is not an immediate cost, the time spent finding someone with the skills and knowledge to apply CMS updates and patches will contribute to your ongoing costs.
An advantage of having a custom website is having a custom CMS that will be set up especially to cater to your exact needs. All of the elements in your site that you update regularly should be easy to access and modify which may actually save you time and money in the long run by avoiding the need for hiring someone to manage the site for you.
Templates can be restrictive and are not very flexible when it comes to adding features or growing with your business. Templates will not allow you to change too much of the layout, structure, colours or overall design without the code breaking down and becoming disorganised. If you are expecting any growth in your site or you can see yourself wanting to add extra features and functions later on, a template is not a great choice.
Custom website design is more adaptable and scalable and can be packed with any and all the features you need now and in the future. You can dictate how everything will look and function including your navigation system, custom ecommerce options and even any portal functionality you may want.
Regardless of how complex your site needs to be, you will want it to be fully SEO optimised and have cross browser functionality – often templates don’t offer the options that enable you to completely optimise your site for search engines and the more in-depth adjustments can’t be made in templates and require full access to the website’s code.
It’s important to consider how you would like your site to appear to others, if you have a very strict brand identity and visual language it will be important to you to have a website to match your company’s branding, logo and style. Only custom design can truly give you a site that will fit perfectly to your business’ visual language.
Many people simply need some kind of online presence and may require a site to act as a sort of online business card, if you need something very simple as a visual point of reference, are happy with basic functionality and are not worried about giving up some creativity, a template could be the answer.
User experience is also another big factor to think about when deciding if you should custom design your website. Tailoring your design to fit your target audience can make all the difference when it comes to how your clients interact with you, having specialised navigational structure and well placed calls to action will help your conversion rate and keep the bounce rate low.
Because WebAlive has been in the web design industry for over 10 years we have had lots of experience with both templates and custom designs and can see the advantages and disadvantages of either choice. If a very simple site that will not be updated often is required, a template is definitely a safe bet, however if you are finding it hard to keep within template’s parameters, or if you have a lot of creative ideas you want to see come to life, chances are you will find templates restricting and frustrating.
Custom designs give you free reign over your web identity, there is room to move and grow and the graphic design choices are almost unlimited. With custom design you are able to stand out from the crowd and have better control over your content from the back end, not to mention being able to more easily create greater user interaction.
Custom website design can add a lot more value to your business and doesn’t have to be outrageously expensive if you know what you want and are able to find a creative agency whose designers and developers share your vision. If you are interested in redesigning your site or creating something completely new, contact one of the responsive web design experts at WebAlive today.