Custom Website vs. Template Website: What You Need to Know

website template
Rachel Gularte - Director of Business DevelopmentWritten by: Rachel GularteDirector of Business Development

The adage “you get what you pay for” rings as true with website design as it does in life. Template websites might be built quickly and cheaply, but don’t expect performance. In other words, don’t buy flip-flops and expect to win the marathon. If the purpose of your website is to grow your business, then you should be aware of the downsides to a cookie-cutter website before pulling the trigger on that option.

Your website is much less likely to generate traffic and convert visitors into customers when:

  • Your website looks generic. If your website looks like hundreds of other websites, potential customers assume that what you’re offering is nothing special or unique and will often question your credibility. They will likely not stay on your site long enough to learn who you are, what you do and why you’re different.

  • You’re limited in look and function. Templates are laid out in a very specific way, which means forget about adding anything beyond what you see. You’re allowed to plug in your content and that’s it.

You know better than anyone that your business is unique-- and your website should be, too! Having a custom website means that it can be built to perfectly fit with the needs of you and your customers. This results in more traffic, fewer bounces and more conversions.   All of these provide the return on investment business owners are after when they set out to put their business online.

Even though a custom website can result in a huge return on investment, be aware that it can also become a huge waste of time and money if you don’t choose the right web design team. Here are 7 things to consider when choosing your custom website designers:

  1. Saving a little money up front could cost you far more down the road. If the price seems too good to be true, it is. There are most definitely quality-cutting measures being taken such as outsourcing work (all kinds of dangers here) or reselling other’s designs. In these cases, you may as well have bought a template.

  2. Find a partner, not a vendor. This means look for a web design and marketing firm who is looking for mutual success with you over the long term and views your success as a victory for themselves as well. A vendor will disappear after they are done with your project with no interest in how your business does after your site is launched.

  3. Find a company that is proficient in content development and search engine optimization (SEO) to ensure that your site will have the compelling content and will be found at the top of the search engines like Google and Bing.

  4. Your site should be built on a scalable, customizable, open-source content management system so that it will grow with your business and bring lasting value. Some firms will build your site on their proprietary, custom content management system that will handcuff you to that company for all your future web maintenance and redesign needs.

  5. Less experienced and usually less expensive web designers will try to talk you into letting them design your website on common, amateur, content management systems like WordPress or Joomla. Beware of these fast-talkers. It might be cheaper for them but there are much better systems for you that professional developers use.

  6. Choose a full-service marketing firm who can build you the perfect website as well as a comprehensive marketing strategy. Your business will always be evolving and having an experienced partner who can help you find new marketing opportunities and keep your business thriving is invaluable.

  7. Look for experience, stability and longevity of the business and its staff. Fly-by-night web designers are everywhere. They might seem cheaper, but where will they be next month, or next year when you’re ready to expand and grow your site? Remember, you get what you pay for.

Your website is a crucial part of your business and should be your most valuable marketing tool. Make sure to take your time and explore numerous web design companies before making your decision.