After 15+ years as web designers, engineers and developers, we feel confident in sharing our knowledge behind making this very vital decision. We’ve seen it all. Small business owners to C-level marketing executives tearing their hair out trying to decide how much or how little to invest in redesigning their outdated site, or developing a new one. By taking the time to carefully weigh a few options, the choice between a custom website and a template-based website doesn’t have to be a stressful one.
A Side Note
StraightFire does not benefit by promoting either option. We make a good living creating both WordPress templates and custom sites and are purely out for the best interest of each of our clients. Our priority is to secure long-term, successful partnerships by meeting the marketing needs of our clients that falls within their budget. Following are 3 considerations when making this important decision.
Companies need to have a marketing strategy in place before they spend a dime. We have seen several very promising start-ups spend their budget on storefronts, interiors, customer service and beautiful presentation but forget to plan for how they will drive traffic to their business. Often, the website is down the list of priorities and when they would have thrived with a custom site, their business suffers because they settled for the less expensive template. Templates look pretty, but often are very limited in their functionality. It’s important to be aware of their limitations before a financial investment is made. Templates can be altered to a certain degree, but any alteration to a template equals added costs. If your budget is limited, a website template might be your only choice, but the rate of investment (ROI) from a custom site can be well worth it.
2) Cookie Cutter Design
Have you ever visited a new website and thought you’d been there before? Me too. When competition is high, the worst thing you can do is blend into the crowd. While template sites present themselves as easy and economical, they lack distinctiveness, creativity, and are easily forgotten. While there is some degree of customization in templates, there will always be limitations that will frustrate and prevent conversions. A custom website gives you a blank slate on which to create a truly unique experience and build an emotional connection with your customers. That connection is what builds trust and drives traffic, the benefits of which are difficult to put a price on.
When selecting a template, make sure above all else to select one that is mobile ready. The vast majority of Americans – 95% – now own a cell phone or mobile device and most use them to find businesses. Considering that mobile traffic accounts for more than half of all internet use these days, responsiveness is no longer an optional feature. Mobile ready sites also rank higher on Google than websites that aren’t responsive. Are you selling products? You will need an e-commerce site. Templates are limited to their back-end capabilities. Do you need your site to be secure? Hackers love template-based sites because a single piece of malicious code can be used to hack thousands of sites at once. Do you plan on expanding? Custom-built websites are flexible and will grow as your business grows; when the time comes to update an aspect of your website, significant changes can quickly be made. It’s important to think through all the function of your site and how it will be effective in meeting your long-term goals before you make a decision.
Website templates are limited by uniqueness, functionality, and scalability. Any up-front savings they offer will usually end up costing more down the line. A custom website is built specifically for your needs, tailored to your unique identity, and configured to grow with you into the future.