February 28, 2020
A custom website design or a pre-designed website template – What’s the difference & how to know what’s best for your business?
If you’re looking to set up a website, there are so many options and it can be really difficult to choose the best one for you. So today, I’m going to break down the difference between having a site custom-built for you versus purchasing a pre-made template like the ones in my shop.
A website template is a pre-made design. You pick a layout you love and then customize it for your business.
Typically, designs are platform-specific meaning you need to know where you would like to have your website hosted before committing to a theme. For example, my templates are built on Showit but there are lots of other website platforms out there. Ultimately, your choice will depend on your goals for the site.
The reason I built my templates on Showit is that everything can be customized. If there is anything within the template you’d like to change, you can! Colours and fonts can be updated to match your branding. Also, images and text are easily replaced with your own.
Customizing a template is great if you need to launch your website quickly. Custom web design can take weeks if not months and if you need a site launched asap then a pre-made template is a perfect choice!
What about if you are short on time and don’t want to DIY a template yourself? Well, many designers like myself will offer template customization services. Because you are buying a site prebuilt, the customization will only take 1-2 weeks at most.
You want an online space that beautifully showcases your business but have limited funds to invest. I get it and understand this struggle! A template design is great because you get the designer look for a much smaller investment.
As a newer business, one of the scariest things to do is invest your money in other services. There are risks and the potential that you may not be happy with the end result. Hopefully, if you’ve done your homework and found a designer who’s work consistently impresses you then you’ll be ok going custom. But, if you are worried then a template is a great choice.
You pick a site you already love then simply update it to your liking!
If you opt for custom design, your website will be built from a blank canvas. Your business needs will drive every decision and design detail.
The visual elements like fonts & colours are chosen to connect with your ideal client. User experience is top of mind. Site layout and flow are designed precisely with your end user in mind. Custom design starts with a good understanding of who you are trying to connect with.
Custom design also takes into account your unique business goals. What exactly do you want your users to do when they land on your website? Website layout and design are specifically aligned with user outcomes in mind.
Typically, when you are in the first couple of years of your business there are so many things to figure out. It’s a time of growth, experimentation and finding your place in the market.
You may start out understanding your audience and have a good idea who you are trying to reach but until you actually start taking action, you’ll notice things will shift. You gain clarity with time.
A pre-made template with a little customization help (if you need it) is what I would recommend in the first couple years of business. Then, once you start to outgrow your site or find that clarity, invest in something custom.
If you have a website for your business, which route did you go – Started with a template or designed something completely your own? Are you glad you went the route you did or wished you’d done something differently? I’d love to know!
Still not sure or want to chat about your options? I’m always happy to connect.
I’m Vanessa, a west coast Canadian girl obsessed with all things design who left her corporate gig to build websites for like-minded creative entrepreneurs. I’d love to help you too!
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