There’s four areas I’m going to cover today. The first area is design. The second area is future growth. The third area is professionalism and support, and the final area is ROI or return on investment. In the very end, I’m going to cover some cons or some ways that you would know for sure that you want to go with a template and not a custom site.
Let’s start out with design. What’s so amazing about custom sites is the design is totally custom built for you. What that means is that the designer can take your business objectives, your goals for walking people through the site, they can speak to your ideal clients and who you’re actually trying to sell to, and they can make that a custom experience built only on your goals and only what you’re trying to do, both visually and functionally. Whereas with templates, of course, you are having to fit your business into their mould and kind of fit what you’re doing into a template that’s already there.
The downsides to this is that you don’t necessarily know strategy, or best practices, you don’t necessarily know user experience, and you don’t know how people go through a website, so a lot of times you’re kind of guessing, is “I think that this is how a website should be done,” but not totally clear. Of course, with custom design, you can do something kind of different and really visually stand out. That is a huge plus. The second thing I want to cover is future growth.
With a custom website, the designer can take into account how you’re going to grow in the future, how you plan to grow in the future, what types of services you plan on adding, and really, what your future goals will be so that they can build the site to grow with you and for you. You’re really building a foundation for the future. For example, if you were wanting to add in a shop later on, you would want to pick a platform that will allow you to do e-commerce, and maybe they would even design it that way initially even if you’re not ready to start selling yet, but design it with e-commerce in mind so that when you are ready, you basically are.
They can design it so that it’s literally ready to go when you are. But whether you’re using a template or a custom, I would definitely suggest planning for the future if you can. But the professionals just know how to do it a little bit better. That leads me to my third area, and that’s professionalism and support.
Professionalism and Support
When you’re going with a template, whether it’s a template from a company like Shopify or Squarespace, you do have some built in support through them. But it is a bit limited. It’s usually based on functionality and not really design. They’re not going to help you design your site. You really are on your own when it comes to that stuff, and especially if you purchase a template for WordPress or something like that and you’re installing it yourself, you really don’t have any support. You’re doing it all on your own.
I would suggest if you are doing DIY, to learn a little bit of code so you know what’s happening. It’s just like knowing what’s under the bonnet of a car in case something breaks. Whereas, on the other hand, with a custom site, you’re going to have either built in support or ongoing support that you can purchase either from your web designer or from another professional. Professionals do a good job. They’ve done hundreds, if not thousands of websites just like yours, and they know what they’re doing, they know what works and they know what doesn’t work.
You can lean on their expertise for any questions you have regarding what should go on a page, how it should go on a page, how do people go and use a website. All of those things go into it and make it really, really great and really, really professional…. as well as unique. The fourth area is ROI, or return on investment.
ROI (Return On Investment)
Obviously, the investment is much higher when you’re looking to do a custom site versus a template site. But sometimes you have to ask yourself, “Is it really cheaper?” Because when you use a template site, the shelf life is a lot shorter. The average use of a template site is one and half years.
Whereas, the average use of a custom site is anywhere from three to five years. When you think about how many templates and how many updates you’re paying for and how much extra support you’re going to need, sometimes it’s actually more expensive to go with the cheaper option, kind of like when you buy a cheap pair of socks and you have to keep replacing them versus buying an expensive pair and you have to replace them less often, sometimes it makes more sense to invest in the beginning.
The other thing about custom sites is that because they’re built with you in mind and your goals and your business objectives, they are able to probably make you more money faster, but they are built to be money making machines. Web designers know the strategy behind selling visually through a website, whereas you are probably just copying other websites or you might be guessing, or with a template, they don’t really know your business, they don’t really know your customers, and they’re sort of just throwing you in. You might get some sales, but they’re not going to be highly targeted sales.
With all of that said, I don’t always suggest custom sites for people.
There are definitely times when I think a template is just fine for what you’re looking for. If you’re just starting out in business and you don’t have a lot of money, templates can be a great way to go to get you up and running and somewhat professional while you’re trying to build your business and make money. In those cases, I would suggest a year or two down the road reinvesting and doing a custom site. Last thing I want to note, is that there’s a much quicker uptime to getting a template site up versus doing a custom site. Obviously, it takes time to build a custom site, and it takes time to build it well, so template sites can get up much faster, especially if you’re looking for a temporary solution or something to work for you in the interim while you’re building a business.
I hope this helps you when it comes to making your decision.