Templates vs Custom Websites: Which is best?

We firmly believe that every business needs a website. That said, even as a web design agency, we don’t think a custom website is the right option for everyone. While we’d love to sell our services to everyone and build that beautiful website that we know we can make, it just doesn’t make sense for all businesses. But how do you know which option is right for you?

There are a handful of things to consider when trying to decide whether to go custom or to just pick a Square Space template and call it a day, so let’s break down a few of them!

Man holding open an empty wallet

Template Websites are Cheaper

Okay, this just had to be the first thing on our list. Custom websites are expensive. Or, they can be anyway. How much does it cost to create a website? Here at Mythic Design, our pricing plans start at $2,000 and that’s considered low by many agencies out there, especially ones who’ve been at this for a while.

The reality is that not every small business can afford to spend several thousand dollars on a website. For example, we often work with churches and non-profits that this is a big problem for. But that doesn’t mean you need to go without. Instead, businesses with limited capital can easily get a nice looking website by using services like Square Space and webflow. We’d still recommend hiring a designer in these cases to help you get set up, but even without a professional, these builders are fantastic for making websites. Which one is the best website builder is another topic entirely, but most of them are pretty solid for entry-level solutions.

On the flip side, established businesses who have the funding and can afford the cost of a custom website should seriously consider it, as the benefits that you can get out of it are definitely worth it! Some projects are simply too big to build out without a pro behind the keyboard

Designing a custom website wireframe by hand

Custom Websites Are More Accessible

Here’s one that’s not always at the forefront of people’s minds: Accessibility. The practice of making sure that your website is accessible by those with disabilities is actually super important. On the one side of things, it’s actually required by law for sites to be accessible by the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). The ADA actually has a ton of great resources on their website about website accessibility and why it’s so important. On the other side of things, it just makes sense that your website be usable by everyone.

With that in mind, a custom website makes a huge difference for accessibility. By default, most sites built with site building tools are just not accessible. The code these tools generate, for example, is usually messy and not semantically correct. This makes it difficult for those using a screen reader to navigate the page. If you build a website right, though, the code is clean and screen readers will have no problem reading the content out to those using them.

Custom Websites Have More Features

Depending on the purpose of your website, you might not even have a choice but to go custom. When we were first starting out, we had a client who wanted to build a website that featured a directory of vendors, the ability for the vendors to subscribe and update their profiles themselves, and advanced search and filters for the vendors. It’s something that simply wouldn’t have been possible if they didn’t get a custom solution made.

The good news is that the vast majority of websites don’t need all those features. A lot of businesses don’t even need dynamic data capabilities like blogs! So consider what kinds of features your website might need before you make the decision.

Custom website development on an iMac

Template Websites Take Less Time

Timeline is important. Sometimes it can make or break a campaign. If you need something fast – like, really fast – template website solutions are 100% the best choice to go with. Our custom website projects usually take 4 weeks to complete. Half of that time is spent getting and gathering content too, which is usually the longest part of the process. With a template solutions, it’s usually a lot easier to come up with content as they start with placeholder text and images.

If you want to do it super fast too, you could look into an AI solution for web design. These tools can take information about your business and generate an entire website for you from scratch! All you have to do is review the content, maybe correct some grammar and change a few things, and you have a ready-to-go site in 30 minutes or less.

Custom Sites are more unique

One of the more obvious advantages to a custom solution is that it’s going to be a lot more unique to you and your brand. While templated websites can and do look great, most of them are very similar and the designs will begin to feel stale and dated after a while. If you opt for a custom solution, your designer has the freedom to make your website truly unique in so many ways.

We did a website for a client recently that included custom illustrations that were done in-house to represent their brand. These illustrations won’t be anywhere else online because they were made specifically for our client. Things like this just don’t happen unless you go custom, so if you truly want to stand out from your competitors, it’s the best way to go!

Developers are professionals

Everybody is an expert on something. Our print marketing designer, Kaylee, for example, is an amazing Musician and Watercolor artist. Personally though, I’m terrible with a brush. Ask us to flip our roles and have her develop the website and me do the graphics, and we’d probably be in some hot water with the client!

Similarly, as a small business owner, I’m sure you’re an expert on whatever it is that you do. Maybe you’re a personal trainer, a chef, or a doctor! The point is, not everybody is a web designer or developer. Sometimes you might not even really know what looks good – and that’s okay!

Designers and developers do this job day-in and day-out so it’s no surprise that they’re the experts on the topic.

Template aren’t always SEO friendly

SEO is the process of optimizing the content and code of your site in order to rank higher on search engine result pages. It’s pretty important, especially for service based businesses who need a steady flow of organic traffic. Template builds aren’t always SEO friendly though, which effects both your rankings and subsequently, your site’s traffic.

When you build a website custom, you have more freedom to make sure that your site is SEO friendly from the start, ensuring you get as many visitors as you possible can. If you need some help with SEO, make sure to reach out to us!

We know this list isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully it gets you thinking about the differences between custom and template, and why sometimes one is better than the other. If you need help with building your custom website, or just need another set of eyes to help make the decision, get in touch with us – we’re more than happy to help!

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