Custom vs. Templated Website Design and Development
The Key to a Successful Integrated Marketing Campaign
Making the decision to build a new website, whether it’s a rebuild or a brand new site, is a big decision. The financial and time commitment isn’t light, however, building a new website is a decision that will significantly impact the marketing of your business. A well-designed website can set your business up for substantial growth, while a poorly-designed website with a bad interface and experience could severely decrease your new business leads and negatively impact your customer perception. A well-functioning website is always a crucial part of our integrated marketing campaigns and is the backbone to a successful advertising initiative. You aren’t maximizing your public relations, social media, advertising, and overarching integrated marketing dollars if your website isn’t fully up to web design and experience expectations.
Why Your Website is Your Most Important Tool
Your website is a direct reflection of the business you run and services you provide. A user could go to your site and see a high-quality design that was strategically structured and gain a high level of trust with your business or see a hastily thrown-together page and run in the other direction. Most consumers make the subconscious connection, if you don’t care about the perception of your own business, why would you care about your customers? A well-designed, successful website can produce a high ROI for a business and positively reinforce brand perception. With the right user experience, your potential customers have the opportunity to learn about your business, see the quality of the service or product you provide firsthand, and in return, make the decision to contact you for your services. Every new customer is more potential money in your pocket and referrals for additional new business. The design decisions and content on your site is an extension of your advertising and your one chance to win customers over before meeting them face to face.
Now that you’ve decided to move forward with investing in a new website, the next decision is whether to build a custom experience or use a previously designed template. Neither are bad options, and both will produce a high-quality product. The biggest difference between a custom designed and developed website and a templated website are cost and timeline to produce.
In order to check every item off of your website wish list, whether it’s customized interactions or unique features, you’ll hire an agency to build a completely custom website from the ground up. At Neff, we involve all of our clients in the design process from moodboarding to the mobile version. There is not one item that the client can’t give input on, which allows for complete control throughout the process. Another benefit to having a website custom designed and developed is better SEO results. Custom websites are more searchable and get better rankings because they’re easier for web crawlers (bots that search websites for SEO criteria) to scan.
The downside to having a custom website is that it takes a significantly higher number of hours to complete the design and develop it, which increases both the timeline and the cost of your project. One of the reasons that it increases the timeline (besides having to code an entire website from scratch, of course) is because the developer has to create every element in your CMS (content management system). With a templated approach, the CMS is already pre-determined, and everything is editable. When our developers create content in the CMS, the client has to tell them every aspect they want to be able to edit. Anything they do not specify will not be editable unless a developer changes the code.
Templated websites are a great option for clients who either do not have a lot of time to build their new website, have a smaller budget to do so, or small businesses who have minimal custom needs. Website templates are beautiful pre-designed websites that have customizable images, content, typography, colors, etc. While the layout of the website is pre-determined, you can still customize it to reflect your branding. There is an abundance of well-designed and developed templates available these days with great interactivity. They take significantly less time to build because the structure is already existing, therefore lowering the cost of the website.
The downside to using a templated website is that you get little to no control over layout, features, or interactivity. You have to fully commit to the template knowing exactly what you can and cannot customize. Once your site is launched, it is very hard, if not impossible, to add any extra features you think of later if they were not included in the purchase of the theme. Another downside to using a template is that template is available to everybody else in the world; your website may look very similar to a lot of other websites.
Deciding Which Route to Take
At the end of the day, there is no right or wrong answer to which path you should take with your website. That decision is based on your budget, your timeline, and your website needs.
At the beginning of every new website design and development project, we ask our clients a series of questions to help determine which route is right for them. Have you allocated a budget? Do you have a specific timeline? What specifically do you need your site to do for you – what is its main function? Can you define the key sections of the site? Which sections/content will you need regular access to for updating? Do you have experience using a CMS? Any special requests/must-haves? Honest answers to these questions will help us determine which type of website will set you up for success.
Neff’s web team specializes in custom website design and development and is well equipped to take your vision from the ground up, but we can also customize a website template for you for a fraction of the cost. Our photography and videography capabilities ensure that our clients have high quality content to show.
No matter which route you decide to go, you will end up with a beautiful website that reflects the quality of your company and gives the user the highest level of trust in your business. Hiring a marketing agency like Neff gives you a full range of options that will cater best to your business and your overarching advertising plan. Take a look at some of the websites we have designed and developed. Once your new website is live, it’s time to drive traffic there and start bringing in the potential new business. An integrated advertising campaign, which usually consists of public relations, social media, media buying, and advertising, will help balance your marketing strategy and drive qualified traffic to your newly designed and developed website.