April 27, 2021
Article by neffdev_admin

Templated vs. Custom Websites: What Business Owners Need to Know

Why is choosing the right website crucial for your business?

When deciding to commission web design companies for your business, you may be overwhelmed with options. From custom builds to templates, there are many types of websites to choose from. We’re here to offer advice to choose a website that fits your business. It’s important to understand the ins and outs of each option before collaborating with a web design company. As with many important decisions, it is essential to understand the fundamentals of web design before committing to a specific design for your site.

When it comes to websites here at Neff, there are 3 primary options to choose from: templated, semi-custom, and custom. There are many pros and cons to each of these options but before we get into that let’s further explain what each option entails. 

Templated websites are purchased templates. Customization includes written and visual content, branding, and colors. However, they don’t have a complete custom design. Next up, we have semi-custom websites. These use a custom design, with a responsive user interface (UI), implemented with a page builder such as Divi, Elementor, etc. And lastly, custom websites involve a tailor-made, responsive UI implemented with custom development, from the ground up. 

Now you may be asking, why is this so important? The correct website for your business will help you reach your target audience, meet your business’s goals, as well as fit your budget and timeline. Consider the options before starting a website project with a web design and development company to avoid losing time and money in the end. 

Templated vs. Semi-Custom vs. Custom

Now that we’ve discussed the different types of websites offered by web design companies, let’s go into detail about the pros and cons of each, to make the right choice for your business. 

Templated:

1. Scale: 

Templated websites are great for small business owners or for piloting new ideas with a lower risk and investment.

2. Timeline: 

Because they are already built out by a third party, templated websites have a shorter timeline to launch. Businesses that need a website quickly can benefit from going the templated route.

3. Budget:

Templates are not only fast but are also the cheapest option, when it comes to building a website. They are great for small businesses that need to split their budget across an integrated marketing strategy.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): 

One downfall of templated websites is SEO. In general, templated websites don’t rank as well as custom-built websites. This is due to bloat in the code that slows down the website. If ranking higher up on google isn’t a goal for your business, templated websites may be a good fit for you.

5. Adaptability / Capability: 

When it comes to adaptability and capability, templated websites can fall short. If you plan on having special capabilities for your website (now or in the future) templated websites are not the route to go. 

6. Maintenance: 

For templated sites, there isn’t always a fix for every bug. This is because they are reliant on a 3rd party builder. Oftentimes plugins will no longer be compatible with your template and this can cause the site to break. 

7. ROI (Return on Investment): 

If the longevity of your website isn’t a top priority, then a template is a great route to take. Templated websites are great to test or pilot new business objectives, but they don’t withstand the test of time. Templated websites’ lifespan is usually on the shorter side which can affect your ROI.

Semi-Custom:

1. Scale: 

Semi-custom websites are great for small to medium-sized businesses who can leverage their website to create real value. 

2. Timeline: 

Semi-custom sites have a timeline that is longer than the templated option, but significantly shorter than a custom site. 

3. Budget: 

Semi-custom websites are great for businesses that are ready to make an investment in the asset, but don’t want to break the bank. These sites cut cost and time during development by using a page builder, such as Divi or Elementor.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): 

Semi-custom websites are more SEO friendly than templated sites, but don’t rank as well as custom-built websites. This is due to the page builder, which is heavy enough to slow down a website. If your business needs to compete with strong competition on Google, semi-custom websites may not be a good fit.

5. Adaptability / Capability: 

You have more power to optimize the performance of your website with a semi-custom build as opposed to a template. If your website must have a very unique user interface, or special capabilities, a custom approach is a better option.

6. Maintenance: 

Though it carries less risk than a templated site, semi-custom websites rely on some 3rd party code. Sometimes plugin updates will no longer be compatible, and this can cause the site to break.

7. ROI (Return on Investment): 

Semi-custom websites can grow in size with your business, but new functionality may be a challenge. They may last longer than templated websites. But, if you’re looking for a website that is very flexible, and can pivot with an agile business, you might want to consider a custom build. 

Custom:

1. Scale: 
Custom-built websites are typically recommended for medium to large-sized companies who have specific integration needs, leverage complex technology, or must compete in a competitive SEO market.

2. Timeline:

Custom sites have the longest timeline. They require web design companies to create a custom design and develop the site from the ground up.

3. Budget: 

Custom websites start at a higher price point, but there can be greater opportunities for ROI.

4. Search Engine Optimization (SEO): 

Custom websites can be great for SEO! The code can be optimized to improve rankings.

5. Adaptability / Capability: 

The sky’s the limit when it comes to custom sites. Essentially any design or technology could be implemented on your custom website. As your business evolves, so can your website! 

6. Maintenance:

Custom sites can be maintained better. This is because it is less reliant on 3rd party code. Custom websites can be built with code, therefore extending the lifespan of your asset. Their value does not depreciate as quickly as other types of websites.

7. ROI (Return on Investment): 

If you have a plan to leverage the capabilities of the site, you won’t regret going with a custom build. It will withstand the test of time and can outperform other types of sites.

Conclusion

When it comes to your business’s website, choosing a website doesn’t need to be a difficult decision. Whether you need to enhance brand awareness or create a digital marketing tool, it’s important to understand your business’s goals. Prior to reaching out to web design companies, consider the timeline, budget, audience, and required functionality. Selecting a website that meets your business needs will bring you a step closer to building your ideal tool. 

Photos by Unsplash and Neff