Template or Custom Build for Your Website
A website is an integral part of any business, large or small. For many consumers, when a company has a website, it is an indicator of legitimacy. That said, a badly designed and poorly developed website can be worse for your business than having no website at all, which is why your choice of website is so important. One of the biggest decisions that companies face when creating a website, is whether they should utilize a template or have their site custom built. Your needs, company and circumstances will determine which choice will suit you best. At Black Snow, we assist you to make informed decisions, so our experienced team has put together a guide on the benefits and drawbacks of both options.
It is a common misconception that any website will be costly to set-up. Template websites are generally cheaper. A once-off cost is paid for a theme or template page-builder and elements within the template can mostly be utilized at no additional cost. As the template websites are also built to be more user-friendly, they don’t always require the skills of a developer, which can be costly. While most plugins are free, the more customized the function of the plugins, the more likely it will be that you will have to pay for them.
Custom websites are usually more expensive, as the site is built to your exact specifications. In order to have full custom functionality with all the bells and whistles you require, as well as a distinctive look and feel, custom websites require the expertise of both developers and designers. Naturally, the effort and time required by these two professionals is what make custom websites more expensive, but it is also their expertise that will ensure that you get exactly what you want.
Template websites are often ideal for the basic functionality required to display a company’s information and offerings without an overly unique design-style or artistic embellishments. Utilizing too many plugins to customize the site will cause it to be slow, unresponsive and more likely to break. All plugins require updates to keep them working optimally. If plugins are not updated, they may no longer work due to the outdated version being incompatible with the theme, or they may even crash the site completely.
Custom websites are not held back by plugins or template structures and as a result, the functionality is virtually limitless. The developer will be able to provide all functionality that you need while ensuring that the site is fast, responsive and well-integrated (less likely to break). Having experienced professionals at your disposal also ensures that your site is kept updated and makes site maintenance easier through regular monitoring and a deep understanding of your site.
As template website’s frameworks are already built and simply need to be adapted to suit your company, template websites are much quicker to put together. Depending on the amount of content that you require, a simple template website can be created in the matter of a few hours or days.
Custom websites will usually take longer as tailor-made designs and functionality requires the developer and designer to build a framework from the ground up.
Security can be a concern with template websites if you are not utilizing the services of a developer. Most people creating their own websites through a template do not realize that plugins and themes need to be updated. When updates are not done, the built-in security is also not up to date and individuals with malicious intent can find ways to use loopholes within previous versions to obtain private information, or even just break the site.
Custom websites can be built with a great deal more security. As they require developers, these experts will also maintain and update your website. With regular monitoring, they will be able to detect and prevent problems sooner.
Flexibility and Scalability
Template websites are quite limited in flexibility, as a specific template has been built with a framework that only has capability to perform or integrate particular functions. As a result, if you want to change your website to include a major functionality change (such as e-commerce), you may have to buy a new theme or template to cater to this. This can be limiting when your business grows and changes.
Custom websites are extremely flexible and scalable as the changes don’t rely on plugins and you have the use of the developer who built the original framework to assist in building onto the site.
While template website vendors do offer support, the level of support and timeframe in which you will be assisted, will depend on the vendor and complexity of support required. The support team may assist by doing an update to the template framework, which will only be implemented at later date (for which they may not provide a timeframe). The duration of support and maintenance is also often limited to a particular period after the purchase of the theme (usually up to 6 months).
When utilizing a custom website, you will have the support of the developer who created your website. As they will be very familiar with the website framework, they will be able to action faster fixes and even rebuild parts of the code that has stopped working. They will also be able to give realistic timeframes for any necessary fixes.
In summary, template websites are generally better suited to businesses that require basic website functionality, are unlikely to require flexibility or scalability and start-ups with limited budgets. Custom websites are better suited to businesses that require customized functionality and brand-specific designs, are likely to change and grow over time and any well-established companies that have the budget to create a well-designed website to create an impression.
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