You’ve probably seen some of the numerous ads floating around the internet about easy-to-use website themes and ready-made pages. With so many free and simple options out there, you may be wondering whether there’s a reason to design your website from scratch. Is developing something from the bottom up an outdated, overly time-consuming, and unnecessarily complicated method for creating an online presence?
Below, we weigh the pros and cons of both options to help you decide which avenue to take for your next website project.
WordPress themes and drag-and-drop templates have many benefits when it comes to ease of use and functionality, but they also have quite a few drawbacks.
If you’re looking to launch your website within a few days (or even one day), a template site is a good option, as they can often be ready to go in only a few hours. There’s no need to sift through and test code with the included ready-made elements, making the process much quicker than building a custom site. In some cases, you may even be able to upload a few images and your logo, spend an hour or two adding content, and then have something ready to present to your audience by that afternoon. What a turnaround time!
Templates are much cheaper than hiring a developer to custom build a website for you. You can even find some templates you can use for free. In that case, all you need to pay for is a hosting service, which makes these ready-made sites an excellent option for those on a tight budget, especially for those who are just starting and who have a small audience.
Con: Not Customizable
Unfortunately, what makes templates so cheap and easy to use is also their most significant fault. There are very few ways to customize these types of websites and make them unique to your brand, which means they can look too similar to others and get lost amongst the competition.
They’ll have fewer features available than if you were to make your website. In some cases, this could mean that they’re less appealing with fewer interactions, animations, and custom graphics. But these websites can also lose out on functionality since it’s not as easy to add things like databases or membership, registration, or payment processing functionalities. It’s possible to add these capabilities with software or plugins, but it can quickly become costly and complicated to the point where it’s almost as hands-on as building a website from scratch.
Con: Poor Security
Templates may be free and cheap, but they don’t offer much aside from aesthetics. This is a big negative when it comes to security, which is usually available only for an additional fee if it’s available at all.
Hackers know how frail these templates’ security systems are and will often seek them out and exploit them. So, using a ready-made website can make you a target and put you and your data at risk. If you fall prey to one of these schemes, your site may crash, or you may even lose your entire database. And, with little support offered with ready-made options, there likely won’t be anyone to help fix such issues since template companies rarely provide much assistance when it comes to security problems and the like.
Con: Not Unique
When you have a site that relies on copy and paste, it’s hard to make it so that it doesn’t look like a carbon copy of the original and, therefore, like all other sites made with the same template. Because of this, it’s challenging to create a unique identity for your brand and make your site stand out, which can undermine any competitive edge you may have in your industry.
Although there are some steps you can take to make your site more enjoyable with branding or to set yourself apart by finding a template that is less often used, it still won’t be as successful as a custom-made website in most cases.
Websites Made from Scratch
Now that we’ve compared the positives and negatives of template websites let’s move on to custom websites. These types of sites may seem like an outdated and less popular option these days but, although it’s true that custom websites have their downsides, they also have a lot of positive attributes, as we’ll discuss below.
As previously mentioned, it can be challenging to stand out with a template website. But with a custom website, the options for creating a unique identity are endless, and there are many more opportunities for integrating your branding and business identity into your website. This means the site will be more suitable for your audience and company than if you were pigeon-holed into a template.
Businesses that use templates can often feel stifled as they grow since the ready-made sites aren’t made to scale much. In comparison, custom-made websites can grow as your business grows, and things can be added on or changed at any time, making for potentially limitless possibilities.
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Pro: Full-Service Marketing Options
Working with an agency to custom design a website is that you don’t just get a website but an expert who can help you with the many other facets of creating an online presence. These professionals are usually well-versed in how to help you with your overall marketing. They can even assist with SEO optimization, user experience, and other parts of the process. These professionals are your partners rather than just providing a page for you to tweak and tinker with to your heart’s content. They are there to ensure you have a successful launch, providing priceless advice about improving your business and engaging your customers better.
Web design companies will often test solutions and research your industry and target audience to understand what will work best for your situation, developing the site to fit those findings. This usually makes for a site that is much more successful than a template and allows for a much more customized approach, which can help enhance your competitive edge.
Because custom websites offer a lot more than templates, they also cost more. You’ll have to hire outside help from a freelancer or agency to help you research, develop, test, and create the site, which requires a higher budget than doing it yourself with ready-made products.
Some businesses won’t be able to afford this expense, which is where a template can come in handy. But, if and when these companies grow, they often upgrade to a custom-made website once they’ve made enough profit to invest in such an expense to scale more quickly and define their identity more thoroughly.
Because there are so many more elements to consider and so much more to the process, custom-built websites are also more time-consuming than templates. Depending on the size and scope of the project, it can take weeks or even months to custom build a website, not to mention the time spent shopping around for, interviewing, and hiring an agency or designer.
Because of this, if you’re looking to launch quickly, a template may be a better choice. But for those who can manage it, patience is a virtue when it comes to websites and usually pays off in higher quality results.
When it comes to building a website, choosing a custom-built site or a template ultimately comes down to what you need and what you’re looking for. Do you have the time and money to spend on a custom-built website? Are you anticipating growing or needing extra features soon? How competitive is your market? These are the types of questions you must consider when weighing the pros and cons of both options.
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