An online presence for businesses no longer remains as simply an invaluable asset, but rather, it is now an absolute essential. In many cases it will be the first point of contact that a customer has with your company or organisation, and therefore it is important to present a professional image that is in line with the identity of your business. This is something that helps build a positive relationship with your clientele by establishing a certain level of trust.
When deciding that you want a new website, there are often two routes that you can choose to go down – template or custom design. Both of these have their pros and cons, which I am going to detail below…
Effectively a template design is a ‘generic’, pre-built site that is based around a set of pre-defined boxes in which you can place your content. These are available for anyone to purchase, and the owner can tweak the colour palette, add logos, and can usually move around the content in a sort of square, puzzle-like format. This is done either with the help of a developer and by using an in-built Content Management System (CMS). In most cases, these pre-built designs are not very flexible, and you are limited to the parameters set by the template.
The main positive of these limitations is that template websites are cheaper to create because they have already been built, and therefore setting them up is much quicker. However, this also brings with it several drawbacks. As the customisation is very limited, it is difficult to consistently apply your brand image and identity across the site. Alongside this, the layout functionality and the navigation of the site may not be perfectly suited to the purpose of the site, which can have a detrimental effect on the overall user experience.
Another problem that resonates more with the success of your business is that many of these templates are built using outdated, and often substandard code. This can have a negative effect on Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) because finding and indexing the keys words search engines like Google use is made substantially more difficult. These issues can also have an effect on the sites compatibility with browsers, which in turn can increase the lading time for specific pages – something that can be infuriating for the user.
- Relatively inexpensive
- Can be built quickly
- Difficult to find a template exactly matching your needs.
- Can be negative for SEO purposes
- Potentially slower loading times
A custom, or ‘bespoke’, designed website is one which has been tailor-made to your businesses specific demands and needs. Your requirements will be carefully analysed by designers and developers, who will interpret your brief, and work with you every step of the way to ensure that the design is totally unique to you and your business. This will enable the identity of your business to remain consistent throughout the site, whilst also retaining an overall positive user experience. The control over your online presence will be total – from design to functionality.
The website developer will specifically set aside time to ensure that the website works on all the main browsers, as well as the design appearing as it should in multiple formats, including both mobile and tablet devices. Alongside this, an agency such as ourselves will be on hand to make any cosmetic changes, whilst also keeping on top of any urgent technical problems that may arise.
Another bonus of a bespoke website is that it can be designed with the future of your business in mind – mainly its growth and development. The expansion of your business will be a key element in the design, making changes to the website as seamless, and with as little hassle, as possible.
Custom designs are inevitably more costly, and in turn, take longer to implement then a template. However, along with your bespoke website, you have an agency such as Diffusion who are able to supply you with a wealth of experience, advice and information to make sure that your online presence is as you intended it to be. This is partially what you are investing in when you pay a bit more for a bespoke site.
- Focus the design and functionality around your business model and needs.
- Fully customisable
- Have agency support to ensure you get the most out of website.
- More expensive
- Takes longer to setup
Whilst template websites may be cheaper, and can provide you with a quick and easy way to establish an online presence for your business, in the longer term, it is worth making an investment in a bespoke website so that you do not compromise on the quality, usability, or your professional image. Ultimately, you really do get what you pay for.