graphic of a computer screen | custom or template?So you’re thinking of getting a website, but don’t know if you should go custom-built or template-based with WordPress or other 3rd party themes — Wix, Squarespace among others. With the following information, we hope it will help you determine whether custom or template is the best choice for your business. Just know that you can’t go wrong with either one, but you can go wrong with neither one.

When it comes to whether you should go custom or template, there are three core things you should consider:

• Design & Development
• Service / Experience
• Return On Investment (ROI)

Design & Development
Designing a website takes some homework; whether or not your website is customized or a template. A custom website is built with your business needs and values taken into consideration. A good designer will have researched strategies to implement them into your business’ growth and market towards your target audience. Marketing your company values and branding to your target audience. Also, custom website development allots for your website to scale alongside company growth. Although having your website designed and developed with your branding and values integrated, it does come with a higher initial price tag and it will take longer than a template-based website to deliver your website. This is due to the time your designer and developer will need to research your market share.

In contrast, a template-based website will be quicker to set up and have an initial lower cost. Many of today’s template-based websites come with a large variety of themes and modules (add-ons); which allow for a quicker launch and set up. The only downside is that you’ll need to set up your website yourself. If you plan to have someone from the template store to assist, they may charge you. Once it’s set up, it’s up to you to brand it; unless you have a design background, it may not look as good as you may have wanted it to be once it’s launched. Once again, template stores sometimes offer design assistance, but without having a relationship as you would with a custom designer they may not be able to provide you with a website that you’re 100% satisfied with having as a marketing tool. This can be because they are there to sell templates in high numbers; which may or may not look like someone else’s website.

Taking these key points into consideration, you’ll need to think about how much your website means to you and your business and how much value a custom designer brings to the table.

Customer service / Experience Coder
With a custom website, you know that the web developer (if you’ve done your research about their services) will be experienced and have the know-how to maintain your website. There will be less downtime during maintenance or while working on bugs that may pop up; because your web developer will know the ins-and-outs of your website’s code. Modules — things like booking calendars, maps, contact forms — are specifically created for your business needs. Faster implementation of modules. Website scalable with business future. Developer takes care of setting up your website, including email, server and domain name. Though, keep in mind, that having a specialized developer will most likely lock in your working relationship with them; if ever you choose to work with someone else, it may take the new developer time to de-code the code. Most likely, though, you will have been working with your developer long enough to have built a great working relationship.

On the other side of the table, using a template does give you the freedom to work on your own website by integrating pre-built modules that are packaged with the template; allowing you to have your website up-and-running in a shorter amount of time. Most templates come with great documentation, as well; should you need to work on issues. That being said, should you want to work on the modules yourself, you’ll need to brush up on your coding because you’ll be the one code yourself. Though, with good documentation and plenty of hours watching YouTube coding tutorials you’ll be in good hands. Otherwise, you may need to pay a developer in the end to work on your code, maintain it or update it. Plus, just because a module is included with the template and it may seem to be something you can use doesn’t necessarily mean it’s brand ready for your business; that’s where styling code comes in and, you guessed it, you’ll need to make sure you know some CSS styling or some other styling language the module may require.

Return On Investment
Owning a website is an investment. As with any investment, your goal is to have it grow with your company and return its value. Also, with any investment one must put time and effort in order to have it return yields. A custom website has a longer shelf life due to proper development and scalability; about 3-5 years. This is due to the time and effort that was put into research by your designer and developer. Your website will have been designed specifically to your brand and target audience. Initially, the cost is higher, but due to customization and scalability the website continues to grow with your business and continues to function; with minimal brand loss and higher returns. Sales are focused towards your target loyal customers. With a template-based website, as mentioned before, does initially have a lower price tag, quicker to have it up-and-running and will have faster sales. If you don’t have any concerns about branding or longevity then a template would work best for you. Bear in mind that template websites have a shorter shelf-life life; about one to two years. In which case your website would need to be updated, maintained or redesigned frequently; adding up in costs and essentially adding up to a higher cost than the initial custom site.

With some research and numbers crunching, you’ll find what works best for you. And, just because you choose a template based website does not mean you can’t have a custom website. If a custom website is not in your budget, a template website would be the best option. We would recommend you eventually do get a custom website, but it’s best to have a website than none at all. And remember, Green Monkeys Studio is your one-stop-shop that offers services for custom and templates websites.