Cameron FrancisSeptember 19,2013

Why Custom Website Design Is Superior To Website Templates

Category: Web Design
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Business owners are continually seeking ways to reduce expenses and increase profitability. When you are seeking to create a business presence online, similar to the appearance of your office and your marketing content, your site must project an image that is professional. A business that appears professional will also appear more credible to potential clients.

Numerous owners of businesses really don’t have an understanding of the difference between using a site template and having a website custom designed. We will examine both methods of designing a site and the associated costs.

Template sites are quick to create and expensive. We hear this every day. This is big challenge for us, when discussing a site design with our potential clients. How can we explain to our clients the benefits of having a custom site design versus a template that is simply a ‘copy and paste’ site?

At eTraffic Web Design we create custom sites that give our clients results. Therefore, in a spirit of full disclosure, we will never recommend a template design to anyone. If you have a belief that your business is unique and you have a desire to communicate this to your clients, then your website should be a reflection of this.

To effectively accomplish this you will require a site that has been designed, planned and functions based on your own requirements, not someone’s generic concept of your business requirements.

Nevertheless, if you are contemplating the use of a template that you can get off-the-shelf for your business site, here are some items you should take into consideration.

Will A Template Site Have Efficacy?

A site that is effective will provide a business with ROI. It will include calls to action that are strong throughout the website driving visitors to ‘Download’, ‘Order Now’, or ‘Contact Us’, dependent upon the type of business you have. Your site should have effective landing pages that are optimised for conversions and capturing leads. There are templates that can do this. However, they might not fit your requirements exactly, and if you’re content with that and you are happy with the fact that numerous potential competitors can also utilise this same template, then fire away!

Will A Template Site Get My Business Or Product Noticed

You have a desire to increase the expectations of your customers and ensure that your site stands out from your competition. You need to illicit a favourable reaction and you clearly want results! Your online marketing, web design, and branding should all function synergistically to enthral and entice customers. Using an off-the-shelf template can limit the level of quality and consistency you want to generate between your site and the remainder of the materials you use in marketing.

Have you engaged in any research of your competition prior to planning your site? What are they doing that you can improve upon? Prior to proceeding with any website design for our customers, eTraffic Web Design performs extensive marketplace research and reviews the competition. Without conducting this research we are unable to come to informed decisions or achieve the goals of our clients. This research has a great influence on the content and structure of your website. Our sites are constructed on the basis of our research findings. This research assists us in capitalising on any opportunities we have discovered and are supportive of the key messages of your business. If you use a template, you will be forced to compromise your messaging and you won’t be able to display your products and services in their most favourable light.

Will A Template Site Satisfy My Needs And The Needs Of My Customers?

Does the template you got off-the-shelf showcase the products and services of your business effectively? Does it have all the features you require? If you have specific requirements, see if your template is flexible enough to allow for such additions. If the design of your site lacks focus, is poorly done, and generally looks plain and uninspiring, these characteristics will be a reflection of your business and its services and products. A large customer turnoff!

Consider your site’s navigation. Can site visitors find what they are seeking easily? Is the site designed in a manner that is logical and will promote user engagement? If this is not the case, you can be certain that visitors will bounce out of your site in a hurry if you have not invested time into designing a site that has clear navigation.

Is Your Template Amenable To Future Updates?

Do you have the capability of updating, editing, and adding additional content to your site by yourself as time goes on? Can your template be adapted easily to accept additional kinds of content or are you constrained in some fashion? If new products or services are offered by your business, you will require a site design that can be adapted and expanded easily.

Is your site built with a content management system that is user friendly or do you need to rely on the site developer to incorporate each change that you require? The expense associated with this will accumulate over time.

Developing a website will be a significant business investment. Therefore, you want to ensure that you are considering the long term, to obtain the results and return you require.

Features Of Custom Website Design

Many people believe that a custom website design will be too costly, but let’s examine the advantages of custom design compared with using an off-the-shelf template.

Benefits Associated With Custom Site Design:

  • Unique Design

A custom website design will be a unique design specifically for your business. No one else will have a site like yours.

  • SEO – Good designers will create an SEO friendly site

The coding and construction of your site will have a large influence on how well it ranks in search engine results.

  • Custom sites will be more adaptable to your needs

When planning your site, you will generate a list of the features you would like to have. Prioritisation of this feature list will provide your designer with a concept of your future site updates if your present budget is not enough for incorporating all of the desired features initially.

  • Scalability

Similar to adaptability, if you are aware of some of the possible future expansions that may be required, a good designer will consider this as they choose technologies to utilise when constructing your site.

Additional Points To Consider When Deciding If You Need Custom Site Design:

  • Are you going to maintain your own website?

If you don’t plan on learning to code a site, or if you don’t have an employee that knows how to do this, then you will need to have a content management system (CMS) as part of your web design. Some CMSs have limitations, so you should ask some questions regarding the CMS your designer plans on using.

  • Do you have permission to utilise the site’s graphics for additional purposes?

Your site should utilise the branding of your company. If this has already been established, then it should be used in your site. If your branding has not been established already, or if it is undergoing a change, then you should determine if you can utilise the website graphics in other areas, like brochures, letterhead, signage, etc. This is likely to increase the cost of your custom design, however, you will then have what you need to make all of your marketing materials match.

Another idea, if you are considering a custom web design, is to just have a template made incorporating the website theme. You can then, if you have the skills, recycle the template theme to create the web pages for your website.

Characteristics Of Website Templates

The benefits and economies of utilising low cost or free website templates have some misconceptions associated with them. Let’s examine some points regarding templates.

Website Templates Are Good For:

  • Getting inspiration on colours, layouts and features.
  • You cannot have your web designer copy these, but they do give the web designer an idea of the look you would like.
  • Very limited budgets where you must become operational quickly
  • If you have very limited funds, then a template may have some benefits for you.
  • Decreased Development time
  • It seems as if using a template would result in a reduced development time. However, this may not be the case.

Additional Things To Consider When You Select A Template

Utilising Templates Can Have Some Pitfalls:

  • Numerous other people will be utilising this template

Unless you choose to pay for “exclusive” use of a template, the template will be continued to be sold to more people. Note, that even in cases where you pay for “exclusive” use of a template, there will be others who purchased it before you and that have rights to utilise it.

  • Your options for customising this template will be limited.

If you don’t possess coding skills, you must either hire someone to code it for you or learn how to do it yourself. There are templates with a very specific layout. This means that if you have a lot of content or use your own graphics, the template may not function.

  • Many templates use designs that are not friendly to search engines.

The manner in which a site is coded can have an affect upon your SEO efforts. If it is not coded properly, your marketing initiatives may be harmed.

  • Outdated Coding

If your template makes use of outdated coding, it may not function in every browser. Features that are browser specific are an additional indication of outdated coding.

Custom Site Design Or Template?

When trying to decide if you should have a custom design or use a template, you should consider that you have a desire for your business to be memorable and stand apart from the rest.

With either choice, you will still have to engage in some marketing efforts to enhance your results in the search engines. A website that is visually appealing is only a portion of the effort. You must engage in keyword research for keywords utilised by your target customers and generate content that corresponds to these keywords in your web pages.

To build or maintain a site yourself, you will have to make an investment of time, and possibly money, into learning about building web pages.

You should precisely calculate the cost of each of these methods of building your site. Include the amount of time it will take for you to learn how to use a template and make a comparison to the cost of a custom design, where you are likely to have the time to simultaneously build and market your product.

More Drawbacks Of Template Sites

While template sites normally have clean and simple designs, they may have many limitations. With templates, you will obtain that which you see. Template sites have many limitations in the alterations that may be done to the functionality and design of the site. For a lot of businesses, the reduced cost of a template site isn’t worth these accompanying limitations. A site should be built around a business not vice versa. A custom site will suitably reflect what a business does and who they are, while template sites will not normally reflect this.

Template website simplicity does not provide businesses with a way to stand out from their competitors. Custom sites will stand apart from templates since numerous template sites have a similar look and don’t provide much uniqueness. Template sites are very plane and similar, but custom sites can be designed in any manner you choose, providing your business with a unique and professional appearance.

The majority of template sites are not optimised for search engines. If a site isn’t optimised for search engines it is unlikely to show up in the search results. How much value does a site have that can’t be easily found? A reason that eTraffic Web Design develops custom sites is so they can be optimised for search engines. If you have a desire for your site to display prominently in the search results, then a template site will not be helpful for you.

Numerous small organisations may be happy having website functionality that is limited. However, larger organisations normally have a requirement for greater functionality than is offered by templates. Template sites are not designed to be suitable for a specific organisation.

Template sites are easy and quick to construct since they use a pre-made structure and design. This type of design may be suitable for some businesses, however, they place limitations on what alterations can be made to a site. If a business grows, their site should also grow. Template sites are not built in a scalable manner, so when a business grows, their template site will no longer be suitable for them.

With the many drawbacks that are associated with template designs, why should any business make use of a template website? Template sites might save a business money at first, but they will be more costly and result in more problems in the long term. A custom site is really the ideal solution for almost every business.

Get in touch with eTraffic Web Design to learn how a custom designed website optimised for search engines can be helpful for your business.

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Author: Cameron Francis Cameron Francis is the Director of eTraffic Group. He has been engaged in all aspects of online marketing for the past 8 years. He is actively involved in SEO, Paid Search, Social Media Optimisation, and Web Design.

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