Custom website vs template website: How to choose the right website for your small business?

Mar 14, 2023 | Website

Having a strong online presence is essential for any small or growing business. It is almost impossible to exist as a business in 2023 without at least a basic website, and we should know! As both web designers and a small business, we understand that a solid online presence can make or break a brand.

If you’re after a new website, remember to take a look at our 6 questions to ask your web developer!

Table of contents

What is a template website?

What is a custom website?

Should I choose a custom website or a template website?

Budget

Time

Functionality

Scalability

Marketing and branding

Where can I get a fully custom website for my small business?

What is a template website?

A template website is what it says on the tin, a website that is designed using a pre-defined template. With online ‘no-code’ website builders like Wix, Squarespace, and Hubspot booming in popularity, it is easier than ever for small businesses to get online. They are a great option for cheap, simple websites that can be up and running in no time. Many small businesses will opt for a template website when starting out, but more often than not require a custom website as their business and customers grow.

What is a custom website?

A custom website requires employing a website designer and developer to create a website from the ground up, one of the most popular platforms to do this is WordPress. There are lots of bespoke options that can range from small service-based websites all the way up to huge, ecommerce platforms! A custom website requires more time, money, and effort than a template website, but will often last longer, be more effective, and offer bespoke solutions tailored to your target market.

Should I choose a custom website or a template website?

The answer to this will really depend on what you need as a business! If you don’t currently have a website, and do not have the budget to work with a developer, then a template website is likely your best option. We will often speak to clients who started out with a template, and as their business has expanded they have realised they require a more bespoke functionality and design or that they are restricted by their current platform, so will then seek out a custom website.

On the other hand, if you are in a position to hit the ground running with a custom website, you will very likely save money in the long run and it allows you to build up organic traffic, domain authority, and backlinks from the get-go. This provides long term value that you are less likely to achieve with a template website. Ultimately choosing between the two comes down to 5 key factors:

  • Budget
  • Time
  • Functionality
  • Scalability
  • Marketing and branding.

There isn’t necessarily a right answer, so we recommend you read on to get a more detailed understanding of the pros and cons of a custom website vs a template website!

Budget

One of the key differences between a custom website and a template website is the initial investment. Your website is often the first place a customer will find you, so it is essential it reflects your businesses services, ethos, and branding. Template website builders have limited functionality and design options but will come at a much cheaper price compared to a fully bespoke website that is built for you. A template website is likely to be clean and functional but may be limited in its back-end structure which can ultimately come back to bite you.

You also need to factor in the time it will take you to build a template site yourself. Would you be better off spending that time generating revenue for your business in other ways rather than trying to save on up front costs?

Time

As mentioned previously, you could theoretically have a simple, template website live in a day. Sure, it probably wouldn’t look great or be very effective but it would be there! Even if you decide to spend a bit longer on your template website, a custom website designed by a professional will usually be far superior to a template build.

Saying this, a custom website can take anywhere from 2 week -6 months from start to finish, and we don’t recommend rushing this process. Considering a custom site comes with a higher price tag, you will want to make sure it’s the best it can be, which means no cutting corners! If you’re in a rush, it may be best to opt for a template website or launch with a simple landing page until the rest of the website is complete.

Hand holding clock, custom vs template website

Functionality

Website templates often have to sacrifice functionality for simplicity. This includes mobile optimisation, page speed, UI, UX, and online stores. It’s also important to consider the safety of your website, as templates are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. A custom site is set up to be secure, safe, and is far less likely to be targeted by hackers.

A custom website also allows you to better monitor and optimise user experience, which will ultimately lead to more conversions and higher profit (here is a handy list of the events you should be tracking as a small business). When it comes to functionality, templates just can’t compete.

Scalability

If you’re just starting out, a simple template might seem like all you need, but it is important to ‘future proof’ your business. If your business is successful, you will likely need to scale your website by adding new products, landing pages, or custom functionality. You may find that you either can’t add these features to a template, or it dramatically slows down your site speed, neither of which is ideal.

This is where opting for a custom website early on can be really beneficial, as you already have the foundations in place to safely and effectively grow your website. Custom websites will have the flexibility to grow as your business does. Plus, you will have access to more tools to monitor your website.

Marketing and branding

Just as the eyes are the window to the soul (apparently!), a website is the widow to a business! There will be certain creative limitations with a template website that may reduce your ability to market your business. For example driving organic traffic to your website with SEO is often a lot harder, and adding additional pages such as landing pages or blog posts can start to slow things down.

Other ways your marketing can be affected by a template website are limitations on the amount of video content you host, or custom animations. Every website builder tool will have slightly different rules and requirements, but in general a custom site will give you much more flexibility to utilise creative and intentional marketing.

Where can I get a fully custom website for my small business?

At Example Marketing & Web Design we build fully custom WordPress websites from the ground up. You will have access to our expert team of website developers, designers, content writers, and marketing gurus to help launch your new website and grow your business. Find out more about website development or get in touch! We’re always happy to have a chat and find out more about your website requirements.

For a limited time only we are offering small businesses a chance to get online with a fully custom website from just £999 (+VAT). You’ll have access to our full team but for almost half the price! This offer ends soon so get in touch today to find out more.

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