All roads in digital marketing lead back to your brand’s website. When building or redesigning your website, the choice between a custom website design vs a template website is a major one.
Today, the website development experts at Forge Apollo in Philadelphia are breaking down each website type and how your brand can choose what’s best for you. Plus, we’re showing you real-life examples of clients who have chosen each and why.
For a custom website, web designers design the entire site from scratch without a template. That means the visual elements, functionality, types of pages, branding, and more are entirely customized for the brand’s needs.
At Forge Apollo, we build our websites on the WordPress CMS platform, which means that even though they are a “custom” design, they are still easy to update and maintain.
Benefits of Custom Websites
Custom websites are very beneficial for many businesses for the following reasons.
- Completely custom design unique to your brand
- Enhanced brand identity
- Enhanced user experience
- Flexibility in the amount and types of content on the site
- Opportunities for advanced functionality
- Higher website speed
- Flexibility and scalability as the business grows
- Designed specifically to meet your marketing goals
Forge Apollo’s Graphic and Web Designer, Michele Kusmanick, points out that “A custom website gives you the flexibility to create a unique layout that focuses on your specific needs. It also allows you to use your brand design in more creative ways, which helps you stand out and be memorable.”
Cost Factors of Custom Websites
Due to the custom nature of these sites, the cost depends entirely on the needs of the business. The following factors influence the price, with more abundant and complex needs costing more.
- Number of pages
- Number of page designs
- Number of forms
- Functionality on pages (ex. Basic forms versus a chatbot or custom calculator)
- Imagery – stock vs custom photography and video
- Branding including logo, fonts, color palette
- E-commerce options
- Translation plugins
- CRM integration
Template websites use a pre-defined design and functionality. Developers start with a pre-built design and swap out colors, logos, images, and text to offer a lower cost and faster timeline than custom websites.
Benefits of Template Websites
Template websites are a good choice for some businesses and offer the following benefits.
- Faster turnaround time
- Countless template options to choose from
- Basic SEO Optimization
- Establish an online presence
- Ability to scale in the future (with additional costs)
Forge Apollo’s Senior Website Developer, Rabeah Abbas, points out that “Templated websites are perfect for businesses that are just getting off the ground and need an affordable option to set the foundation for their online presence.”
Kusmanick touts the time-saving nature of template websites, saying they are perfect “if you’re on a tight deadline since most of the hard work is already done.” Plus, she points out that “You can pick out a design that best fits your style without creating a whole style guide from scratch.”
Considerations for Template Websites
Template websites are a great way to get a website up fast at a low cost, especially if no special functionality is needed. If businesses do need extra features, like more pages, e-commerce integration, chatbots, animations, etc., those are still an option for an additional cost. Since the base template design saves time and costs on the initial design and development, this can be a way to get a website that fits your needs at a lower holistic cost than a custom website.
As a bonus, once your template website is live, you can use flex hours to update the design to help tailor the website to your needs. A template website is a smart way to get the foundation of your website up, with much more room to grow.
How to Decide
Here are the questions to consider when deciding whether your brand needs a custom or template website.
What is Your Website Budget?
Budget is the most significant deciding factor when considering a custom website vs a template. Ultimately, custom websites offer more than templates, but the cost follows the features. If your budget is under $10,000, a template website may be better for you.
What Functionality Do You Need?
When considering functionality, what do you need? Do you need contact forms, maps, custom calculators, chatbots, quizzes, etc? If you choose a template website, you’ll be limited by what the template offers unless you pay for flex time to add features (which can add up if you have multiple features in mind). So, a custom website may be a better choice if you have a lot of custom features in mind.
How Strong is Your Brand Identity?
How important is branding to you? If you only care about the logo and colors matching your brand, then a template website is a smart choice. However, a custom website is the way to go if you have a unique brand identity or want to stand out.
What is Your Timeline?
Do you need a website ASAP, or do you have time to build an ideal site? Website developers can create a template website faster than creating a custom site. With that in mind, a template may be the best choice for tight deadlines.
What Are Your Goals?
What do you want to achieve with this website? Do you want to establish a presence online? Do you want to gain a lot of organic traffic? Do you want to use this as the base for a significant digital marketing effort?
Templates work best for simple online presence goals, while custom websites are better for growth and complex marketing goals.
Real-Life Website Examples
Forge Apollo has designed many template websites and custom websites over the years. Here are a few examples of real-life clients, why they made their choice, and what their website looks like.
Template Website Examples
BGrand Benefits was a new business that needed a website quickly to establish an online presence. A template website was the fastest and most cost-effective way to get them up and running while they further developed their business and goals to decide if a custom website made sense for the future.
McGoldrick Electric is an experienced commercial electrician with a stellar reputation. However, an outdated website design made the business look unreliable when referral clients evaluated them online. Since most of their business is referrals, they don’t put too much effort into marketing. They only needed a website to provide a modern, reliable image, so a template was a great choice.
Custom Website Examples
ASD – Answering Service for Directors is a niche business with a strong brand identity. However, their website needed to be updated and redesigned. Their complex service offerings, amount of information to share, and desire to stand out with their unique identity meant that a custom website was the best choice.
AdvisorBOB is software for a niche financial advisor industry need. Their outdated website didn’t highlight their product and services well. They wanted a new website to showcase their modern, innovative software and its unique features. Their need to highlight a particular product and the need for potential updates and growth as their software evolves made a custom site ideal.
Turn to Forge Apollo for Custom or Template Website Design
Whether a template or a custom website is the best choice for your brand, Forge Apollo can help with website development in Philadelphia. We can discuss your needs, budget, and timeline to help you decide if you need more guidance. Contact us today to start discussing your next website.