Custom Websites vs. Templates
You may have already done your research and have read a dozen articles about how pre-fabbed Do-It-Yourself (DIY) website templates are generic, limit creativity, your website will look like everyone else's and yada-yada-yada. I'll spare you from hearing it again. It's only partially true anyway. There are some beautiful and dynamic templates out there that make me green with envy and they deserve a hats off. They are customizable (to a certain extent), however they are at a premium cost, and just as a rocket needs a rocket scientist these robust templates need the coding skills of an experienced web developer, otherwise the website will break over and over again. But it's not these outstanding expert web developers you need to worry about when it comes to DIY website builders.
DON'T GET RIPPED OFF! The popularity of DIY templates attributes to the surge of non-tech types with no design skills who offer quick and cheap websites – individuals who don’t know HTML and have never written a line of code. They can get a free website template, copy and paste text into it and upload some photos, therefore they don't even need to know HTML or be trained in web design whatsoever. Your 11-year old could do it. (I'm totally serious.) It's about as simple as a Word document - type some text, choose a font and insert a few photos. Sounds like the best thing since sliced bread, doesn't it? NO!
Tragically, a lot of these non-tech people are seeking easy money and claiming to be experts on web design, and even worse, many are charging the same price as custom websites designed by trained professionals who put a lot of time and labor into building your brand image and hand-coding your website. It not only devalues their training and expertise that they’ve spent years developing, but it rips people off – YOU by providing a quick “shortcut” way to throw together a lackadaisical template-based website without a lot of work, skill, or creativity.
A custom website expresses your own personality and individuality. Your branding will stand out when a website is designed to fit you, rather than trying to fit you inside the constrictive walls of a template. Custom websites have no limitations on graphics and functionality, unlike templates that limit the number of graphics and text that can only be placed on designated spots of the template. Custom websites can be coded to do whatever your imagination can dream of! They are flexible and can change with you. In the future you might want major changes to the design and/or functionality. If your website is built with a template, you may have to start over with a completely new template. It’s much easier to change the layout and functionality of a custom website.
It’s disheartening when a client hires me to redesign their website that had been thrown together with a template, with no design flair and a gob of spelling errors. Even worse – they paid $1,500 for it (the same price it would have cost for the same-sized, custom designed website), unaware that it was built with a template that required so little time and by someone with so little or no skill.
My final words on this subject - it will be hard to impress potential clients with a cheap template. Be careful who you hire. Don't buy a hot dog for the same price as lobster (or pink radicchio if you're vegan). Whether you decide on a custom website or a template make sure your website is built by an accredited professional web developer.
If you're still undecided about whether to choose a custom website or template, it might be helpful to read my two Blogs: