An online presence is not just a valuable asset for your business but an indispensable one. It has become crucial in order to present a professional image of your business. It is usually the first point of contact a customer has with your business.
When you are looking to get a new website there are generally two routes available – either purchase a pre-built template or have a bespoke site created specifically for your business needs. Both of these have their pros and cons, so what is the difference between the two and more importantly, which option is best for your business?
A website ‘template’ is basically a pre-built webpage or set of webpages that can be simply edited with images, videos and other style elements to create a complete website. They are readily available for anyone to purchase.
The template includes all the elements needed for a website to function. It simplifies the whole design and development process, making it much easier for anyone who has basic or no programming experience to build their own website.
Pros of template web design:
Less work is involved as most of the build is already complete, they can be up and running much sooner than a bespoke website – ideal if you need a website quickly.
Template websites are often cheap to purchase because they have already been built and they are quick to set up.
Cons of template web design:
1. Generic Design
As template websites are available to a wide audience, there is a high chance that the same template has been used for multiple websites on the internet – so there is a risk that they will look generic and become dated very quickly.
There are a lot of downsides to using a template website. Customisation is often very limited which will make applying the consistency of your brand and identity very tricky without running into issues. The required functionality, layout and navigation may not be suited to the purpose of the site and can be detrimental to the overall user experience.
If you want to add new features at a later date you may find your template doesn’t support a particular functionality. These pre-built template websites are generally not very flexible and you could be restricted to the parameters of the template.
3. Coding Errors & Bugs
A common problem found with template websites is that they are built using substandard or outdated code. Making structural changes to a template website could increase the amount coding errors - this will have a negative impact on any Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) efforts.
4. Negative effect on SEO
Templates often have an affect compatibility with browsers which increases the time it takes for the page to load - this can be very frustrating for the end-user. Web themes and templates are a very big part of a website’s structure, and they also can affect speed and performance.
Most template websites have limited on-page SEO options. Finding and indexing key words is made more difficult. This will negatively affect your ranking in search engines, as an important part of SEO is the ability to adjust Meta Tags, page URLs, CSS images and make regular technical updates. A bespoke website will give you much more control.
5. Less security
Some templates may use outdated code or old plugins that can get hacked more easily. This is fairly common with WordPress templates.
A ‘bespoke’ website is tailored to the specific needs of your business and is designed and built by experienced professionals. Designers and developers will spend time analysing your business requirements, this means that your website is designed uniquely, different to other websites in existence and not simply created using a standard template.
Pros of bespoke web design:
1. Unique Design
The clue is in the name; a bespoke website is truly unique. It provides total control of your online presence, from design to functionality. The website is tailormade to align with your business identity and follow brand guidelines – this will provide a much better user experience.
2. Built from scratch
Bespoke websites are commonly built by experienced web developers using the latest software and follow the most up-to-date coding standards. The developer will take time to make sure the website performs in different types of browsers and ensures that the design looks good across multiple devices including mobile, laptop and tablet. You can ensure the website is fully tested with clean code and free from any coding errors or bugs before it goes live.
3. It’s more flexible
You can easily add new functionality to a bespoke website as and when you need it. You can also grow and develop a bespoke website with your business, so that future expansion and changes to the site can be implemented seamlessly, hassle free and without incurring any additional high costs.
4. Better SEO
Bespoke websites can be built and designed following SEO best practice. Page speed is also one of the key factors that helps Google to determine where your website should rank, and templates are often slower than bespoke websites.
5. Better security
Code that has been written from scratch is much harder for hackers to crack than a regular template. If they crack one template, they will crack them all. Some templates may use outdated code or plugins that are susceptible to hacking.
6. Easier to make changes
It is a misconception that if a website is built from scratch then it is not possible to update it yourself or have someone in your business update it, there is a perception that you will always need to go back to a web developer to make changes and get it updated, which adds to the cost. However, it is the opposite. Bespoke websites can be built to make life easier for you or your staff to make changes and general updates. Templates can often be difficult to navigate as they haven't been built specifically for your needs.
Cons of bespoke web design:
1. It takes longer
Bespoke websites take longer to get up and running due to the amount of planning, creative and technical resources that goes into making them the optimal experience.
2. It costs more
As you would expect, bespoke websites cost more because there is a lot more work involved. After all, you will be investing in a much higher quality product. A website should be viewed as a vital business investment, not just a ticked box.
A pre-built template can seem like a great idea if you are starting out online, simply due to the low cost and accessibility. It’s a ‘quick fix’ using shortcuts to get a website up and running quickly, building a site based on a set of ready-made foundations.
Whilst template websites may be cheap and useful for creating a quick start-up online presence for your business, in the long term it could come back to haunt your business. Templates may have some benefits but the drawbacks significantly outweigh the advantages.
Bespoke web design will offer a more sustainable, professional advantage to you in the long term – saving you time and money in the future. It is worth investing in a bespoke website so that you don’t compromise on quality, usability and a professional image. In the end you truly do get what you pay for.
It’s clear that bespoke websites are the unanimous winner.
Get in touch with a member of our team today, to find out how we can build a website designed for your business.