My new website: template or custom build?

What is a template site?

So a template is basically a pre-built website.  A developer has spent some time building a website and then added it to a digital marketplace, such as Themeforest, for people to download and use.  The template normally costs between $50 – $200 depending on the complexity of the template and whether you buy support with it.  The developer makes their money by selling the site many times over, essentially creating an economy of scale.  Once you buy it it is a case of downloading it, doing some basic customisation, adding your content and then setting it live.  To understand what is involved in a website though, we created a handy explainer video on the different aspects of a site which you can view here.

What are the benefits of a template?

  • they are cheap
  • they can be delivered quickly
  • you can see what they look like on a live preview before you buy it

What are the drawbacks of a template?

  • it is just that – a template – meaning you have to ‘shoe-horn’ your content into a predetermined structure
  • customisation is quite basic – some colour and logo changes
  • they are really inflexible, meaning if you want to add a section, new ‘block’ or a page, it is really difficult to do it easily
  • often the code structure they are built using is really clumsy and difficult to work with
  • the code is really ‘heavy’ not using best practice approaches which is bad for SEO (search engine optimisation) and slowing the site down
  • they are normally built using outdated code which means they are very susceptible to security breaches or hacking incidents
  • the content management system, or CMS, which is the facility whereby you upload content is usually very, very difficult to navigate, understand and use
  • it is normally built with a reliance on lots of plugins to deliver core functionality which increases the opportunity for security breaches – see our blog on plugins and security updates
  • because you don’t ‘own’ the site, it can be sold many, many, many times over meaning it is not unique to you or your business

What is a custom build website?

A custom build website is just that, a site that’s conceived, planned, designed and built specifically for your business.  The whole process is usually delivered by an agency who have specialist skills in user experience, design and development – as all three of these aspects require different expertise.

What are the benefits of a custom website?

  • the site will match the needs of your business, building the site around your content
  • it will be built using the latest code structure and standards making it much more secure and better for SEO
  • the level of customisation is endless, with the ability for the site to really match your brand identity and other marketing collateral
  • because it has been built from the ground up, as your business grows and changes, it is no problem to add to and adapt the site to meet future needs
  • the content management system will be really intuitive because of the use of something called ‘custom fields’ which make it easy to upload text, images and video to your site and change it with no fuss – thus reducing time and cost for amends and updates
  • it will be tested on multiple browsers and devices with any issues or bugs fixed by the agency delivering the site
  • it is much more future-proof and therefore more cost efficient because of the way that it has been built meaning you don’t need to invest more money every 12 – 18 months in a new site
  • it is completely bespoke and therefore unique to your business

What are the drawbacks of a custom website?

  • it takes much longer to build a custom website because everything is bespoke – from the planning workshops to the delivery of the whole site which means you might wait 8 – 16 weeks for the site depending on size and complexity
  • it will naturally cost more than a template as everything is being created specifically for you
  • you will need to invest more time through input and feedback for the agency delivering the project

So which one is best?

Well you can see from the list that there are far more drawbacks with a template than with a custom build.  The cynics amongst you may believe this is because we develop bespoke websites and we’re trying to dissuade people from using templates – and you’d be right!  If we wanted to, we could buy a bunch of templates and knock them out for clients, charge £1000 and do fifteen a week…….but we don’t do that, we don’t take the easy route, and you have to question why?

Because they are not the best thing for our customers.  We know that there will be multiple issues and it won’t deliver against your objectives.  If we didn’t build it and we can’t sign our name to it, if we can’t stand by it, we won’t touch it.

We add value to clients by helping to extend their brand online in a way that everyone associated with the business and the project can be proud of.  If you are looking for a professional, robust, well designed, functional and secure website then we can definitely help you.  If you’re looking for a quick, cheap and easy solution then there are a huge number of freelancers or less qualified agencies that can help.

If you want to see how we build our sites watch our short process video, and if it is a route you are interested in, please get in touch as we’d love to find out more about you and your business and how we can create something stunning, that works, and delivers you more leads.

Ps – if you don’t believe us, just Googleis a template website or a custom website better?’ – we can’t all be wrong!



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