Custom vs. Template: Why Your Website Design Matters


In a world where setting up a basic website seems so simple, many businesses struggle to understand the importance of custom-built websites. Using WordPress and a pre-made template, your company could have a website set up in a day. Having a website is better than not having a website at all, but not all websites are creating equally. At Harbinger Marketing, we not only believe custom websites are more effective, but we also have proven data to show how a customized site better reaches and serves customers. There are some key differences between websites created using a template and those created for a specific business.

Who are Templates Really Meant for?—Templates are generally a suitable choice for hobby bloggers or small-scale businesses without the ability to invest in their marketing. As stated before, having a website is better than no website. However, a template website is not meant for a business truly serious about growing their business and furthering their brand.

What Does a Template Do?—Essentially, templates can take your website essentials, such as home, services, blog, about us, and contact, and allow you to squeeze your information into an established theme with colors, fonts, and organizational elements. The concept all sounds good until you consider that the same template is being utilized by many other companies. Not only could this make your website seem less unique or professional, but the template has not been specifically designed to suit your needs in terms of look and function. Templates are advertised as a one-size-fits-all kind of concept, but in reality, templates are not optimally suited for any one specific company.

Why Do Businesses Use Templates If They are Not Great?—In short, the price tag is the most common reason. If a business has a limited marketing budget, they may look at the cost of a basic website and template and see that as a great opportunity to avoid paying for a custom-made site. With template websites, you get exactly what you pay for. Your company will have a website, which is better than not having one. Your templated website will never be optimized for your company or your customer base so you cannot expect the same results. Think of a custom website as a long-term investment in your company’s marketing and online presence. The cost may be higher than a template website, but the returns make the investment extremely worthwhile. Also, when you consider the time you spend to make your website with a template, you will be taking time away from your business. Your time is more valuable focusing on your own business, building your success, and leaving website building to professionals.

Why are Some Individuals/Companies in Marketing Using Templates?—If you see someone offering a crazy cheap $100 website design service, they are not selling you a custom-built site. They are not designing anything, but rather using a template and plugging in the information for you. As professionals in website design and marketing, we find these individuals to be shameful and dishonest. Websites are one of the most important marketing opportunities you have, and we would hate to see you not maximize your business and marketing efforts. Even if your marketing budget is small, investing in a quality custom website is still worth it. Your website will cost more than $100 to set up, but your ROI will be significantly greater.

Key Reasons to Skip the Template:

  • Your site will not be unique—The most popular templates have been downloaded well over a thousand times. Standing out from competition is crucial to any business so having a site which will be unique is key for visibility and maximizing your investment.
  • Your site may be junked up with extras and slowed down—The average time that an online visitor spends on a site is 8 seconds. That is not much time to pull them in, so you need your website to communicate quickly and navigate easily. Extra unnecessary elements could just be clutter that keep your visitors from staying on your site. Additionally, these extras could cause code bloat which makes your website run slowly. With only an 8 second attention span, your visitors will certainly jump off your website if it is lagging. Your website’s SEO will also be poorly impacted if your site is slow loading.
  • Your site will have limited customization—Templates are advertised as a simple and approachable way to set up a website. In some ways, this is true. You can change your font color and some other simple aesthetic features, but that is where the ease of customization stops. Changing the functionality of elements is virtually impossible within a template.
  • Your site’s SEO will suffer—Templates are challenging to load because they have so many extra files and elements needed to run. A custom-built site is sleek and not overloaded with unnecessary code or elements. Your whole online marketing strategy will easily tank because your templated website is suffering in the search ranks.
  • Your site could be lost if you change over—Many templates will save your data within the template itself and not actually on your site. You could lose content when you try to move it to a custom site if you have not saved it elsewhere. Also, templates can leave trails of extra code to clean up later. If you still decide to use a template, make sure to back up your content on Microsoft Word or Google Docs to ensure that you will not lose key data.
  • Your site is not focused on your customer base—Templates were not made to reach your customers. Templates were made to appeal to individuals or businesses who want to build a fast and cheap website. Custom-built sites are built to intentionally reach your customers.

What is the Custom-Built Website Process Like with Harbinger Marketing?—It all starts with a discovery session. The discovery session is a collaborative process where we meet with your company to get to know your company, your goals, and your target audience. At this point, we also get a feel for your company’s style so we can help design a website which suits your company both functionally and aesthetically. After the foundation is laid, we will lay out the plan using wireframing so you can see the journey that your visitors will have. Once the design is agreed upon, our team will create your site according to your specifications. After the site is live, we will offer ongoing support and updates, keeping your website optimized for your company and customer base.

Quick Recap on Why You Should Go Custom:

  • Fit and further your brand.
  • Target your audience.
  • Maximize your SEO.
  • Customize your site without the limitations of a template.
  • Create a unique website which does not scream template.

If you are ready to go custom, schedule a consultation with Harbinger Marketing!

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