Should I Invest in a Website Template or a Custom Design? - Digital Grace Design

Should I Invest in a Website Template or a Custom Design?

Website Design, Website Platforms

Before you begin a website project, you have a few key questions to answer.

One of the first questions is deciding whether or not you want to invest in a website template or a custom design. The tricky part is there’s no real “right” or “wrong” answer to this question. Instead, it’s completely dependent on what your needs are.

If you aren’t sure which path to take, keep reading this guide until the end. You’ll find your answer based on this candid set of pros and cons.

So, let’s dive right in!


Is template-based website design right for you?


Pro: Templates are DIY-friendly 

If you are launching your first business and website, you might want to consider going the DIY route. When you build with a template, you’ll be able to choose a design that works for now and gives you wiggle room in your budget to upgrade to a custom design in the future.

DIY-friendly templates are the best fit when you:

  • aren’t sure who your target audience is
  • are in the middle of validating your product or service idea
  • want to experiment and make frequent changes to your own website
  • don’t feel completely confident in your brand foundation 

When you choose to DIY your website with an affordable (or even free) template, it comes with a few disadvantages, one of which is what I’ll talk about next.


Con: Templates give you little to no support

If you encounter issues when building your own website or have questions you need answered, you won’t have access to a knowledgeable expert or team that has your back. This is one of the hardest parts of building a DIY website based off of a template.

 

However, you can work with a website designer (like me!) who can help you customize your pre-purchased template so you don’t have to learn the ins and outs of the website building platform. We know all about building websites so you don’t have to learn everything from scratch. 

Pro: Templates are more cost-effective

If you are looking to save on business expenses or are simply a budget-conscious entrepreneur, you may want to consider using a template-based design.

Templates are pre-made, meaning a website designer or developer has already taken the time to create the template. Since it already exists, you’re able to save on costs since the creator is selling it for a much lower fee. However, this leads to a major con of using templates…


Con: Templates make your website look like other websites

When you buy a template, you have to be okay with knowing other business owners are using the same template. Depending on the level of customization you put into the template, it’s likely your website could look like someone else’s.

This is a bummer for entrepreneurs who want to stand out in their field with a website that uniquely fits their business. Nothing is ordinary about the services or products you offer, so you want a website that also looks extraordinary.

If you choose to work with a template based on your budget, try to find ways that you can personalize the design. That way, it may be the same template other entrepreneurs are buying, but you’re still adding your own flair to the design. This usually takes some time to pull off, but it’s so worth it!


Pro: Templates may help you write and organize your content

Most website design templates come with specific page layouts that show you where website content can be placed. Even though the content inside the template will likely be placeholder copy (you know, the “Lorem ipsum” kind), it can act as a guide for how much you may need to write and what to write about.

Take my free Showit design template, Baileyana Rose, for example:

Underneath the main photo banner, you’ll find a section for content with a header welcoming visitors to the site. Following what’s on the template, you may be more inspired to write your own content for this section.


If you’re new to website strategy or want a simpler way to put your website together, following a template’s design might make the content writing process much easier. However, I recommend customizing the content sections to fit your unique vision when possible.


Con: Templates may lack in SEO benefits 

Although templates give you a general idea of what content you need to write, it usually doesn’t follow SEO best practices. This is because many template creators care more about what your website looks like than its functionality. Also, a custom website design is going to incorporate tailored SEO strategies into the process so you reap all the benefits.

So, why does SEO matter anyway? When people are looking to work with someone, they often search on Google for their perfect match. They determine who is worth reaching out to based on how well you rank in the Google results.

If your website isn’t ranking for your industry keywords, it’s harder for quality leads to find you. We don’t want that!

Luckily, there’s still hope if you want to build a website with a template. I created a self-paced, affordable course called Simple Showit SEO to help you overcome any of your template’s shortcomings. That way, you can build your site’s authority and increase your likelihood of performing well in Google searches! 


Pro: Templates still allow you to incorporate your visual branding

Let’s say you stumble upon a template design you really love, but you immediately notice it uses a pop of sky blue instead of your signature blush pink color. This isn’t a sign to throw out the template and keep looking. You can still use it for your site!

Instead, you can choose this template design and customize it based on your own visual branding guidelines. That way, your website looks consistent and cohesive with the rest of your branding and marketing materials.

In addition to your website’s color palette, you may also want to customize:


Con: Templates give you limited functionality

Even though you can customize your branding, you’ll probably encounter unexpected limitations when you try to change parts of your template. With custom website design, you can create anything you imagine.

With a template design, you’ll struggle to make changes to simple functionalities on your website. For instance, some templates won’t let you change the look of your mobile website. (Luckily, that isn’t a problem for Showit users, whether you choose custom or template designs!)

Other templates won’t let you change things like:

  • how your top and footer website navigation looks and functions
  • adding or subtracting a section of content or photos 
  • adjusting interactive features like parallax scrolling and more
  • how photos and graphics are cropped on your website
  • what it looks like to embed a video or form

For all of these reasons and more, it’s best to go with a custom designed website if you are worried about feeling limited with your design.

One way to ensure you make the right decision is to make a list of the “must-have” features you want to display on your website and the “nice-to-have” features. When you look at templates, you’ll be able to determine quickly if it gives you enough flexibility to do what you want to do or if you need to invest in a custom design that gives you full creative freedom. It’s up to you!


Your next step: Choosing a website platform!

Now that you’ve decided whether you want to invest in a custom website design or choose a template, it’s time to shift gears and consider which website platform is best for you.

I know this can be a tough decision, especially if you aren’t sure of your options, but don’t worry. I’ve done most of the research for you so you can easily find your answer by taking my simple quiz!

Click here to take the quiz!

The quiz will give you a personal website platform recommendation based on what you’re exactly looking for, but just in case you want to dive a little deeper, here are a few website platform comparison articles that will help you make an informed decision:

 

While you're here, why not take home some free goodies?

Showit SEO Checklist

Download this FREE 16-point SEO Checklist, and feel confident that your Showit website is set up for SEO success!

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Insta "Link in Bio" Template

Snag your FREE, customizable Instagram "Link in Bio" Template for Showit!  No more off-brand Linktree pages for you!

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Custom vs Template Quiz

Not sure whether a custom or template website is the best choice for your new website?  Take the quiz to find out!

Take the Quiz!