The internet continues to develop at pace with websites becoming increasingly important for any business. Information is readily available at our fingertips. B2B and B2C behaviours are changing. Never before has it been so important to engage with and delight your website visitors by providing a meaningful and personal experience.

One of the hot topics of conversation we constantly encounter orientates around cost. What’s best an off-the-shelf ready to go website that comes with a monthly cost, a basic template website, a hybrid template website, or an entirely bespoke website?

Every different option has its own benefits and shortcomings, funny enough we wrote about this subject in 2018 – still relevant today, essentially it boils down to cost, return on investment, the market you are in and who you are competing with.

This post was originally posted on 21st November 2018.

Maybe you’re thinking about refreshing or expanding your current online presence or perhaps you’re wanting to market your new business online and are looking for the best way to showcase what you do.

There are a lot of options available and for someone who is not exactly a ‘techie’, it might sometimes be a bit confusing. The two basic options most of us will eventually come across when exploring website development, from either freelancers or web design and build agencies, is bespoke/custom build websites and template based/themed sites. In this article, we will be looking at the main differences, advantages and disadvantages, as well as the circumstances in which you might be better off with either of the two options.

Template Website

Difference between a template and bespoke website

The main difference is that, in this case, your site is created using a pre-designed website template. This offers an obvious advantage as you can choose an existing template for an affordable price.

What to consider

As the functionality of the site is provided within the template, the necessary work on the site then includes adjusting the template settings to create a look that matches your vision and populating the site with your content. Therefore, the choice of a template site  mainly lies in selecting the one which offers the best matching functionality and visual appearance to what you want to achieve with your website.

Advantages of a template website

Websites of this type are simpler and quicker to build, meaning that they may be the more affordable option as the cost of the development tends to be lower.

Disadvantages of a template website

As a result of its nature, the amount of customisation you can do with template-based sites are limited. You won’t be able to achieve a unique look or functionality and, because templates are accessible to the public, there is a high possibility that 1000s of other websites use the same template as you.

Often the coding of the template is bloated with features you don’t need, which can result in an inefficient loading time.

The template will allow you to adjust only a certain amount of settings; therefore, you won’t be able to have full control over the way the website works. This also means that the development team might not be able to offer full technical support because the template was conducted by a 3rd party.

Some templates might have functionality issues when it comes to other devices or integrations with other systems and, in some cases, templates are not always as search engine friendly. There are, of course, well-made templates, however finding one is a bit of a lottery.

When is it good to choose the template option?

Template based websites are generally easier and quicker to build, making them an affordable option. This is best suited for companies wanting a ‘brochure’ website which serves as an introduction of the company to potential clients and provides basic information about the company itself, i.e. products or services and contact information.

This option is also suitable when the website is not going to be the main lead or cash generator for your business. Pre-built websites are an ideal and affordable option for start-up businesses.

Custom Build/Bespoke Websites

What is a bespoke custom build website?

This type of website is built with your business objectives in mind. The developers code the site from the bottom to the top, creating a unique design and experience. The options of your website’s appearance and how users can interact with it are unlimited.

We would, however, recommend that you to speak to your web design and development team in advance; they will be able to provide recommendations based on usability and user experience.

This knowledge is crucial to ensure that your site will perform and help you to achieve your goals, which may include generating leads, phone calls or purchases. Recommendations based on the best experience for users will then mainly affect decisions on your site’s navigation, structure and hierarchy, interactivity and call-to-action points such as buttons, forms and so on.

Disadvantages of a bespoke site

A bespoke website does cost more and can take longer to implement. The difference comes down to the time invested in the design and development of the structure of the website.

Benefits of a bespoke site

The key benefit of a bespoke website is that it can grow and develop with your business. This means that future expansion and changes to the site can be implemented seamlessly and with as little hassle as possible.

A bespoke site gives you the freedom to develop and create an online presence without limitations. This will go a long way to helping you achieve your vision.

Custom coding ensures that you have full control over how your site performs on other devices, such as mobile phones and also search engines like Google.

This option provides you with access to full technical support as the web developers will have control over every function of the site, making sure that all integrations and systems work seamlessly.

When to choose a bespoke build

A bespoke website is a good choice when you’re looking for a unique look to, for example, highlight your brand, niche product or service or to stand out of your competition.

The close control over the build makes this option ideal for more advanced functions such as e-commerce or interactive elements.

If you are aiming for improvements of your performance in user experience, usability or SEO fields, we would also highly recommend a bespoke built, as this can ensure that the best practices from those disciplines will be applied to your site design.

Talk to your agency

A good marketing agency will always look at your business objectives and will offer you a solution which will work for your business setting and needs, ensuring you are not paying for something you don’t need. Visit our Website Design & Development page for more information.

If you are interested in discussing your options, get in touch with us and we will be happy to look at your business and offer our recommendations.