It’s a tale as old as time… or as old as time.com. As a business owner operating in the internet age, a website is vital. The degree of importance you place on having a website and subsequently the amount you will spend, depends on you- the business owner. Which means that the conundrum is whether to go ahead and pony up the extra time, money, and effort required for custom website design or to opt for a template-based page.
Dollars and Sense
For businesses on a budget, this can be a difficult decision. Given that the cost for an entirely custom website design for a large company can reach the $100,000 mark, and sometimes take six months or longer to complete, business owners often view the cheaper, quicker option of a web template as the lesser of two evils.
The Webbing Dead
Even the most cursory of internet searches will return titles such as, “10 Reasons Custom Web Design is Dying” or, “Why Web Design is Dead“. Such articles and blog posts can leave you asking questions like, “Are custom built web pages all that much better?” and “Haven’t templates come a long way in the last decade?” Paradoxically, the answer to both questions is: yes. Templates have improved in recent years, but custom design retains the advantage since, in the end, it all boils down to branding.
I’m With the Brand
Brand refers to the reflection of your business values and goals, a “promise delivered“. As such, it is imperative that your site to be every bit as unique as you are. Templates, by definition, are incapable of singularity.
It’s no secret; custom website design can be more expensive. But instead of asking how much customization is going to cost, you should ask how expensive it will be not to customize. For example, Body Ecology, an online retailer specializing in diet products, was recently able to generate an additional 56% in revenue by simply replacing their antiquated drop down menu with product image links. This benefit is accessible only through customization.
Just Another Statistic
Another disadvantage of templates is that they often come laden with busy dashboards and can be image heavy resulting in decreased load times. Since surveys have shown that a loading speed of more than six seconds can cause traffic to abandon websites, load speed is an area in which you might want direct input. Custom web design offers a type of one-on-one communication with an experienced designer that is not found in templates.
Are You Mobile-Friendly?
Keep in mind that smartphones and tablets are accounting for more and more internet visits. Cisco recently reported that mobile web traffic in 2014 greatly exceeded the size of the internet at the turn of the century, and anticipate this trend to increase exponentially by 2020. As such, it is vital that your website is as mobile-friendly as possible to capitalize on this burgeoning market. The absolute best way to capture this potential revenue is through custom built, responsive web design.
The Long and Short
Templates work. They wouldn’t have survived for so long if they didn’t, but they may not be giving visitors the most professional and successful first impression your business deserves. They are the prefab, cookie cutter option offered to meet demand. What they lack in originality, they make up for in tedium.