What’s the difference between custom sites and template sites?

Choosing a design is one of the first and most important decisions when it comes to building a website. Web design plays a critical role in defining your users’ experience, shaping the perception of your company, and driving conversions.

You know that maxim “you never get a second chance to make a first impression?” That’s especially true when it comes to websites. While a strong web design can drive loyalty and strengthen your brand, a weak or confusing design can frustrate customers and bounce them directly to your competitors. With so much competition out there, some consumers decide whether a company is worth doing business with in a matter of seconds. With so much hanging in the balance, it’s important to understand the two main types of web designs: custom sites and template sites.

Custom Sites

Unlike template sites, custom sites are built from scratch. Everything from the navigation structure to back-end functionality is tailored specifically around your customers, brand identity and overall business needs. The typography, color scheme, images and other content are unique to your business, too, working in concert to shape the way customers perceive your business.

In addition to unlocking an array of customer-focused benefits, custom sites also boast a variety of valuable back-end tools. These may include search engine optimization (SEO) tools that help you reach new in-market customers, analytics tools that track site performance, and security tools that protect your site from malicious cyber activity.

For these reasons and more, custom sites are a great option for larger businesses that rely on their website to drive sales, or content marketing sites that measure performance by clicks and overall engagement. While custom sites are typically more expensive than template websites, they are almost always worth the investment when built properly by an agency that understands your business, industry, competition and customers.

Template Sites

While custom sites enable endless possibilities for design treatment, back-end functionality and more, template sites are more restricting. And yet, template sites are by far the smarter choice for many businesses – particularly smaller businesses whose websites are more informational in nature, or positioned as a less prolific extension of their brick-and-mortar store.

Many start-ups and small business prefer template sites because they are much more economical than their custom counterparts. Unlike custom sites, templates are based on pre-existing layouts. Prices vary by template, as every company or individual sets their own price tag, but are generally quite inexpensive. Browse a template marketplace like themeforest.com or templatemonster.com, and you can find a great theme for $50 or less. You may even be able to find one for free!

There are thousands of templates from which to choose. Most sites allow you to filter your search by categories (real estate, food & restaurant, etc.), features (responsive, portfolio, parallax, etc.) and other criteria to find the template that best matches your business. While functionally is generally limited, most templates do include contact forms, social media integration and places to upload stuff like brochures and menus. If those are enough to satisfy the needs of your business, a template site might be right for you.

For questions about website design or to get started on building your own website, contact the Internet marketing experts at Rebuild Nation.