Every business needs a website. Whether you’re a budding freelancer or chain retailer, your web presence is massively important to your brand. Visitors will come from search engines, blogs, social media, directories, and word of mouth to see what you’re all about – and your site needs to showcase everything flawlessly.
There can be a lot of pressure to differentiate and capture the attention of your audience with the ‘wow’ factor, but chasing custom design may not be as productive as you think. After choosing between a hosted and self-hosted platform, it’s time to decide if you should use a pre-made web template or pay for a custom design.
Why Your Site Should Use a Pre-Made Template
Most new sites should use pre-made templates instead of getting a custom design, so before you end up waist-deep in design proposals from Elance, oDesk, and friends of friends, take the following points into consideration.
1. It’s a Brand New Site
New sites often come with no traffic. Unless you’re rebranding or have a large social following, chances are that you’ll have very few visitors without a concentrated effort. So, why should you invest time and money into a new design that no one will see?
New sites should focus on producing content, customer service, and providing value to their visitors rather than pursuing a flashy new design. By choosing a pre-made template, you’ll have the opportunity to focus on building your actual brand value instead of its face value, which is much more beneficial for company growth.
On top of that, since you’re not spending time designing a new site, you can prioritize publishing content ASAP.
2. You Need to Focus on Content
Content is king. Publishing blog posts, articles, announcements, and new service offerings quickly have become paramount to reaching your audience – especially when trying to influence search engine rankings. Not only will Google see you sooner, but it prefers an actively updated site.
Instead of spending time on design iterations, publish content. As you produce more and more good content, visitors will simply fall in love with your brand. So don’t put your website on hold while you wait for a new design, get started with a pre-made template!
3. Custom Design is Expensive
It’s no secret, web design can be costly. With quotes from $500 to $50,000, your new site might not benefit from the investment as much as you’d hope. Custom design doesn’t take just money either. Your time is much more valuable to your site than choosing colors, layouts, and managing a designer.
Instead of pouring time & money into a custom design, you can hire marketers and writers, publish ads, create new products, or maybe even take on a new employee (executive secretary anyone?).
The point is this: make sure you know what the number one goal is for your site. If a new design is the best way to reach that goal, by all means, pursue it. But nine times out of ten, that money can be put to much better use.
Why You Should Use a Custom Designed Website
A custom-designed website can make or break your brand. If you have an existing design-centric website with custom functionality in a highly competitive market, it may be time to look for a designer.
1. Your Market is Design-Centric
If you’re trying to promote fashion, jewelry, photography, art, or any other beauty inspired topic, you need to showcase your content with the most up to date design. A pre-made template will be tacky, out-of-style, and used by too many other sites.
Your site needs to be as beautiful as your content so you can stand out against your competition and capture the loyalty of your fashionista audience because they crave that ‘wow’ factor that pre-made templates just can’t deliver.
2. Your Website has Custom Functionality
Pre-made templates are built for the masses. This means that if you have custom functionality, it won’t come with the template. Even if you manage to find an extension or plugin that offers that feature, it may not integrate with the template.
If you need a custom image function for trying on sunglasses on your site or displaying different content based on user input, you’ll need to get your site designed and developed by a professional.
3. The Pre-Made Template Just Doesn’t Exist
You have a grand vision for your site, something that really captures the essence of your brand. It needs to be something that’s never been done before – and you’ve checked twice, it hasn’t.
You’re dead-set on creating a completely unique web experience for your fan-base. You need to show them how you envision your brand and a pre-made template could never deliver that.
So, if you’re a brand-new website with low traffic and a small budget, a pre-made template is the best bet for you. You can produce content, spend money on marketing, and focus on providing value to your visitors. However, if your brand is design-heavy with a website that requires custom functionality (and the template doesn’t exist!), then it’s time to start hiring a designer to make your one-of-a-kind website.