Template or Custom Website Design: Which is the Best?

Updated June 17, 2024

You know you need a new website built, but what type is best for your business? There are a couple of different options when it comes to building a website.

Custom Design or Template Website: Which is right for you?One option you could go with is a template-built website. These are websites built using pre-made themes offered by companies like Wix, WordPress, Squarespace and Drupal to name just a few. It’s like walking into a furniture store and picking one of the model rooms. You’ll get everything in that “room” and if your room at home is the same size and configuration, everything fits. But you won’t be able to choose different fabric to add your own personality, update the room for newer trends, or change any part of how you use that room.

The second option is to build a custom website. Unless you’re a website coding whiz, this option will usually require the help of a professional web design agency. This is akin to walking through the entire furniture store with a professional decorator and carpenter who can customize and reconfigure the pieces from anywhere in the store and make them especially for you and the space you have in mind—and even build in some versatility for multi-use purposes.

Here are the pros and cons of each which should help you decide how to proceed with your new website.

Template Website


Pre-built Themes are Faster to Deploy

When you go with a template website, you choose a pre-existing theme that’s already been developed. If you’re on a tight timeline and need to get your website up and running as quickly as possible, this is a good option. Because the framework of the site is already in place, all you need to do is add your own branding, imagery, and content.

Templates are Less Expensive

If you are building your website on a shoestring budget, a template website is a good option. These websites tend to be much cheaper than custom-built websites because the templates are already built for the most part and ready to go.


What You See is What You Get

When you pick a template design, what you see is what you get. Template web designs are generic and may not work with your business’ sales process and could negatively affect your leads if the sale funnel doesn’t make sense. Essentially, you know what your site is going to look like right from the beginning, and there should be no surprises when you see the final version. And because template websites are made from pre-existing themes, they are less flexible. Sure, you can try to customize them a bit, but you can’t really add a custom software solution or any add-ons without potentially causing functionality or security issues and creating endless headaches for you.

Templates are Slow and not SEO-friendly

Search engine optimization is not just based on having good content with lots of keywords but on having a well built clean coded website. Unfortunately, some template creators will cut corners by reusing code, write bad code, or repeat content. When a developer builds a theme or template for sale, they create a one size fits all framework with “built-in options” for customization. These “options” include a lot of dead weight code that can affect page load speeds, compromise how search engines like Google searches or indexes your website. Some templates may come with built-in SEO plugins to help with keywords, but a clean coded site is really the key. A templated site requires customization to the structure and removal of unused code to be truly SEO-friendly and fast.

Templates Offer Less Support

The caveat to this is that not all template website designs are equally user friendly. If you are building the templated site yourself and aren’t familiar with design or code and you choose a more complicated template or theme, you might end up having to hire a developer to sort through the out-of-the-box template you’ve wasted hours trying to figure out. The original template creators may be difficult to get a hold off and won’t help you build the site. Or worse! The security of your website gets compromised by bad code or an outdated plugin that came pre-installed. When this happens, often the person decides to start over or contact an experience web developer to try to fix the issues. When you work with a web development agency and choose a templated website, they will take care of every aspect of your new theme site setup, including troubleshooting, debugging, and resolving any issues you might have.

Short Life Span

We’ve seen this happen repeatedly where a template is no longer supported by the original creator. Once this happens the template website will start having issues and stop working since the software and plugins are not being updated. Now you’re starting all over again. On average a template website will last about 3 years before it is no longer supported. Super frustrating and can costly since now you need a new website!

Custom Website

Here are the pros and cons of building a custom website.


A Unique on Brand Design and Versatile Functionality

When you design and build a custom website, you’ll get a site that fully encompasses the identity of your brand. Custom websites are created from scratch and are completely unique to your business. Show potential customers why you are different and better than your competitors. The web design team will spend a great deal of time researching and thinking about the unique qualities of your service or product offerings, your brand, and the behaviour habits of your target audiences. Everything about your custom website will be geared towards hitting your company’s key performance indicators and goals without any dead weight code or compromised security.

The experienced web development agency you hire to build this custom website should have web design experience, insight, and expertise from building hundreds of custom-built websites. They should know what search engines are looking for today versus what they were looking for two years ago. They’ll make the customer journey a priority to help improve customer engagement and grow your sales. This expertise and experience give your website a significant advantage over competitors.

Scalable and Longevity

Custom-built websites are more scalable and will last for many years. A custom site could last 10+ years. As your business expands, your company website will likely need to be adjusted and adapt as well. A well-thought-out custom site will make the process of adjusting your website to be smooth and seamless without having to reinvest in building a new website.

Custom Built Sites are Fast and SEO-Friendly

A custom-built website is streamlined specifically with your business in mind, there is no-dead-weight option, and you’ll see the difference in performance, SEO ranking, speed among other benefits. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is not just keywords, its about building a site so that the search engine crawlers can read each of your website pages properly. A custom-built website outperforms a template-built website when it comes to how search engines rank and index your website. This is because search engines (like Google, Bing, Safari, Edge, etc.) prioritize original coding, industry standards on coding, and high-quality content. When a website is tailor-made for one specific client, each line of code has a well thought-out function and purpose and will be unique.


Custom Websites Cost More

Let’s just deal with the elephant in the room. Designing and developing a custom website is a lot more expensive than a pre-set theme. When building a website from scratch you would be working with a team of profession that would include a project manager, creative website designer, skilled website developer, a search engine optimization specialist and a content writer and their services is costly, and rightly so! The price ranges from thousands of dollars to hundred of thousands depending on the project complexity, the platform needed for the site and functionality requirements.

Custom-built Websites Take Longer to Deploy

Custom Design Team

A custom-built website takes much longer than a pre-built theme. The process consists of several stages including industry and competitive research, client meetings, site map recommendations, content writing, website design, development, SEO setup, testing, and then launching the site. On average a custom website will take three to six months to build, whereas the template site can take a few weeks or less to build.

As you can see, the benefits realized when building a custom website cannot be underestimated.

Conclusion Custom Design or Template Website

As with everything, a custom website and a pre-built template have their own disadvantages and advantages. Knowing all the pros and cons will help you make the best decision for your business.

In today’s digital landscape, having a dynamic and effective website is a critical part of doing business. Many consumers are using their phones to search for new products and services and your website is your first impression with them. You want your business to stand out from the crowd. You want your company to be memorable and unique, original, and exciting. A template website design has the likely outcome of looking like hundreds of other sites on the web. Talk about a digital fashion faux pas!

Small business owners will often make major marketing decisions based on cost. Of course, cost must be a factor, but investing in a custom website design is one you won’t regret. Why? Because it’s going to provide more distinctness and flexibility to your brand, as well as greater functionality, versatility, and targeted ranking online. The great thing about a custom website design is you’re not limited by pre-set features. The sky’s the limit!

We think your business deserves to stand out from the crowd and a great website continues to be one of the best ways to do that! We can design a unique, professional, and robust custom website that will perform exactly as your business needs it and will help increase search engine rankings as a bonus. Or we can help setup a template site for your business too and provide you with ongoing support. Contact ZOO Media Group for a free web design and development quote today.