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The Pros and Cons of Custom vs. Template Website Design

Choosing the right website design for your government organization can be daunting. You want a website that is user-friendly and represents your brand well. But you also need something cost effective. There are two ways to approach your websites design; you can either invest in a custom designed website, or build from a template.  

A custom design involves hiring a web designer or web design company to work with you to build a website from scratch. There are a few ways to approach custom web design. Hiring a designer to build a custom website on a CMS platform like WordPress is the most cost-effective way to approach custom design. However, if you have unlimited funds you can go all in and hire someone to customize everything, building completely from scratch. 

On the other hand, there are many platforms that allow you to DIY a website using templates and themes. This is the cheapest way to build a website, but it will also mean your website has limited features and functionality. You can also hire someone to create custom elements to fit into a pre-made framework.  

This is what many web design companies do, allow clients to choose from pre-made templates and then they add a few custom elements. But this really won’t save you any money, because you are still hiring a wed designer. At GovUnity we build custom websites to meet the indvidual needs of all our clients.  

The real question you have to ask is: is it worth paying for a custom design or will a DIY template suffice. There are pros and cons to both methods.  

Pros of Template Web Design:  

  • Less Cost Upfront: Depending on the services you use, template sites are relatively inexpensive to build. However, they have less functionality and are less secure, which means you may end up paying to fix things later.  
  • Quick Setup: Templates and themes can be set up fairly quickly. So, if you are in a rush and you need a website fast, this may take less time than a custom design.  

Cons of Template Web Design: 

  • Generic: It can be hard to incorporate your brand into a pre-made framework. A template or theme may leave you with a generic looking website.  
  • Less Secure: Hackers are often able to hack multiple template sites at once. Additionally, if you try to mess with the coding of your site, you could unknowingly open up a backdoor for hackers. If you are looking to conduct business on your website, it is important to make sure it is secure for your organization and users 
  • No Growth: Another issue that can arise if you try to change the coding of the website is that when updates are released, they might not work properly on your website. However, themes and templates are not often updated, which means your website will not be scalable to grow.  
  • Less Functionality: The functions you see are the functions you get with templates and themes. You will not be able to customize the functions of your website to meet the needs of your users. Additionally, the template you choose may be bloated with functions you don’t want, but can’t get rid of. This will weight your website down.  
  • Hard to Find: Most templates are not built with SEO in mind. The outdated coding often makes it difficult for template sites to appear in search engine browsers. 

Pros of Custom Design: 

  • Original: Your website is uniquely built to meet the needs of your organization. It can showcase your brand while having functions and features specific to the needs of your users.  
  • Scalable: A custom designed website can be changed and updated, meaning it will grow with you 
  •  Responsive: A good web developer will design your website so it can be used on a variety of devices including desktops and phones. However, templates are more advanced than they used to be, and odds are you will be able to find a few that are responsive.  
  • Search Engine Optimized: Web designers test your website to ensure that it is friendly for use on all browsers. This increases the chances of people finding your website.  
  • Secure: Website developers understand coding and security. They are able to apply layers of security to your website. Additionally, they are experienced web coders, which means they are less likely to make a mistake that will open backdoors to hackers.  
  • E-commerce: Depending on the purpose of your website some templates just won’t cut it. If you want to enable e-commerce abilities on your site, a template simply won’t provide the functionality and security you’ll need.  
  • Hosting: Most web design companies have a hosting partner that they work with, so they are able to take care of all of that for you. All you have to do is maintain the rights to your site’s domain.  

Cons of Custom Design: 

  • Cost: Custom deigned websites are more expensive, because you are paying for knowledge, creativity, and labor. However, as mentioned above there are ways to cut the costs down. One such way is to work with a designer that builds on a preexisting CMS platform.  
  • Time: Depending on the company you choose to work with and the size of the site you want, custom design could take longer upfront. However, in the long-run you may save time because you won’t have to DIY updates and site maintenance. 

Which is Better?

In the short-term template designs certainly have an appeal. They are a quick and easy website solutions and also one of the most affordable options. However, they offer less functionality, are less secure, and are not scalable to growth. This means, in the long-run you’ll probably end up spending more time and money fixing your site than if you had hired a designer to customize it in the first place.  

Custom designed websites offer great opportunities for branding and growth. They also have better functionality and are more secure. Additionally, they look more professional, which helps you leave a better impression with your users.  

GovUnity provides professional and affordable web design solutions. Our experienced web designers work with you to customize a functional and secure site to meet your needs. Contact GovUnity today to get started.