When it comes to creating a beautiful, eye-catching website for your company, the old argument of whether to go with a prebuilt template or a bespoke design often comes up. There are benefits and drawbacks to both options.
A major advantage of using a prebuilt template for your website is that you can cut out the vast majority of design hours. This means there is more of your budget left over for development and content.
The time taken to go from a signed quotation to a live website tends to be a lot shorter when you use a prebuilt template. This is largely because you cut out the back-and-forth discussions and revisions related to the design of the site. Settling on a design can be extremely time-consuming for both the designer and your own website team. The actual development time required does not necessarily change as the developer needs to delve into code created by another developer and adapt it to the content management system they are using. This can throw a few developmental curveballs into the mix.
A bespoke design can be created in such a way that it reflects your brand identity extremely well. Small details can be worked into the website, creating a cohesion between the site and your brand that cannot always be found in a prebuilt template. With prebuilt templates there is always the possibility that another company has used exactly the same template that you intend to use – not a good thing when you are trying to stand out from the crowd (plus, internet users are tired of seeing the same gimmicks, layouts and designs). If you are looking to really attract new clients and truly make a statement, a bespoke design is the way to go.
"The more virtual our lives get, the more we hunger for something genuine. What people really want now is not just a product or a service, it’s an experience; an experience that is more honest and transparent, more authentic – and businesses are going to have to keep up with growing consumer authority and give people what they want if they want to survive," says James Noble, marketing and branding expert.
A prebuilt template often comes with certain functionality already usable. However, it may be missing key elements or functionality that you need on your website. When you use a bespoke design, you can build in all the functionality you want from the beginning. It is often the case that the functionality you want included will dictate the design and form your website takes to some degree. When it comes to software, and website development, function should not be dictated solely by form, which would be the case with a prebuilt template.
It’s all about the bottom line. Regardless of whether you eventually decide on a bespoke design or a prebuilt template, your user experience must come first. If you choose a template that is slow to load or does not offer a smooth flow for your content, you are going to lose your visitors and potential revenue. The same goes for your bespoke design: the temptation to add gimmicks and sacrifice function for form is high and can be detrimental to website visitors.
The choice between a template and a bespoke design will often come down to budget and time. A template is a better option if you have a limited budget or tight deadline. A bespoke design is an imperative if you have specific functionality and complex content requirements. In addition to these factors, make sure you have all the information regarding the requirements of your website before you make your choice.