Need a website? Use template based or custom made?
What's a website?
All of our potential customers are online most of the time, some of the time on their computer and more and more on mobile devices, such as smartphones and tablets. So if we want them to be able to find us or discover our business, we must have a presence online. Therefore, there is no doubt every company or business needs to have their own website.
That being said today there are many types of websites out there. So we will define them by type. Some of the websites are suited for more than one type:
eCommerce website - webshop
News and media websites
Search engines & Portals
Web application websites - Complex website with a large variety of options for users
There are some more types that are out there but they are less relevant nowadays.
Also, it is important to mention that we will discuss websites with back-office and data management systems. Because, every modern website needs its owner to be able to update the content, create new content without being dependant on the developer or the programmer that developed the website.
In this article, I will address only the first type of websites - Corporate site. This is the most basic and trivial website. And it suits most companies or business' needs.
What's a corporate website?
A corporate website is the most basic website each company and business need to have. Without it, the business doesn't have an internet presence. Which means, that potential clients will not be able to find this business' information, learn about the business, about its services, its values and what it is all about. The corporate website is basically a big and detailed business card. It highlights the business' benefits, values, fields of expertise and much more.
The corporate website also must be optimized for search engines, because eventually, this what will lead people to enter your website and learn about your business.
The design of the website
In contrary to what some business owners think, its mandatory to use a graphic designer in the process of developing a website. The website may be working flawlessly, but without the introduction of a professional graphic designer into the process, the outcome will be a website that looks bad and not connected to the brand and the corporate identity of the business. So the website will not look like an integral part of the business's image.
Developers and programmers are good at programming. But they don't understand or care much about the design. Their main aim is to get everything to work well without bugs or malfunctions.
This is exactly the reason why a professional graphic designer must be introduced to the process as early as possible. The designer will be the one that will make the website look good and friendly to the user. But most important is that the designer will know how to transfer the business' data, messages and values to the visitors in a coherent way and fully connected and integrated with the brand identity of the business. You can read more about brand identity here.
In some cases, the client hires a designer to create the website. So the graphic designer uses his own programmer. And the client gets to work only with the designer, who manages the whole project. In other cases, it's the programmer who manages the project and chooses a graphic designer he trusts, to do the design of the website.
No matter who manages the project, the design of the website must be addressed by a professional. Because spending large amounts of money on a website, that eventually will not project the correct messages and will not be an integral part of the brand identity is just a huge waste of money.
So what's better? A template-based website or a custom-made one?
Like always the answer is: Depends. It depends on your needs, objectives, timetable, funds, and content.
Each method has its advantages and disadvantages. We will mention those now.
Template-based website - Pros
Customized design to some extent - In contrary to what some think, the premium templates available nowadays on the internet, allow the graphic designer to customize the design of the website. This by using the brand identity colors, fonts, elements, images and messages in a relatively easy way. Also when choosing the template we wish to use we have to see what each of the optional templates allows us to do and what not. The template of choice must suit the needs of the client as much as possible. This by the position and the look of the elements, the main menu and much more. All of this by the graphic designer himself, with very little help from the programmer. We can use the programmers help if needed to correct something that working wrong in the template or the template doesn't allow the designer to make some adjustments. But the programmers can do those things with this tools and programming knowledge. Speed - The template can basically be addressed as a ready-made website that we tweak and change to suit our needs. So it is much easier to make changes and adjustments in a built website than to build it from scratch. Fewer bugs and malfunctions - Most of the websites based on a template will have much fewer malfunctions and problems found in them. Most of the good and famous templates have been updated multiple times. And every bug found in some of the version is fixed and implemented in the next update. So one can say most of the bugs have or are being fixed by the template development team. Ease of use - Modern premium templates has a built-in page builder and content management system. So the client can get a short session about how the website works, and manage his own website on his own with ease. Additional and future development - There is a huge amount of plugins available online. Some of them are free for use and some are premium and cost some money. These plugins allow us to implement additional options and functions in the website with relative ease and for a low cost. Lower cost - Because the needed programming work is much smaller the cost of the whole project is much cheaper. So this is very important, especially for smaller businesses.
Template-based website - Cons
Customization - It is very important to decide from the beginning what do we want to have on the website. It requires us to make all the important decisions before choosing the template itself. This is one of the strongest reasons to choose an experienced professional that will know which template can suit the client's needs best. Changes and further development - every additional programming or change in the template itself (not the content), requires additional development by the programmer. This process isn't cheap and could lead to problems in the functioning of the template. The programmer has to learn how the template was programmed and developed, so he will not do any collateral damage while working on the changes. Some of the additions can be provided by plugins. But still, the right choice of template is crucial. Compatibility issues - When we install plugins on our website some of them can have compatibility issues between them and other plugins, and even between some plugins and the template itself. Again this is a reason why to choose an experienced professional that will know where problems can come from and how to avoid them. Updates - Because the WordPress system is constantly being developed and improved, there are updates coming out all the time. Some of the updates are minor and some are major updates. Some of them contain security patches, improvements, tweaks, new abilities and many more. This process is constantly happening in the plugins and even the basic template of the website. Every update, minor as it may look, can cause problems, prevent the website from working properly and even make crashes in the website. This happens mostly because of compatibility issues. What is needed to be done is before we update the website, we make a full backup of the files and the database of the website. Then if something goes wrong we can always go back and see what seems to be causing the problems. Then we can address the specific problem and fix it. So the client has to carefully select the programmer that will develop the website and do the maintenance later on. But this should not be a big issue when selecting the desired way of creating the website.
Custom-made website - Pros
The graphic designer has full control of how the website looks - There is no template to limit us to its options. Therefore, the graphic designer can create whatever he feels will look and work best. He can even create something unique and simply be creative. Almost every client's request can be answered. Still, there are some technological limitations that have to be taken into consideration. But mostly a designer can do what he thinks is the right thing. Programmer enjoys freedom - Everything has to be developed and programmed from the ground up, so the programmer can choose his techniques to program everything. This makes the work much more programmer friendly, eventually leading to very good and complete result. Future development and upscaling - Additionally, if we will want to continue developing the website and add options to it, the programmer can come into the process having no problems. He knows how everything works and built. It's built and arranged in the most comfortable way for him. This is important because this will ensure the process will mostly be possible shorter and cheaper to make. In template bad websites some of the wanted features will be hard and expensive to do and very rarely completely impossible. Loading speed - It's not a must but usually, custom based websites are loading faster. This because the programmers don't have to create an unneeded code and put in a page. The modern premium templates have a complex builder that allows the designer to create all the pages. So each page has all this builder's options and clutter in it. In a custom-made website, the code of each page is cleaner and better suits the web browsers to read and show. Still, the page loading speed will depend on the amount and the size of the elements and the images that need to be loaded. In addition, there are many plugins that help shorten the loading time of each website.
Custom-made website - Cons
Price - This method demands a lot of design, programming and developing work. This result in a higher price tag. Time - Just like in the previous con, there is much work to be done by all involved in the process. In addition, the run-up time (the time after launching the website mostly for testing the way it works and to find problems) will probably be much longer since all the problems found in the run-up needs to be fixed. All of this takes time. A lot of it.
It's important to consult with a professional graphic designer before starting working on something big and important like creating your website. It's important to make the decisions about what you want the website to be and which functions to have, as early as possible. Also important to decide from the get-go what is your budget and the desired timetable.
The moment the client knows the answers to this questions, he can make a wise and argumented decision regarding the method that suits his needs and budget best.
If you have any additional questions or you want to consult about creating a website for your business, we are always available for contact by phone on +972-50-9218823 or you can leave a message in the contact form here. We will be happy to answer your questions, and try to help you decide what method will suits your business needs best (template or custom-made).