Here we’re going to discuss taking shortcuts when building your website. Using templates to save money, and how that can bring about problems down the line. Ok, let’s get into it.
What is a templated site?
Templated websites are pre-designed themes that offer a ready-made layout and functionality. Think premium WordPress or Shopify themes. You pay for something that’s maybe a little more expensive than the free ones, but still available to be bought by anyone who wants it.
What is a custom-built (or bespoke) site?
Bespoke websites are tailor-made from scratch to meet specific brand requirements, providing complete control over design, features, and user experience. Want a unicorn flying through the middle of your site? Or a pension calculator? The ability to have literally what you want, where you want it? Consider it done.
Templated website benefits
If you have a limited budget (probably under about £5k), you might opt for a templated site. Something like Wix, or Squarespace. As a start-up, it will get you going. One of these sites will save you time and money as the core of its layout and functionality is already built, with the time mainly involved in building out the pages and changing the branding colours and logos. If you’re short on time, these sites take a lot less time to build, too. The user interface and user journey on these sites are generally quite good, you can choose an off the shelf theme, there are loads of design options, but it won’t be a fully custom solution.
Templated site cons
Despite the advantages, there are several reasons why templated websites may not be such a good idea for your brand:
- Firstly, unoriginality. As previously mentioned, anyone can buy the same template. If it’s a template, it’s not distinctly you, which could dilute your brand’s identity.
- Secondly, too many unused features will make your website slow. WordPress themes are packed with features and functionalities that you are unlikely ever going to use, but are still being loaded in the background. A slow site is annoying from a user experience POV, and bad for Search Engine Optimisation.
- Thirdly, template customisations can be far more difficult than building it the way you want it to start with. Adding additional bespoke functionality on top of the website theme can be a lot more complicated and time consuming, meaning that quotes for future development work will be higher. Developers may struggle to adapt to the theme’s coding structure, leading to increased costs for future development work.
- Finally, ongoing costs can also be deceptively expensive. Most templated themes require annual payments to the theme company for updates and support. These additional expenses can accumulate over time, making templated websites less cost-effective in the long run.
Bespoke website benefits
If you’ve not realised by now, we’re all for bespoke sites. But why? What are the main reasons we prefer to build from scratch?
- From a branding perspective, we can ensure that the brand, motion and design are all reflective of the brand and the exact needs of the business. It will be uniquely you, from the way that it moves to the way your users navigate from page to page. When we talk about branding, we tell people that every single touchpoint is a reflection of your brand, and your website is no exception.
- Speed. If your site is built with only the elements you need, no additional code bloat will be present, ultimately making the website quicker.
- Control. With a bespoke website, you have greater control over security measures, ensuring that your site remains protected against potential vulnerabilities. That’s through both the hosting and the website code.
Editability of templated websites
With a new website, it’s not a case of “launch it and leave it”. It’s going to be changing and adapting all the time. A bespoke site can grow and adapt with your business, as it will have been built with change in mind. A more generic website might need replacing completely at key points in your business development. Over time this can become costly. So even if the initial costs of bespoke website design are higher than you might pay for a template design, it’s likely to be more cost effective over the medium to long-term. Remember what your dad used to say… buy cheap, buy twice? Turns out he was right…
Bespoke WordPress web development
WordPress gives us the building blocks to build upon a CMS, which allows the client to edit their website going forward. WordPress is a free open-source CMS, which means there are thousands of developers who maintain and add features on a regular basis to ensure that it is fit for purpose, has the necessary security features/updates and has over 50k plugins available too, meaning you can extend functionality on your website. Also, WordPress is the most commonly used CMS on the planet (810 million websites), so a lot of people are familiar with the admin area. The admin area is also really user-friendly, meaning very little training is needed. Developers can also quickly add new sections and functionality too.
How much does a bespoke website cost?
The cost of a bespoke website can vary widely depending on how many pages you require and what you require those pages to do. As a general rule, you will pay more for a bespoke website than you would for a more generic, off-the-peg website and then customising. It’s like the difference between purchasing kitchen units from a DIY store, or having bespoke units made by a carpenter. The latter will cost you more but are likely to be of a much higher quality.
While there’s no fixed costs for a bespoke website you would be unlikely to pay less than £5,000 for a very basic site. In most cases, the cost of a bespoke business website will probably start form £5,000 and could go up to £30,000 for complex sites with highly detailed functionality. This article explores pricing a little more, a few paragraphs down.
If your website doesn’t contain many pages and only contains basic content such as text and images and perhaps video or basic animation, it will be towards the lower end of the price scale. Larger, more complex websites, particularly those featuring bespoke e-commerce platforms will cost considerably more. For the website of a national or international brand, costs may even begin in six figures.
Who you choose to create your website will also impact on the price. Freelancers operating on their own are likely to charge less than a comprehensive web design agency. The latter will however have a range of specialist professionals available to help create the best possible website for your business.
It’s worth remembering that your website represents a considerable investment for your business and it will play a key part in its overall success. It’s therefore worth considering if it’s really wise cutting corners for the sake of a relatively small sum of money.
How do you get started?
If you’ve decided that a bespoke business website is the right option for your business then you might be wondering where you go from here. Firstly, take some time to consider how you would like your website to look and what you would like it to do. Are there competitor websites that you particularly like or any that you don’t think work particularly well? How would you like your website to stand-out?
This “How to write a website brief” guide will help you plan it all out.