SEO

Weighing the Pros and Cons of Custom Website Design

Your website is an incredibly important component of your online marketing. While that may seem like a “well, duh” statement, there’s no shortage of poorly designed websites to make it worth saying again. First off, your company’s website may be the first (but hopefully not only) impression your brand gets to make on a potential customer.

What does your website say about you? Is it outdated, cluttered and unappealing? Or is it simple, streamlined and professional? Secondly, your off-site SEO is only as good as your site itself. You can invest the man hours into building an incredible portfolio of diverse, quality inbound links second to none, but if all those links lead visitors to a poorly designed site they’ll leave just as fast as they came. All your off-site SEO efforts go right out the window.

Developing a good website starts with one question: “Do I want to pay for it?”

There are hundreds upon thousands of free website templates for you to choose from when building your site. Some are great, and some should never see the light of day. Chances are you’ll have to sort through a lot of the latter before you find one that you can make work for your brand and site goals.

Pros of Free Website Templates

1. They’re free.

If you’re brand new business launching a brand new site, you may not have the budget for a professional, custom website design. Using a free template means you can allocate your limited budget elsewhere.

2. Plug and Play

Since free templates are ready-made, you can just drop your information in and launch it. There’s minimal backend work needed on your part. New domains need time to earn a trust factor with search engines. The sooner you get your site launched the more time you give yourself and your site to do so.

3. You can do it yourself

When you use a free template, you’re the designer. You can make changes at 2 AM if you feel like it – you call the shots.

Cons of Free Website Templates

1. Other sites look the same

The best free website templates get used a lot. You’re probably not the only one to stumble upon that certain perfect design for your site. There might be hundreds of sites that look just like it.

2. People can tell when it’s free

Most free templates don’t hide the fact that they’re free templates very well. Unless you do some serious editing to create a custom header and footer, most people can tell.

3. It might not mesh perfectly

Since the template wasn’t designed specifically for your site, you may not be able to create your ideal site.

If you decided you did want to pay for a custom website design, there’s no shortage of great web designers and developers willing to do the work for you, if you don’t have the skills.

Pros of Custom Website Designs

1. It’s whatever you want it to be

No need for compromise when developing a custom website. You can build it to look and feel however you want.

2. Accurately reflects your brand

You aren’t trying to fit a round peg into a square hole when you custom design your site. You are the only one with this design. Every aspect of that site is designed to reflect your brand and online goals. You can customize your site design to fit in with the rest of your Internet strategy.

3. You don’t have to worry about it

If you don’t know anything about web design and development, hiring a professional to do it for you lifts the burden off your shoulders so you can concentrate on other things.

Cons of Custom Website Designs

1. It can get expensive

Depending on skill level, a web designer or developer could charge you anywhere from $35 to $300 dollars an hour to build and maintain your site. Even if you just want to make small changes, it can get very costly very quickly.

2. Changes may take time

When you’re not the one handling the web design, you have to count on a 3rd party to make the needed changes. Developments might not happen as quickly as you’d like.

There are pros and cons to both free templates and custom designs. You have to decide what makes sense for your business and your budget. New sites may want to stick with free templates until they have more wiggle room in their budget. Established brands might want to create a custom design to ensure their online and offline branding align properly. Whatever your reasons, just make sure you think it through before you go live!

ac4c7856380807c14afccbe70e0ce071 64 Weighing the Pros and Cons of Custom Website Design
Nick Stamoulis is the President of Brick Marketing, a full service Boston SEO firm. With nearly 13 years of experience in the Internet Marketing industry, Nick Stamoulis shares his B2B SEO knowledge by contributing to the Brick Marketing Blog and publishing the Brick Marketing SEO Newsletter, read by over 160,000 opt-in subscribers.
ac4c7856380807c14afccbe70e0ce071 64 Weighing the Pros and Cons of Custom Website Design
ac4c7856380807c14afccbe70e0ce071 64 Weighing the Pros and Cons of Custom Website Design
ac4c7856380807c14afccbe70e0ce071 64 Weighing the Pros and Cons of Custom Website Design

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3 thoughts on “Weighing the Pros and Cons of Custom Website Design

  1. People can definitely tell when a website was free or extremely cheap. I’ve seen some really bad ones. I would be incredibly embarrassed if I owned a business and had a free website that “looked” free.

    If you have the will to learn a little, you can make a really nice one for cheap yourself using something like WordPress. But if you have some wiggle room with your budget, please explore the professional options.

  2. I’ve rolled a few of my own sites and I’ve used a popular CMS as a blog and my vote goes to the custom builds but there’s another pro for the list: Once it’s built you can roll out it for multiple sites with very few changes. This could prove priceless for an ever-expanding business as it could theoretically half the cost of getting the site built in the first place. Getting a simple CSS system in place is the key then you could just get changes made as a theme.

  3. Hi Nick

    I only came across this topic while doing some research for a blog post on this exact topic so well written (as he scribbles notes)

    As a website developer I think I speak to this topic every single day. One thing that however looms all the time in peoples mind is their current budget versus the ROI. One of the things that I am doing at the moment is trying to structure the costs for people as often customers get hit with a high up front cost and this scares them away from making an important decision.

    Developers and website business people in general need to walk a little more in the end users shoes I think