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Template Website or Custom Design: What to Choose?

18 jul 2023

There are numerous offers on the internet for affordable website development. The overwhelming majority of these offers are related to template-based websites. Template website, as the most cost-effective option, does not have any particular design or functional extravagance. Nevertheless, the number of template designs significantly outweighs that of custom-made designs among modern internet resources.

However, the template approach is not universal. In some cases, it is necessary to have a custom design and unique solutions developed manually. Today's article discusses which type of website should be preferred in different situations.


What are the main objectives of a template website and a website with a unique design?

The choice between a unique or template design primarily depends on the objectives set for the website. The chosen functionality is also dependent on this factor. If the goal is to create a simple business card website or a landing page, a template option would be the optimal solution.

A website with a unique design is necessary in the following cases:

  • There is a need to enhance brand recognition.
  • Emphasis is placed on the company's corporate style.
  • User access to specific features needs to be simplified.
  • The website needs to stand out in a competitive environment.

Both unique and template designs have their advantages and disadvantages. Let's take a closer look at both options.


Template Design

As the name suggests, a template website design is developed based on a pre-prepared template. There are numerous templates available, distributed through specialized services like Dribbble, TemplateMonster, ThemeForest, and others. Each template contains specific structures, designs, and various elements.

At FiveStars, we often encounter a dismissive attitude towards template design from clients. Some persistently view templates as a disadvantage for web projects. However, such an attitude is fundamentally incorrect. It is the template version of a website that serves as an optimal solution for cost-effective implementation of various tasks. This is due to two main advantages:

  • The price of a template version is much more attractive compared to the cost of a unique design.
  • The rapid development pace is facilitated by the abundance of paid and free templates available for installation on websites using any CMS.

Although template designs are delivered "as is," there are limited possibilities to customize such a website according to specific interests. However, it should be acknowledged that these customization options are restricted. Incorporating custom brand colors, logos, and fonts that form the foundation of a corporate style is often challenging or even impossible with template designs. This is because template designs lack the flexibility to edit certain important parameters.

Furthermore, template designs have several significant disadvantages, such as:

1. Repetitive design.
Many novice designers practice creating websites using templates. The same website template can be used by anyone, leading to a lack of design uniqueness. These websites tend to be similar, potentially damaging the image of the company being promoted through the website.

2. Limited customization, even in paid versions.
Paid templates generally offer more attractiveness and functionality. However, they also come with limitations that pose challenges for designers and programmers. Full editing of system files is often unavailable, preventing the complete implementation of intended functionality and design.

3. Presence of hidden links.
Templates may contain hidden links that are difficult to detect visually but are invariably discovered by search engine robots. The presence of such links, especially leading to websites of questionable or illegal nature (gambling, pornography, drugs, etc.), can result in the removal of the website from search engine results, making further SEO promotion impossible.

4. Technical imperfections.
Template websites often have poorly optimized code, leading to conflicts with CMS, plugins, and various elements of the site. In some cases, due to their technical imperfections, template websites place a heavy load on hosting resources.

However, if the aforementioned drawbacks are minimized, template designs can be suitable for addressing specific tasks on the internet.


Website with Unique Design

A website with a unique design is developed from scratch. The development brief for such a website initially takes into account the requirements for the corporate style and the specific activities of the client, and the website design is fully optimized to meet the needs of the particular company. As a result, instead of a template structure, an original internet resource with thoughtful aesthetics is created.

The main advantages of a website with a unique design include the following:

1. Exclusive aesthetics.
A unique website design is distinct and differentiates itself from any other internet resource.

2. Высокая вероятность максимальной конверсии.
A unique design is developed with consideration of the specific services or products of a particular company. Each participant involved in the website development contributes to the future conversion:

  • Designers propose options for pages that best suit the given business.
  • SEO specialists provide input on the website structure and elements for optimization.
  • UX analysts offer recommendations for the most preferable usability responses.

The collaborative work of all specialists involved ensures the optimization of all elements for maximum website conversion.

3. Full alignment with the corporate style.

A unique design allows for the development of a website that fully aligns with the corporate colors and branding. Such a website becomes recognizable from the start and quickly transforms into a comprehensive online representation of the company.

4. Striking differentiation from competitors.
A unique design is noticeably superior to standard template designs used by competitors, positively impacting the company's image.

When discussing the advantages of a unique design, it is important to consider the challenges associated with its development and maintenance, including:

  • Higher development costs due to the involvement of not only professional designers but also other skilled specialists. The cost of a unique design is typically itemized in a separate line in the contract and can account for up to half of the project's budget.
  • Extended development time, which is largely dependent on the expertise of the developer.
  • The possibility of subsequent refinements due to the need for testing and debugging to identify and address bugs and other issues.


Which Design to Choose: Unique or Template?

A unique design is undoubtedly preferable in cases where the business is well-established and profitable, and the company has its own branding. Such a design is more suitable for websites that contain a large amount of video content, graphics, and other media. Not all template options are capable of accommodating numerous elements of this nature without extensive optimization.

However, it is the template design that is best suited for startups with a limited budget. Without certainty that the business will thrive, it is not advisable to invest in initially expensive solutions. It would be more prudent to initially invest in optimization, quality design, and responsiveness, developing the website based on a free but high-quality template.

By the way, most users are primarily concerned with whether your website is optimized for their needs and effectively fulfills its functions, rather than whether it has a unique or template design.

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