Custom Vs. Template Website Builds: Put the Power in Your Hands

By Chris Hislop // Published on Apr 05, 2019

Your brand’s website is paramount in these contemporary times. 

How is your business conveying itself on digital platforms? 

What’s the answer? Is your brand communicating effectively to your target market?

In large part, a consumer will visit a company’s site before engaging with them as a means of “brand verification.” Thus, that first impression is important. Further, it’s a lot easier to “happen upon” a storefront on the internet as opposed to driving around in your car looking to stumble upon something of interest. The trick is to pop up in a search query and be found for the service or product you’re positioning.

Consider the following:

According to a recent study conducted by statista,

  • 67 percent of millennials prefer to shop online.
  • 56 percent of gen-xers prefer to shop online.
  • 41 percent of baby boomers prefer online shopping.
  • 28 percent of seniors prefer online shopping.

And those numbers grow by the day. Consumers spent $517.36 billion online with U.S. merchants alone in 2018 – an increase of 15.0% from the $449.88 billion spent in 2017… 

Business is booming online and it’s imperative that you’re not only well represented, but you’re brand is SEO friendly to optimize your saturation.

So, in thinking about your website there are two high-level routes to take when building out your presence. Template, or custom. 

What are the differences? 

Template Websites

The most common approach to a general website today is to create a WordPress account and apply a pre-coded template from ThemeForest, Template Monster, Elegant Themes (or something of the like), that enables you to drag and drop elements of your brand and create your online home. Some will take the Wix or Squarespace approach that allows you to edit different frames of the website in a quick but somewhat confined manner.

This is all fine and well, but be cognizant that templates can pose some issues. For example, they’re not all responsive. 

Not sure what responsive means? 

Think about the way a site populates on your desktop (or laptop) computer and the way it looks on that handheld device you’ve staring at right now. Responsive sites are a big deal. As of March 2019, mobile web traffic outpaced desktop surfing by a little over 3% (49.07 percent vs. 46.94 percent). While 3% might not seem like a large number, the more glaring statistic is that there’s a near 50/50 split in how people are accessing their information. In short – and back to the original point – an optimized site is crucial. Make sure your theme of choice is technologically advanced (or up to the times)

Templates and their ensuing themes are a quick and inexpensive way to achieve an online presence, but they’re not necessarily set up to stay true to your brand. And how could they be, really? They’re painting broad strokes, and, for some, you’re going to want to get a little more finely detailed than that. Your brand is your life, and with it you want to stick out (or at least not feel like you’re compromising some aspect of it). With prepackaged themes, the features are built in and won’t necessarily fit your brand / business. From there, you might decide to have a professional step in and customize the template to better fit your needs, which is timely, costly, and can prevent myriad issues down the road (such as compatibility and communicative technological problems). 

Potential template challenges:

  • You’re subjecting yourself to a look and feel that others are already utilizing.
  • Customization will likely be limited.
  • Templates may not work on all devices depending on how they’re coded.
  • Support services with templates are not typically great. Google (or Bing)  it an read some reviews.
  • Added technologies will likely not be compatible with a pre-coded framework. So, think big picture with what you’re looking to accomplish with your site.
  • SEO optimization is not always a “piece of the equation” when it comes to templates. This is important to note because you may require further customization that may or may not be possible after the launch. Again, looking “down the road” is important here…

Pros of template sites:

  • Low upfront cost.
  • Quick development time. 

Custom Websites 

We’re biased, but custom is what we do. It’s all we do. Custom built websites are created exactly to spec and enable you to create a brand-centric online home. The beauty of custom is in the communication at the outset. You have a team working with you to discuss your goals and unique branding points. This team not only possesses the tools necessary to bring your dreams to life, but also has the ability to bring further elements into play that you may not have thought of initially. There is no compromise, and, from a graphic / aesthetics point of view, you can make your site look exactlyhow you have it drawn up in your mind, or on your creative designer’s screen. 



























SEO is a major factor when it comes to the success of a website, and you’re bolstering your presence right out of the gate by choosing to go with a custom build because all of the behind the scenes, nitty gritty elements are built up to (SEO) “code.” For instance, naming conventions on each page and the integrated elements that flow into each item on the site. A custom build allows you to implement any and all functionality that you desire without being subject to the “confines” and compatibility issues you may run into with a template build. Custom built websites have a much better natural ranking with Google due to the seamless quality and coding of the elements (if you’re working with the right team). With templates, you’re beholden to naming conventions that might not even make sense for your business. Custom: built from scratch – built for you. 

Potential custom challenges:

  • More upfront cost.
  • Longer development time.

Pros of custom sites: 

  • 100% unique design built to brand specs.
  • Up to snuff with regard to today’s best technological practices (responsive, works in all browsers, etc.).
  • SEO optimized from back to front.
  • Adaptable / scalable for company needs / growth.
  • Support services are at your fingertips. If you’re with the right team, they’ll be with you from design and development phase on up through post production and ongoing management.
  • Custom websites, when coded correctly, are bulletproof and easy to manage and maintain while boasting a catchy design and technologically advanced interface. They’re of uncompromised quality. 

At Boldwerks we build custom websites daily. To sum up the key difference between a custom and template site in a concise manner; anything’s possible with a custom build – from design to functionality. With templates, “what you see is what you get.” 

Feel free to give us a shout to chat about your next web project! 

"Wealth is acquired by the daily practice of industry and frugality. He who relies upon these means will rarely be found destitute, and he who relies upon any other, will generally become bankrupt."
- Francis Wayland