The design of your website can make or break your brand. The overall look of the site is the first thing people notice when the page opens in front of them, and first impressions are everything. But you know what’s even more important than first impressions? Second impressions. That’s because while it’s easy enough to look past poor quality graphics and odd visual design choices, it’s near impossible to ignore an awful user interface. If your layout isn’t straightforward and set up for easy navigation, visitors will be quick to give up and hit that dreaded red X before even making it to the content. This is why choosing the right design for your website is one of the most important decisions for your brand: it serves as the foundation on which you will construct the rest of your site, and if the foundation isn’t strong, well, the entire thing could come crumbling down around you.

There are two routes you can take when it comes to designing your site: Custom or Template. There are Pros and Cons to each of these, as you may have guessed from the title. The best choice for you also depends on your personal needs and individual circumstances, so keep that in mind as always.

Template

A template website design has most of the work done for you, allowing you to drop content into a pre-made structure. This can be done by a web developer or, if you so choose, entirely on your own.

PROS

    • You can do it entirely independently using web development platforms like Wix or Squarespace.
    • Building a website using a template can cost little to nothing, saving you a large chunk of money.
    • Using a template reduces the need for complicated coding.
    • You don’t need very much experience to create a site using a template.

CONS

    • Most templates are not SEO-friendly.
    • There are no restrictions to who can use these templates, so other brands will be using the exact same template as you.
    • Limited customization and little options for advanced features.
    • Does not include reliable tech support.

Custom

A custom website is built around your brand, not the other way around. This typically requires a team, with whom you will sit down and discuss audience and creative direction.

PROS

    • You will be able to customize your website to your liking with little to no constraints.
    • The website will be tailored perfectly to the branding of your company.
    • The site will be compatible with all browsers.
    • You can add or take away pretty much any features without limits.
    • You can continue building upon what already exists as your business develops and expands.
    • The site will be search engine friendly.
    • You will have reliable tech support from the web developer.

CONS

    • More expensive than using a template. According to Website Builder Expert, a custom built website can run you anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000, depending on your needs and the complexity of the code and design.
    • Long development time. According to Bill Erickson, professional WordPress Developer, a custom website could take (at minimum) 14 weeks to build from the ground up. He says “This includes 3 weeks discovery, 6 weeks design, 3 weeks initial development, and 2 weeks of modifications,” and he notes that it could take much longer if you wait until the end to start writing content.

If you’re a startup or small business, it doesn’t hurt to try and go the template route, and then upgrade later on down the line when your brand takes off. But if you’re a sizeable company, it may be worth it to hire a team of designers and developers to create your perfect website.

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