When you start researching options for your new website design, you will likely be bombarded with choices. You’ll discover do-it-yourself online templates and software options and a range of professional designers who will do the work for you.
How do you know which to choose? Here is a checklist to get you started:
First, know the difference
A template is just that. You use a service, such as Wix or Squarespace and choose from a variety of pre-built templates that guide you where to place text, images and so on. The design work is handled for you, even down to color schemes, so you have little to do.
Custom design starts from scratch, and you work with a professional team to figure out exactly what kind of website can support your brand and business goals. However, delays are expected, and it could take a good bit of back-and-forth to get to the finished product.
Consider your budget
When it comes web design, how much you can afford will likely be the most significant factor. Templates and other DIY options are much cheaper than a custom design. We always recommend that you receive a few quotes from reputable professional web designers first to see if it’s even your budget.
One thing to remember, however: Your website is one of the most important marketing elements for your business. If you need to cut costs, it probably isn’t the place to skimp.
Look at your timeframe
Working with a website template is much faster, and you could have your website put together in a matter of days or even hours. Custom design is a much more intensive process, requiring weeks—sometimes months—to work out all the kinks and ensure that your website functions and looks as it should.
Think about how much customization you want
When it comes to templates, you have limited—if any—control over how the website works and functions. You may not be able to add features, for example, a scheduling tool or calculator, as needed, if those features aren’t built into the template.
Even adding your own logo and color can be off limits, so know how much flexibility you’ll have. Or if you want total customization, work with a designer.
Decide how much support you need
With templates, you’re often on your own. Web design professionals, however, tend to offer more support, guidance and even long-term website maintenance.
Figure out how much you need your website to do
Do you want a mobile-friendly website? Templates don’t always work on all devices. With a custom website, you can ensure your website functions and looks right, regardless of where it is viewed. Do you want to be search-engine friendly? Some templates aren’t, whereas on a custom website, the developer can optimize the website on the backend and improve your search rankings.
Do you want to ensure your website is scalable? Again, templates are limited.
It’s critical to think about your long-term goals for the business and ensure that your website can grow with you, even it requires more money upfront now.
Remember, too, that other businesses could end up using the exact same template as yours. If that doesn’t bother you, the budget-friendliness and ability to launch fast, may make templates the right choice for you. However, if you want a more unique website that stands out, custom design is absolutely the way to go.