Custom Web Design vs. Generic Template: Which One is Right for You?

by | Mar 20, 2017 | Strategy

The good news is that there’s never been more options for creating a website for your business than there are today.

The bad news? There’s never been more options for creating a website for your business than there are today.

Options can bring uncertainty and overwhelm to the decision making process.

In this post I’m breaking down the generic template versus hiring a professional designer debate, and illustrating just what goes into a custom website design that influences the cost.


Should You Use a Generic Template or Custom Theme for Your Website?

The most common question I get from business owners is whether you should go with one of the generic template options out there, such as Squarespace, Shopify, or or whether you should go with a custom WordPress design created by a pro designer.

There are some striking Squarespace templates available that are well designed and easy to publish. But those same templates have significant limitations for customization and integrating online tools for growth.

I design in WordPress because of its robust options for customized development. (Translation: I can make your WordPress website do just about anything you need it to do to support your business.)


Here are some questions to ask yourself in order to make this decision:

  • Have I been in business for more than a year and do I feel confident about the results of my services and/or products?
  • Do I know who I’m reaching with my business, who this website is targeted for?
  • Will I need customized landing pages and/or sales pages?
  • Will I need functionality such as running a digital course or membership group within my site?
  • After the website is built, am I comfortable managing updates or hiring someone to do that for me?
  • Do I have guest bloggers or an admin assistant who I want to access only certain parts of my website?
  • Will my business be growing/changing significantly in the next 6 months-2 years?
  • If I sell products/services online, are any of them subscription based?
  • Do I offer gift certificates?
  • Do I need to book appointments for my services?
  • Does my website content need to be translated into more than one language?

If your answer is “yes” to any of the questions above, I would recommend you have a custom WordPress website developed for you. If your answer is “no” or “maybe” a more generic template website like Squarespace might be the best option for you at this point in time.


Why Custom Website Design is Expensive

My research antennae go up from the moment a client first submits their design inquiry.

The specific questions in that inquiry were intentionally, lovingly crafted from years of training in design, technology, digital strategy, and anthropology.

Then my expertise turns to your target market, your MVCs. I start investigating how your business, brand, and digital home can best attract and serve the people you want to serve.

I research where your people are hanging out. I’m reading blogs and scrolling through social media feeds, I’m listening to music, I’m searching demographic information on real estate and government websites, I’m looking at the trends in the industry in which you’re working.

This is both about gathering large amounts of information about your market and knowing how to analyze it.


Deep Technical Expertise Meets Your Business Growth

Good design does not come down from the ether and magically make its way onto a computer.

Custom website designers have a deep technical expertise that allows them to know what tools you need for your site.

They know what plug-ins and apps play well together and which ones will support your business goals.

Because we all have blind spots as the owners of our business, a good designer is creating your website for your audience, not for you (#sorrynotsorry). They know about the best practices in user experience and why a button should be a certain size and why your opt-in box should go there and not there.

And once the site is designed and developed, they know how to test the site to make sure it will debut with as much pomp and fanfare as a beauty queen.

In the comments, I’d love to know: What are your questions about using a generic template versus a custom WordPress website?

Ready to partner with a pro to design a WordPress site that invites your audience in like the most perfect welcome sign? Learn more about working with me here.