Difference Between Custom-Built WordPress Websites and Templates

Alliance  ·  October 16, 2020

Have you decided to invest in a WordPress website redesign this year for your business? When evaluating whether to go with a custom WordPress website build or template website design, we always recommend the custom-built website.

While a template design allows a website to be built relatively quickly and inexpensively, it is limiting when it comes time to further expand it as your business grows. If you are looking to provide the best possible user experience, a custom website design allows for endless options when it comes to creativity and functionality.

What is a template website design?

A template website design is built on predesigned pages, known as templates, which allow anyone to plug in content or text to build their website. Templates are usually built using HTML or CSS and allow anyone to setup a website on their own. A template design allows you to easily insert text or imagery, but allows for virtually editing to the design or layout of the page. A website template can include basic website features such as a shopping cart, contact form, image gallery and video players.

What are the advantages of a custom WordPress website design?

Custom WordPress built websites require a team to complete your project from start to finish, and takes more time to complete than a template design due to the strategy and development involved to complete the project. It usually begins by developing a creative understanding of how to reflect your business in a way that catches the interest of your target audience. A custom-built website has endless design possibilities, allows for different integrations and can feature custom navigation or media components. Custom-built websites are also tailored to have the design be responsive across all devices. It also allows the website designers more freedom in content presentation, allowing a website to be further expanded upon at a later date.

Why choose a custom-built WordPress website over a template?

Allows for a completely unique representation of your brand.

Over 73% of companies are now investing in custom website design to differentiate their brands. Usually when a website is built on a template, there’s a good chance other businesses similar to yours could be using the same thing. This means when a visitor comes across your website, they may not be impressed by their initial experience onsite, since a template design is limiting in how content can be presented.

With a website, the developer can fully showcase your brand through a unique website without restrictions or limitations to the design. Over 38% of people stop engaging with a website if the layout is unattractive, so it is important you give your visitors the most unique and professional representation of your business. A custom-built website allows for a more engaging content structure that could feature interactive elements, software integrations and professional visual imagery.

Is adaptable and can change as your business grows.

A customizable website design allows a business to adapt its design needs as its business grows and changes. For example, if your business begins to add new content on their website or integrate a new onsite features such as a members only content section, these types of changes can easily be integrated into the website. A template website design, however, does not allow for changes or adjustments to be made within the design. This can be limiting down the road for your business, so it is worth considering a custom-built website to begin with to allow for additional enhancements down the road.

Can be optimized for better search engine readability.

One of the many great features of custom-built websites is that they can be better optimized for search engine readability over simpler, template built sites. Usually the developer of a custom-built WordPress site will help optimize the website with a sitemap, keyword optimization and backlinking- both of which help a search engine determine what topics the content on your website is about. Partnering with a digital agency for a design project can also help your business optimize other areas which affect search- including responsive design, website performance and security.

Can be supported by the developer who built it.

An issue you may come across with a template website design is that if any issues arise, you may not have the ability to find the support you need to fix it. Website maintenance is extremely important in order to keep your content secure and performing well. With a custom-built website design, the developer that built it has a good understanding of how to fix any issues, and usually provide long term support service to help maintain optimal performance and security.

Can integrate custom technology or software.

A custom-built website provides the ability to integrate whatever your business may need right into the site. For example, maybe you need a password protected section, a blog or news area, or an onsite landing page when someone accesses your website from a search engine. A developer providing a custom website design can easily integrate whatever your business needs right on to the site. They can also integrate whatever content management system your business may already be using right into the website- allowing website administrators to easily manage customer information and website content. A template website design may pose restrictions when it comes to content management or onsite integrations, posing frustration at a later date when it comes to making changes to the design.

Is responsive across all devices.

Having a mobile responsive website is important to ensure a positive user experience for all of your website traffic. Mobile devices now account for every 2 out of 3 minutes spent online, so it is important that your business doesn’t miss out on this large audience of traffic. Template designs require individual customizations to be made in order to display well across mobile devices. With a custom-built WordPress website, the development team can make sure your website design easily transitions across any device, ensuring a great online experience wherever you are.

Allows for more content flexibility by website administrators.

Finally, a custom website design allows for more content flexibility for website administrators. A template design does not allow for adjustments to homepage elements, navigation or content structure, which could result in a more generic looking website. A custom website design allows for virtually any content presentation- which is why developers often use wireframing to strategize a design concept that will work best for your business. Once the design is complete, administrators have the ability to restructure different elements such as imagery, text and media, in a way that is best suited to their audience.

Have questions regarding the templates vs custom-built website design? Alliance Interactive is a full service digital design and development company in Washington, D.C. We have over 17 years of experience providing Drupal website design, development, maintenance,  and migration solutions for clients. To learn more, you can connect with our Drupal team of experts here.