Now Reading | Posted on November 1, 2016 | Written by Conor Mulvaney

5 Reasons to Use a Web Designer Instead of a Template

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5 Reasons to Use a Web Designer Instead of a Template

As far as your brand’s presence on the internet goes, finding a respectable design template or WordPress theme might seem like the easier, softer way to build your brand. In this post, we’ll explain why it absolutely isn’t.

1. A Custom Web Design is Tailored to Your Brand

The most easily acknowledged reality of using a custom design over a template is that it is made fit-to-size for your personal craft brand. One of the key components of a successful online presence is a unified brand… across social media platforms, email campaigns, and search engines. A custom web design helps you meet this goal in a graceful way, all the while making a stunning statement.

Don’t get us wrong, template designs can be a great source of inspiration: many are designed very well from a front end perspective. But their design strength is what makes them so deadly to the personalized brand: the better a template looks, the more likely it is that is being used by a number of other companies. Moreover, your brands elements and assets may not be able to flow in a web design that isn’t specifically tailored them, and fitting them into a template design may feel more like “shoehorning” at times.

2. Template Sites Have a Shelf Life

Web design is a perishable item. This may seem like a strange thing to say, given the seemingly foreverness of the Internet, but the reality is that the Internet changes at an impossibly rapid pace. The languages that make the internet as beautiful as it can be- an alphabet soup style combination of letters like HTML, CSS, and PHP are constantly updating.

HTML, or HyperText Markup Language, can be seen as the building blocks of the Internet. In the 25 years since it was standardized in 1991, HTML has gone through multiple upgrades and updates and now exists in its fifth iteration. HTML5 has brought huge boons to web design, and it improves with virtually every passing day. As browsers update their compatibilities with some of stranger corners of the language, a custom web design can improve and utilize these newly supported features to make your website stand out among the rest.

Templates, alternatively, don’t have the same capacity to be cutting-edge. While they can certainly include some of these bells and whistles, they are unable to incorporate them as the internet progresses. Worse off, unless you have a personal website designer or administrator on staff, you may have difficulty integrating these features.

3. Custom Designs Are Easier to Use

While we can’t speak on behalf of the practices of other web design and marketing agencies, we believe the client should always have the advantageous relationship with their website. Our philosophy regarding website administration is that, should a client to manage their site on their own, they should be able to do so as easily as they could log on to Facebook or send an email. By taking the time to structure a customized, easy to use content management system- built to your needs and your specifications, we prepare our clients to comfortably embark on their internet journey.

So while a custom design allows you to write your own instruction booklet, using a template site requires you to translate theirs. Template sites look nice on the outside, but their insides can be a complicated mess of plugins, hidden features, and confusing coding. The learning curve is significantly steeper, and the man hours spent trying to navigate a pre-packaged product could be better spent on growing your brand in other ways.

4. Template Sites are Fragile

To circle back to our second point, not only are template sites temporary solutions, they are also fragile ones. Template sites have a tendency to be incredibly plugin reliant- that is to say that their functionality is based off of a spider’s web of plugins. Plugins are mini-integrations that you can download for the various content management platforms- WordPress, Drupal, and Joomla to name a few- to boost the capabilities of your site. In many instances, these can save designers a lot of time and create a visually stunning site, but they can often disrupt each other’s code and “break the site”.

That same rapid update that makes template sites expire can cause plugins to expire, or act unpredictably with each new release or update. These malfunctions can disrupt the entire look and feel of the site, causing it to load an ugly error message rather than your beautiful brand.

Custom designs done and done well by a design agency don’t carry this same baggage. While it isn’t unnatural for a design company to utilize plugins (we’d be lying to say if we didn’t), their designs aren’t as plugin-dependent as template sites. Additionally, in the worst case scenario where a minor update to a programming language like PHP leaves your website throwing a hissy-fit, having a readily available design agency as a part of your team means the problem can be resolved immediately.

5. It’s Cheaper, No Seriously

To the untrained eye, this definitely seems like an audacious statement. Yes, the initial cost of a template can seem less expensive than a custom design, but when you take a few steps back from the frame, its easy to see the big financial picture.

All of the reasons to avoid templates listed above have one thing in common: they cost you money. An impersonal brand fails to connect with potential customers, losing you conversions. A single minute of downtime can cost your business hundreds of potential sales, reservations, or preorders. Learning to manage your site through the template requires either taking time from your busy schedule as a business owner to do it, or permanently hiring someone on staff to do it for you.

While a custom website design has a higher initial cost, it clearly pays off in the end. You’ll always pay more for a personal portrait than you would for a print. Both may look nice, but only one is yours.

To analogize it simply, imagine deciding you want to buy a house. You have a pretty good idea of the supplies you’ll need, what you want it to look like, and how to build it to code and safely. Within reason, you can go to Home Depot and buy all the supplies you need: wood, concrete, tile, sheetrock, plumbing, etc; but when you get to your plot of land, would you be able to build that house without the assistance of a contractor?

 

What are you waiting for? Choose custom web design. Grow your brand. Request a proposal now.