Your business needs a website -- but can you make do with an easy template or should you have a website custom designed? Templates are a fast way to deploy a very basic website, and for some companies they may be sufficient. But templates generally cannot provide either the functionality or the depth of a custom website. Here are a few of the major factors that you need to consider before making the decision of custom website vs. template.
1. Cost of Installation and Cost of Maintenance
Templates are very affordable. In fact, templates can even be found online completely for free. Thus, they have the advantage of being inexpensive to launch. The downside to this, however, is that they are usually more costly if you ever need to alter them. Altering a template for advanced functionality could require that much of the code base be both explored and rewritten; it's a case of "you get what you pay for." Comparatively, a custom website is more expensive to setup, but will be designed to be inexpensive to maintain and modify.
2. Time to Launch
Most templates can be immediately deployed, depending on the number of modifications you need to make for your company's personal branding. Custom websites can take weeks or even months. But this is because the deployment will only contain the functionality and data that the template already includes. It can still take more time to develop content and customize the template.
3. Customization and Branding
In general, templates tend to have set areas in which the company can add their branding. Companies can add personal business information, logos, and photos -- but usually not much more. The overall "feel" of the website cannot be modified; instead, the most that can usually be altered is the color scheme. A custom website can be designed from the ground up to create a more consistent brand identity.
4. Scalability and Growth
Websites need to be able to scale with a business. A small startup may only need a small informational website -- but as they grow they may need to add customer service features or even an e-commerce portal. Custom websites can be designed so that they can grow as the business grows; they can even be developed with specific areas of growth in mind, such as shopping cart support. Templates will always be as simple as they are upon deployment. To add anything will require custom programming.
5. Advanced Functionality
Responsive design, shopping cart services, and membership areas -- any type of advanced functionality will need to be coded into a template if it's needed. For companies that need some form of advanced functionality, custom programming is going to be necessary one way or another. When building a website from the ground up, custom programming can be integrated in a seamless fashion. When modifying a template, it may take longer and may not provide as consistent a user experience.
In Conclustion: A pre-built template although generally faster and easier to setup, it won't be able to grow and scale with your business. To provide the best in functionality and customer service, you need a custom website. On the other hand, if you just want to establish brand identity quickly, a template could work.