A debate on the best website Design: Templates or Custom build?


Written by Paul Quinn

In this day and age, not having a website for your business is a missed trick. The thing about websites is, once they are up and running, they are working hard on your behalf 24 hours a day – which means your customer base just got global.

Having an online presence for your customers, clients and potential business leads to refer back to is essential in an increasingly competitive world. It’s a place you can showcase your case studies, your company’s visions and values, and capture new business leads via your social channels or enquiries form.

Deciding on the type of website development is a very personal choice. On one hand, you have website providers that only build their websites from templates, and on the other you have agencies who custom build every website to your own specifications.

Both of these options have their merits, and the decision should be entirely yours.

Here are our top 5 comparisons to help you make up your mind:


If you don’t mind having a website design that’s been used hundreds of times, a template may be right for you. Take a look at the different options out there, and if nothing else, they could give you some design inspiration.

Some of the angles your custom build agency will look at include, basing the design around your existing or new brand, business culture and /or personality. They will also have content writers on hand to tailor your website language and tone of voice, to ensure your content is unique and eye-catching.


If money worries are holding you back from getting your business up and running on the web, template sites could be your answer. There are lots of options out there, you just have to do the leg work and find one to suit your business.

Having anything custom build – whether it’s a suit, a car or a website – will mean your budget will need to be bigger. However, if you engage with a reputable agency they will work to budget, and create your site whilst keeping you updated on its progress. Don’t be afraid of contacting agencies to ask how they build their websites – or better still, look at their case studies on their own website. If they all look the same, the chances are they build from templates but (potentially) charge for customisation.

Customer service

Some people like to learn new skills and plan their own website design – everyone is different which is why there are website template designs you can download and populate yourself. You will need to be confident enough not to need a customer service representative at the end of a phone call or email though – but if it’s just a simple build, it might be a risk worth taking.

Design agencies are full of energetic and creative souls, who make it their life’s work to make beautiful things – artists, if you will. They have a vested interest in making your website engaging and eye-catching and will, more often than not, bend over backwards to ensure every detail is spot on. Once your website is live, they become your advice channel and will be on hand to coach you and your staff to get the very best from your investment – because after all, that’s exactly what a custom built website is.

Future proofing

So, you have a small business… but will it always be small? Or do you have plans to expand in 3 or 5 years? If the answer is no, maybe a template website is for you. These are fixed templates after all, and will fit your current requirements, but could prove limiting should you wish to expand or add extra functionality.

A custom build will give you a lot more options – even if you don’t think you will need them, a reputable agency who only carry out custom builds will already be thinking about your long-term expansion goals and will always build in capabilities to expand or alter your website in the future. Another point to consider is having your site made mobile responsive. The majority of people are on the go, and on their phones a lot. Alienating this huge customer base is madness, and can be damaging to your reputation and new business objectives. The age old “buy cheap, buy twice” couldn’t be more relevant here. Invest wisely and your website will have longevity, credibility and diversity.

Speed to load

A simple template website will be suitable for businesses who don’t have (or expect) much website traffic. Pages might take longer to load, but if you have dedicated customers who don’t mind spending a little longer on your website to get the information they need, it won’t be worth you finding the extra money for a custom build. Just be mindful that a template website might not work in all browsers. Top tip – check the coding element of the template. If it’s JavaScript and you over-populate your site with content and images, it will load excruciatingly slowly and even dedicated customers might abandon you.

BUT, if you yourself have ever gone onto a website and found the navigation, or user experience a tad clunky or you like images to load in a Nano-second, your business may need a custom build. Not only do reputable agencies fully optimise your images and content, they use far superior servers to host your site to keep it safe from hackers and enable it to load super quick. This stops potential customer getting frustrated and going onto a competitor’s website to engage with them instead.

All in all, it comes down to personal choice, budget and your business’s needs. If standing out as a leader in your sector is your thing, talk to an award-winning agency who can make that happen.

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