With 2009 right around the corner, the website design projects are pilling up on our project board.  I’ve come across a number of people over the past few weeks who are confused by the two different types of website designs available:  template and custom built.  There are pros and cons to both, which is what I will be going over here.  Education is key to all this “online stuff” and I want to make sure, no matter who you use for a website provider, that you know what you are getting.  Unfortunately, there are some providers out there selling a “custom” solution when it’s really a template.

With a template website the design, navigation, layout and color scheme is pre-defined.  You simply choose the design and color you want and we, as website providers, plug your content into their respective pages or sections. 

Template Pros:

  1. They are less expensive because it takes a lot less time to set them up.
  2. They can be set up very quickly, we’ve done them in as little as 2 weeks.

Template Cons:

  1. They are not as flexible to optimize for the search engines.
  2. You are usually limited on the number of pages you can have in your website as the designs are only built with a certain amount in mind.
  3. If you decide you don’t like the provider and want to switch, you can not take the website design with you, as templates are typically the property of the provider.
  4. You run into the high likelyhood of having other companies in your industry with the same exact design as yours, which could cause visitor confusion.

With a true custom website the designer starts with a blank screen.  They build your website based on the color scheme you use in other marketing and/or your logo, the other websites you’ve shown them that you like the look and feel of, and your specific needs / desires / functionality you want for your new website.  If you have no idea what you want that’s ok with us.  We’ve done many, many custom website projects with clients who really didn’t know what they wanted or needed in their website, which is our area of expertise as 1/2 of our design team are graphic artists as well.

Custom Pros:

  1. The sky is the limit with the design, features, programming, functionality, etc. 
  2. You dream it and we can do it – Flash animated header, movies, fly-out menus, 360 tours, custom graphics, custom logos and more.
  3. Your website will be unique, no other company will have a website that looks like yours.
  4. The design is yours to take with you no matter what hosting provider you have.
  5. Flexibility to use all the different search engine techniques that will help your website get the highest “organic” or free listings as possible.

Custom Cons:

  1. Because the designer has to build it from scratch, it will be more expensive to set up.

You can either go out and buy an already built house that may not be what you want but you can fix it up or you can build it from the ground up.  Sometimes the “fixing up” of the already built house will end up costing you just as much, if not more, than the home you could have had built to your specs.  You also run the risk of the already built house never being what you want, no matter how much fixing up you do.

It’s been my experience that if you are a new company, or new to the internet, or have a tight budget, then the template design is the way to go.  It’s just enough to get your feet wet, get your name online, start building your “virtual” web presence and so on.  But, if your company has been around a long time, especially online, a custom built website is the best decision usually. 

If you are not sure what you need, just give me a call (1-866-643-4625) or send me an email ([email protected]).  I’ll review what you have currently, check out your current positionings in the search engines and a few other places and make a recommendation for you. 

Like I said in the beginning, I don’t care which provider you end up using for your website.  I want to make sure you know what your getting into, you understand the process of setting up a web presence and give you a heads up on things to be on the look out for.  One of those “heads up” items is your domain name.  It should be registered to your company, not the person or company providing your website or hosting.  I’ve seen this time and again where a dealer didn’t know any better and either lost their domain name or had to pay the provider for it and they can charge whatever they want.  I’ve seen some hosting providers register the domain name to them so that if your unhappy with them or their service and want to move you can’t.  It’s just not good business.  We always register the domain name to our client.

Cindy Spencer 🙂

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