Template, Semi-Custom or Custom Site, Which Do You Need For Your Business?

Launching a website for your business is so important, it’s essentially your brands online home, a space that can tell your customers about your brand personality and what kind of experience they can expect from you. But the first steps are usually deciding what platform to use, can you do it yourself, do you want to do it yourself and of course, the topic of today what kind of site do you need. Starting a business can be an overwhelming experience filled with decision fatigue (I feel you!), so I’m going to walk you through what each one is, their pros and cons, and which I would recommend for certain businesses.



Templates

What are templates?

Templates are pre-made websites designed so that all you have to do is plug in your own content i.e. your text, images and logo. There are so many templates out there on so many different platforms that you are bound to find one that works for your business and matches your style. Depending on what platform you do choose sometimes there is very little wiggle room to change things but for some (like our fave Showit) you can customize everything on your template to make it feel uniquely you. You can hire a designer to style your template lightly but typically this is a DIY kind of option.


Which businesses do they work best for?

Templates are perfect for new businesses and brands that aren’t ready to fully invest in a semi or custom site just yet and/or you’re looking to launch ASAP. They’re typically tailored to coaches, educators, photographers, bloggers, service-based businesses and entrepreneurs. Sometimes it can also take some time being in business to figure out your goals, and brand identity, so rather than jumping into custom design and spending a ton, a template provides that custom look and feel whilst on a budget.

pros

– Affordable option

– Quick to launch (Within a week)

– Many styles to choose from

– Can do it yourself

cons

– Not made for your business

– Limited customizations* (Depends!)

– May feel generic

– Can be trendy and not timeless

*Depends on the website builder, some templates are fixed and some are very flexible.

If you’re interested in this option, check out our Showit Templates. They’re completely customizable and have been expertly designed to not only look stylish and modern but are conversion-focused to drive profit.




semi-custom

What are Semi-Custom Sites?

A semi-custom website means your designer will use a pre-existing template (like we mentioned above) as a foundation for your site. Usually, a designer will recommend several templates that will work best for your site goals and not necessarily the design as that can all be customized. From there your designer will make changes to the fonts, colours, and positioning so that everything feels unique and aligns with your brand. The number of customizations really depends on the website builder you’ve chosen and your designer.


Which businesses do they work best for?

Short answer, almost all. There are a few exceptions, like large institutions, technical sites or businesses not yet ready to invest too much. But for the most part, whether you’re a young or experienced business, a service provider or an e-commerce business, you can take advantage of the semi-custom design. On top of that, if you feel your site goals are on the simpler, more straightforward side of things then this option is definitely right for you.

Pros

– Not starting from scratch

Faster turnaround vs. custom

More affordable vs. custom

Cons

Limited customizations* (Depends!)

– Not made uniquely for your brand

**Depends on the website builder, some templates are fixed and some are very flexible and/or how much customization your designer includes in their semi-custom package.




Custom

What are Custom Sites?

A custom site means the entire site will be designed from scratch- no templates. Every single element, section, and page will be crafted to align directly with your goals and brand in mind (and yours only). Designers will create mock-ups before any building takes place to make sure the visuals and flow make sense for your business.


Which businesses do they work best for?

Custom sites are almost always for older, more established businesses that really want to invest in design to stand out, especially considering most people form an opinion about your site within 0.5 seconds, so it better be good! Another reason for needing a custom site is if you require a ton of special features and layouts.

Typically I wouldn’t suggest custom to those using website builders like Shopify or Squarespace where you need heavy coding to customize your site (and therefore more time + money) however if you’re using website builders like Showit or Flothemes where no code is required, then a custom-site becomes more affordable to smaller businesses.

pros

– Made uniquely for your business

– Limitless design options

– Complete control over look + feel

cons

– Most expensive option

– Time intensive / Heavy planning


So which option is best for your business?

Templates, semi-custom and custom design all have their advantages and disadvantages, so which is right for you? It pretty much boils down to three key points below. Try thinking about what matters most to your business at this moment, what are your priorities and goals.

time

If you’re looking to launch your site quickly then templates and semi-custom are the way to go. They can be launched anywhere from a couple of days to weeks. Custom on the other hand can take weeks to months depending on the size and complexity of your site.

Design / Customizability

This one truly depends on which site builder you go for. If you’re working with builders like WordPress, Shopify or Squarespace then you can be quite tied to the layout (unless you or your designer decides to add custom code), whereas if you decide to go with platforms like Showit or Flothemes they are completely customizable without code, making templates or semi-custom more desirable of an option. Regardless though, custom sites are going to guarantee you the most unique result as they are designed exactly for your business

Budget

The amount you can invest into your website’s design will help determine which option is best for you. If you’re looking to spend less than or around $1000, then a template will work great for you. If you’re looking to invest $2 – 5k then semi-custom is your best bet, and anything higher is for those who want fully-custom. The pricing will definitely vary between designers, how many pages you require and if you need any special features/plug-ins.



Reach out if you have any questions!

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