“Custom-Built” Vs “Template” Websites: What’s Important & Which Is Better?

Jerry Wallis
10 min read
Viewing business online

Businesses of today are no longer just brick and mortar, “mum and pop” stores. Businesses and information today, live and thrive online, in fact, there is a growing number of eCommerce businesses that exist and operate entirely on the internet.

With 1 out of 4 people shopping online in 2020, it literally pays to be online and is business suicide not to be!

Website design is all about building trust, presentation, and user experience. To create a website for your business, you should consider two options, a custom-built vs template website.

When it comes to features, it’s essential to consider the difference between designing and developing a custom website or a template website.  There are various pros and cons of custom website and template website designs.

Depending on your budget, vision, skill set, and time, your choice will differ.

The majority of websites are built using a content management system (CMS). The most popular one is WordPress by far.

WordPress and other CMSs allow you to use or buy templates (themes) to create your website or to create a website from scratch to better suit your organisation’s needs.

However, this doesn’t mean that the skillset of writing and understanding good code is no longer important by any stretch when building websites!

CMS platforms like WordPress, Wix, Squarespace, or even Google Sites, provide you with different options to suit your website needs. These options, more or less, have the same capabilities and functions.

The question you should be asking yourself is: What is the difference between custom websites and template websites?

This article will address “Custom-Built” vs “Template” websites. By laying out the pros and cons of both options, we want to provide you with the information to be able to make a well-informed decision!

Template Websites

custom built

Template websites are growing in popularity, especially among entrepreneurs, bloggers, small businesses and time-poor people who are in a hurry.

WordPress is one of the most well-known platforms to use a template design. In 2017 estimates showed that 50-60% of websites using a template we’re using WordPress as the CMS.

Template website designs provide companies with the ability to pick an off-shelf design with built-in features ready to go.

Defining “Template” Websites

Template websites are premade webpages or sets of webpages that are essentially clones of a website’s main core framework elements which can then be marginally customised and populated with your own content.

These templates are created by web developers and include crucial aspects like HTML, CSS, and code to make the website function properly.

Above all, it simplifies the web development process through the economy of scale for people who need websites quickly and cheaply without needing anything particularly unique in design, performance or functionality.


  1. Templates are great for small budgets. Templates will provide you with all the tools needed to get your site launched for lower costs.
  2. You do not have to have a background in coding. Template web designs allow people with any level of knowledge to design a website through drag and drop features. Little to no coding is needed for regular functions. 
  3. Prebuilt templates also mean cheaper upfront costs as you don’t need to pay anyone to set it up if you want to do it yourself. 
  4. By using a template, you can cut the development time of your website down significantly.


  1. As stated above, 50-60 per cent of businesses were using templates for their website in 2017. With such a high ratio of companies using the service, you will likely find lots of other businesses using the same template as yours. Ultimately, it means your website will have a difficult time standing out compared to others.
  2. Customisation of the site is limited. The template forces you to work inside its boundaries, meaning creativity and features will be limited. What you see is what you get.
  3. Depending on which device you use, the user interface may get changed and not correctly. That means there may be an inconsistent user experience across different devices.
  4. Depending on the template you use, it may not be built to be search engine friendly. Most themes will require some customisation to make them SEO-friendly to fit your business.
  5. Certain features and technologies may not be designed to be used on your website. Templates are run on a structured system, which may limit various plugins that can be used, therefore limiting your future functionality.
  6. Templates are often built, released and then forgotten by their developers. This means the maintenance of their coding and structure is neglected, which in turn can cause significant security issues when a WordPress platform update is rolled out that makes the template no longer fully compatible.

Depending on your situation, a template website may be the best option for you.

Template-based websites will give you the opportunity to put together a quick and easy website with a smaller budget. With little need for background knowledge in coding, you can also be comfortable knowing you’ll be able to do most of the work yourself.

However, it’s crucial you are educated and understand when you are considering which way to go for your website.

Below we describe what a custom-built website is and list out some of the most common pros and cons for it.

Custom-Built Websites


Custom-built websites are essentially created from scratch (similar to a bespoke tailored suit!) uniquely for your business and generally require a skilled and trusted team to bring it all together.

It begins with deep-dive brainstorming processes and a proper laid-out strategy plan that represents your value and brand.

Basically, it is a creative way to understand your target market, how you want to reach out to a larger audience, what is the need of your website and how you want to represent yourself on the digital network. 

Defining “Custom-Built” Websites

Custom-built websites are processes that produce a user interface that is unique to the website. Moreover, the experience in response to user inputs (any action by the user) which designers can use to produce an array of outputs. Above all, custom-built websites will provide your own “built from the ground-up website” and provide your users with a much more unique experience.

Although custom website designs will provide you with more flexibility, they will take more time to build as well as more time spent managing them.  We will discuss their pros and cons of them below.


  1. The website designs produced will be unique to your company. It will incorporate your organisation’s branding and will be tailored entirely to meet your current as well as future growth needs as a company to produce the best business results.
  2. The site is tested to work across all browsers. Looking seamless across all browsers and devices is essential as, in 2019, 52.2 per cent of website traffic came from mobile devices
  3. The site will be built to be search engine friendly (SEO). Being SEO-friendly is one of the most crucial things regarding your website now, with Google emphasising various aspects of your website – speed, keywords, meta description, and even URLs. Studies have shown that internet users prefer short, concise, and easily understandable URLs.
  4. Will give your business credibility. Business 2 Community states that it will give you the chance to build credibility and brand yourself as a professional, as custom designs will stand out from the crowd.
  5. Custom-built websites can become part of your business’s ecosystem, allowing you to integrate tools such as ERP and CRM systems such as Netsuite and Hubspot into it. These integrations can help develop and expand your business by seamlessly synchronising your business data across all platforms allowing you to track KPIs, revenues, engagement, performance, and user experience.


  1. A custom website build will be more expensive as it requires more involvement in terms of planning, strategy, design and development phases focused on your business. However, you will not need to pay for extra services like themes and CMS services and subscriptions.
  2. It will take a longer time to produce a custom-built website than a template site. This is because it will be a back and forth process between the custom website provider and the customer. Moreover, it takes more time to write the lines of code and check to make sure they are functioning properly.
  3. Your site will continue to grow as your business does; therefore, a support team for design and development will be needed to add pages as well as new features.
  4. To develop, create, and upload your custom-built website designs, you will need to have a background in coding or hire someone who does and can build your site for you. Above all, this means that the entry barrier to using a custom-built website is much higher than a template.

With custom-built websites, you have the control and flexibility to design user interfaces that meet the demands of your business and customers. With added features and capabilities, your website can provide more to your user. However, the added features will come at a cost, both in terms of time and money.

With a complete picture of what the differences are between custom-built and template-based websites, you can feel more comfortable with your decision moving forward.

Choosing The Right Type Of Website For Your Business

Depending on your company’s needs will determine if either custom-built website designs or template-based websites will be best for you.

The best thing to do is thoroughly review the pros and cons listed above to understand which method will be the best option for you.

If you are still confused, look through some of your most visited websites and look for features that you like. Once you find some that you like, check to see if the website is custom-built or is from a template.

To see which type of website it is, you can use the walkthrough on how to do it on this page.

One of the most important things to consider before building your website and choosing between a template or a custom-built website is to consider the overall strategy of your website very carefully!

It’s essential to be sure your website plan supports the overall goals and outcomes you are seeking to achieve with your business.

Unfortunately, we have seen too many websites get built and launched without these hard questions being answered before the project starts. This results in the website never delivering the results that were hoped for.

You can learn more why a well thought out and rock-solid website strategy is so critical to online success in this article we wrote here

Another essential aspect to consider is website hosting. Website hosting directly affects the results of your investment due to its capacity and limitations on website speed, performance and visitor engagement. Website hosting is something you should be obsessed about…seriously! Discover more why here.

WEBO Digital understands that all situations are different, and there is no one-size-fits-all solution to your business’s website design needs.

If you would like some more help in understanding the difference between a custom website and template website designs so you can make an educated decision on which is the right option for you, reach out to us here

Published On

October 10, 2020