Templates vs Custom Websites: Which should you choose?
By Tan Bo An, founder of Stitch Interactive
11 April, 2020
Every business need some form of medium to inform customers about your products or services. This medium is often the website. If you are looking to build a website but do not have any IT background, you may be confused about the terms
custom. In this article, I will discuss these terms and give recommendations based on your needs.
Templates refers to websites that have been pre-designed and pre-developed. They are used to solve common design issues and cater to needs for a common group of users. To illustrate further, it means that these templates were initially designed then developed. However, due to the common needs of similar businesses, they want to have the same type of website. Therefore, these templates are duplicated and reproduced, albeit with minimal changes. Of course, they are most likely work seamlessly without bugs or errors, as they would have been tried and tested with existing businesses using the same template.
Custom websites refers to starting from scratch. Your website will go through the full design and development cycle, widely known as the System Development Life cycle (SDLC). A creative agency will have more or less the same process: gathering your requirements for your website, designing your website, convert the design on Web pages, adding content management or ecommerce capabilities, user acceptance testing and then finally going live.
Consider buying a pre-built house vs buying a piece of land to build your house on. There is obviously going to be significant cost differences. Substitute pre-built house as template and buying a piece of land as custom website (you get the idea). A template for your informational website at our company could cost anywhere between SGD 1,500 to SGD 3,000 but custom websites could easily double or multiply that amount by a couple of folds. Of course, if you are dealing with ecommerce, that difference is bigger, as we are now dealing with monetary transactions done online and thus, more time and effort is needed on the developer's side to customise and do more thorough testing before it can be laid out to use by the public.
Which should you choose?
There are 3 main considerations you should take before deciding which type of website you need: scalability, cost and time.
If you want a basic website to tell your customers simple information (e.g. about your company, where you are located, ways to contact you, etc) or a simple ecommerce website that has minimal functions (add to cart, checkout, payment…boom!), then you probably need a template.
If you need something that can be built upon and improved periodically, you should choose a custom website.
As mentioned earlier, templates are cheaper compared to custom websites. If you are a start-up company, chances are that you wish to keep the overheads and initial investment low. You don’t really want to spend money before you earn any. In this circumstance, you may want to consider a template, which is more cost effective for a start. The normal timeframe to refresh a website is every 2 to 3 years anyway. If your business is performing well, you may well refresh with a custom website next.
At Stitch Interactive, development and content population of template website will typically take about 1 to 2 weeks and custom websites will take about 4 to 6 weeks. If you need your website up quick and fast, you may want to consider templates. However, if time is not so much a concern and you are looking to build something unique and catered specifically for your business, you may want to consider custom websites.
Templates offer a quick and economical way for business, especially start-ups to kick start their business and get their information across to customers quickly.
Custom websites, on the other hand, take a longer time and are more expensive. However, they offer limitless scalability. Customising your website means that you will have a unique design and you can control your business and website goals. For example, you would like to host a contest on your website and get users to engage with it or you want to create an mobile application based on similar functionalities as your website. These are possible for a custom site, as there are no limitations, especially with headless content management system (CMS) being popularised in recent times.
As you know, Singapore is a middle of a circuit breaker due to the COVID-19 situation. I urge everyone to stay at home and comply to rules.
P.S. Everyone plays a part to ensure the safety of one another. Adopt maximum social responsibility. Take care everyone and stay safe.
Thanks for reading!