Do you have thousands of dollars lying around right now to invest in a new website? Because that’s exactly what you might have to do if you’re looking for a new or upgraded site.

Just consider your likely options:

  • Buy a template from a website template marketplace like Themeforest
  • Subscribe to a site-building service like Wix or Squarespace
  • Hire a Web Designer to code a site from scratch


Which should you choose?


I know you’re going to hate to hear this, but there’s no one-answer-fits-all here.

Earlier this year, for example, we’ve worked with a client who needed a 20-page website with a customer portal and built-in CRM system, and another client who needed a fairly straightforward 5-page brochure-like site.


We custom built that 20-page site, but helped the client with a 5-page site adapt an existing theme for a fraction of the cost.

If you’re still with me here, you’re probably asking:


How do I know if I need a custom site or not?


Well, here’s where I go against the Web Designer Code to tell you that, if we’re being honest here, you probably don’t need to fork over a bundle of cash for a custom site, no matter how complex your needs.


Don’t believe me? Check out my breakdown below, where I basically beg you to spend less for your website.


Yeah, I know. A little unconventional for someone who works for an agency that offers web design services.


But what can I say? I hate seeing folks spend more than they need to. That’s why I made this breakdown.


You can thank me later.

Is a Custom Website Design Really Worth It?


  1. Are you an established company with a clear aesthetic, logo, and branding?
  2. Do you need an extensive and complex Informational Architecture (the structure of your site) to house and organize your copious amount of content?
  3. Do you have a big ol’ budget and no deadline?


Did you answer yes? Then call a web designer and get cracking on your custom website.


Need your website to look a specific, unique way?  Don’t think any website template out there will fit your vibe (although I’d beg to differ)?


Then you’ll probably need a web designer. Perfectionists who don’t want to compromise any of their requirements will definitely benefit from coding a site from scratch. A web designer can, within reason, make all of your website dreams come true.


A custom website could also be necessary if you already have a lot of content and your site is going to be BIG. And if you anticipate needing to change your site’s features continuously or frequently, having a designer on retainer will help a lot.


But (and it’s a big BUT!) custom websites are $$$expensive$$$.


Working with a web designer could cost you anywhere from $30 to $300 an hour! The more complex and customized your site, the more hours it’ll take to complete.


Everything, from color to font to graphics to layout has to be created from scratch. Even small changes can break the bank, let alone building out the entire site.




You also have to consider the struggles that come with bringing a 3rd-party person into your vision. It takes time and effort to adequately share your vision with a designer and ensure you’re both on the same page.


And trust me, getting on that same page isn’t all that easy, and that could spell trouble for your finished product.


Is it worth using a website template instead of creating a custom website?


Website templates are free or inexpensive pre-designed layouts for websites. Sites like Themeforest have thousands of them, and most templates have different versions, within the template.


Once you purchase a template, you can change certain elements, like color and graphics to make it fit in with your company’s aesthetic.


There are even some templates – Divi by Elegant Themes comes to mind – that are unbelievably adaptable.


Dig Deeper: UX/UI Trends to Watch in 2016 


Templates are great for small businesses and start-ups.


They’re pretty inexpensive. Even if you hire a web designer to code some of your WordPress pages, it’s still less expensive than building a custom site.


Small and new businesses typically don’t have the money to invest in a custom website. But – and you should know this by now – you can’t afford not to have a website.


Templates are a great option for a cash-strapped start-up!


If you’re reading this blog, I probably don’t have to tell you how important it is to have a marketing presence online.


Websites (along with such things as email and social media) are vital toward finding new leads and turning those leads into customers. In other words, if you currently don’t have a website for your business, you need to get one, stat.


That’s another reason why templates are great. Because you’re not building every line of code yourself, template websites are so much faster to get off the ground! And as soon as your site is live, you can start ranking on search engines and getting found by leads near you!


Tip from the trenches: save your dinero for your website design

Unless you need your business’s website to fit your exact vision, be capable of handling all of your extensive content, and you have a big budget and no time restriction, you should probably stick with a template website.

It’s important to have a website that users like and want to spend time on, but it’s also really important to invest time and money in SEO best practices and create high-quality content that will get your site ranking and put your business on the digital map.


Take it from us: we get paid to create websites for companies of all sizes. Trust us, we love to custom build a site from scratch.


But that doesn’t mean that’s the right solution for you. Chances are you’ll be more than happy with the outcome of a far less expensive website template.