Pre-made Template or Custom Website?

When you are in need of a website for your business, portfolio, or personal blog one major question comes to mind. Where do I start?

Two options are available for you to compare and contrast:

  1. Should you go with a free/purchased pre-made template?

  2. Should you go with a completely custom website?

Free/Purchased Pre-Made Template:

Before using a free/purchased pre-made template, see if any of these statements are true:

  • I have a tight deadline.

  • I have a very small budget.

  • I only need a few pages.

  • I do not need anything fancy.

  • I have found a theme that does everything I need.

  • I do not require any custom features (custom email forms, registration forms, etc.).

  • I do not have a brand so I only need to be able to change the websites colors.

  • I am okay with my website looking like someone elses.

If any of these statements are true, a free/purchased pre-made template may be the best option for you. Start by writing down your needs for your website (ex. I need four pages, one for home, about, portfolio and contact). Next, search through a credible source for templates that will work for your website platform (ex. WordPress, Drupal, Joomla, etc.). If you don’t know what platform you are building on… ask your hosting company. Once you have found out which website platform you are using, search the internet for ‘WordPress themes’, or something similar with your platform in the search box.

Completely Custom Website:

Before hiring a web developer to build you a custom website, see if any of these statements are true:

  • I have a flexible deadline.

  • I have the funds to hire someone (normally an hourly wage or a pre-determined amount).

  • I need lots of pages.

  • I need lots of content (text, images, videos, etc.).

  • I would like some custom features (galleries, custom email forms, registration forms, product shop, etc.).

  • I have found a theme I like, but it does not do everything I need.

  • I can not find a theme that works for me at all.

  • I have a website theme already and I need something more!

  • I need a completely unique website that matches my brand.

If any of these statements are true, a completely custom website may be the best option for you. The next step to take, is to write out your ideas on what you need from your website (ex. I want my customers to be able to register online and shop through my website). Make a list of features that may be custom (social media integration – Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, a gallery for images, custom email form, etc.). Once you have listed out everything that you can imagine consult with a local web developer and discuss your ideas and ask questions (ex. Do my needs require custom development or is there code already available for what I need? What do you suggest, that I need on my website?)

I have made my choice, now what?

If you chose a free/purchased pre-made template:

  • Revisit your website needs and refine them with any additional information.

  • Research until you find a theme you are happy with and that matches your exact needs.

  • Purchase or download the theme from a credible source.

  • Consult with your hosting company on how to install the theme on your website’s platform.

If you chose to go the completely custom website route:

  • Revisit your needs that you wrote down before your visit with a local developer.

  • Refine your needs (with the knowledge from your meeting).

  • Ask your local developer or search online, any additional questions that you have.

  • Ask other local developers for their input.

  • Ask locally for an estimated cost on your completely custom website.

  • Compare your needs with your budget and decide on a local developer to help you.

  • Begin development with your local website developer.

Disclaimer: This is to be used only as a reference and guide toward choosing between a free/purchased pre-made template or a completely custom website. This information assumes you are using a website platform such as (WordPress, Drupal, or Joomla). This information was written to help the viewer that has little to no knowledge of web development. Please refer to your website hosting company for questions or more details on how to begin.

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