A common question that clients have when they are setting up their new website is, “Should I set up my website with a theme or pay a developer to build a custom website?”
They may have seen the ads for drag and drop DIY website builders such as Wix or Go Daddy, and don’t understand the benefits of paying for a custom design. If you have ever wondered if there is a difference between a paid or free (or almost free) website, and an agency built website, then this article is for you.
In this article, you’ll find out why the ‘one size fits all’ approach with a template is detrimental to your business, and how a custom built website will give you an advantage over your competitors.
WHY DO BUSINESSES CHOOSE A THEME?
It’s no secret that a theme is extremely cheap. In fact, there are many themes from WordPress and Wix that won’t cost you a brass razoo. These themes are also speedy to get up and running. A few spare hours, and a couple of ‘drag and drops’, and your site is ready.
Not so fast! Although this option seems to be a quick and cheap option to get your new site online, it will cost your business in the long term. Below are just a few of the many disadvantages of using a theme.
DISADVANTAGES OF A THEME
You wouldn’t buy the same dress as your BFF, or wear the same outfit as your spouse (we hope not!), so why would you buy a theme that is the same as your competitor’s site? You’re not a clone of all the rest of the sheep in your industry.
A theme will always give your website a generic and bland look. At best, it will be a boring looking website. At worst, you’ll be wearing the same dress as your competitor.
Think about it this way. A theme developer builds a theme that is as generic as possible to make sure that it can be applied to every business and industry. Don’t be fooled! Fat profit margins for a theme developer depends on generic and cookie cutter themes.
For example, within a two month period we came across the following local websites that seemingly have been created by three different companies, but in reality, they may have been all using the same template:
Limitations of a theme
You’re cruising along with your new premade theme, and everything seems to be running smoothly. Your 16-year-old niece was able to whip up your website in an afternoon, and you’ve got a basic site on display.
Sooner, or later, you’ll end up finding out the limitations of the theme. It may be simple things such as design changes. You’re pulling out your hair because you can’t get the template to look like you want, “Why can’t I change the font colour?” or “How do I make the headings bigger?”
That’s just the start. Here are just a few of the things that may not be able to achieve with your new template:
- Display your social media feed on a specific page.
- Add a shopping cart.
- Create multiple galleries with the styling that you choose.
- Change the URLs so that they are shorter and more Google friendly.
- Connect your website to MYOB, Australia Post or other third-party extensions.
- Multi-language and multi-currency support.
Bloated and redundant code
It’s hard to know the difference in the quality of coding between a theme and a custom built website. Unless you’re a developer, it’s hard to know what’s going on under the “bonnet” of the website. When your website is down, not working or you just can’t get your website to rank above the 10th page of Google, then you know that you’ve got a problem. More than likely you have an issue with the bloated and redundant code.
The theme developer has tried to accommodate every different scenario – with a long list of features that most businesses won’t use – and this leads to complicated code. Instead of lean, compliant and best practice coding, you’ve paid for a bloated mess.
Take, for example, the styling of menu styles. The theme developer has included a dozen variations of the menu so that it’s more appealing to the buyer. Your website only uses one menu style, but the rest of the styles have to be included in the website’s code. What you end up with are slow loading and unnecessary code.
We’ve only covered a few of the main disadvantages of using a theme. Now, let’s get to the good stuff. Find out the benefits of a custom website design, and why a skilled digital agency – with a team of designers, developers, digital marketers and technical support – is your website’s best friend.
ADVANTAGES OF A CUSTOM WEBSITE DESIGN
There’s a lot of talk about digital transformation in the business world. If you don’t know much about this term, then it’s worth reading about. The bottom line is that businesses are going through a transformation. One that takes them from the old way of doing business, to the new way of doing business – complete with the digital tools and technologies to drive their business forward.
Smart businesses aren’t shying away from taking their business online. They embrace the opportunity to find new customers, new markets and opportunities with their digital presence (which includes their website). A professionally designed, custom website is the key to your business success, both now and in the future.
Consistent with your brand
You wouldn’t use the same logo as your competitor, so why would you use the same website design as them? A custom made website will be consistent with your brand. It will include the colours, logo, fonts, style of design, images and ‘look and feel’ as your offline brand.
With a custom website, you get a website that is consistent with your brand image, and you’ll stand out from your competitors.
Built to your specifications
Your custom built website will be created to your specifications, with the features that matter to your business. With a skilled website developer your website has:
- Custom features that are built to suit your business needs.
- Features that your competitor doesn’t have, giving you the competitive edge.
- The specifications that meet the best practices in your industry.
- Security features that are a must for your industry, e.g. law and accounting firms.
High quality coding
When you partner with a digital agency for your new website, then you can be assured that you will get high-quality coding. Check their portfolio, the experience of their development team, testimonials and reputation, to get peace of mind that your website will be standards compliant and built to industry best practice.
At Eightball Media, our team of expert developers have built custom websites for some of Australia’s biggest brands including Wallace Bishop, Beds R Us, The Groove Train and Coffee Hit.
When it comes to SEO, themes do not perform as well as custom built websites. Google loves original, high-quality content – and this is no different for your website build.
Eightball Media builds SEO friendly websites, using some of the most popular platforms including WordPress and Magento. Our websites are built to work well with Google. Some of the features that improve your SEO include:
- Mobile friendly and responsive design that looks great on every device, including mobile phones and tablets.
- A clickable telephone number in the right-hand corner of your website, so that your customers can easily ring your business.
- Using Schema Markup to structure your content in an SEO friendly way.
- Creating a user-friendly interface so that visitors can find the information they need quickly and easily (this reduces the bounce rate of your website).
- Lean and clean code that improves your page loading time.
- Custom URL structures that follow Google’s best practice.
- Submitting your sitemap to Google for ranking pages and content.
All these little things improve the user experience of website visitors. These are just a few things that make Google either love or hate your website (and whether you’re ranking on #1 of Google or ‘lost in space’ on page 100).
Built for Scaling
Most premade templates are not built for growing your business. These may suit your business when you first set up shop, but before long you’ll outgrow the template. The last thing you want, in the middle of your high growth phase, is to switch to a bespoke website design.
Future proof your business, with a custom design that’s built to meet your current and future business needs. At Eightball Media, we build websites for flexibility and the capability to extend to your future needs.
Want to add a shopping cart? No problem! Need to add custom fields that will save you time and money when you add location descriptions for your 100 retail stores? No problem!
Spikes in traffic after your massive promotion? No problem! Our websites are built to scale up and down depending on the traffic that your website gets.
Even with the best website, things can go wrong. Your site is down. You can’t get your blog post to look the way you want. A new plugin that you added has broken your site.
With a custom website design, you’re only a phone call away from technical support. Speak to a real-life person and get real answers.
Unfortunately, this is not always the case with premade themes. Something goes wrong and you’re stuck.
When you partner with a digital agency for your new website, you not only get a team of developers. You also get a team of graphic designers and digital marketing experts. This team is experienced at developing bespoke websites that fit your business goals and give you a good return on investment.
A bespoke design tells your customers that you are a professional, well established and reputable business. Build trust with your customers with a custom-designed website.
It is a common occurrence that the combinations of themes and plug-in become vulnerable to malware. Many themes are poorly coded and therefore more susceptible to online attacks. Here, at Eightball Media, we ensure that we build our website well. Creating a custom website allow us to design secured sites and be well informed of the updates that need to be done. Because we have built it, we would know where to check should something go wrong.
Over the past decade, Eightball Media has created custom websites for Australian businesses. Here are just a few of the brands we’ve worked with including:
The Groove Train
Book your 30-minute free consultation to find out how you can make your website your greatest asset. Find out how you can generate more sales, traffic, leads and increase customer engagement with a site that is custom built to suit your business. Contact us today to secure your booking!