Custom Website Design vs. Off The Shelf Web Templates – The Pros and Cons

As a business owner embarking on the voyage of website creation, you may be faced with the tricky decision between engaging a web design agency to create a custom website design or relying on an off the shelf website template to build your online presence.

Generally speaking, a web design agency will want to create something from scratch as the results are usually more effective, but there are advantages to both methods. This article will clarify the best choice to make.

With the right strategy your website can deliver a significant part of your business revenue!

If you’re a startup or just want a re-brand and a fresh website, is it worth forking out the extra cash for a custom website design, or can an off the shelf website template be just as successful?

It’s important to remember that your website is your number one marketing tool. It can instantly make people want to stay on the page and find out more about your company or products, or it can instantly give visitors a negative perception of your business, products or services. With that in mind, let’s take a look at the main pros and cons when choosing how to build your website.

Using a Template


  • A template is relatively cheaper than hiring someone to design an entire website for you, however there is still a considerable amount of work in customising the website which will require a web designer or agency.
  • Not only are they great for low budgets, templates are slightly quicker to set up, we say slightly because there is still a lot of work to be done.
  • Many templates can be setup without any HTML or specialist web design knowledge – so it can be a DIY job for startups. Be aware however, a template will probably still take you 4 hours for 1 page website and up to 1 month of work for a website with 10-20 pages.
  • Templates are great for startups or small business that simply need a basic presence but are not yet prepared to spend on bespoke UX (User experience) or SEO
  • Templates are easy to ‘fill in the blanks’ but be aware they still need to have optimised imagery and keyword researched content prepared for them, we recommend hiring a professional at least for this part.


  • There are limits to how much you can customise the template website, they can be notoriously rigid so be careful when selecting a template and updating it in the future.
  • Even though you have the design partly taken care of, the content, meta-data (Search engine keyword data encoding) and image tagging will take days to do for a larger site.
  • All of your copy and images will have to fit into the pre-designed sections, we recommend using a professional web sales copywriter, this will give you an SEO advantage (Search engine optimisation results!).
  • The UX & CX (user & customer experience) and design thinking behind the site will not be as strong as it could be with a well thought out custom site. This is because a template is not necessarily designed with your customer or sector in mind, it’s a one size fits all solution.
  • Other businesses may have the same website layout as you – even a competitor could have a similar design which means consumers will not take your brand as seriously.
  • Many templates aren’t built to be SEO friendly to begin, they take work and development, so however hard you work to climb up the rankings, it may never happen with a template.
  • Something to remember is that good content & UX leads to new leads and business growth.
  • Some template developers end support for various templates and then you are left with a relic and may need to start again.

Getting your website custom designed


  • Your website user experience (UX) will be specifically researched and crafted to your product, customers and services and it will take into account your direct competition in your industry, this is a powerful advantage. A website design and UX agency is recommended for such work.
  • Your website will be completely unique, and you can choose exactly where you want your text and images, how many pages you have etc.
  • It will be cheaper to update in the future. A lot of developers refuse to work with templates as they are too bloated and cumbersome to update.
  • The site will be device tested to ensure it works on all browsers
  • On-page (not to be confused with link building) SEO is a massively impacting feature of custom websites that we recommend hiring a professional website designer for.
  • Many custom websites (and templates) have a easy to use CMS (content management system) system such as WordPress, which means the business owner can log in to the site from anywhere and make changes or additions. Template CMS’s are often visual based (Visual Composer) and although good they can be prone to user error and are tricky.
  • It is much more adaptable, and can change with the business over the years.
  • Web developers are often happy to work with custom website designs.
  • There should be ongoing support from the company which built the site, in case you experience any problems.


  • A custom website design will have a higher upfront cost than a template.
  • Automatic template updates aren’t possible but are relatively cheap to maintain, think of it similar to a car service.
  • It will take longer to design and build a custom site than working from a template.

Of course it depends on your business needs, but if your budget allows we’d recommend always designing a custom UX designed website, which is researched and built to your specifications. This will ensure you stand out from the competition, have the best user experience and can adapt the site in the future if you need to.


We hope you enjoyed this article & it helps your business.
Does your site need a refresh? Talk to Bapple

We provide options for selecting an optimal web package on our FAQ page, see question 4.

We are a UX and Web Design Agency based in Sydney, Australia. Our internal team is nimble and flexible enough to develop bespoke solutions for every client. By cutting out the middle man Bapple is able to offer its clients a smarter, faster and more affordable service than its larger agency counterparts. Bapples founder Peter Kawecki brings over 18 years of web design experience to the table and is an expert in building websites that are intuitive, functional and visually stunning. If you wish to discuss a project, please email or call us on the details below and provide a detailed brief of your project.

Call: 02 9665 6093 or Email via the form here

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