How to Decide Between a Template or Custom Website

We think these four things should be at the top of your mind when deciding to go with a template or custom website for your small business.

As a small business owner, creating or revamping your website can be a daunting task. Like many other business owners, you’re likely faced with the common “template or custom website” dilemma. You’ve probably also seen how affordable and beautiful templates are these days. This can make templates the tempting and obvious choice, but not so fast!

There are other factors to consider before entering the template maze that is Wix, SquareSpace, and WordPress. Don’t get us wrong, sometimes a template is the perfect solution! However, we want to help you make the decision that’s right for your small business. Let’s break this down further, shall we?


template or custom site for small businesses - functionality

Cost and time tend to be the first factors to consider, but we think functionality is the real determining factor. And by this we mean the complexity of the features on your site will determine if it’s too much for a template to handle.

Take this local cafe. The information is evergreen and static. What they stand for, where they’re located, their menu, etc. are all things that rarely change or need updating. In terms of functionality, they’ve kept to the basics with a few of the standard social media links. All in all, a pretty basic site and a perfect candidate for a template!

A site like Eventbrite, on the other hand, is far more complex. It requires input from users and spits out information based on a user’s query. A custom site is the most appropriate route in this case. 

Take away

If your site has mostly static information, get your template game on! If you have more complex features, you’ll likely need a custom website.  

Cost and Time

template or custom site for small businesses - cost and time

The main thing on your mind is probably how much and how long. Our suggestion is to think about the functionality you need now and in the future before locking in on a budget or timeline. Of course you don’t want to spend more time or money than what you have to on a site. However, you also want to make sure you make a good investment the first go-round.

As you might’ve guessed, templates are much cheaper upfront and have a shorter development time. For reference, a site with less than 10 pages and standard functionality can run anywhere between $500 and $1500. A custom site, on the other hand, can start at $5,000 and get up to $30,000 depending on the page count and complexity of the functionality.

Take away

If you’re short on time and money, and need a quick, basic site, use a template without any shame. If your site is inherently complex, mentally prepare yourself for a longer timeline and bigger budget because you’ll be going the custom route!


template or custom site for small businesses - performance

There are a few key differences between templates and custom sites when it comes to site performance. Some templates aren’t designed with responsiveness in mind. This means your site may look good on a computer but not so good on other devices like phones or tablets. With people viewing sites on a wide range of devices these days, you want to make sure your website works across all these devices.

Another aspect to note about templates is that although they may fit your needs in most ways, they also may come with a lot of unnecessary built-in features, designs and functions that can affect your site’s load speed. Sadly, people of the internet are not a patient bunch. 47% of your visitors expect your site to load within two seconds, and 40% of them will leave if it takes more than three seconds. With a custom site, a developer is able to customize content and optimize features making your site’s load time lickedy-split!

Lastly, and most importantly (so important there will be a future blog dedicated solely to this topic), with a custom site, a developer is able to include content optimized for high rankings on Google and other search engines. Unfortunately, this is much harder to achieve with templates.

Take away

Performance considerations should be at the forefront of your decision to go with a template or custom site. Before going with a template, read reviews about it. Make sure it’s optimized for responsiveness and load speed, and is constantly being updated to the latest web standards.


The last (but still important) thing to consider is your brand. If you have a mature brand and value uniqueness in design, then you should pursue a custom website. By using a publicly available template, you run the risk of another company’s website looking similar to yours. To some people this is no big deal, but if this gives you a sour taste in your mouth, then stay clear of the templates. 

Take away

If brand uniqueness is important to you, you’ll want a unique design that only a custom site can offer. 

Still not sure if a template or custom website is better for your small business?

Reach out to us at Or, if you’re ready to start on a project, let us know!

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