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Custom Sites vs. Template Sites

Stand out with a custom website
There are two approaches to building a website: custom and template. A custom site is designed and developed from the ground-up by a professional web firm and is purposely built to your unique business and goals, similar to a custom-built house. Conversely, a template site uses a prebuilt system such as WordPress. You are leasing their technology, and they are frequently deployed by those who are non-technical and less reliable.

Here are five notable differences between custom and template sites:

Design & Branding

Example branding development for Sphinx Mountain Outiftting from pencil thumbnails, to roughs, to final logo execution.
Example branding development for Sphinx Mountain Outiftting from pencil thumbnails, to roughs, to final logo execution.

Custom: Full Branding & Design

A custom website offers complete flexibility for design and layout, allowing your brand and services to shine while speaking directly to your customers. If your company needs custom branding to make a memorable mark, we can provide logo and brand development to make your site distinctive. Every detail, from visuals and site structure to navigation and calls to action, work together to highlight your products or services, educate your customers and convert sales. Plus, Bozeman custom websites are created with “findability” in mind so they are optimized to help your business excel in search engine results.

Template: Limited Design Services

Template websites are limited in their design capabilities as they rely on templates and themes. They are often frustratingly difficult to adjust and can lead to things breaking or not appearing properly, including issues that can difficult to resolve when optimizing a site to work well on both desktop and mobile devices. This lack of customization throttles your ability to display your brand and services. Template sites also rely on SEO plugins that can be clunky and poor performing that causes them to fall in search rankings, leading to fewer visitors. 
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Illustration: phoropter


Illustration: phoropter

Custom: Superior Performance

Custom sites are purpose-built from the ground-up using clean code. This means that every aspect is thought through and can be optimized, including graphics, fonts and functional elements, leading to better performance and user engagement. This is critical as studies show that visitors will leave a website if it takes longer than two to four seconds to load. A custom site also allows for optimization for a great experience on mobile — an important detail because most internet traffic happens on mobile devices.

Template: Poor Performance

Template sites rely on third-party plugins for most of their functionality, which leads to a slower site. For example, an average WordPress site has 20-30 plugins while a more advanced one can easily have over 50. Having so many plugins on a template site can seriously decrease site performance and cause incompatibility issues. A plugin will even be required to turn a template site into a mobile friendly one.

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Growth and Scalability

Custom: Flexibility

Because of their flexibility, custom sites can scale and evolve as a business grows — functionality can be added, topics can be expanded, structure adjusted and more. A technically proficient web firm can make these adjustments and avoid a complete site rebuild, saving money, time and frustration.

Template: Limited Framework

Because template sites use rigid templates, themes and plugins, the ability to adapt the site to meet your business needs is often difficult. If you want to add new features to better serve your customers, you will be forced once again to look at adding third-party plugins that can be unstable, make the site less secure or not even do exactly what you need.
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Illustration: An eagle soaring over a group of pine trees.


Illustration: A padlock and chain drapped over a computer chip

Custom: Peace of Mind

Custom, purpose-built sites work as designed without needing third-party plugins, which are vulnerable to hacking.  They are a security concern because often the developers cease to update them, which leaves them open to intrusion.  Another important security layer is where the site is hosted.  All sites should be hosted on a secure and well maintained framework so all data is protected.

Template: Security Concerns

Wordpress is the most popular software for creating template websites.  It's also the most susceptible to hacking, accounting for 90% of all hacked template sites in 2018.  Again, this is because of the third-party plugins that these sites rely on to provide functionality.  When coupled with an unstable and unmaintained framework, it's very easy for a site to be compromised.
Looking for security on the web?
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Support & Maintenance

Custom: Ongoing Support

Since a Bozeman custom site is built from the ground-up with clean, purpose-built code and databases, it will perform and function better, requiring fewer fixes and costly maintenance time.  With a custom site, a strong web development firm will support it and partner with you to make the most of your investment.

Template: Disappearing Support

Non-technical companies that produce template sites generally deploy them to third-party hosting providers that can have poor performance and customer service.  When something breaks and needs to be fixed on a template site, you will have to work with their tech support, which can be a frustrating experience.
Illustration: Two people assisting each other up a hill
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Set Yourself Apart on the Web

Your website is critical to your business. To succeed, invest accordingly in a custom site. Your site is a reflection of your unique brand so it should be beautiful and polished, intuitive, easy to navigate, function properly, perform well and be secure. When your website is your calling card or even your main source of online business, it’s important not to cut corners. Go with a custom site that will take your business to the next level, last the lifetime of your business and be supported by a professional development team.